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PhD in Design

PhD in Design

The first PhD in design program in the US, Institute of Design’s PhD is a top-rated graduate program for those seeking to teach or conduct fundamental research in the field. Our PhD alumni have gone on to lead noted design programs at universities all over the world and lead practices at global corporations.

By pursuing rigorous research in an area that aligns with work by our PhD faculty, you’ll work directly in some of the most exciting design-focused work being done today. To learn more about research at ID and our PhD in Design, complete this form.

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Over 90% Placement Rate in First 6 Months
60% PhD Alumni Hold Faculty Positions at Universities
40% PhD Alumni Work in Industry
1–3 Students per PhD Advising Faculty
13 Current Doctoral Candidates

PhD Faculty Advisors

Degree Requirements

See all PhD Courses

All PhD students will work closely with their advisors to plan their course of study and research. Students complete a total of 92 credit hours:

  • Up to 32 credits can be transferred from a master’s program
  • 12 course credits
  • 48 research credits

Courses may be selected from across the university’s course offerings to complement the objectives of the student’s program.

Admitted doctoral students will be required to submit and obtain approval for a program of study. Within two years of being admitted, students take a comprehensive examination, after which, students will be considered candidates for the PhD degree.

The research component of the program grows as the student progresses. The dissertation created from this work is intended to create a substantial and original contribution to design knowledge.

Student Work

PhD Corporate Partnership Initiative

Student giving a presentation

Designed for professionals who want to reach the next level of design leadership, ID’s PhD Corporate Partnership provides candidates and organizations the tools and techniques needed to grow leadership and innovation within your organization.

Candidates should have a master’s degree in design (or equivalent) and/or significant experience as a professional designer.


Alumni Kathleen Brandenburg and Vijay Kumar at Fernando Franco talk

A Global Network

Across the entire school, 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.


yEar 1 yEar 2 yEar 3
Fall Spring Fall Spring Fall Spring
Design Course (3 credits) Design Course (3 credits) Research (12 credits) Research (12 credits) Research (6-11 credits) Research (1-6 credits)
Design Course (3 credits) Design Course (3 credits)
Research (6 credits) Research (6 credits)

Estimated Costs

Expense Cost
Tuition (2024-2025 rate) $2,155 (per credit hour)
Estimated student fees and supplies $1,300 (per semester)
Estimated living expenses (room & board) $6,750 (per semester)
Estimated health insurance $1,896 (per year)

Tuition and research stipends are extremely limited. Only self-funded applicants will be considered.


Fall 2024 Admission

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

Spring 2025 Admission

October 26, 2024 (final admission)

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.