Program details

The Master of Industrial Design (MID) program at the College of Design is a human-centered discipline that questions existing boundaries and makes connections among diverse domains. The program challenges students to develop the ability to recognize and define problems in new ways, and find opportunities others might have missed or undervalued.

As a strategic problem-solving process, Industrial Design tries to reimagine how we should go about developing innovative, sustainable and durable solutions for people and society at large that genuinely lead to better quality of life and better futures.


The curriculum specifically emphasizes systems thinking as one of its core languages when reframing problems as opportunities for future contexts. The program actively connects with other knowledge domains and disciplines to research how things are with the drive to propose how they ought to be. This is achieved through the challenging balance between critical and creative ways of thinking (and working) when devising novel, useful and meaningful artifacts, services, experiences and environments. Ultimately, the program integrates the design triad of people, business and technology in innovative ways and is based on insightful research to create new value and competitive advantage in a variety of societal, economic and environmental contexts.

The MID program centers on the creation and application of new knowledge through in-depth investigations of existing ‘gaps’ culminating in a graduation project, which includes a creative component (grad studio-based) or a written thesis (research project). At the same time, students expand their design practice skills using different methodologies, collaboratively, throughout the entire design process. They explore, generate, transfer and implement interdisciplinary insights into foundational knowledge for the discipline of Industrial Design.

The Master of Industrial Design degree program is accredited by National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).

Application requirements

Anyone applying for admission to the Master of Industrial Design program must complete the Iowa State University Graduate College online application. As part of the application, you will be asked to provide:

  • Official academic transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals from your educational or professional background who can most directly speak about your ability to complete graduate level course work and teaching duties
    • You will be asked within the application to provide the names and email addresses for your three references; when you submit the application, the three individuals will receive an email notification from ISU Admissions with a link to the recommendation form
  • A statement of academic and personal interest including your career goals and reasons for applying for the program (500 word maximum)
  • Digital portfolio (PDF or website), including a minimum of five examples of your creative work including examples of process work and problem solving
    • Upload to the application as a PDF, maximum size of 20MB
    • If your portfolio is web-based, upload a PDF document that indicates the website where your portfolio may be viewed
  • Design proposal, according to the directions below
  • English Proficiency Exam (international applicants only)
  • Financial statement (international applicants only)

Consideration date

The priority application submission date is January 15. Late submissions may be considered, although priority is given to timely submission.

Design proposal

This proposal should specify which area(s) of design the applicant wishes to focus on, with details on the objectives to be accomplished. Applicants should describe, and articulate why, the problems they want to tackle, contexts they would like to design for, and/or professional competences and skills they want to explore and develop.

This proposal could be submitted as a 2-minute video, a 2-page written document, or a 2-page visual documentation.

Industrial Design professor designing with industrial design undergraduates.

A Designer in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.