Master of Design

This is an archived copy of the 2019-2020 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

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 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 from any 500-level IDN or IDX non-required course. Up to 12 credit hours may be chosen from IDN 475 - IDN 498, provided that those courses are not also applied as program prerequisites.39
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 462Design Listening and Presentat3
IDN 463Cross-Cultural Communication I2
IDN 464Cross-Cultural Comm I Lab1
IDN 466Design Read/Writing Skills II3
IDN 467Listening and 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
Intro to Design Practice3
Introduction to Design II3
Intro to Visual Communication4
Communication Systems4
Intro to Objects & Artifacts4
Intro to Product Design II4
Introduction to Photography4
Digital Media4
Total Credit Hours15

Elective Courses

Students select a series of courses to meet their professional goals in consultation with their adviser. Courses may be chosen from any 500-level IDN or IDX non-required course, and up to 12 credit hours from the 400-level Foundation courses (IDN 481IDN 498), provided that those courses are not also applied as program prerequisites. Up to six credit hours may be taken outside of ID with the approval of the student's adviser. 

A selection of the available elective courses is below. Note: Some courses are not offered every semester.

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
Stimulus 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
Fundamentals of Product Design1.5
Design Develop/Implementation1.5
Product Design Workshop3
Prod/Ser Architecture/Platfrm1.5
Interaction Design Methods1.5
History of Interaction Design1.5
Persuasive Interaction Design1.5
Interaction Design Workshop3
Physical + Digital Development3
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
Intro to Design Thinking3
Multidisciplinary Prototyping3
Faculty Research1-10
Special Topics1.5-10