Master of Design

The Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Interactions is a two-year professional degree for students with an undergraduate degree in design or previous design experience. The MDes is currently considered the terminal degree in design.

CMU’s MDes degree was one of the first programs of its kind in the world. More than 20 years ago, the program focused mostly on screen interfaces for computer applications and Websites. Since then, the boundaries between hardware and software, device and user, have blurred considerably – a trend that's accelerating. Today, screen interfaces are only a small part of what we design. Current projects concentrate on the “big picture” aspects of interaction – people, organizations, culture, context, and systemic solutions.

Students in the MDes program engage in research-based design for services and social innovation to catalyze the transition to more sustainable futures. Core seminars and studio courses in the first year provide the intellectual and practical foundation of the program.

In the Fall semester, students are introduced to design for interactions through services and social innovation with potential impact in business and policy, while expanding their skills in communication and interaction design. In the Spring semester, students investigate business and policy opportunities in design for services and social innovation through research-based team project work and exposure to elements of communication essential for design.

A unique feature of the MDes program is the second year thesis, an independent research and design project developed by students under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. The thesis year is complemented by elective coursework from the School of Design and other departments across the CMU campus.

In addition, we strongly encourage summer internships between the first and second years, facilitated through our annual career event, Confluence.

A complete listing of MDes course descriptions is available for download in a PDF.