Foundation Program

Foundation Program Overview

For promising and motivated students who do not have a formal design background, IIT Institute of Design provides a one-semester program of courses to allow them to pursue an MDes or MDes + MBA degree. The Foundation program covers essential design theory and technique required to succeed at the master’s level in design. Foundation students have gone on to become some of the 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 Foundation courses to build competency in certain areas.
  • Foundation courses are not offered as a stand-alone program.
  • Master of Design Methods (MDM) students do not take Foundation courses.

Curriculum + Courses

Foundation course are taught by full-time faculty and a diverse adjunct community of practitioners. Students taking Foudation courses are grouped into a single cohort to maximize collaboration. All programs at the Institute of Design share the same studio, labs, and classrooms to create a vibrant community of peer-to-peer learning and exploration.

Foundation Courses



The Foundation + MDes program can be completed in five semesters (Design courses are not held during the summer terms).

Students placed in the Foundation program must begin in the Fall term. This aids summer internship opportunities over the summers 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

Spring 2021 admission
October 30, 2020
Fall 2021 admission
January 22, 2021 (early round)
March 5, 2021 (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.