Master of Design

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The Master of Design (M.Des.) program is a two-year, 54 credit-hour degree program intended for those seeking professional mastery at the highest level in the field. The program does not require the formal selection of a concentration area or a final thesis project. Students may construct their own curriculum after taking a core of methods courses focused on understanding users, analyzing complex information, and exploring and prototyping alternative solutions. Examples of individual courses of study include communication design, interaction design, product design, strategic planning, user research, design methods research, and systems design.


The M.Des. program requires continuous full-time study at the Institute of Design for a minimum of four semesters. Students must enroll in at least 13.5 credit hours of coursework each semester.


Minimum Degree Credits54
Minimum Degree Credits with Foundation Courses84
Required Courses (15)
IDN 504Introduction to Observing Users3
IDN 530Introduction to Design Planning1.5
IDN 556Communication in the Planning Process1.5
IDX 504Prototyping Methods1.5
IDX 508Modes of Human Experience1.5
IDX 542Analysis + Synthesis in Design3
IDX 550Building and Understanding Context3
Foundation Courses (0)
These courses are prerequisite for students without an undergraduate degree in industrial or communication design and must be completed prior to proceeding with any other M.Des. requirements.
Introduction to Design I3
Introduction to Design II3
Introduction to Communication Design I4
Introduction to Communication Design II4
Introduction to Product Design I4
Introduction to Product Design II4
Introduction to Photography4
Introduction to Digital Media4
ESP + Design Courses (0)
These courses are co-requisite for students who require additional fluency in English and design-specific vocabulary.
Design Reading and Writing Skills I3
Design Listening and Presentations Skills3
Cross-Cultural Communication I2
Cross-Cultural Communication I Laboratory1
Design Reading and Writing Skills II3
Design Listening and Presentation II3
Cross-Cultural Communication II2
Cross-Cultural Communication II Laboratory1
Elective Courses (39)
Select 39 credit hours. See elective course options below. 139
Total Credit Hours54

1 Elective Courses

Students select a series of courses to meet the objectives of the student's professional goals.  Choices will be made in consultation with the student's adviser and will count for at least 39 credit hours of the required program. Up to 6.0 credits may be taken outside of ID with the approval of the student's adviser. See the list below.

Making the User-Centered Case1.5
Research Planning and Execution1.5
Principles and Methods of User Research3
Research Photography1.5
Interview Methods1.5
Experience Modeling3
Cultural Probes1.5
Stimlulus in Design Research1.5
Survey Methods1.5
Co-Design and Participatory Research1.5
Coding and Analysis1.5
Online Research Methods1.5
Business Frameworks and Strategy1.5
Business Models and Value Webs1.5
Introduction to Portfolio Planning1.5
New Venture Design1.5
Design Planning Workshop3
Social and Economic Context of Design1.5
Planning Implementation1.5
Behavioral Economics1.5
Communication Strategies1.5
Diagram Development1.5
Metaphor and Analogy in Design1.5
Advanced Diagramming1.5
Communication Design Workshop3
Fundamentals of Visual Communication1.5
Theories of Communication1.5
Modeling Complexity1.5
Information Structuring and Management1.5
Systems Approach to Design1.5
Service Systems Workshop3
Structured Planning Workshop3
Systems and Systems Theory in Design1.5
Platform-Based Design Strategy1.5
Design Process and Knowledge1.5
Systems Modeling and Prototyping3
Human System Integration3
New Product Definition3
Form and Materials1.5
Design Development and Implementation1.5
Product Design Workshop3
Product Architecture and Platforms1.5
Interaction Design Methods1.5
History of Interaction Design1.5
Persuasive Interaction Design1.5
Interaction Design Workshop3
Digital Development Workshop3
Prototyping Interactions3
Interaction Design for Immersive Systems1.5
Interaction Design for Embedded Systems1.5
Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation1.5
Interactive Space1.5
Extensions of Media and Technology1.5
Networked Cities3
Networked Objects3
Innovation Methods3
Managing Interdisciplinary Teams3
Analysis + Synthesis for Non-Designers3
Multidisciplinary Prototyping for Entrepreneurs3
Faculty Research1-10
Special Topics1.5-10