PhD Overview

As a top-rated graduate program for those seeking to teach or conduct fundamental research in the field of human-centered design, IIT Institute of Design (ID) 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, our candidates directly participate in some of the most exciting design-focused work being done today.

PhD at-a-glance

Doctoral candidates (2019-2020 academic year)
Students per PhD advising faculty2-5
PhD degree granted since program’s inception in 199230
PhD alumni holding faculty positions in universities60%
PhD alumni working in industry40%

PhD Corporate Partnership Initiative

ID invites applicants from industry interested in developing collaborative PhD level design research. ID is interested in piloting a partnership with corporations to co-develop design research relevant to industries. The partner corporation will sponsor one or more design professionals or researchers for three years to lead a collaborative research project between ID faculty and industry experts on a topic of common relevance. Residency at the Institute of Design is not required. The design professional will be able to continue in his/her job with the expectation of working remotely with ID faculty, and spending a one-week immersion in Chicago every two months.

Candidates should have a master’s degree in design (or equivalent) and/or significant experience as a professional designer. They should also have the buy-in and support of their corporate leaders, and be involved in design-led research in industry projects. As a pilot initiative, ID will accept only one or two candidates/partnerships for Fall 2019. For candidates or corporations interested in considering this collaboration, please contact Carlos Teixeira, PhD program coordinator at ID.


  • Credit hours are transferable from the Master’s program (32 credit hours maximum).
  • Full- or half-semester courses may be selected from the university’s course offerings to complement objectives of the student’s program, including 15 credit hours of required courses.
  • Twelve credit hours are earned over the first three terms; the remainder is earned over, at minimum, three additional terms.
  • Admitted doctoral students will be required to submit and obtain approval for a program of study and pass a foreign language requirement.
  • 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.


PhD Time Chart

  • Six semesters (beyond Master’s degree)
  • 92 credit hours (32 Master’s, 12 courses, 48 research)
  • Full-time residency is required for first four semesters


Please note: Tuition and research stipends are not available. Only self-funded applicants will be considered.

Tuition (2020-2021 rate)$24,500per semester
Student fees, books, and supplies$1,268*per semester
Living expenses (room & board)$6,750*per semester
Health insurance$1,687per year



Click here for complete information on application requirements

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. For questions about the program, please contact Carlos Teixeira.