Graduate admission requirements

SCAD encourages applications from students who demonstrate successful completion of appropriate coursework at the undergraduate level and adequate preparedness to undertake graduate-level study. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or should anticipate completion of a bachelor's degree before enrollment in the graduate program. All applicants are evaluated individually according to previous educational experience and level of achievement.

Graduate students apply for and are accepted into specific disciplines. Students who wish to change from one discipline to another must meet all admission requirements for the new discipline.

For graduate students entering the professional architecture program from preparatory or pre-professional programs, required credit hours will be determined on an individual basis, dependent upon review of the student's academic transcripts and portfolio by the architecture faculty and transfer credit evaluator at SCAD. Students may be assigned preparatory (preliminary) courses from the SCAD B.F.A. program in addition to two years of graduate study. The graduate admission review ensures that the undergraduate coursework of all applicants who enroll in the professional M.Arch. program is evaluated according to the NAAB student performance criteria required at the pre-professional level.

All graduate degree applicants should review the graduate candidacy and completion requirements in the academic disclosures and policies section.


1. Completed application for admission and nonrefundable $40 application fee

Apply online



After completing your online application, a personal admission adviser will be assigned to you to help you complete your file. All admission requirements can be sent digitally or electronically to your adviser.


2. A bachelor's degree or its equivalent

Graduate applicants may receive a preliminary offer of admission based upon unofficial transcripts/mark sheets from all postsecondary institutions attended.  If an offer of admission is made, official transcripts/mark sheets from each college/university attended should be received prior to Aug. 1 for fall enrollment. Prior to enrollment at SCAD, proof of completion of the bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) must be received by SCAD.* All transcripts/mark sheets must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation. The office of admission must receive all official transcripts prior to the first day of class. Failure to comply with this requirement may prohibit the student from attending classes for that quarter.

SCAD reserves the right to verify all documents submitted in an application for admission. Offers of admission are contingent upon receipt of official documentation and SCAD reserves the right to revoke any offer of admission should discrepancies be found. Any falsification of admission documents, portfolio or audition materials constitutes grounds for termination of application procedures or dismissal from SCAD.

*SCAD uses the standards established by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers to determine the equivalent academic achievement of a bachelor's degree. Transcripts are evaluated to determine the conferment of bachelor's degrees from institutions that are approved by the U.S. Department of Education and hold regional accreditation, or have appropriate specialized or programmatic accreditation, or have been evaluated and proven to have comparable course content and level of instruction to SCAD, or are recognized by the ministry of education or equivalent agency in the applicant's home country. Course content is evaluated by comparing the curricula of other institutions with that of SCAD and assessing whether or not foundation studies, general education and major discipline courses are comparable to those offered at SCAD. Level of instruction is evaluated by comparing the percentage of faculty at other institutions who hold graduate and terminal degrees with the percentage of faculty at SCAD who hold graduate and terminal degrees.


3. Evidence of English proficiency for students whose first language is not English

English is the language of instruction for all classes at SCAD. In addition to meeting or exceeding all other SCAD admission criteria, applicants who wish to be admitted with no further English proficiency requirements must demonstrate their current level of proficiency by providing official minimum scores on one of the following:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) minimum scores (SCAD code 5631):

    1. 550 on the paper-based test.
    2. 85 on the Internet-based test with minimum score of 20 on each section.

    Students who meet the minimum required composite score but do not meet the minimum section scores are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for possible exemption. No exceptions are made if the minimum composite score is not met. All decisions are final.

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) composite score of at least 6.5 with a score of at least 6.5 in both reading and writing.
  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) score of at least "high advanced" on the writing proficiency portion of the test.
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) score of 58 with a 53 minimum in each category.

    Students who meet the minimum required composite score but who do not meet the minimum section scores are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for possible exemption. No exceptions are made if the minimum composite score is not met. All decisions are final.

  • SAT score of at least 550 on the critical reading portion, or 22 on both the reading and writing sections of the ACT.
  • Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) score of at least 5 in English language.

Otherwise qualified applicants who do not meet the minimum scores listed above may be considered for admission to SCAD. These students must take a SCAD English language proficiency test to be placed in the appropriate level of ESL upon enrollment. Students must satisfactorily complete ESL coursework through completion of Level VI.

