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


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 Visual Communication
Fundamentals of Product Design
Fundamentals of Web Development
Diagram Development
Prototyping Methods

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 & Writing for Design I
Advanced Listening & Presentation in Design I
Advanced Reading & Writing for Design II
Advanced Listening & 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.

Insight Development

Building & Understanding Context
Principles & Methods of User Research
Bias & Sensemaking

Human Advocacy

Modes of Human Experience
Behavioral Design
Politics of Design
Critical Contexts

Prototyping to Learn

Embodied Design
Communication Systems
Digital Media

Assessment & Critique

Critique Methods
Evidence-Based Design
Metrics that Matter

Systems Thinking

Introduction to Systems Theory
Modeling Complexity
Re-Thinking Systems
Sustainable Solutions Workshop

Leadership + Acceleration

Analysis + Synthesis
Adaptive Leadership
Organizational Models for Innovation
Strategic Communication


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.

Stakeholder Research

Survey Methods
Introduction to Observing Users
Research Synthesis
Experience Modeling
Research Photography


Innovation Narratives
Animated Diagramming
Design Rhetoric
Communication Design Workshop
Video Storytelling

UX / Interaction Design

Interaction Design Methods
Prototyping Interactions
Interaction Design Workshop
Interaction Design for Immersive Systems

Data + Design

Data Literacy
Introduction to Data Visualization
Human + Data Systems
Generative Design

Product / Services Design

Product Design Workshop
Service Systems Workshop
Strategic Design Workshop

Collaborative Design

Teaming Methods
Facilitation Methods
Agile Culture
Agile for Design Outcomes
Multidisciplinary Innovation

Enterprise Management

Business Design
Introduction to Product Strategy
Implementing Innovation
Shaping Digital Futures


Innovation Methods
Innovation Frontiers
Introduction to Design Futures
Designing Futures

Civic Systems

Civic Design
Methods of Community Development
Design for Climate Leadership
Co-Design + Social Interventions