Design, Environment and the Arts, PhD

Home / Degree Programs / Design, Environment and the Arts, PhD

The PhD in design, environment and the arts is an individualized, institute-wide, transdisciplinary degree program that integrates graduate courses and faculty research with expertise in design; health care and healing environments; history, theory and criticism; and digital culture in design.

Broad in scope, the program is at the cutting edge of creating new knowledge in architecture, design and the arts. It complements transdisciplinary research in other disciplines within the university. The program provides research experience for students wishing to pursue careers in industry as members of interdisciplinary design teams on environmental and energy issues as well as for those wishing to teach in the architecture, design or the arts fields.

Applicants should apply to the concentration appropriate to their area of research interest as applications to the stand-alone degree program are not being accepted at this time.

At A Glance

Design, Environment and the Arts, 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 master's degree in the field of architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, or fine arts from a regionally accredited institution. Students must be familiar with design and the arts and will be expected to demonstrate a high level of academic maturity before being admitted to the program.

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.

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 letters of recommendation preferably would be academic, although they could be professional. Applicants must 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. Candidates 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.

The application is considered incomplete if any of the 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 receipt of the written recommendation from the program director, the dean of the Graduate College notifies all applicants in writing of the admission decision.

Applicants should see the program website for application deadlines.