Master of Design Methods Overview

The Master of Design Methods (MDM) program is for exceptional professionals of any discipline with a proven track record of leading innovation initiatives. Graduates accelerate their careers with a deep understanding of what design thinking can bring to their organizations. They build lasting skills and knowledge that can be applied to a wide range of challenges within large and small enterprises.

Throughout the Master of Design Methods program students collaborate with each other and students from other programs to dissect and solve complex problems. Hands-on exercises and team-based projects foster deep learning and enhance collaboration and leadership skills.


The Master of Design Methods is a 30-credit-hour degree program offered in a Sabbatical (full-time) or Professional (part-time) format. Over 80% of the courses in the program are electives (seminars and workshops) allowing students to customize their studies to their particular field of interest. Students can choose courses ranging across communication design, product design, strategic planning, user research, interaction design and systems design.

Students in the Sabbatical (full-time) format enroll in 15 credits per term and complete the degree in 9 months. Students in the Professional (part-time) format enroll in 6-7.5 credits (2-3 classes) per term to complete the degree in 4-5 semesters, usually taking evening courses. If desired, students in the Professional format can enroll in as few as 3 credits per term to give ample room to pursue the degree while working full-time. 

Every student is assigned an advisor to assist in choosing the best courses and schedule for their educational objectives. Some typical courses for students pursing the MDM degree are:

  • Design Connoisseurship
  • Analysis + Synthesis in Design
  • Intro to Observing Users
  • Intro to Design Planning
  • Prototyping Methods
  • Diagram Development
  • Experience Modeling
  • Communication Strategies
  • Modes of Human Experience
  • Persuasive Interaction Design
  • Intro to Portfolio Planning
  • Co-Design and Participatory Research
  • Service Systems Workshop
  • Planning Implementation

See the full list of courses offered for the Master of Design Methods


Based on 2015-2016 student body, backgrounds and prior education
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Business Consulting
  • Non-for-profit Management
  • Industrial Design
  • Communication Design
  • Marketing
  • Education
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Average age: 38 yrs
  • Female 48% / Male 52%

Learn more about our students


Students and graduates of ID become members of a very accomplished, well-connected network of people spanning the globe. Graduates of ID hold positions of influence in companies such as Steelcase, Motorola, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple,, SCJ Johnson, Samsung, McDonald’s and design consultancies like Doblin|Monitor, Fjord|Accenture, Ziba Design, IA Collaborative, IDEO, Jump Associates, and gravitytank.

Organizations have employed ID graduates as:

  • Design Planner/Strategist
  • Senior Innovation Strategist
  • Director of Strategy and New Business Development
  • Director of Product Development
  • Director of Innovation Methods
  • Director of User Research
  • Brand Strategist
  • Director of Interaction Design
  • Senior Information Architect
  • Senior UX Designer

Learn more about our alumni 


  • 2 semesters in the Sabbatical (full-time) format
  • 4-5 semesters in the Professional (part-time) format (courses typically taken in the evenings)
  • 30 credit hours


Full-time Sabbatical format

Tuition (2016-2017 rate) $29,395 per semester
Student fees, books, and supplies $1,268* per semester
Living expenses (room & board) $6,750* per semester
Health insurance (can be waived) $1,441* per year

Part-time Professional format

Tuition (2016-2017 rate) $1,958 per credit hr
Student fees, books, and supplies $600-800* per semester
Health insurance (can be waived) $1,441* per year


Learn more about Fellowships + Financial Aid

To Apply

Start your application to the Master of Design Methods program today! It only takes a few minutes. If you don’t have all of your materials ready, don’t worry. You can add them when you are. To complete your application you will need to provide the following:

  • Portfolio of work. 5-15 pages that demonstrate critical thinking, innovation management, and problem/concept exploration.
  • Statement of educational objectives. 1-3 pages including career goals and reasons for studying at the Institute of Design. An additional interview (by phone, Skype, or in person) may be required.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae. 8-10 years of professional practice is typical, minimum of 5 years experience (in a leadership or management role) is required. Full-time internships, volunteer work, and freelance projects will be considered.
  • Transcripts from all prior degrees. Degrees must be from an accredited educational institution with a minimum cumulative GPA 3.0/4.0 or equivalent. For international applicants without a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited English-language university, a TOEFL or IETLS test is required. (TOEFL minimum 100,  IETLS minimum 7.5, Scores below will be required to enroll in English programs.)
  • Letters of recommendation. Three letters from professional or academic references commenting on your goals and abilities.
  • Application fee. $100.00


See additional information and commonly asked questions

Apply Now


Application Deadlines

Fall 2018 admission
January 18, 2018 (early round)
March 1, 2018 (final round)

Spring 2019 admission
September 21, 2018 (early round)
November 2, 2018 (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 or if the application deadline for your desired start date has passed, please contact: