Apply to the M.F.A. in Design

Master of Fine Arts in Design student enjoying a screen printing workshop outdoors with her MFA cohort at UT Austin

Apply to the M.F.A. in Design

Admissions for the 2024-2026 cohort are now closed. Information regarding the 2025-2027 cohort will be available later this year.

Application Process

Admission to the M.F.A. program is based on a holistic review of the applicant's portfolio, written statement of purpose, academic qualifications, and letters of recommendation. The application process may take several weeks to complete so you should apply well in advance of the deadline to ensure adequate time to submit all required items.
To be considered for graduate admission to The University of Texas at Austin, you must meet both the minimum requirements set by the Graduate School and the requirements of the Department of Design to which you are applying. Application for admission to the Graduate School is a multi-step process outlined below. All materials must be received by the due date before your application can be reviewed.
The Admissions Committee for the M.F.A. in Design program submits recommendations for admission to the Graduate School. All formal offers of admission are made by the Graduate School based both on the program's recommendation and on the Graduate School’s own admissions requirements.

Applicant Profile

Design graduate students are expected to be self-motivated, experienced, and skilled practitioners of design with a strong portfolio of recent work, a clearly stated rationale for undertaking graduate study in design at The University of Texas at Austin, and a well-defined area of investigation around which they propose to focus their coursework, research, and creation in the program. 

The University of Texas at Austin believes that a highly talented and diverse student body can significantly enhance the character and quality of the academic culture and community. To this end, the University is continuously engaged in an effort to increase the pool of graduate scholars from diverse backgrounds.

Steps to Apply

Step Task DescriptionTask Location
1.Meet minimum requirements set by the The University of Texas at Austin Graduate SchoolUT Austin Graduate School
2.Complete Application & Submit Application Fees ($65 total for U.S. and Permanent Resident applicants; $90 total for International applicants. Information regarding fee waivers can be found here.)ApplyTexas
3.Receive email that includes UT EID to access MyStatus portalMyStatus
4.Submit Official Transcript(s) from every senior college you have attendedMyStatus
5.Submit English Language Proficiency Test Results (for international applicants only)MyStatus
6.Obtain 2 Letters of RecommendationMyStatus
7.Submit Statement of PurposeMyStatus
8.Submit Portfolio of Visual Work (View requirements below)MyStatus
9.Submit ResumeMyStatus
10.File the FAFSA (optional but highly recommended)Federal Student Aid
11.Check your application statusMyStatus
12.Receive your decision starting mid-March 

Still Have Questions?

Review our FAQ Page

Questions about the application process should be directed to the Graduate Coordinator,
Kalyn (Saylor) Henderson, at

Preparing a Statement of Purpose

"Describe your current relationship to design and state why you're pursuing graduate study as a next step. Please also share topics you'd like to investigate for your thesis research and how you envision this program will impact you post-graduation."

The Statement of Purpose is a required item to apply to the program and should be no longer than one page. This is your opportunity to describe your reasons for pursuing graduate study in Design at The University of Texas at Austin and what you plan to explore as part of your secondary area of study. Please share with us your academic and professional interests and how your work in this program will help you achieve your goals.

Preparing a Portfolio

Your portfolio is an opportunity to showcase your thinking and creative talents in the area of design. This might include visual work from a design field as well as documentation of your creative process like imagery and reflective narrative around your approach. Your portfolio submission should be a well-organized and thoughtfully curated representation of your work.


You may submit up to 8 projects. All projects should be included in one multiple-page PDF file, which includes: 

  1. Appropriate visual documentation of the project
  2. Project title, date, client (if relevant), and dimensions or duration
  3. Your role/contribution to the project if the project was a collaborative group project
  4. A project description or relevant information.
  5. Time-based projects should be referenced in the PDF described above. Total time for all real-time projects should not exceed 9 minutes. Depending on the nature of the project, we suggest documentation for any one project should not exceed 3 minutes in length (you may include clips rather than the entire piece).
  6. Along with the visual portfolio you should upload your Statement of Purpose and résumé each as a separate PDF.

Graduate School Tuition & Funding

Current tuition and fees for Texas residents and out-of-state and international non-residents may be figured using the Graduate Tuition Calculator. Students in the M.F.A. in Design program typically take 15 credit-hours in the first Fall and Spring semester, 6-hours in the Summer and averaging 12 for the second Fall and Spring. A limited number of Tuition Waivers are offered to out-of-state and international students that forgive the non-resident portion of tuition.

File the FAFSA

Graduate students from the U.S. (citizens and permanent residents) are eligible for Federal Plus loans as independent students and are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should complete the FAFSA as soon as you have submitted your admission application and have filed your federal tax return. It is strongly recommended not to wait for notification of admission before filing the FAFSA. Even if you don’t intend to take out student loans you should still complete the FAFSA because doing so may qualify you for need-based funding such as grants and scholarships. Applicants should file the FAFSA by the priority deadline to be considered for need-based funding.

Additional Funding

Funding resources at the M.F.A. level are limited and awarded to competitive applicants based on merit and expressed need. Each year various opportunities may be available including scholarships, fellowships, and academic appointments such as Teaching Assistant positions. Students are notified at the time of admission if they will receive any funding support from the department. Depending on the funding package, benefits such as health insurance, tuition reduction and/or in-state tuition rates may also be included.

Assistant Instructor, Graduate Research Assistant or Graduate Assistant positions may also be available in the department, and eligible students are also welcome to apply to positions outside of the department once enrolled at the university. The number of opportunities varies each year as does the total financial support available. Salaried positions are consistent with academic appointments across all departments in the College of Fine Arts. Information about other sources of funding is available from the Graduate School.