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.

MDes: Year One

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.

1 Fall First Year

MDes/MPS Seminar I 12 units

Interaction and Service Design concepts

MDes/MPS Studio I 12 units

Designing for Interactions

Interaction Design Lab 12 units

Concept/Strategy/Prototyping/Visualization

Communication Design Lab 12 units

Concept/Strategy/Prototyping/Visualization

Colloquium 3 units

Lectures from faculty about their research

Thesis Prep 3 units

Framing research questions

Students investigate business and policy opportunities in design for services and social innovation through research-based team project work, and prepare a thesis proposal.

2 Spring First Year

MDes/MPS Seminar II 12 units

Transition Design

MDes/MPS Studio II 12 units

Research Based Design for Interactions

Research Methods for Design 9 units

Supports Studio II

Communcation Selective 12 units

Taught by the English department

Thesis Prep 3 units

Scoping a thesis project

MDes: Year Two

Students may opt for a generalist desgree in design for interaction, or craft a concentration in desing for services or social innovation through their thesis project work and choice of electives.

3 Fall Second Year

MDes Thesis Project 21 units

Design for Interaction, focus in design for services or social innovation

Mdes Seminar III 12 units

Advanced Interaction & Service Design Concepts

Elective 12 units

Recommended in business, policy, service, social innovation, interaction or communication design.

Students bring their thesis projects to fruition and develop expertise in design for interaction, and desgn for services or social innovation, through electives.

4 Spring Second Year

MDes Thesis Project 21 units

Design for Interaction, focus in design for services or social innovation

Elective 12 units

Recommended in business, policy, service, social innovation, interaction or communication design.

Elective 12 units

Recommended in business, policy, service, social innovation, interaction or communication design.

@ School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, 2014

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