MA Entrance Requirements

Service Design students will have an eclectic mix of design disciplines, experience and expertise from the worlds of business, technology and creative industries. The linking factor is intellectual curiosity, personal drive and a capacity to work as a creative team, while inspiring rather than diminishing each individual’s own creativity. 

The Service Design MA is designed for students with the following characteristics: 

  • Experienced designers, especially communications and product designers seeking to significantly expand their capabilities with services and service systems design and engage higher up the value chain in terms of strategic design and delivery. This may include the coordination and leadership of a project involving several other design disciplines. 
  • Recent high-performing graduates from design disciplines as well as from computing and other technical disciplines, seeking to develop their design capabilities and create higher value added services for their clients. It is also designed for budding designer entrepreneurs interested in launching new service led business ventures through the multiple award winning RCA business incubator.
  • Mid and senior professionals from industry and the public sector, with evidence of their creative talents as demonstrated by leadership of innovative projects, who are seeking to enhance their capabilities and apply a design led approach to the transformation of consumer, business to business, and public sector services e.g. health service or home office professionals, service designers from telecommunications and hospitality sector. 

Digital Portfolio

Portfolios will only be accepted online using the RCA Online Application Form and Online Portfolio Submission process. Please ensure that:

  • your online portfolio submission can be viewed in any standard browser
  • you have reviewed and checked that your submission works in the way you intend it to be seen in a web browser (preferably Firefox) on a different computer (ie, not the computer you made the submission on, to check that your files have uploaded correctly to our server)
  • you pace your work so the examiners will be able to judge your submission in the way you wish to present yourself – they will look at your work for a maximum of 15 minutes only

Portfolio Recommendations 

The portfolio should show: 

  • excellence in your current expertise, study area or professional activity
  • evidence of your interest or ability in service design and associated fields
  • samples of your creative abilities or relevant personal interests. 

This could include: projects and exercises from previous degree courses; where relevant, examples of professional work; personal sketchbooks; self‐ generated projects; evidence of an ability to make in 3D, as well as examples of creative work in any other areas. A portfolio is a visual representation of your skills, experience, interest, and potential. 

Remember to: 

  • include great achievements in your current and past roles
  • show examples of work/projects that demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the world of Service Design
  • communicate something special about you
  • clearly describe the exact role you played in a group project if relevant
  • keep to a neat, simple layout – clear communication is key to success
  • Put a CV in the portfolio – we have the application form but it’s always useful to see more information
  • Make it stand out – we have a lot of portfolios to view, make yours special, break the rules 

If you have no design experience, show us where you have promise or have made the effort to try – we are looking for potential,

Portfolio Requirements

  • You are asked to provide a personal statement of a maximum of 500 words.
  • You may upload up to 20 individual projects or items to your portfolio. These may be single images, a design consisting of more than one image (such as publication), a presentation, or a moving image or audio clip. You may add a gallery of six further images to support each of your projects. You should provide a description of a maximum of 100 words for each project image and a caption of up to 50 words for each of the gallery images.
  • Moving image or sound work must be limited to a maximum of five minutes (full length work will be viewed if you are invited for an interview in Part 2).
  • You may include links to websites, such as your personal site, but it must support your main submission. If there are websites you have professionally designed for clients, you must explain your role in the design and implementation processes.
  • Images should be in an acceptable format (see formats below) to the following recommended dimensions: width: minimum width 400 pixels, recommended 1024 pixels (larger images will be resized) height: minimum height 400 pixels recommended 768 pixels resolution: must be 72 dpi (dots per inch) – re-size all images appropriately maximum file size: 2mb for each image and 80mb for a movie file file formats: JPEG, PNG, MP4, MOV, M4V website URL (please note PDF files are not suitable). For each piece of work you must indicate: Title Medium (where relevant) Date made Size (cms) length (mins).

Interview (if invited)

  • You should bring with you a portfolio containing a selection of your online submission in its finished physical form, as well as your most recent work or work in progress, together with supporting research material. The interview lasts approximately 30 minutes in duration.

All work must be taken away after the interview.

For full details of cross-College entrance requirements and portfolio requirements (if applicable), see MA Entrance Requirements.

Cross College Requirements

For full details of cross-College entrance requirements and portfolio requirements (if applicable), see MA Entrance Requirements.

Fees & Funding

Applicants to the RCA from England and the EU are likely to be eligible for the new Postgraduate Student Loan of up to £10,000 per course of study. 

Tuition fees for 15-month MA programmes in 2017/18 are: UK/EU: £14,500 per annum; Overseas: £34,000 per annum. 

Tuition fees for 2-year MA programmes in 2017/18 are: UK/EU: £9,500 per annum (£19,000 total fee); Overseas: £28,400 per annum (£56,800 total fee). 

Fees for joint MA/MSc programmes differ. See Tuition Fees for further information. 

Students should estimate the cost of living in London at £12,000–£15,000 per year. 

For further information on funding visit Financial Help, or email

If you are from the USA you should note that the Royal College of Art is designated as an eligible institution for American students to apply for a Guaranteed Student Loan under the new Direct Loan Program. The RCA's School Code is 00942300.

Applications 2018/19

Applications for 2018 entry are now open. Visit Apply for details on how to make your application, or log in to our Online Applications site.

If you are considering applying to the College, you can prepare for your application by researching the academic programmes offered by each of the Schools, and accessing the Tuition Fees and Funding Support information available. The College provides a number of bursaries towards fees and the costs of living in London. They are available to home and EU students on a competitive basis. For further details, please see Financial Help.


240 credits
Two-year programme
Full-time study

"The first year took me by surprise – all the projects were done in groups, which meant you learnt a lot through other people as well as from the actual teaching. And they were ‘real world’ projects, with actual clients briefing us and valuing the work we did for them." Holly May Mahoney

MA Service Design 2014 -2016

Service Design Studios
Service Design Studios
Photographer: Richard Haughton