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Master of Design (MDes)

Master of Design (MDes)

Our Master of Design program is designed to equip you with the skills to address complex business, civic, and social issues with rigor and imagination. As a candidate in the MDes program, you’ll gain a multi-dimensional perspective, experiment with prototypes, and discover new approaches to foster innovation. By applying design knowledge through hands-on projects and real-world challenges – both alone and with teams – you’ll come away with a commitment to using design to enhance all aspects of life. And you’ll acquire the expertise and insights to drive meaningful outcomes in your career path.

Our programs welcome and support students without formal design education and those working on their English fluency.

To learn more about our Master of Design program and the potential career opportunities it can provide, complete this form.

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166% Average Salary Increase
Over 90% Placement Rate in First 6 Months
12:1 Students/Advisor
4 Years: Average Experience of Incoming Students
16: Average Class Size
80% Elective Courses


Designed to see the previously impossible.

The MDes is a 2-year, full-time, 54-credit hour degree program with customizable study 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.

The MDes program does not include a thesis or capstone project. Rather than focus on a single project at the end of the program, students take multiple workshops during the program that integrate learning from all coursework to build mastery.

At ID, courses apply theories to real-world problems, allowing students to prototype and make ideas real.

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 solutions.

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.

Student Work

Dual Degrees & Certificates

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.

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

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 —

During your time at ID, we’ll partner with you to help you explore and prepare for a successful and satisfying career path.

You’ll have opportunities to work directly with businesses and organizations in your area of interest. Most MDes students seeking a summer internship secure their top choice, with 85 percent in paid roles. Recently, students held internships with a range of companies and organizations, from Amazon Web Services to UChicago Medicine and the City of Chicago.

and navigate your career path.

Our graduates become product managers, design researchers, entrepreneurs, strategists, and consultants in corporate and civic organizations.

We help you make the connections that create opportunities, and our rankings show it.

Learn more about ID’s career services and our outcomes.


Choose additional sequences:
yEar 1 yEar 2
Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring
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Estimated Costs

Expense Cost
Tuition (2024-2025 rate) $25,488 (per semester 9-18 credits), $31,151 for English program per semester
Estimated class costs and supplies $850 (per semester)
Estimated living expenses (room & board) $8,250 (per semester)
Estimated health insurance $2,070 (per year)

ID provides a number of fellowships and scholarships to help offset the costs of attendance. Learn more.

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 2024 Admission

January 19, 2024 (priority admission)
March 1, 2024 (final general admission)

Spring 2025 Admission

October 26, 2024 (final admission)

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

Request More Info

Request More Information

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