Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions quick links:

Admissions Details


How is the university responding to COVID-19?
Please see the Illinois Tech Campus Reopening website for more information regarding COVID-19 policies and reopening plans. A few helpful links on this site include:

Are COVID-19 vaccinations required for students?
Yes, all students, faculty and staff are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted. You will find all guidelines and exceptions in the university COVID-19 Policies and Procedures Handbook. If you have not yet been vaccinated, you can use the Vaccine Finder to set up an appointment.

Are classes offered in-person or in a hybrid format?
All Institute of Design classes are being offered in-person—with the exception of our MDM program, which is a remote program.

Admissions Details

How long will the decision take?
After you submit your application, our admissions team will confirm when we have received all required materials. If you have not received confirmation within one to two weeks of submitting your application, please feel free to email us at Admission decisions typically take up to four weeks, at which time we will notify you of the decision.

What should I include in my portfolio?
Our portfolio requirements vary depending on the program to which you are applying. You’ll find details for what should be included in the portfolio section of the application information page. 

Do I need to submit a GRE or GMAT?
We do not require a GRE or GMAT score for any application. However, if you have a score you would like to submit we are happy to include that in your application evaluation. We will accept either the GRE or the GMAT.

Who needs to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores?
Any applicant with an undergraduate degree from an institution where the primary language of instruction is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. If you are unable to take the IELTS or TOEFL test due to exam cancellations, you may submit Duolingo English Test results instead. 

The minimum TOEFL score accepted is 100. The minimum IELTS total score accepted is 7.5. The minimum Duolingo English Test total score accepted is 125. All applicants with lower scores may be admitted with additional English + Design requirements.

Do you accept Duolingo English Test scores?
If you are unable to take the IELTS or TOEFL test due to exam cancellations, you may submit Duolingo English Test results instead. 

Is prior work experience mandatory?

  • For MDes, two to four years is typical, but not required.
  • For MDM, eight to ten years is typical and a minimum of five years is required.
  • Pro bono, freelance projects, and full-time internships will be considered.

Does the Master of Design have STEM eligibility?
Yes, the Master of Design is considered STEM eligible. The MDM and the PhD programs are not. International students who have earned degrees in STEM fields in the US may apply for a 24 month extension of their post completion OPT employment for a total of 36 months, a significant benefit for international students who wish to stay and work in the US post-graduation. See the US government’s website for more information about STEM programs.

How diverse is ID?
ID believes that diverse perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds are essential to an innovative and vibrant learning environment. We pride ourselves on our historically even gender balance, as well as a globally diverse student body reflecting a wide range of work experiences. 

It is now past the final application submission date, can I still apply?
Yes, space permitting and depending on the program, you can still apply after the normal deadlines. Please email our staff at to inquire about late applications.

I have been admitted, how do I secure my spot in the program?
You will need to submit a $500 tuition deposit and complete an intent to enroll form through the application portal to confirm your intent to join our program. We cannot hold a place for you if you do not send a deposit.


Will I need to complete a thesis project if I’m in a master’s program?
Not as a single capstone project. Instead, we use our workshops as opportunities for integration and application of our theories and methods. Students typically accumulate eight to ten workshops (some with outside corporate sponsorships) over the course of four semesters.

What is the class experience like?
All of our classes, seminars, and workshops are active experiences. We use a combination of lectures, discussions, short exercises, and bigger projects to explore the content of a course and learn how to apply its teachings to design work. Depending on the size and nature of a course, some are team based while others focus on individual learning. Most classes have an average size of 15 students; more popular classes can get as big as 25, and some are as small as three.

Can I work on an idea I want to take to market?
We encourage students to follow their passion and some students have been able to bring concepts worked on in class to commercialization. However, we believe that our program is best suited to those interested in building a range of professional skills and the deep theoretical knowledge necessary for a successful career in design. Entrepreneurial pursuits are just one aspect of this education.


How much will it cost to attend?
Tuition varies for each program. Please consult program information pages for details. Download this guide for a more detailed breakdown of the Master of Design program estimated costs and links to financial aid resources.

