Master of Design Methods (MDM)

Take your strategy to the next level

The Institute of Design’s Master of Design Methods (MDM) is an executive master’s program that provides a 21st century alternative to the MBA.

Unlike any other program in the market, ID's MDM brings a cohort of experienced professionals together from diverse industries. Most have no design training. These mid-career learners and leaders become 21st century strategy experts equipped to propel their organizations forward.

At ID, they discover how to use design to see, and build, what’s next. 

The creative alternative to an MBA

The world is moving from shareholders to stakeholders, from profit maximization to value creation, from efficiency to resiliency. Leaders need new ways of thinking about new—and old—problems. The MDM responds to this changing world. Mid-career professionals turn to the MDM to discover new methods and mindsets for strategic thinking, leadership, and collaboration. 

This business-minded program engages our changing world and focuses on future outcomes. MDM graduates are people who know how to situate their organizations for success—from creating a vision to seeing through its execution. A suite of carefully selected courses, offered remotely and synchronously for working professionals around the world, provides new methods and mindsets for a new generation of leaders.

Designed to accelerate your career

Ideal applicants for the MDM program have approximately 10 years (8 minimum) of professional experience, including experience in leadership positions. Most applicants find themselves charged with innovation initiatives, or are looking to build or expand innovation capacity within their organizations.

They learn from faculty focused on the intersection of design and business. ID faculty are both scholars and business practitioners, and they bring their industry experience into the classroom.

Our part-time and remote format allows learners to take material from one evening's class to work the next day. In the part-time format, all courses are online (live and synchronous with all classmates) so you can complete the program from anywhere. (To complete the degree in nine months, a full-time sabbatical format is possible. Contact us for details.)

Advanced curriculum for today’s organizational challenges

The MDM program and its courses are structured with immediate applicability in mind. 

Coursework explores emerging innovation methods, market insight, and human-centered design while actively mixing theory and hands-on applications. At the same time, the cohort of experienced students adds exceptional value by bringing current issues into class discussions and debates. Class sizes are intentionally small to facilitate frequent contact amongst classmates and faculty members, creating an environment conducive to collaboration.

Specific courses evolve from semester to semester and cover the following topics:

Strategic Thinking Methods and Application

  • Systems and Systems Theory
  • Behavioral Design
  • Technology and Design
  • Design for Sustainability

Leadership and Activation

  • Adaptive Leadership
  • Organizational Models for Innovation
  • Innovation Implementation and Capacity Building
  • Strategic Communication

Innovation Basics and Emerging Practices

  • Principles and Methods of Understanding Stakeholders
  • Evidence-Based Design
  • Innovation Frontiers
  • Plausible and Responsible Futures

Mid-term immersions and reflections

At the midpoint of the Fall and Spring semesters, all active MDM students are invited to participate in a 3-day in-person event, called the MDM Immersion. During the event, students engage with the ID community in Chicago for an immersive exploration of contemporary topics. Students meet their peers and share experiences across multiple organizational contexts and challenges (for-profit, socially-oriented, entrepreneurial, etc.) with faculty members and visiting subject matter experts.

Recent and upcoming immersions

    • Fall 2021: Design + AI
    • Spring 2022: Design + Climate Change


Timing and Cost

MDM Timing

All courses are offered in a remote, evening format for working professionals. Each class is held 6–9pm (Central Time) weekly for 7 or 14 weeks depending on the course. Students typically enroll in two courses a semester (two evenings a week) and earn their degree in only five semesters. 

A full-time, 9-month sabbatical program is possible. Please contact us for details.


Part-time professional format

Tuition (2021-2022 rate) $1,958 per credit hr
Student fees, books, and supplies $650* per semester
Health insurance (can be waived) $1,896* per year

Full-time sabbatical format

Tuition (2021-2022 rate) $29,395 per semester
Student fees, books, and supplies $650* per semester
Living expenses (room & board) $6,750* per semester
Health insurance $1,896* per year


Learn more about Financial Aid

Graduate outcomes

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.

In the past 15 years, over 175 students have earned the MDM degree and hold positions of influence in companies and design firms such as:

All Nippon Airways
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Booz Allen Hamilton
Capital One
Deloitte / Doblin
Duo Security
Facebook / Meta
Ford Motor Company
Godrej & Boyce
Miller Knoll
JP Morgan Chase & Co
Mayo Clinic
Mars Wrigley
Peacock TV
SC Johnson
Tata Consultancy Services
United Healthcare Group
VSA Partners 



Click here for complete information on application requirements

Alumni Profiles

Discover where the MDM degree has taken recent alumni.

Join our Graduate Program

Find complete information on application requirements.

Application Deadlines

Fall 2022 admission
We are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the Fall cohort is full. Please reach out to for more information.

Have a Question?

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.