Master of Design

The Master of Design (MDes) program welcomes students from around the world who examine the world from a keen, critical viewpoint and desire to make real change at a systemic and strategic level. Following the program, they become thought leaders, researchers, strategists and change agents at many of the most influential global organizations.

“Whenever and wherever I travel around the world I meet many alumni who are leading design research. Institute of Design always opens up new paradigms like planning, methodology, human-centered design and strategy in design research and education through distinguished leaders like Jay Doblin, Charles L. Owen, and Patrick Whitney.”

Kunpyo Lee
Executive Vice President, LG Electronics
ID alum 1985

The MDes program is a two-year, 54-credit-hour degree program intended for those seeking professional knowledge at the highest level in the planning and design of new communications, products, services, environments, and systems. Students may construct their own curriculum after taking a core of methods courses focused on observing and understanding users in specific contexts, analyzing complex information, developing and exploring alternative solutions, and prototyping future innovations and scenarios. Examples of individual courses of study include communication design, product design, strategic planning, user research, design methods research, and systems design.

In addition to experienced designers, the school encourages students with no formal design training to apply to the program, offering a one-year “foundation” program of introductory courses providing prerequisite skills and experience. Students entering without any previous formal study of design or a portfolio will normally take three years to complete the Master of Design program. ID seeks to admit a class with approximately 50% of the students with design degrees and 50% from non-design backgrounds such as business, engineering, liberal arts, and architecture.

* 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.
Download  International Student Financial Affidavit
Download International Student Financial Affidavit

Application requirements

  • Completed on-line application form (instructions for submitting remaining materials included)
  • Four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution with a minimum cumulative GPA 3.0/4.0 or equivalent
  • Official transcript from institution where degree was earned
  • Completed statement of education and career goals
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume of work experience: 2-5 years typical
  • Portfolio (5-15 pages) for applicants with a design degree in industrial/product or communication design
  • Interview (in person, telephone or Skype) if deemed necessary by the Institute of Design
  • GRE (minimum 310/340, 3.0/6.0) or GMAT (minimum 600/800, 3.0/6.0) for applicants without a degree in industrial/product or communication design. GRE and GMAT scores are considered valid for five years from the testing date. If your scores are more than five years old at the time your application is reviewed, new scores will be required
  • TOEFL (minimum 100) or IETLS (minimum 7) for international applicants without a bachelor’s degree from an accredited English-speaking university. TOEFL and IELTS scores are considered valid for two years from the testing date. If your scores are more than two years old at the time your application is reviewed, new scores will be required
  • Application fee of $100

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