Just as architects give form to space, and product designers give form to 3D objects, interaction designers give form to the behavior of products, services, environments, and systems. The Master of Design in Interaction Design (IxD) is a two-year professional degree program that accepts students from diverse backgrounds and educates them as practicing interaction designers.
Our model of designing for interaction involves multidisciplinary teams working together on the research, planning, concept ideation, iterative refinement, prototyping, evaluation, and communication of novel solutions meant to enhance the quality of people’s lives. We promote a human-centered design process that integrates perspectives and approaches from the humanities, social sciences, business, engineering, and design.
Students work to gain an analytic and empathic understanding of the past and present in order to better envision what could and should be. We encourage our students to engage in radical invention as they become active constructors of a better future.
Our master’s degree in interaction design was one of the first programs of its kind in the world. Twenty years ago, when the program started, our work focused mostly on screen interfaces for computer applications and web sites. Since then, the boundaries between hardware and software, device and user, have blurred considerably, and that trend can only continue to accelerate. 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.
IxD students develop a wide variety of skills. In their fieldwork, they adopt methods that expose the joys and challenges facing users in specific contexts. They apply diverse approaches to framing a problem space, from sketching and diagramming to “bodystorming,” “speed dating” of possible futures, and “experience prototyping.”
Our students investigate emerging technology in social, mobile, cloud, and ubiquitous computing, and they practice prototyping to develop fluency with technology. Working directly with high-tech companies as clients, they gain insights into current industry development practices and concerns. At each stage of the design process they practice communicating their ideas through critiques, pitches, talks, specifications, videos, demonstrations, and articles.
Explore the Graduate Course Descriptions in more detail.
Core seminars and studio courses in the first year provide the intellectual and practical foundation of the IxD program, complemented by elective coursework from the School of Design and from other departments across the CMU campus. We strongly encourage summer internships between the first and second years. During the second year, in addition to elective coursework, students complete yearlong thesis projects of their own design in association with faculty mentors.
Recent sponsors for studio and research projects include Microsoft, Motorola, Citrix, R/GA Media Group, Samsung Electronics, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the United States Postal Service.
Recent graduates are shaping the future of interaction design at consultancies and tech firms, and in a growing number of industries driven to leverage the power of design thinking: design organizations like Adaptive Path, IDEO, Method, and Frog; technology giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Citrix, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Philips, and Samsung.