How to Apply
Admissions are now closed. The application for entry in autumn 2021 will reopen late September 2020.
Complete Online Application

The following materials are required for application and cannot be waived. For other general information about applying visit the Graduate Admissions website. The application uses an online form, which you can access here. On the form, select that you are applying to Engineering Masters beginning the Autumn 2021-2022 term, then select under Departmental Specialization: Design Impact.

Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose is an essay no more than two pages in length. This is a forward-looking essay addressing your plans for Stanford and beyond. The statement should include: (a) what Design Impact means to you; (b) which of the Design Impact themes you are most interested in, and why; (c) what you plan to do to explore your interests at Stanford (be specific); (d) what your path after Stanford might look like. This essay should not dwell on past experiences. The place to show us about your past experiences is your application website (see below). Instead, in the Statement of Purpose, past experiences should be mentioned to bolster your plans for the future.

For applicants who have been out of school for some time, please include at least one letter from a source in academia who can speak to your performance as a student.

One copy from all postsecondary institutions attended. Upload one scanned version of your official transcript(s) in the online application. Please see Transcripts for more information and guidelines on submitting official transcripts. Transcripts can be mailed to:

Design Impact
Mechanical Engineering Grad Admissions
440 Escondido Mall, Building 530, Room 125
Stanford, CA 94305-3030
Official electronic transcripts can be sent to

We will fully consider for admission any student that applies with an undergraduate engineering degree and/or BS degree. The program no longer accepts students with a background in Art. We do not have the resources necessary to respond to inquiries that ask if a particular degree is equivalent to a B.S. or other undergraduate engineering degree. To answer this question yourself, please consult with the institution that granted the degree and attach official documentation from the institution supporting that your degree is a B. S. equivalent under the Supplemental Materials section of your online application.

GRE scores are not required for Design Impact applicants for the upcoming Grad Admissions cycle (students entering Fall of 2021).

If your first language is not English, you are required to take the TOEFL.
IMPORTANT: Please make sure that your TOEFL scores are received by Stanford Grad Admissions by December 2020.

Your Application Website

In the Supplemental Information section of the application, enter your application web address (URL) of your “application website” (ie. http://…) in the box provided. This is a single weblink that we can access.  If this is a password protected site, you may then enter your website password in the second box below the URL entry box. There are no specific guidelines on the kind of website you submit or how many projects should be part of this website. Think of the website as your vehicle to demonstrate who you are and how you think. Your website is our only window into your creativity. It also shows us what kinds of design problems are important to you, so make it personal.
Given this, each website is expected to be diverse and unique. However, please do not provide too large a body of work with repetitive examples of the same media, process, or end product. We are looking for breadth as well as depth. Designers often work on teams so we want you to be specific about your role on the project. We will judge the quality of your work more by your editing and selection and not by its volume.

Your website should be about your design thinking and the types of design and subjects that interest you. It should clearly demonstrate the specific “toolkit” that you are bringing to the program. It should express your thinking on the subjects that you deem important. It should demonstrate your ability to visualize things. It should show us how you develop new and innovative solutions. These solutions can be in almost any area, but we are particularly interested in new products, services, environments, information, and smart/interactive products and spaces. It should document some user research as well as include photos of some 2D and 3D work.

A case study is a great thing to include on your website. Case studies are an effective way to explain your creative process and can include all the “messy prototypes” and “important failures.” They are also one good way to show us non-design projects and entrepreneurial endeavors that emphasize your leadership skills and your strategic thinking. Case studies should be brief and visually interesting. It is typically a one- or two-page description of a project, including some description of the original problem and lots of visual information about the process that resolves it. We are not looking for a lot of writing. As designers, we prefer case studies that are more like narratives or storyboards, not like research papers.

Questions about submitting the application materials should be directed to Before submitting a question, please read our FAQ.

Applications for the Fall quarter 2021-2022 will be due the first week of December 2020
Applicants to the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship

Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 75 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including Master’s in Design Impact. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by their 2020 application deadline to be announced, and separately apply to Design Impact by first week of 2020.

Applicants to the Fall 2021 enrollment will be notified via e-mail regarding their application status by early April 2021.

A large number of applications are processed each year. Please do not contact our department staff or faculty members regarding the status of your application.
Cost of Attendance
Design Impact falls under the Graduate Engineering, 8, 9, 10 unit rate on the Stanford University tuition page. Our two-year program takes six quarters to complete, three quarters in the 1st Year and three quarters in the 2nd Year. The program is not in session over the summer. Reference here for an estimated expense budget for Stanford graduate students.

Design Impact students are offered Course Assistantships upon acceptance to offset the cost of attendance. Offers do vary each year.