The Design Fellowship is an opportunity for approximately ten continuing MIT graduate students to engage in MAD’s activities and propose a research-oriented or personal design project throughout the academic year (nine months), while receiving full tuition support, a stipend, and health insurance.
The MIT Morningside Academy for Design welcomes current Master’s or PhD candidates from any MIT department or school, as we strive to generate an interdisciplinary environment of knowledge interchange. Every year, MAD seeks forward-thinking students with a strong interest in design, sustainability, and social impact to join its next Fellowship cohort.
Video of MIT MAD 2024 Design Fellows
Inaugural 2023 cohort
Who can apply?
Current Master’s or PhD candidates from any MIT department or school, whose research or work engages with design.
Design is the use of creativity in the formulation of an object or system that directly considers human and social impacts. We encourage applicants to reflect on the use of design in their work or research, as well as its potential for social, and/or environmental impacts or implications for the process of designing itself. Answering the question “Who will benefit from my work, and how?” should be a central aspect of Design Fellow applications.
Benefits & requirements
In addition to the financial award of stipend and tuition, Fellows are encouraged to engage with invited designers, researchers, MIT faculty members, and MAD’s program of public activities. Every week, Fellows join a for-credit lunch seminar aimed at enriching and expanding their work, and facilitating the sharing of ideas, while building community around design across MIT.
As the community of Design Fellows grows, a network of people and projects is expected to nurture additional initiatives. The Fellows' work will remain available in MAD’s archive as a resource to others, as they move on to become the next generation of design leaders.
2024 Design Fellowship applications are now closed. The next cohort of Design Fellows will be announced in the spring of 2023.
To be eligible, applicants must be in residence at MIT during the academic year and currently enrolled. Applicants must also be nominated by an MIT faculty member, with each faculty member limited to only one nomination. If we receive more than one nomination from a faculty member, we will ask that they select only one student for Fellowship consideration. Thus, it is important that the applicants and faculty members discuss the nomination.
Please carefully read the information below before applying.
Two semesters of tuition (Fall and Spring), as well as 9 months of stipend support. Fellows will also receive health insurance, beginning September 1.
Upon request, Design Fellows could receive additional stipend support through the summer, and in extraordinary cases, could be renewed for a second year. The nominating faculty member will receive a scholarly allowance to support the Design Fellow’s need for materials, fieldwork, conference travel, or other allied support.
The deadline for applications for the 2023–24 academic year was 5pm ET, Tuesday January 17, 2023. Applications for this year are no longer accepted.
Nomination packets should be submitted through this online form in two parts. Part 1 should be submitted by the student candidate. Part 2 must be submitted by the nominating faculty member.
- Once you have all the required documents for your application ready, complete the Morningside Academy for Design application form.
- Attach a one-page PDF Curriculum Vitae, showing your current degree program.
- Attach a two-page maximum 10 MB PDF statement of interest addressing the questions below:
A — What is your area of study at MIT (research questions, methods, impact on users or society, or on design research)? If relevant, you can include previous design experiences or expertise, financial need, and areas of professional interest. One page in length.
B — How does your graduate program include design? What are you designing, for whom, and why? What are your long-term aspirations as a designer or design-focused researcher? One page in length.
The statement must be written with a multidisciplinary audience in mind, and non-specialists should be able to clearly understand the work and its design aspects. You may include images as part of your two-page statement, or a link to a portfolio with images. Please do not include attachments.
Important: If you do not have a faculty research advisor for your project, you must indicate how you plan to identify one when addressing part A.
FACULTY MEMBER NOMINATION
Submit a signed letter of nomination detailing the student’s qualifications and capabilities, and indicating why you believe the student should be awarded a Design Fellowship. This can include the potential financial impact of the Fellowship on the student, as well as the financial need for the faculty member’s research group. The letter should be two pages or less and submitted via this form. Each MIT faculty member may nominate only one student, who is likely to be that faculty member’s academic or research advisee.
