Design Foundation

IIT Institute of Design Foundation Student making
IIT Institute of Design Foundation Student with Anijo
IIT Institute of Design Foundation Student with Marty

Design Foundation Overview

For promising and motivated students who do not have a formal design background, IIT Institute of Design (ID) offers a two-semester program that will allow you to pursue a MDes or MDes + MBA degree. Design Foundation provides essential design theory and technique required to succeed at the master’s level in design. Design Foundation students have gone on to become some of school’s most successful graduates, serving as thought leaders and change agents at leading design firms and corporations around the world.

  • Students without an undergraduate degree in industrial or communication design are required to enroll.
  • Some students with design degrees may be required to take Design Foundation courses to build competency in certain areas.
  • Design Foundation cannot be taken as a stand-alone program.
  • Design Foundation is not required for Master of Design Methods (MDM) students.

Curriculum + Courses

In order to provide a broad understanding of design disciplines, Design Foundation students are taught by full-time faculty and a diverse adjunct community of practitioners.

First Semester Second Semester
Intro to Design 1
Intro to Communication Design 1
Intro to Product Design 1
Intro to Photography
Intro to Design 2
Intro to Product Design 2
Intro to Communication Design 2
Intro to Digital Media



Foundation design degree creditsSince some Design Foundation courses count as MDes electives, students can complete the Design Foundation + MDes program in five semesters.

  • Two semesters of Design Foundation courses
  • Three semesters of MDes program courses

Students placed in the Design Foundation program must begin in the fall term. This aids summer internship opportunities and positions the student to complete the degree in the shortest amount of calendar time.


Join Our Graduate Program

Get complete information on application requirements.

Application Deadlines

Fall 2019 admission
January 18, 2019 (early round)
March 1, 2019 (final round)

Late applications may be considered, please contact us
Admission to the MDes program with Foundation is offered for the fall semester only. Your application must be completed by 5pm (CST/Chicago time) on the due date to be considered for that round. You will receive an email confirmation when all of your materials have been received. Admission decisions will be communicated roughly four weeks after this confirmation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our FAQ page for more information. If you have additional questions regarding our application process or requirements, please send an email to or call us at 312-595-4900.