Master of Design

Master of Design Program Overview

Founded on the belief that design connects and enhances every aspect of life, IIT Institute of Design (ID) is dedicated to preparing students to effectively address dynamic and complex business, civic, and social challenges with rigor, depth, and imagination.

The Master of Design (MDes) curriculum teaches students the real-world skills needed to integrate, interconnect, and innovate beyond traditional practices of design.

ID students are taught to shape compelling opportunities through actively developing insight from multiple perspectives, exploring options through aggressive prototyping and critique, and identifying valuable directions that prompt action and support resilient change. Students learn through hands-on projects and real-world challenges, both individually and in team collaborations.

Program Extensions

  • Students with no formal design training are encouraged to apply, as our Foundation program provides prerequisite skills and experience.
  • MDes + MBA students pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously, one with ID and one with IIT Stuart School of Business. Graduates are uniquely qualified to lead collaborative, interdisciplinary innovation initiatives in large and small global organizations.
  • ID works with IIT Stuart School of Business to offer certificate programs to students interested in social innovation.

STEM Qualification for International Students

The MDes 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’s website for more information.

MDes Curriculum + Courses

  • Full-time, 2-year, 54 credit hour degree program
  • Customizable study: Over 80% of the courses in the program are electives (seminars and workshops)
  • Core course modules include Insight Development, Human Advocacy, Prototyping, Critique, Systems Thinking, and Adaptive Leadership.
  • Concentration modules include Stakeholder Research, Communication Design, Design Futures, Policy Systems, Interaction Design, Service Design, Product Design, Systems Thinking, Business Innovation, Design Management, and Collaborative Design.

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


IIT Institute of Design MDes degree credit schedule

  • Four semesters (one additional semester with the Foundation program).
  • 54 credit hours (15 credit hours additional with the Foundation program).
  • The MDes program is a full-time, in-residence program.
  • Summer: ID does not offer classes over the summer. Instead, ID staff supports students in finding meaningful, career-focused summer experiences, including immersions, internships, student-led projects, and faculty-led projects. MDes + MBA students can take business classes in the summer. Over 90% of our students engage in summer experiences that connect to and build on their ID education. 


Learn more about Fellowships + Financial Aid

Tuition (2020-2021 rate)$24,501per 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.

Our 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 / BDC / Doblin / EY / Fjord / Google / IDEO / INSITUM / Logitech / McDonald’s / McKinsey / Motorola / Microsoft / Salesforce / SapientRazorfish / SC Johnson / Steelcase / Verizon

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



Click here for complete information on application requirements


Join our Graduate Program

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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.

Applying from outside the US?

Visit the International Applicants page to view specific information for your situation.