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Department of

Industrial Design


Master of Industrial Design

Designing for Future Industries

Master of Industrial Design | MID
60-credit study | distributed across two consecutive years

How will (Industrial) Design look in the future? Where is the field going? What new methods and methodologies will be needed to tackle current and emergent global issues? What will it mean to be human in the age of Artificial Intelligence? How will design disciplines answer to these new futures, new typologies of users and ever-changing technologies?

These are just some of the questions that keep us awake in the MID program!

Innovation requires questioning existing boundaries and making connections between diverse disciplines. It entails the ability to recognize problems and opportunities others have missed, and the ability to reimagine innovative, sustainable and durable solutions for people and society ranging from tangible artifacts to services, experiences and environments.

In an age when new technologies and automation are continually changing the way we think about human activities and future jobs, Industrial Design is faced with challenges that question the field itself. Designing successfully for and with new industries and technologies will require ambidextrous designers who are flexible, critical, creative and highly capable of working and collaborating in different contexts, across domains and most importantly under different roles. Design practitioners, scholars and students will need to be more than developers, managers or human-centered researchers — they will need to be change-makers, leaders and above all connectors. The MID program offers a competence-based curriculum, with tools and training on how to be[come] this design connector of the future.

Description of the Degree | the bigger picture
The Master of Industrial Design (MID) program at the Iowa State University College of Design specifically emphasizes systems thinking as one of its core languages when reframing problems as opportunities for future contexts. Systems design, change theory, problem reframing, strategic and creative thinking, and innovation by design are some of the fundamentals of the MInD framework.

Industrial Design is a human-centered discipline that questions existing boundaries and makes connections among diverse domains. Therefore, the program challenges students to develop the ability to recognize and define problems in new ways, and thus 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 MID 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.

Details about the Degree | zooming in
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 MID is accredited and recognized as a terminal degree in Industrial Design. This graduate program is designed to offer a significant mix of skills and experiences, including students from different disciplinary backgrounds, faculty-directed research programs, internships, international study abroad, industry-sponsored coursework and teaching experience.

Iowa State’s MID program is positioned in one of the most comprehensive design colleges in the country, facilitating the integration of methodologies and skill sets from multiple disciplines. Additionally, the program has established curricular connections to the nationally ranked College of Engineering and the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University, as well as to numerous industry collaborators and practitioners.

Degree requirements include completion of a 2-year, 60-credit program, including a required core (45 credits), departmental electives (9-12 credits) and or experiential learning credits (3-6 electives.) The final MID Graduate Project includes one of the following: creative component with a design process report opting for one of the following modes as Graduate Project: creative component with a design process report (6 credits) or research-based written thesis (6 credits).  To note that students and their supervisory team work collaboratively on this required final grad project, integrating both theory and fabrication in the creative component, and research with/for a complex design problem.

Curriculum Outline
Required Core Courses: 45 cr.  
IND D 501 Industrial Design Graduate Studio I 6
IND D 502 Industrial Design Graduate Studio II 6
IND D 520 Design Theory Methodology 3
IND D 530 Design Thinking 3
IND D 550 Human Factors: User Experience Design 3
IND D 580 Material Culture and Values 3
IND D 601 Industrial Design Studio III  6
IND D 602 MInD Graduate Project 6
IND D 699 MInD Graduate Thesis 6
IND D 640 Digital Technologies 3
Departmental Electives: 15 cr.  
IND D 435 Strategic Design: Project Management 3
IND D 440 Portfolio and Professional Practice 3
IND D 460 Product Realization 3
IND D 505 MInD Lab I 3
IND D 510 MInD Lab II 3
IND D 515 Graduate Colloquium 1
IND D 540 Design Communication 3
IND D 630 Critical Reflections for Thesis Preparation 3
OR Experiential Learning: 15 cr.  
IND D 592 Special Projects 3-6
IND D 593 Experiential Learning Special Projects 3-6
IND D 595 Study Abroad Option 6
IND D 597 Internship 6
Suggested grad sequence:    
Fall   Spring  
IND D 501 6 IND D 502 6
IND D 520 3 IND D 540 3
IND D 530 3 IND D 550 3
IND D 570 3 IND D 580 3
Departmental Elective 3 Departmental Elective 3
  18   18
Fall   Spring  
IND D 601 6 IND D 602 OR 699 6
IND D 560 3 IND D 515 (or MID LAB) 1-3
IND D 640 3 IND D 630 3
ISU or College Elective 3 ISU or College Elective 3
  15   13-15
Admission Requirements
Admission to the MID program is by application to the department and to the Graduate College.

The MID program does not require a bachelor’s degree in industrial design and is open to students from any other disciplinary background (please see below). Information about our program and how to apply can be obtained from the Graduate College site, or send an email directly to the MID graduate recruitment services,

Desired Qualifications for Prospective Students

  • Undergraduate degree in a design-related domain (industrial, product, graphic, interior, interaction, architecture, etc.), engineering-related domain (mechanical, electrical, industrial, etc.) or 3 years related experience in design practice. Other undergraduate degrees may also be considered, please contact the Director of Graduate Education (contact below).
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA: 3.0/4.0 for full admission. Below 3.0/4.0 may be considered for restricted admission but must maintain 3.0 if accepted and until degree confirmation.
  • Minimum TOEFL score: 79
  • GRE: not required
  • Compliance with general Graduate College requirements not outlined above

Required Materials for the Application Process

  • 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 might 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 should also include the names of the faculty member(s) with whom the applicant would like to work, describing the reasons she/he is interested in that (those) faculty member(s)’s educational and/or research portfolio, or any other ongoing activities/work. This proposal could be submitted as a 2-minute video, a 2-page written document or a 2-page visual documentation.
  • Visual portfolio: A minimum of 5-page PDF file demonstrating the visual skills of the applicant including examples of process work and problem solving.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Copy of your most recent university transcripts
  • Virtual or telephone interview: As needed
  • Compliance with Iowa State University Graduate College requirements
  • Submission date: January 15 submission, March 1 response. Late submissions may be considered, although priority is given to timely submission.

Ready to take the next step?

Please review our frequently asked questions and then contact Melissa Stenstrom, Graduate Student Recruiter for more information or to schedule your visit.