Apply: MBA in Design Strategy

The 2019 graduate application will open November 1, 2018.

Applications submitted by January 10, 2019, will be given priority processing for application reviews with faculty. The first round of application reviews will begin February 1. 


Application Requirements

  • Application ($70 nonrefundable fee required)
  • Personal essay
  • Résumé / Curriculum vitae and LinkedIn profile
  • College transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation

The following are optional and complementary components:

  • Portfolio
  • Video
  • Interview


Applicants must complete and submit the application online. 

Personal Essay

Your personal essay must address all of the questions below.

For students submitting an optional portfolio, your essay should refer to relevant section(s) in your portfolio.

For students submitting an optional video, your essay should explain how your video complements your essay response to one or more questions.

  • We expect that our students have several years of professional work experience in the commercial, non-profit, NGO, or government sectors. Discuss your relevant professional work experience and how it has shaped your current educational and career goals.

  • Describe a product or service, and the company associated with it, that you either particularly admire or dislike. Explain the reasons for your admiration or dislike. If you admire the product or service, what can other design strategists learn from this company? If you dislike the product or service, what would you, as a future design strategist, do to change it?

  • How will the headline and article read should your company be featured in F@stCompany, The Wall Street Journal, or The Economist?

  • Teach us something about either a professional skill or any other skill you have in seven sentences. Be creative and have fun with this one!

Please note essays must be in PDF document format.

Resume/LinkedIn Profile

Applicants are required to provide a résumé and a LinkedIn profile. To share your LinkedIn profile, include your LinkedIn profile URL with your online application form.

Don't have a LinkedIn account? Create a free LinkedIn profile >>

Please note resumes must be in PDF document format.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required from an academic or professional source. No personal recommendations, please.

We use an electronic recommendation process, which ensures that we receive your recommendations in a timely fashion and convenience for your recommenders.

When submitting your electronic application, you can provide the email address for your recommenders. Your recommenders will receive the recommendation form electronically, and they will return it directly to CCA. Please note letters must be in PDF document format.

College Transcripts

Unofficial transcripts are used for review purposes. Applicants are required to upload their unofficial transcript as a PDF document with the online application form.

Accepted and enrolled applicants will submit the official sealed transcript of their undergraduate coursework to Graduate Admission by August 1, 2018.
Applicants who have taken graduate coursework are welcome to also send transcripts in support of their graduate application.
For international applicants, all transcripts must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation of the original.
All admitted students who were still in the process of completing a bachelor's degree at the time of applying must send the final transcript before enrolling to verify completion of the bachelor’s degree, including official notation of date of graduation, no later than August 1, 2018.

Mail your official transcript to:

California College of the Arts
Enrollment Services Office -- Graduate Admissions
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

English proficiency exams must be completed prior to submitting the application. Official English proficiency exam scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) must be sent to the college directly from the testing agency.

International applications will be considered incomplete, and not reviewed until proof of English proficiency has been received.

Detailed requirements for international applicants.


Optional Components


The portfolio is optional for DMBA applicants. Those who wish to provide a portfolio can do so by providing the portfolio URL with the LinkedIn profile or essay. (Note: SlideRoom portfolio submissions are not permitted for the DMBA program.) Please do not submit a portfolio if you do not refer to it in your essay.

The absence of a portfolio will not reduce chances of acceptance for nondesigners.

Portfolios should complement your essay. Your essay should refer to the relevant section(s) of your portfolio. You should only include content in the portfolio that is relevant to your essay. The portfolio should visually explain the manner by which you framed the design situation, articulated the problems to be solved, and the processes you used.

Portfolios may be uploaded to any internet host (, your personal website, a PDF posted to a file-sharing site, etc.). Be sure to make your online portfolio publicly accessible.



Applicants may choose to post a 3-5 minute video to a site (e.g., YouTube or Vimeo) and include the video's URL in the essay. Please do not submit a video if you do not refer to it in your essay.

Videos can be used to supplement essays with a personal story, interview, or project highlight.

The absence of video will not adversely affect your admission consideration.

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