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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 MID 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 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.

The MID program is positioned in one of the most comprehensive design colleges in the country, facilitating the integration of methodologies and skillsets 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 (30 credits), departmental electives or experiential learning credits (15 electives) and one of the following: creative component with a design process report (3 credits) or research-based written thesis (3 credits). To note that students and faculty work collaboratively on this required final grad project irrespective of graduation final deliverable: integrating both theory and creation, and research with/for design problem-solving.

Curriculum Outline
Required Core Courses: 30 cr.  
IND D 501 Industrial Design Studio I 6
IND D 502 Industrial Design Studio II 6
IND D 530 Design Thinking 3
IND D 580X Material Culture in Industrial Design 3
IND D 601 Industrial Design Studio III  3
IND D 602 Graduate Project I 3
IND D 699 Graduate Thesis 3
IND D 630 Thesis Preparation 3
IND D 670 Design Theory and Methodology  3
Departmental Electives: 15 cr.  
IND D 520X Design Storytelling and Strategies 3
IND D 560X Change and Critical Mind 3
IND D 570X 21st Century Design Issues 3
IND D 550 Human Factors: user-experience design 3
IND D 540 Visual Communication for Industrial Design 3
IND D 640 Digital Technologies 3
IND D 515 Grad Colloquium 1
IND D 510 Human-Centered Research Methods 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 6
IND D 597 Internship 6
Suggested grad sequence:    
First Year      
Fall   Spring  
IND D 501 6 IND D 502 6
IND D 510 3 IND D 580X 3
IND D 530 3 IND D 640 3
IND D 570X 3 IND D 520X or- 3
    INDD 450X 3
  15cr   15cr
Second Year      
Fall   Spring  
IND D 601 3 IND D 602 OR 699 3
IND D 670 3 IND D 630 3
IND D 560X 3 IND D 550 3
  9cr   9cr
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.
  • References: Names, email addresses and phone numbers of three references with their titles and affiliations
  • Copy of your most recent transcripts
  • Skype or telephone interview: As needed
  • Compliance with Iowa State University Graduate College requirements
  • Submission date: February 15 submission, March 1 response. Late submissions may be considered, although priority is given to timely submission.

More Information

For more information on this graduate degree program, contact:
Meredith Foley, Graduate Recruitment Coordinator
Carlos Cardoso, Director of Graduate Education