For applicants whose native language is English, no additional proof of English proficiency is required. For applicants whose transcripts show extensive study at an institution in which English is the language of instruction, no additional proof of English proficiency is required for admission evaluation, but applicants may be asked to take an English proficiency test upon enrollment at the university.


4. Recommendations

Letters of recommendation from two professors, advisers, supervisors or community leaders who have had immediate contact with the applicant and who have knowledge of the applicant's level of commitment and history of achievement. Recommendations should provide relevant information about the applicant's creativity, initiative, motivation, character and achievements, thus assessing the applicant's reasonable potential for success as a student at SCAD. Recommendations may not come from friends or family members.


5. Statement of purpose

The statement should be a 500- to 750-word overview of the applicant's academic and professional accomplishments and should demonstrate a high level of interest in and a highly developed understanding of the discipline. The applicant should describe knowledge of the discipline, approach to past work, qualifications for graduate study and intended focus, as well as personal and professional goals.


6. Portfolio, audition or writing submission

The portfolio should be specific to the intended course of study, should represent the applicant's best work examples and should demonstrate a high level of craft presented as professionally as possible. The portfolio, audition or writing submission is scored according to a rubric relevant to the intended course of study and type of submission.

View the graduate portfolio, audition and writing guidelines.


7. Résumé

The résumé should document educational credentials as well as professional and other employment such as internships or field experience in the intended area of graduate study, and should list commissioned works, exhibitions, performances, publications, honors, memberships, interests and activities, including volunteer work.


8. GRE scores strongly recommended for applicants to certain programs

While not required of most applicants, submission of GRE scores is strongly encouraged for applicants to architectural history, art history, business design and arts leadership, and cinema studies. Performance on the GRE may assist in demonstrating adequate educational preparation and ability to succeed in academic coursework at the graduate level.

Applicants whose bachelor's degrees are conferred by institutions that are not approved by the U.S. Department of Education and/or do not hold regional accreditation, or do not have appropriate specialized or programmatic accreditation, or have not been evaluated and proven comparable in course content and level of instruction to SCAD, or are not recognized by the ministry of education or equivalent agency in the applicant's home country, are required to take the GRE and submit official scores to SCAD.


9. Additionally, if applicable, any other documents or materials required to obtain a student visa

  • Official certification of sources and funds.
  • Copy of the first page of the applicant's passport (requested, but not required). A copy of the first page of the passport for any dependent accompanying the student also is requested. These documents are used to verify correct spelling of names, correct birth dates, and other information vital to student registration.


10. Optional personal or telephone interview

May be scheduled by contacting the admission department.

Exceptions to the general rules of admission may be made for applicants of unusual motivation and ability. Application materials cannot be returned.

Graduate admission with intensive graduate-level coursework

Intensive graduate-level coursework provides a bridge for academically qualified graduate students who need additional practical skills, contextual knowledge and studio work in order to prepare for the rigorous specialized disciplines offered at SCAD.

Upon admission, graduate students may be assigned an intensive program of up to 15 additional hours (three courses) in their course of study. Intensive programming may not be offered every quarter or at every SCAD location and, thus, may change a student's entry term and intended location. Intensive graduate-level courses may be assigned in addition to preliminary undergraduate courses.

Graduate admission with required preliminary undergraduate courses

In some cases, graduate applicants may be required to take preliminary undergraduate courses prior to entering their graduate course of study. Graduate applicants who are assigned undergraduate preliminary courses prior to their graduate course of study must complete these undergraduate courses with a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Once these courses are completed satisfactorily, these students are admitted as graduate students and are approved to proceed with the intended graduate course of study. Preliminary undergraduate courses may be assigned in addition to intensive graduate-level courses.

Courses are assigned by the Admission Review Committee on the basis of the student's prior educational experience, level of achievement and the desired program of study. Students who seek to be exempted from any assigned preliminary course must provide documentation to the admission office that demonstrates mastery of skills and sufficient knowledge of content taught in the specific preliminary course. A student who is granted exemption does not receive credit for the course, but it is eliminated from the student's preliminary course requirements.