Programs + Admissions


An intensive, innovation-focused curriculum 
We are a graduate-only school for students with design, business, and other backgrounds who believe design is essential to helping organizations deliver value. We train our professionals to look systemically at users, organizations, markets, and offerings and to solve for these variables in their proposed solutions. Our graduates emerge as practitioners of this new interdisciplinary approach, able to demonstrate solutions that are both novel and feasible. ID training is intensive, taking place in a team-based, hands-on environment to give students the collaborative skills and exposure to multi-disciplinary work so essential in professional practice.

Our Programs


Master of Design

The Master of Design program is a two-year full-time degree that teaches advanced design methods and how to apply them to communication, products, interaction, services, systems, and design planning. Students receive extensive training in user research, business strategy, systems design, concept visualization, and other key skills. Those students with no prior experience in design are required to take a foundation year prior to starting the main program. The average entering age is 28.

Full-time course schedule

  • 2 years MDes (+1 year Foundation)
  • Saturday + summer MBA classes
  • 30 Foundation credits (see sidebar)
  • 54 MDes credits


MDes + MBA

Master of Design + MBA Dual Degree

The MDes + MBA is a five-semester dual-degree program conducted in partnership with IIT Stuart School of Business. Graduates emerge from the program with a combined design and business skill set, prepared to manage innovation in organizations.

Full-time course schedule

  • 2 years +1 quarter (+1 year Foundation)
  • Saturday + summer MBA classes
  • 30 Foundation credits (see sidebar)
  • 44 MDes credits
  • 36 MBA credits
* The Foundation program is a two-semester introductory course for students who need additional experience in design before beginning their graduate degree. Students without an undergraduate design degree are required to enroll. Click here for more information. Please note that the MDes degree is not offered in part-time or online formats.



Master of Design Methods

This program is for exceptional design, management, engineering, and other professionals who wish to acquire robust design methods and frameworks and apply design thinking to the development of products, communication, services, and systems. Applicants must have a proven track record of leading innovation initiatives. The average entering age is 37.




Doctoral Program

The Institute of Design established the first doctoral program in design in the United States. The program is dedicated to the development and dissemination of new theories and knowledge about design practice and design-related activities.



Executive Short Courses

ID currently offers two distinctive ways for executives to learn about design:

Design Summer Camp is an intensive, week-long experience that brings people from a variety of companies around the globe to learn together and share their experiences. Customized workshops cater to a group from a single company that wants to learn how to apply design and design thinking to their specific needs.

Design Education in Innovation Planning

During the last two decades, advances in technology and business operations have advanced to such a state that companies can produce almost anything. The greater challenge for them today is figuring out exactly what to do next. For many organizations, what often passes for innovation consists of nothing more than modest changes to existing offerings or repackaging. Real bottom-line growth comes from breakthrough innovations that give rise to entire new market opportunities.

For more than 25 years, IIT Institute of Design has been developing and teaching design skills that provide a strong theoretical foundation for why and when to use design. Students have the opportunity to think about complex problems and create solutions grounded in research. The education prepares its graduates for roles in organizations where they can design, manage, and direct innovation.

The curriculum is structured around a design process model anchored by research, analysis, synthesis, and implementation. Within the curriculum, students may pursue different areas of study such as communication design, product design, strategy and innovation, user research, and systems and platform design.



Communication has always been inseparable from the creation of ideas and knowledge, but today we are negotiating a new communication landscape—one that brings powerful new possibilities to individuals to create, discover, and exchange information central to their lives and to do so in places and ways that were never possible before.

The communication design curriculum at IIT Institute of Design looks to mount a response to this new landscape with the development of new modes of information exchange, new methods for managing complex information, new uses for technology to help make sense of information, and new systems for social innovation and place-based learning. We also turn these new concepts inward, teaching new communication methods for the design process to enable successful engagement with markets and stakeholders.



As the boundary between physical products and media continues to blur, interaction between human and machine will take place on many new levels. Interaction design methods will not be necessarily limited to media alone, but should also be applied to physical products, environments, services, and complex systems.

The interaction design curriculum at IIT  Institute of Design brings technology into a human context and provides interface mechanisms between technological artifacts and human users. Much of the work at ID encompasses interaction design, from its cognitive and physical foundations to basic models, methods and principles, user studies, scenario-based design, and context sensitivity.


Without a clear picture of what people want, companies often churn out dozens of new product offerings in the hope that one will be a “hit.” The best products address the needs of users, facilitate satisfying experiences, and contribute strong results to the companies that make them.

The product design curriculum at IIT Institute of Design provides designers with a toolbox of methods for maximizing product performance and user experience. ID sees product design as a strategic process that helps organizations better understand users’ needs and develops physical objects, environments, and systems that offer new, even unexpected, value for users.

Strategy + Innovation

As businesses have become more sophisticated with technology and management processes, they are able to make almost anything. But as daily life becomes saturated with technology, what do customers actually want? Strategic design bridges the “what to make” gap by discovering users’ needs and translating them effectively into new offerings.

The Strategy + Innovation curriculum at the Institute of Design investigates the successful application of design methods, skills, and thinking to business problems related to competitiveness and organic growth. Topics include the design planning skill set, connecting shareholder value and user value, how design can mitigate strategic risk in corporations, the role of design planning in early-stage ventures, and tools that can increase collaboration between generative and analytical thinkers.


Systems + Platforms

An organization often will develop innovation solutions in isolation, without considering the larger context. Thinking about problems in terms of the larger system at play encourages a “big picture” view and opens up the possibilities of potential broader opportunities.

The Systems + Platforms curriculum at the Institute of Design concerns itself with the web of connections (Systems) that defines the space where an innovation will sit and how potential solutions might transform it. In addition addressing design solutions that afford broad-based economic opportunities for those who chose to participate in them (Platforms). ID looks at the outside forces of influence, how they relate to one another, the attributes of each, and the exchange of value that flows between them.


User Research

Understanding users is a prerequisite for developing valuable, and valued, design concepts. As user research becomes larger and more important to the design field, an increasing number of tools, methods, and approaches exist for observing and analyzing human behavior.

The User Research curriculum at the Institute of Design focuses on building and expanding this area of study which is key to informing the design process. A few of our interests in this area include ethnographic interview techniques adapted for design, video and photo documentary, immersion, participant-aided data gathering, prototype-assisted observation, and methods for organizing data, finding patterns, and distilling insights that lead to actionable and inspiring design directives.