Grad Programs in Design

I’m frequently asked about graduate programs in design. The program foci vary tremendously from a focus on management and design to a focus on art and design.  The best way to understand the nature of a program is to visit, talk with current students, faculty, and recent alums. Here is a brief (and incomplete list) to get you started.

Carnegie Mellon’s Master of Product Development – a joint program between their ME Dept, School of Design and Tepper School of Business. Their capstone Integrated Product Development course – which indicates their focus – has student teams work with an industry partner to develop product concepts all the way to form/function protos, a manufacturing plan and marketing plan.

 MIT’s Integrated Design and Management

Northwestern’s MS-Engineering Design and Innovation (EDI): For recent grads in engineering or other technical disciplines; provides a broad understanding of human-centered design process and focuses on hands-on project work.


Northwestern’s Masters of Product Design and Development (MPD): a P/T program for mid-career professionals, often referred to as an “MBA for designers”–focused on managing the new product development process.

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Northwestern’ MMM (Dual-degree MBA and MS program): Two degrees in 2 years: a traditional Kellogg MBA + a MS Engineering that focuses on innovation and operations management.

Northwestern’s Master’s of Engineering Management (MEM): This is *not* a design-related program at all, but rather a traditional MEM program similar to those offered by schools across the country.  Many MEM students at NU have taken design classes as electives, however, in order to tailor the experience towards more design-centric roles.

 RISD’s Masters of Industrial Design – unlike their BID, the MID is by their own admission very much focused on storytelling and branding. Judging from their loft space and the profile of enrolled students, it’s primarily meant as an professional development course for those with a formal ID background + ID work experience.

Stanford’s Design Impact Engineering Program: This program attracts students who are interested in working on the world’s biggest challenges. They believe that designers need to be responsible for the “last mile” of design. They are educating the next generation of designers and leaders who will innovate and implement, and funding the next generation of researchers who will generate novel solutions to the complex problems facing our society and our planet.