Master of Design (MDes)
Master of Design (MDes) + MBA

Master of Design (MDes) + Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)
Master of Design Methods (MDM)

Do you have scholarships?
Yes, we offer a limited number of fellowships and scholarships. All admitted students are considered for a fellowship, with early applications considered first. No separate application is needed. You will find more financial aid information on our Fellowships + Financial Aid page. Download this guide for additional links to financial aid resources.

What percentage of students receive fellowships and/or scholarships?
Financial awards are extremely competitive and the total amounts available are directly influenced by the generous donations of our community. Typically 20% of applicants receive a fellowship and/or scholarship to cover a portion of tuition costs.

How do I apply for a fellowship or scholarship?
As a newly-admitted student you are automatically considered based on your admission materials. No separate application is needed.

When will I be notified of an award?
We will typically notify you of an awarded scholarship or fellowship at time of admission.

Do you award fellowships or scholarships based on need?
At this time, we award all fellowships based on merit. Past, present, and likely future accomplishments are considered.

If I am admitted and do not receive a fellowship or scholarship, can I apply once I begin the program?
We only award fellowships and scholarships on the entering semester for newly admitted students to the program.

How much money will I be awarded?
Specific amounts will vary. In the past, our fellowships have provided from 10% up to 50% of tuition.

Can I pick which fellowship I want to apply for?
To maximize the impact of awards, our fellowship committee decides which fellowships are distributed to whom.

Do all your programs award scholarships or fellowships?
Our awards are available only for newly admitted MDes, MDes + MBA, MDes + MPPA and PhD students. We do not offer awards to newly admitted MDM students.

If I defer my admission, will I still receive my scholarship or fellowship when I enter the program?
Awards cannot be transferred from semester to semester. If you are unable to attend in the semester in which you were awarded a scholarship or fellowship, you will be considered again for the semester in which you enroll. However, due to the competitive nature of the program, we cannot guarantee an award will be available to you at that time.


I do not have a design background. Can I still attend?
Yes, we accept many students without a formal design education. Most often these students take one additional semester of Foundation courses or a customized set of bridge courses. Our faculty makes these decisions based on careful review of application materials.

My test scores are not great, what are my chances of getting in?
We carefully review all applications. While we have minimum standards, we are looking for students who we believe will excel in our program, and we understand that important qualities are not captured in a test score.

How many students are enrolled in the MDes program?
Every year is different and individual lengths of stay vary, therefore the total number of enrolled students ranges from 80 to 120 each year.

What percentage of applicants are accepted for the MDes program?
It depends on the year. Each program is competitive and we make sure there is a good fit between the school and the goals of the applicant.

Admitted students

I was just admitted to the Institute of Design. How do I secure my spot in the program?
Please navigate to the new student site to see a list of next steps you should take to secure your spot. This site should be your main resource during your transition to ID.

I’m moving to Chicago. When should I plan to arrive before the semester starts?
There is a required new student orientation for all students starting in Fall 2021 on Monday, August 16. Classes begin on Monday, August 23.

Am I required to live on campus?
No, but there is graduate housing available to you. You can learn more about your options from the Office of Residence Life.

I am an international student. How do I obtain my visa?
The first step is to submit a Financial Affidavit to You should also read through the full visa instructions on the new students site.

How can I connect with other new students before the semester starts?
Shortly after you were admitted, you were added to a Google Group that includes the entire incoming class. You will find the link to join this group in your email.

I didn’t see a scholarship or fellowship in my admission letter. Does that mean I did not receive an award?
Most awards are granted at time of admission. However, if you have any concerns or questions about this please reach out to the admissions team at

When can I register for classes?
After you have connected with your advisor you will be able to register for classes. Please refer to your original admissions letter to get your advisor’s name and contact information.

When is tuition due each semester?
Generally, tuition is due a few weeks after classes start each semester. You will find this year’s tuition due dates on the Student Accounting website. You will find more information about how to make tuition payments on the payments page.

Join our Graduate Program

Get complete information on application requirements.

Additional Questions

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