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MDes Courses


Entry courses are intended to help a student fill any gaps they have in their education or practice coming into the school and also serve to orient students to ID’s specific philosophy and culture.


Foundation courses are for students that do not have any formal education in design. The courses are pre-set and taken concurrently. Foundation covers the essential design theories and techniques required to succeed at the master’s level in design.

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.

Introduction to Interaction
Introduction to Photography
Introduction to Objects & Artifacts
Introduction to Visual Communication


Fundamental courses are for students that have small gaps in their prior education or experience. These courses also underpin many of the advanced courses offered. Students will take these courses along with other electives in their respective programs.

Fundamentals of Web Development
Fundamentals of Product Design
Fundamentals of Visual Communication
Diagram Development
Prototyping Methods
Introduction to Design Practice

English + Design

The English + Design program allows talented international designers to pursue a graduate degree at ID. This unique program of study combines English for Special Purpose (ESP) instruction with graduate level design education. English courses are taken concurrently with MDes courses during the first two semesters.

Students with TOEFL scores between 80-100 may be required to enroll in the English + Design program. For those students with TOEFL less than 80 or equivalent, Illinois Tech offers intensive English programs.

Students specifically placed in this program are required to take all of the English courses listed as a cohort, though the courses are open to all MDes students.

Advanced Reading and Writing for Design I
Advanced Listening and Presentation in Design I
Advanced Reading and Writing for Design II
Advanced Listening and Presentation in Design II


Core courses are grouped into modules which are key to developing a student’s critical competency for nearly any type of design practice they wish to pursue. The modules include courses to deeply understand complex challenges, to creatively explore options, and to develop impactful and resilient solutions.

By the end of their program, MDes students are expected to establish competence and demonstrate mastery in each module.

Assessment & Critique

Evidence-Based Design
Critique Methods

Human Advocacy

Politics of Design
Critical Contexts
Behavioral Economics
Modes of Human Experience

Insight Development

Designing Futures
Principles and Methods of User Research
Building and Understanding Context

Leadership + Acceleration

Adaptive Leadership
Organizational Models for Innovation
Communication in the Planning Process
Analysis + Synthesis in Design

Prototyping to Learn

Digital Media
Embodied Design
Communication Systems

Systems Thinking

Re-Thinking Systems
Sustainable Solutions Workshop
Sustainable Solutions Seminar
Systems and Systems Theory in Design
Modeling Complexity


Concentration course modules are focused on hard skills and oriented towards specific design practice roles like Design Research, Product-Service Delivery, Innovation Strategy, and Product Management.

Students are encouraged to focus on 1-3 concentration modules as a part of their overall plan, though students are free to take courses within and among any of the concentrations as they desire.

Civic Systems

Social/Civic Design
Co-Design and Participatory Research Methods

Collaborative Design

Multidisciplinary Prototyping
Agile Culture
Facilitation Methods
Managing Interdisciplinary Teams


Innovation Narratives
Advanced Diagramming
Metaphor and Analogy in Design
Communication Design Workshop

Data + Design

Data Literacy
Generative Design
Applied Tech Frontiers

Digital + Physical UX

Interaction Design for Immersive Systems
Product/Service Architecture and Platforms
Physical + Digital Development

Design-led Strategy

New Venture Design
Innovation Implementation
Business Models and Value Webs
Introduction to Portfolio Planning

Interaction Design

Prototyping Interactions
Persuasive Interaction Design
History of Interaction Design
Interaction Design Methods
Interaction Design Workshop

Product/Services Design

Product Design Workshop
Service Systems Workshop
Design Planning Workshop

Stakeholder Research

Research Synthesis
Coding and Analysis
Survey Methods
Experience Modeling
Interview Methods
Research Photography
Introduction to Observing Users

Systems + Innovation

Strategies for Open Innovation
Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation
Innovation Methods
Introduction to Design Planning