Master of Design

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.


All students must meet with their academic advisers at least once a semester during their program of study. Each meeting should be scheduled prior to course registration for the following semester. All incoming students are assigned an adviser at the time of admission. All students can change their adviser at any time through an eForms petition. 

If the required advising meeting is not completed in a particular semester, an academic hold will be placed on the student's record preventing any course registration for the following semester. The hold cannot be removed until the student has completed the advising meeting. Please see the Director of Student Engagement if you have any questions or your assigned adviser is not available. 


Minimum Degree Credits 54
Minimum Degree Credits with ESP + Design Course Corequisites 72
Minimum Degree Credits with Foundation Course Prerequisites 69

Core Curriculum 

Required Courses (15)
IDN 504Intro to Observing Users3
or IDN 508 Principles/Methods User Rsrch
IDN 530Intro to Design Planning1.5
IDN 556Comm in the Planning Process1.5
IDX 504Prototyping Methods1.5
IDX 508Modes of Human Experience1.5
IDX 542Analysis + Synthesis in Design3
IDX 550Building/Understanding Context3
Elective Courses (39)
Select 39 credit hours. See elective course options below. 139
Total Credit Hours54

ESP + Design Courses

These courses are corequisite for students who require additional fluency in English and design-specific vocabulary.

IDN 461Design Read/Writing Skills I3
IDN 462Listening/Presentation Skills3
IDN 463Cross-Cultural Communication I2
IDN 464Cross-Cultural Comm I Lab1
IDN 466Design Read/Writing Skills II3
IDN 467Dsgn Listening/Presentation II3
IDN 468Cross-Cultural Comm II2
IDN 469Cross-Cultural Comm II Lab1
Total Credit Hours18

Foundation Courses

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. 

Select a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following:15
Introduction to Design I3
Introduction to Design II3
Intro Communication Design I4
Intro Communication Design II4
Intro to Product Design I4
Intro to Product Design II4
Introduction to Photography4
Introduction to Digital Media4
Total Credit Hours15

1Elective 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 six credit hours may be taken outside of ID with the approval of the student's adviser. Up to 12 credit hours from the 400-level Foundations courses may be applied toward the elective course requirement, provided that those courses are not also applied as program prerequisites. See the list below.

Making the User-Centered Case1.5
Research Planning & Execution1.5
Principles/Methods User Rsrch3
Research Photography1.5
Interview Methods1.5
Experience Modeling3
Cultural Probes1.5
Stimlulus in Design Research1.5
Survey Methods1.5
Co-Design/Participatory Rsrch1.5
Coding and Analysis1.5
Online Research Methods1.5
Business Frameworks & Strategy1.5
Business Models and Value Webs1.5
Intro to Portfolio Planning1.5
New Venture Design1.5
Design Planning Workshop3
Social/Economic Context of Dsg1.5
Planning Implementation1.5
Behavioral Economics1.5
Communication Strategies1.5
Diagram Development1.5
Metaphor and Analogy in Design1.5
Advanced Diagramming1.5
Communication Design Workshop3
Fund of Visual Communication1.5
Theories of Communication1.5
Modeling Complexity1.5
Info Structuring & Management1.5
Systems Approach to Design1.5
Service Systems Workshop3
Structured Planning Workshop3
Systems and Systems Theory1.5
Platform-Based Design Strategy1.5
Design Process and Knowledge1.5
Systems Modeling & Prototyping3
Human System Integration3
New Product Definition3
Form and Materials1.5
Design Develop/Implementation1.5
Product Design Workshop3
Product Architecture/Platforms1.5
Interaction Design Methods1.5
History of Interaction Design1.5
Persuasive Interaction Design1.5
Interaction Design Workshop3
Digital Development Workshop3
Prototyping Interactions3
Interaction Dsgn Immersive Sys1.5
Interaction Dsgn Embedded Sys1.5
Engaging Stakeholders1.5
Interactive Space1.5
Extensions of Media/Technology1.5
Networked Cities3
Networked Objects3
Innovation Methods3
Manage Interdisciplinary Teams3
Analysis + Synthesis3
Multidisciplinary Prototyping3
Faculty Research1-10
Special Topics1.5-10