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Master of Design

Master of Design (MDes)

The flagship program in our Graduate School trains students to effectively address dynamic and complex business, civic, and social challenges with rigor, depth, and imagination.

As a Master of Design candidate, you’ll shape compelling opportunities by developing insight from multiple perspectives, exploring options through prototyping and critique, and identifying valuable directions that prompt action and support resilient change. You’ll apply design knowledge through hands-on projects and real-world challenges, both individually and in team collaborations. And you’ll come away with a commitment to using design to connect and enhance every aspect of life.

Students without formal design education and students still working on their English fluency are welcome and supported through our programs.

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By the Numbers

166% Average Salary Increase
90% Placement Rate in First 6 Months
12:1 Students/Advisor
16: Average Class Size
80% Elective Courses
27 years: Typical Student Age


Designed to see the previously impossible.

The MDes is a 2-year, full-time, 54-credit hour degree program with customizable study. The MDes curriculum is organized across three stages of study: Entry, Core, and Concentration.

Students come from a wide range of professional and academic backgrounds. Our Foundation sequence provides prerequisite skills and experience for students without formal design training. For international students with limited English fluency, we offer English + Design courses.

MDes curriculum wheel showing main areas including Design research & insight, Product-Service delivery, Innovation strategy, and Product management
Entry Modules

These modules include the Foundation sequence for students with no formal design training, fundamentals for those with small educational gaps, and English + Design. All students are advised which courses in these modules are most appropriate for their situation and goals.

Core Modules

These modules develop your critical competency for nearly any design practice. Core courses help you deeply understand complex challenges, creatively explore options, and develop impactful and resilient solutions. Students are expected to establish competence and demonstrate mastery in each Core module by the end of the program.

Concentration Modules

Concentration modules focus on application skills and are oriented toward specific design roles such as Design Research and Insight, Product-Service Delivery, and Innovation Strategy. Students are encouraged to choose 1–3 concentration modules but can take courses within any of the concentrations.

Students working at workshop

Designed to roll out “aha” at scale.

All courses at ID explore methods and apply theories to real-world problems. Naturally, critical and ethical conversations regularly arise as students get their hands dirty—prototyping, making ideas real, and then seeing those ideas in action.

ID courses come in four distinct types: Bootcamps, Seminars, Workshops, and Studiolabs. These types differ in terms of course structure and duration. Full-time students take a balance of each course type during a semester (e.g., 1 studio + 2 workshops + 4 seminars).


Dual Degrees & Certificates

Master of Design + MBA

Combining a user-centered, method-based approach with core management education, the MDes + MBA is ideal for professionals who aspire to lead innovation within global organizations.

Master of Design + MPPA

The MDes + MPPA program prepares students to effectively address dynamic and complex civic and social challenges with rigor and imagination.

Public Administration Certificates

Public administration certificates offer MDes students an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of public policy and civic design.


Designed to expand your perspective.

ID alumni make up a strong network—a uniquely skilled set of more than 2,400 people across 32+ countries who deal with difficult issues and navigate them with clarity, purpose, and discipline.

This vibrant network is invaluable to ID students and graduates, who learn from alumni, are hired by alumni, and benefit from the trails they’ve blazed.

Career Support

Designed to accelerate your career.

Career preparation is just one reason why our MDes graduates increase their salaries by 166 percent, on average, versus their pre-ID salaries.

Master of Design Timing

Choose additional sequences:
yEar 1 yEar 2
Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring
Design Course Design Course Internship (Optional) Design Course Design Course
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Design Course Design Course Design Course Design Course
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Design Course Design Course Design Course Design Course

Estimated Costs

Expense Cost
Tuition (2023-2024 rate) $24,500 (per semester)
Estimated class costs and supplies $790 (per semester)
Estimated living expenses (room & board) $8,250 (per semester)
Estimated health insurance $2,070 (per year)

STEM Qualification

The MDes qualifies as a STEM degree which allows international students to apply for a 24-month extension to the typical 12-month optional practical training (OPT) period. This means students completing this degree may be eligible for up to three years of work in the US. Please see the US government’s website for more information.


Fall 2023 admission

January 20, 2023 (early round)

March 3, 2023 (final round)

Spring 2024 admission

October 25, 2023

Admission to the MDes program with the Foundation or English sequence is offered for the fall semester only.


Request More Information

Please complete the form to request more information or if you have additional questions regarding our application process or requirements.