Design, Environment and the Arts (Digital Culture in Design), PhD

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The PhD in design, environment and the arts with a concentration in digital culture in design focuses on the role of computational systems in enhancing creativity and the quality of human design. Graduates of the program should be thinkers as well as doers; they should learn to question the existing paradigms that govern the digital world as they impact design and the arts; they should be able to analyze systematically how digital tools affect the way designers and artists think, conceptualize, create and evaluate their designs and artwork; and, as a result, they should be able to come to a unique synthesis, leading the way in these fields.

This concentration program primarily explores the impact of digital culture on how built environments, products and visual communications are designed and analyzed by design professionals and are utilized by their intended audience. Students should be able to systematically question existing paradigms and ontologies of digital tools, evaluate the new paradigms that emerge as a result of digital culture, and propose new frameworks for design disciplines. Issues such as user interface design for new products, computer simulation of performance of buildings and products, effects of digital tools on architectural form giving, digital design processes, better incorporation of human factors into design tools, usability and interaction design are some examples of faculty expertise and areas of focus.

At A Glance

Design, Environment and the Arts (Digital Culture in Design), PhD

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in the field of architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, arts media or engineering, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. GRE scores
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. a statement of purpose summarizing career objectives and the reasons for pursuing doctoral education
  6. an indication of proposed area of concentration (design, history, theory and criticism, digital culture in design, or health care and healing environments)
  7. an indication of a potential mentor
  8. a sample of sole-authored written work in English or any other evidence relevant to admission to the program (i.e., master's degree thesis, research paper or published articles)
  9. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency. A TOEFL score of at least 100 iBT or 600 PBT or an overall IELTS band score of 7.50, with no individual band below 7.00, is required of all applicants whose native language is not English: https://admission.asu.edu/international/graduate/english-proficiency. International applicants who are interested in receiving funding as teaching assistants must take the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit, administered at ASU and become certified. Additional information is available on the department website.

Students are admitted to the program only upon completion of a degree in architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture or fine arts, or upon the demonstration of equivalent standing. Applicants must be familiar with design and the arts and are expected to demonstrate a high level of academic maturity before being admitted to the program.

The letters of recommendation preferably would be academic, although they could be professional. Applicants are to provide the names and contact information of three recommenders at the time of their online application. Recommenders will receive an email with a link to the online letter of recommendation to complete. Applicants are able to see which recommenders have already completed their recommendation by logging into the My ASU system and viewing their To Do list. Once a recommender has submitted the letter of recommendation, the recommender's name is removed from the To Do list. All letters must be in English.

Applicants should identify a proposed research topic or list of possible topics that aligns with the research mission of the program and the research interests of faculty.

Applicants must have identified a doctoral program faculty member who has agreed to serve as a mentor. The faculty mentor should be from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Students are recommended to introduce themselves by email to the faculty members who they feel have related research interests and to inquire about their availability to be mentors.

The application is considered incomplete if any of the application items is missing.

The doctoral executive committee evaluates the applications and supporting materials. Admission decisions are based on the ability of the potential mentor to devote time to the student; the compatibility of the applicant's career goals with the purpose of the degree program; GRE scores; previous academic training and performance; recommendation letters; and the research mission of the institute and the research interests of faculty. The recommendations of the committee are forwarded to the program director for approval. Upon the written recommendation from the program director, the dean of the Graduate College will notify all applicants in writing of the admission decision.

Information about this program

Visit the School of Arts, Media and Engineering website for full details.