As stated above, if a student cannot find a faculty member to nominate them, then a letter of nomination from another senior member of the MIT community will be accepted. However, the student should then indicate in Part A how they intend to identify a research advisor for their stated project.
Morningside Academy for Design Fellows are selected by a faculty committee representing all five MIT Schools and the Schwarzman College of Computing. Award decisions will be announced in March 2023.
Criteria for selection include:
- creativity and breadth of experience
- clarity of project goals
- overall academic quality
- diversity of perspectives on design
- potential impact of the fellowship on the student, including financial aspect
If you have questions that are not answered here, please contact [email protected].
Meet the inaugural cohort of Design Fellows
Dec 19 Design Fellowship Info session replay
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated Dec 13, 2022
1. I already have another full fellowship (NSF, departmental fellowship, or other fellowship) for next year. Can I still apply?
Yes, you may still apply, though we recommend that you speak with your advisor or department graduate officer as to whether your current funding allows flexibility to be used in other years.
2. I have partial funding (RA/TA/fellowship) for next academic year. Can I still apply?
Yes, you can apply, but please make a note in your application of the funding coverage that you already have (or are likely to have). For example, if you know that you will have a 50 percent Teaching Assistantship in the fall, please state that in your application. It will help us make the funding go farther. Also, MIT does not allow graduate students to earn a stipend above standard limits.
3. I’m an incoming MIT graduate student and do not have an advisor for next year. Can I still apply?
The fellowship application and timeline with a January deadline is intended for continuing graduate students already at MIT.
4. The faculty member I am working with (or plan to work with) is already nominating another student. Can I ask another MIT faculty member to nominate me?
If this other MIT faculty member will be your thesis advisor or will be someone you will work closely with, then they can nominate you. However, no faculty advisor can advise more than one Design Fellow.
5. My research area has a number of design components but is not in a traditionally design-related field. Can I still apply?
It’s very difficult to assess the relevance of design to a topic without seeing a full application. The fellowships are not limited to fields or departments that are seen as design-centric. However, we expect that successful candidates will have prior design experience as well as active research in design. If you do not have examples of previous projects or products that you have helped to design, then you will likely not be a strong candidate for the Design Fellowship.
6. My research area is in X, Y or Z, and I’m not sure it’s relevant to the Design Fellowship solicitation. Should I apply?
It’s very difficult to assess the relevance of design to a topic without seeing a full application. We leave it up to you and your advisor to decide. But the fellowships will typically support designers and researchers with some track record in design, rather than researchers who do not have a prior track record as designers.
7. Is there a specific format for the curriculum vitae and other documents in the nomination package?
The documents should be PDF of 10Mb or less files: maximum one page for the curriculum vitae, and two pages for the statement of interest. Beyond that, the format of the documents is up to you. We only ask that you stick to the stated page limits and make sure your document uses a font that is readable. You may include images as part of your two-page statement or you may include a link to a Dropbox with images. Please do not include attachments to the statement.
8. I’m planning to work with another student on a joint graduate thesis and we will share a single faculty advisor. Can we apply?
Yes, you can apply, but you would share the funding between the two of you with a single advisor. Please submit a single application for the two-student team.
9. I’m ineligible or do not want to apply for the Design Fellowship, but I’d still like to be involved with the Morningside Academy for Design. Can I participate in the six-unit seminar even if I’m not a Design Fellow? Or are there other ways to be involved?
Only the Design Fellows will be allowed to participate in the six-unit seminar. However, there are other ways to be involved in the Academy. We will offer a variety of public programming in the coming academic year and we would love for you to attend and to bring others. Some of the sessions will be open to all, while some sessions will be closed to the public.
10. When will the seminar be scheduled?
Once the set of Fellows has been selected, we will try to find a mutually agreeable time for the weekly seminar.
11. Will there be an information session? What if I'm not available?
Yes, there was an information session on Zoom, on December 19, at 10am ET.
You can watch the replay in the dedicated section above (Information session).