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Applying to a Degree Program

Application Process

Follow this process to complete your application into our enrollment-managed programs after completion of the Core Design Program. Students with a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher who have passed DSN S 110/115 are eligible to apply.

Please note: The Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design/Art and Culture Concentration and the Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning are both open-enrollment majors. This means the BA and BS degrees are not part of the enrollment-management process in the College of Design and do not require completion of the Core Design Program.

Students in any Iowa State college may enroll directly in Art and Design/Art and Culture Concentration or Community and Regional Planning as a primary or secondary major at any time.

Application Form

The application process begins with completion of the online application form. (The application form link will go live toward the end of spring semester 2022 before the next admission cycle begins.) You will need your Iowa State NetID and password to log into the secure website and access the form. You may choose to apply to more than one program and may do so all on the same form. Please be prepared to rank the majors you are applying to (first choice, second choice, etc.) on the application form.

Academic Integrity

By completing the online application form, you are entering into an agreement with the College of Design regarding the integrity of your application materials. Submitting this form verifies that all work included in the application materials is your own.

Iowa State University and the College of Design have zero tolerance for plagiarism and cheating. Any form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Violators will be disqualified from the admission review and will be reported to the university. Please refer to the “Academic Dishonesty” section under “Academic Conduct” in the university catalog for a description of what constitutes academic dishonesty and possible university actions against violators.

Grade Point Average

Fall 2021 pre-majors who earn a B to B+ average (3.20 out of a possible 4.00 GPA) in your graded Design Studies (DSN S) Core courses will be admitted to your first choice of major/degree program. You must also pass DSN S 110/115.

If you don’t achieve a 3.20 or higher GPA, you’re still likely to be admitted to your top choice. Based on past years’ data, we’ve determined that students with a 3.20 GPA (B to B+ average) likely will account for no more than 60% of seats available in our degree programs. The remaining seats will be filled in descending order of DSN S Core GPA (remember that a minimum of 2.00 cumulative GPA is required for admission) combined with a review of the work in the final exhibition.

Select students whose Core work is strong but whose GPA is lower may also be admitted to their first choice. See information on the final exhibition below.

Final Exhibition

At the end of your Core year, all students — regardless of GPA — will be required to choose your five best works from your Core classes to display in a final exhibition (digital or physical, determined on an annual basis). This serves as a celebration and showcase of your first-year work. It also provides an opportunity for every department to review the work in the exhibition and potentially make admission offers to their programs based on the quality of these five pieces alone. This will allow us to reward high-quality work that is not reflected in the DSN S Core GPA.

All work displayed in the final exhibition must be your own, produced individually or as part of a team project. In team projects, it may be helpful to identify work of the team versus individual work. Any form of plagiarism will disqualify you from the admission review.

This spring, due to the pandemic, students submitted work digitally through SlideRoom. For the spring 2022 application process, we are planning for work to be installed in a physical exhibition in the College of Design building. You should choose what you consider to be the five best works you have completed in DSN S 102: Design Studio I and in DSN S 131: Drawing I for submission for the exhibition. Your five best works should demonstrate the following:

  • An understanding of the creative process
  • A range of skills across multiple types of projects
  • An attention to detail and composition
  • An ability to visualize space and form in both 2D (drawings) and 3D (models)
  • Quality of craft in design and drawing work

Application Deadline

The application period is typically during finals week of spring semester. We will post specific dates here.

Notification of Admission

After your application materials are matched with your Core GPA, if you meet the 3.20 GPA you will be invited to enroll in the program that ranks highest on your list. For those students who do not achieve a 3.20 GPA in the graded Core courses, you may still be admitted to your first choice based on descending order of GPA and a faculty review of the five works submitted/installed in the final exhibition.

Admission decisions and notification will be completed by mid-June. Notifications will be sent via email and paper mail. Following receipt of the notification letter, you will have two weeks to accept or reject the offer. Key dates will be posted here closer to the application deadline.

Once you enroll in a program, you will enter that program in Fall 2022. You may not switch programs during Fall 2022 or Spring 2023. If you decide not to continue in a program, you should discuss options with your advisor.

If you decide you would like to move to another enrollment-managed program in the College of Design, you may re-submit your materials during the next enrollment-management cycle (Spring 2023 application for consideration for Fall 2023 admission).

Application Process for Fall 2022 Pre-Majors

The application process described here is for Fall 2021 pre-majors. The process for Fall 2022 pre-majors (freshmen/first-year students entering the College of Design in Fall 2022) will be posted here soon.


Please contact your academic advisors. All the best!