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Online Application

The initial application deadline is January 15, 2024. Applications submitted after this date will be considered on a rolling basis.

Admissions Requirements

EDI students are chosen based on their backgrounds, ability to learn, and their contributions they will make to the overall program experience. As part of their online application, applicants are required to submit a portfolio of their past project work. 

For additional questions about applying to the EDI program, please contact please contact Cate Herscher, Admissions Coordinator, at

The items listed below must be submitted as part of your application to the EDI program.

Completed Online Application

The online application can be completed and submitted through The Graduate School website. The program code for the EDI program is E23MS.

The instructions on the online application form are the same for all programs in The Graduate School. Please prioritize the instructions on this page over the basic instructions provided within the application form.

Academic Statement 

Please submit your Academic Statement and respond to the design innovation prompt below.

Academic Statement    (~250 - 500 words)

Write a statement that answers the following questions:

  • What are your academic interests, and why do you wish to pursue graduate studies in EDI?
  • How has your academic and professional background prepared you for graduate study? 
  • How will the EDI program help you achieve your intellectual and professional goals?

Design Prompt

Please upload your Design Prompt response in the "Additional Statements" tab of your application form in the "Writing Sample" section.

Design Innovation Prompt   (one page PDF, approximately 8.5 x 11 inches in dimension)

We are interested in learning more about you and your experiences leading up to the present. Please create a visual representation or "map" of your design journey that illustrates the experiences that have led you to apply for our program. Has your path been a straight or curvy line?  Have you encountered any unexpected intersections? If you wish, you may also include your plans for the future or how you expect your time at EDI may impact your journey.


A copy of your professional resume or CV must be included in your application.

Portfolio of Past Work

Your portfolio should represent your interests, past experiences, approach to problem framing, and provide tangible demonstration of your unique skills and design perspective.  Portfolio projects may represent work completed in an academic context, personal projects, or other efforts that communicate your curiosity, creativity, and bias for action. 

Portfolio submissions should be uploaded through the online application system. Include a link to your web-based portfolio in the “supplemental document 1” section of your application.  If you prefer to upload a PDF, it should not exceed 2.5 MB in size. 

We recognize that applicants’ portfolio materials may take different forms and that not all disciplines lend themselves to traditional design or engineering portfolio formats.  Please feel welcome to include a variety of curated materials that convey your unique skills and POV.  Formats could include project case studies, photographs, blogs, videos or other relevant medium.  

Stand-alone academic publications will not satisfy the above criteria; those submitted should be presented in a context that demonstrates your individual contributions and illustrates the exploration, process, and outcomes through a design lens.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation must be sent through online submission. Email addresses must be provided in the online application for recommenders submitting online.

Unofficial Transcripts

Unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions attended must be scanned and uploaded to the online application. We do not require official paper transcripts to be sent through the mail until after an admissions decision is rendered. All admitted applicants are required to send paper transcripts through the mail to The Graduate School at Northwestern before matriculation.

Optional Essays

Personal Statement    (~ 500 words maximum)

The Graduate School values diverse backgrounds, approaches, and perspectives, understanding them as essential ingredients for true academic excellence. As a Northwestern graduate student, how could you contribute to an intellectual community that prioritizes equity, inclusion, belonging, and cultural humility? Your answer may draw upon past or present experiences, whether in academic work, extracurricular or community activities, or everyday life.

Short Answer Prompt    (~250 words Maximum)

If there is something that you would like to highlight that you have yet to discuss in other areas of the application, please do so here. You can also use this space to address any concerns you may have in your application. If, for example, you do not believe that your academic credentials demonstrate your true capabilities, please explain why. Also, describe any gaps in your academic career and work experience or any extenuating circumstances in your profile of which the admissions committee should be made aware.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores (if necessary)

Applicants whose native language is not English must also supply scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The EDI program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 95 (Internet-based test) and a minimum IELTS score of 7 out of 9. Please see the admissions section of The Graduate School website for more information.

Personal Interview (by invitation)

Candidates may be invited for an interview with a member of the EDI team. These discussions are scheduled by the program admissions team and take place over Zoom.

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