Program details

All Iowa State students may elect to add a secondary major in Interdisciplinary Design to their plan of study as a complement to their first major.

Design plays a crucial role in innovation, imagination and human creativity. The secondary major in Interdisciplinary Design is an asset on any resume. It offers courses for students interested in pursuing careers and futures related to creative leadership, design for social change, disruptive innovation and user experience (UX), and provides the knowledge and skill sets necessary to address complex challenges and contemporary societal problems using key innovation and entrepreneurial concepts.

Interdisciplinary Design explores the central principle of human-centered experiences, and how people — users, customers, markets, audiences — are at the core of all creative activities and endeavors. Interdisciplinary Design dives deeply into the fundamental concepts that explain creative processes, from collaboration to iteration to implementation.


This program provides a strong foundation in creative problem solving, design thinking, strategic design, leadership and project management and new product development. Interdisciplinary Design builds an understanding of the innovation journey through design tools and techniques for ideation, insights forecasting and prototyping with users. This is the place to initiate a project, explore how to take an idea to execution and discover how to turn an insight into a reality.

The Interdisciplinary Design curriculum is built around a set of required innovation and design entrepreneurship-focused interdisciplinary studios and other required and elective courses, with many options for students across all university majors.

The secondary major in Interdisciplinary Design requires a minimum of 27 semester credits. Students seeking a secondary major in Interdisciplinary Design must complete:

Anchor courses (15-18 credits total)

  • DES 150X: Introduction to Innovation and Design, 3 cr.
  • DES 230: Design Thinking (meets university social science requirement), 3 cr.
  • DES 240: Design Innovation Studio, 3 cr.
  • DES 340: Interdisciplinary Foundation Studio III, 3 cr.
  • DES 495: Launchpad, 3-6 cr.

Other required courses (9-10 credits total)

For majors outside the College of Design

  • 3 credits in a design history course (meets university humanities requirement for non-design students)
  • 3 credits in Communications; choose from SPCM 212, ENGL 302, ENGL 309, ENGL 314
    (already required in many Ivy College of Business and College of Engineering majors)

For College of Design majors

  • DSN S 183: Design in Context, 3 cr.
  • DSN S 102: Design Studio I, 4 cr.
  • 3 credits in Communications; choose from SPCM 212, ENGL 302, ENGL 309, ENGL 314 (meets university humanities requirement for some design majors)

Elective (3 credits total) – Choose one

  • DES 250: Design Intersections, 3 cr. in a design special topic
    (meets university international perspectives requirement for non-design students)
  • DES 333: Time-Based Digital Media, 3 cr.
  • Approved elective(s) from a College of Design department, 3 cr.
    (please consult with academic advisor to choose an approved elective that enhances depth of knowledge in first major)

How to add this major

To add Interdisciplinary Design as a secondary major, contact the academic advisor for your primary major. They will fill out the curriculum change form to add I DES as your second major.

College of Design student working on class project.

A Cyclone 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.