Master of Design

The Master of Design (M.Des.) program is a two-year, 54 credit-hour degree program intended for those seeking professional mastery at the highest level in the field. The program does not require the formal selection of a concentration area or a final thesis project. Students may construct their own curriculum after taking a core of courses focused on understanding users, analyzing complex information, and exploring and prototyping alternative solutions. Examples of individual courses of study include communication design, interaction design, product design, strategic planning, user research, design methods research, and systems design.


The M.Des. program requires continuous full-time study at the Institute of Design for a minimum of four semesters (a minimum of five semesters for those in the M.Des. with the Foundation sequence). Students must enroll in at least 13.5 credit hours of coursework each semester.


All students must meet with their academic advisers at least once a semester during their program of study. Each meeting should be scheduled prior to course registration for the following semester. All incoming students are assigned an adviser at the time of admission. All students can change their adviser at any time through an eForms petition. 

If the required advising meeting is not completed in a particular semester, an academic hold will be placed on the student's record preventing any course registration for the following semester. The hold cannot be removed until the student has completed the advising meeting. Please see the Director of Student Success if you have any questions or your assigned adviser is not available. 


Minimum Degree Credits 54
Minimum Degree Credits with ESP + Design Course Corequisites 66
Minimum Degree Credits with Foundation Course Prerequisites 69

Core Curriculum 

Required Courses (17.5)
IDN 508Principles and Methods of User Research3
IDN 556Strategic Communication1.5
IDN 571Introduction to Systems Theory1.5
IDX 508Modes of Human Experience1.5
IDX 542Analysis + Synthesis3
IDX 550Building and Understanding Context3
Choose one course from below:4
Communication Systems4
Embodied Design4
Digital Media4
Elective Courses (36.5)
Select 36.5 credit hours from any 500-level or 600-level IDN or IDX non-required course. Up to 12 credit hours may be chosen from IDN 481 - IDN 497, provided that those courses are not also applied as program prerequisites.36.5
Total Credit Hours54

ESP + Design Courses

These courses are corequisite for students who require additional fluency in English and design-specific vocabulary.

IDN 461Advanced Reading and Writing for Design I3
IDN 462Advanced Listening and Presentation in Design I3
IDN 466Advanced Reading and Writing in Design II3
IDN 467Advanced Listening and Presentation in Design II3
Total Credit Hours12

Foundation Courses

These courses are prerequisite for students without an undergraduate degree in industrial or communication design and must be completed prior to proceeding with any other M.Des. requirements. 

Select a minimum of 15 credit hours from the following:15
Introduction to Design Practice3
Introduction to Visual Communication4
Introduction to Objects & Artifacts4
Introduction to Photography4
Introduction to Interaction4
Total Credit Hours15

Elective Courses

Students select a series of courses to meet their professional goals in consultation with their adviser. Courses may be chosen from any 500-level or 600-level IDN or IDX non-required course, and up to 12 credit hours from the 400-level Foundation courses (IDN 481IDN 497), provided that those courses are not also applied as program prerequisites. Up to six credit hours may be taken outside of ID with the approval of the student's adviser. 

A selection of the available elective courses is below. Note: Some courses are not offered every semester.

Making the User-Centered Case1.5
Introduction to Observing Users3
Research Planning and Execution1.5
Principles and Methods of User Research3
Research Photography1.5
Experience Modeling3
Survey Methods1.5
Evidence-based Design1.5
Co-Design and Social Interventions3
Research Synthesis1.5
Innovation Frontiers1.5
Adaptive Leadership1.5
Business Design1.5
Organizational Models of Innovation1.5
Introduction to Product Strategy1.5
Strategic Design Workshop3
Implementing Innovation1.5
Civic Design1.5
Behavioral Design1.5
Diagram Development1.5
Design Rhetoric1.5
Animated Diagramming1.5
Communication Design Workshop3
Fundamentals of Visual Communication1.5
Innovation Narratives1.5
Modeling Complexity1.5
Bias + Sensemaking1.5
Service Systems Workshop3
Introduction to Systems Theory1.5
Sustainable Solutions Workshop3-4
Re-Thinking Systems3
Prototyping Methods1.5
Critique Methods1.5
Fundamentals of Product Design1.5
Modes of Human Experience1.5
Data Literacy1.5
Product Design Workshop3
Generative Design3
Interaction Design Methods1.5
Fundamentals of Web Development1.5-3
Interaction Design Workshop3
Prototyping Interactions3
Interaction Design for Immersive Systems1.5
Politics of Design1.5
Designing Futures3
Critical Contexts1.5-3
Innovation Methods3
Facilitation Methods1.5
Agile Culture1.5
Managing Interdisciplinary Teams3
Introduction to Design Thinking3
Multidisciplinary Innovation3
Faculty Research1-10
Special Topics1-10
Independent Study1.5-6
Ph. D. Principles and Methods of Design Research1.5
Ph. D. Philosophical Context of Design Research1.5
Ph.D. Research Seminar3