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Industrial Design (M.S.)

Program Director: Tod Corlett


The M.S. in Industrial Design program teaches the effective design of products and systems used by people. It focuses on making the relationship between people and the things they use elegant, simple, useful and beautiful, and on finding new forms of value for product-users in cooperation with business and engineering, informed by user-centered research. The program is taught in an interdisciplinary studio context; it is intended for curious, motivated and highly qualified students with undergraduate degrees in design or in other fields.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Master of Science in Industrial Design program will be able to apply the following skills, knowledge and habits of critical thinking. They will effectively and specifically address the following issues in corporate, entrepreneurial or consulting contexts:


  • Analyze and respond to cultural, political, economic and cognitive issues surrounding concepts of beauty, desirability, ornament, usability and user experience in the context of designed objects and systems.
  • Propose positive relationships between form and function, and be able to create appropriate aesthetic responses in diverse design situations.

Global Context

  • Analyze and propose interventions in the global economic environment in which products and systems are designed, manufactured, marketed, sold, and used in the 21st century.
  • Create new understanding of how they, as designers, can participate and add value in these systems.
  • Participate in international business and design cultures well enough to work effectively in a global environment. 
  • Exercise the cultural sensitivity and research skills necessary to design for end-user markets in global cultures.


  • Respond to challenges for design implicit in rapid global change. Formulate innovative responses to issues such as climate change, pollution, resource limitations, population growth, rising standards of living in the developing world, and social and income disparities.
  • Analyze the designer’s role and degrees of freedom in responding to these pressing issues.

Research and Innovation

  • Evaluate changes in social, economic and technological factors which represent potential opportunities for new product approaches, and do so in a compelling and reproducible fashion. 
  • Analyze the lives, values and minds of product users, and be able to translate this into creation of effective design interventions.
  • Plan techniques for learning about interactions between people and products, and create processes for iteratively improving the products in this experiential context.

Interdisciplinary Leadership

  • Lead cross-disciplinary teams effectively, and take responsibility for managing the team’s work and in creating its effectiveness.
  • Evaluate the nature and value of collaborative work processes, and the value added by specific disciplines. 
  • Analyze and synthesize responses to new challenges and opportunities facing the industrial design profession.

Admissions Criteria

A design portfolio is necessary from those with design backgrounds (this includes engineering) along with a letter of intent specifying the student’s career goals and how the student plans to contribute to the program.

Applicants must demonstrate through portfolio an ability to conceive, iterate and improve design concepts; to use sketching and computer-based tools to communicate and document these ideas; and to make well-crafted things in three dimensions. It is also expected that qualified applicants will have knowledge of human factors issues and of the history of art and design, and some familiarity working in a critique-based studio environment incorporating team project work. These abilities can be gained through academic study or through personal/professional experience. 

Because of the interdisciplinary emphasis of the industrial design program, it is anticipated that prospective students will come from various backgrounds and levels of expertise. If an applicant is found to need development in professional skills but is otherwise qualified, the MSID program can formally prescribe additional undergraduate courses as foundational preparation. These courses may be taken before starting the MSID studio sequence or concurrently with it at the MSID Program’s option. All applicants to the program must meet with a program representative to determine necessary foundational courses. 

Curriculum Sequence: 42 Credits

(33 graduate credits minimum)

Highly qualified students may be exempted from MSID-500 Skills and Methods, MSID- 798 Internship/Independent Study, and/or MSID-701 Practice Tutorial, based on portfolio review. Students not exempted will take 42 graduate credits.  

Foundation Courses, if required

  • CADF-500                            CAD I for Industrial Design          
  • CADF-501                            Digital Design Techniques            
  • IDF-501                              Design Development Drawing   
  • IDF-505                              Materials/Process: Manufacturing          
  • IDF-507                              Design I for Industrial Design     
  • IDF-508                              Materials and Process: Fabrication          
  • IDF-509                              Rendering          
  • IDF-510                              Ergonomics Studies                        
  • IDF-514                              Visual Studies: Drawing

Year I                  

Summer Semester                                                                          

  • MSID-500                            Skills and Methods for ID  (3 credits)

Fall Semester    

  • MSID-703                            User-Centered Studio  (6 credits)
  • MSID-700                            Research and Design Process Methods   (3 credits)

Spring Semester                                                                              

  • MSID-705                            Collaborative Studio   (6 credits)
  • MSID-707                            Seminar: Current Issues in ID (3 credits)

Year II                 

Summer Semester                                                                          

  • MSID-791/798                   MSID Internship/ Independent Study or Elective  (3 credits)                                   

Fall Semester    

  • MSID-803                            Master’s Project I: Implementation   (6 credits)
  • MSID-701                            Workshop: Prototyping   (3 credits)

Spring Semester                                                                              

  • MSID-804                            Master’s Project II: Development and Evaluation   (6 credits)
  • MSID-701                            Design Business and Entrepreneurship or Elective   (3 credits)


Optional, not required for graduation:

Spring Break

  • MSID-600A         Graduate Intercultural Innovation: Study Abroad Component    (1 credit)

Spring Semester              

  • MSID-600B          Graduate Intercultural Innovation: Project Component (2 credits)     

MSID students may take the MSID elective 600 Intercultural Innovation, or other graduate electives (Sustainable Design recommended), subject to availability and program requirements.