• Students regularly form teams and work on group projects.

Master of Design Overview

The Master of Design (MDes) program welcomes students from around the world. Graduates become thought leaders, researchers, strategists and change agents at the most influential global organizations. They demonstrate novel yet feasible solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. In short, they make our world better.

Throughout the Master of Design program students collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams on real-world projects with partners in healthcare, business, CPG, civics, and more. Projects focus on local and global challenges, addressing problems through innovation, rigor, and creativity.

In addition to experienced designers, we encourage students with no formal design training to apply. A two-semester Foundation program provides prerequisite skills and experience. Approximately 50% of students at ID come from non-design backgrounds such as business, engineering, liberal arts, computer science, and architecture.

The Master of Design degree qualifies as a STEM degree which allows international students to apply for a 24-month extension to the typical 12-month optional practical training (OPT) period. This means students completing this degree may be eligible for up to three years of work in the U.S. Please see the U.S. government’s website for more information.


The Master of Design is a two-year, 54-credit-hour degree program. Over 80% of the courses in the program are electives (seminars and workshops) allowing students to customize their program of study. Students can choose courses ranging across communication design, product design, strategic planning, user research, interaction design and systems design.

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


Based on 2017-2018 student body, backgrounds and prior education
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Philosophy
  • Humanities
  • Fine Arts
  • English Literature
  • Economics and Finance
  • Architecture
  • Business Consulting
  • Non-for-profit Management
  • Industrial Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Communication Design
  • Marketing
  • Education
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science
International representation
  • China
  • India
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Taiwan
  • Colombia
  • Australia
  • Philippines
  • Average age: 29 yrs
  • Female 52% / Male 48%

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, Salesforce.com, 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 


  • 4 semesters (1 semester additional with the Foundation program)
  • 54 credit hours (15 credit hours additional with the Foundation program)
  • Master of Design program is full-time only


Tuition (2018-2019 rate) $24,501 per semester
Student fees, books, and supplies $1,268* per semester
Living expenses (room & board) $6,750* per semester
Health insurance $1,483* per year


Learn more about Fellowships + Financial Aid

To Apply

Start your application to the Master of Design program today. To complete your application you will need to provide the following:

  • Portfolio of work. 5-15 pages that demonstrate critical thinking, problem/concept exploration, and proposed solutions. For those applicants without an undergraduate degree in communication or product design, a GRE/GMAT test will be required instead of a portfolio. (GRE minimum 310/340 or 3.0/6.0,  GMAT minimum 600/800 or 3.0/6.0)
  • 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. 2-4 years of professional practice is typical, but not 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,  IELTS 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

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 or if the application deadline for your desired start date has passed, please contact: