Master of Design + Master of Public Administration

MDes + MPA at ID

Program Overview

In this unique program—the first of its kind in the nation—students pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously, one with ID (MDes) and one with IIT Stuart School of Business (Master of Public Administration). 

The Master of Design + Master of Public Administration (MDes + MPA) dual-degree program prepares students to effectively address dynamic and complex civic and social challenges with rigor, depth, and imagination. This program is ideal for professionals who aspire to lead collaborative, interdisciplinary innovation initiatives within the civic sector. 

Gaining the knowledge and skills related to public and nonprofit management and policy analysis, strategic planning, and effective implementation strategies, students learn to move fluidly between strategic thinking and creative doing, and know the importance of both. Through hands-on projects in our global city, collaborations in our university’s inspiring and supportive community, and individual work, students get both the depth required to be leaders in their field and the breadth required to contend with modern-day challenges.

Program Outcomes 

Students apply design methods, theory, and knowledge to real world challenges and opportunities in the civic and nonprofit sectors, transforming ideas into realities. Producing sharp insights, tangible options, and actionable directives, they graduate able to substantially impact their colleagues and constituencies.

Students acquire emerging design competencies suited for work in the the public sector, including:

  • Embracing complexity: Understanding and articulating the context and systems surrounding a problem, creating a shared view of a challenge, converging on an approach, and activating a set of interventions.
  • Cultivating possibilities: Unlocking collective creativity, considering diverse interests, and building understanding—all while activating new ways for communities to come together and envision a path to an intelligent future.
  • Driving impactful change: Making an evidence-based case for action and policy change, successfully moving stakeholders to action with data-driven insights and prototyping skills. 

Program Extensions

Students with no formal design training are encouraged to apply, as our Foundation program provides prerequisite skills and experience.

STEM Qualification for International Students

The MDes + MPA degree 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 website for more information.

Curriculum + Courses

  • The MDes + MPA is a two-year, 69-credit-hour degree program.
  • Customizable study: Over 50% of the courses in the program are electives (seminars and workshops).
  • Core course modules include Insight Development, Human Advocacy, Prototyping, Critique, Systems Thinking, and Leadership and Mediation.
  • Concentration modules include Stakeholder Research, Communication Design, Civic Systems, Interaction Design, Service Design, Physical Design, Systems + Innovation, Enterprise Management, and Collaborative Design.

See the MDes curriculum overview or the full list of courses for more information.


  • 4 semesters, including summer sessions, depending on MPA scheduling (one semester additional with the Foundation program, the MPA can be taken in parallel).
  • 45 credit hours for Institute of Design (15 credit hours additional if student is required to take the Foundation program).
  • 24 credit hours for IIT Stuart School of Business.
  • Full-time residency is required.


Learn more about Fellowships + Financial Aid

Tuition (2020-2021 rate)$26,490*per semester
Student fees, books, and supplies$600*per semester
Living expenses (room & board)$6,750*per semester
Health insurance$1,687per year


Life + Career After ID

ID graduates have a greater than 90 percent placement rate and report high job satisfaction.

Our career services include structured programs like recruitID and careerID, as well as an active and engaged alumni network and robust events and programming, including our annual Design Intersections conference.

The Stuart School of Business offers a dedicated Career Management Center exclusively for its students, hosting weekly onsite recruiting events, resume reviews, mock interviews, and information sessions.

Partnerships with organizations across Chicago and beyond give ID students a range of experience, building their resumes even before graduation.

ID graduates hold positions of influence in companies and design firms such as:
Amazon / Apple / BCG / Doblin / EY / Fjord / Google / IDEO / INSITUM / Logitech / McDonald’s / McKinsey / Motorola / Microsoft / Salesforce / SapientRazorfish / SC Johnson / Steelcase / Verizon

Stuart MPA graduates lead in the public sector in such organizations as: 

American Cancer Society / City of Chicago / Chicago Hope Academy  / Chicago Police Department / Chinese American Service League / DePaul University / Lincoln Park Zoo / Lyons Township Mental Health District / Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Organizations hire ID graduates for a wide range of roles:
Design Planner / Design Strategist / Senior Innovation Strategist / Director of Product Development / Director of Innovation Methods / Director of User Research / Brand Strategist / Director of Interaction Design / Senior Information Architect / Director of Strategy and New Business Development / Digital Enterprise Strategist / Director of Experience Design / Senior UX Researcher and Strategist

For more information about the program or to apply, please contact ID Enrollment Advisor Krista Roble.

Join Our Graduate Program

Click here for complete information on application requirements.

Application Deadlines

Spring 2021 admission
October 30, 2020
Fall 2021 admission
January 22, 2021 (early round)
March 5, 2021 (final round)
Late applications may be considered, please contact us
Admission to the MDes program with Foundation is offered for the fall semester only. Your application must be completed by 5pm (CST/Chicago time) on the due date to be considered for that round. You will receive an email confirmation when all of your materials have been received. Admission decisions will be communicated roughly four weeks after this confirmation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our FAQ page for more information. If you have additional questions regarding our application process or requirements, please send an email to or call us at 312 595 4900.

IIT Stuart School of Business

If you have additional questions about the MPA portion of this program, please contact Alexandra Case.

Public Administration Certificates

Learn more about Public Administration certificates, also offered in partnership with the Stuart School of Business, here.