Design Foundation—an entry point to a career in design for non-designers

ID encourages applicants with no prior design experience. We seek a diverse student body of trained designers and non-designers. We celebrate different points of view through a multidisciplinary faculty and student body. The rich mixture of cultures enrich learning and lead to new thinking and developing responsible solutions.

The goal of the Design Foundation program is to help students gain essential design skills and knowledge. Foundation students have gone on to become some of school’s most successful graduates with fulfilling careers in leading design firms and corporations around the world.

The Design Foundation program is a two-semester introductory program for students who need experience in design in order to complete their graduate degree. (Due to cross-over electives, the Foundation courses extend the total MDES program by only one semester.) Students without an undergraduate design degree are required to enroll. Some students with design degrees may be required to take some foundation courses in order to build competency in certain areas.

Design Foundation Curriculum

Design Foundation students are taught by both full-time faculty along with a diverse adjunct community of practitioners. A balanced approach allows students to get a broad understanding of design disciplines. Foundation students take a pre-programmed set of classes. The deeply immersive work and the consistency of colleagues creates an environment of camaraderie that will be with you throughout your time at ID.

At this time, students placed in the Foundation program must begin in the fall term. This aids summer internship opportunities and positions the student to complete the degree in the shortest amount of calendar time.

View Design Foundation courses

Application Deadlines

Spring 2019 admission
September 21, 2018 (early round)
November 2, 2018 (final round)

Late applications may be considered, please contact us.

Fall 2019 admission
January 18, 2019 (early round)
March 1, 2019 (final round)

Admission to the MDes program with Foundation is offered for the fall semester only. Your application must be completed by 5 p.m. (CST/Chicago time) on the due date to be considered for that round. You will receive an email confirmation when all of your materials have been received. Admission decisions will be communicated roughly four weeks after this confirmation.

More Information

For more information about the Foundation program, please contact: