Graduate Program

Design has become a highly interactive, collaborative, and transdisciplinary activity that is integral to the success of businesses and institutions worldwide. Leaders in the field are increasingly tasked with considering products, services, and systems that can have substantial impact on the quality of human experience.

At Carnegie Mellon, you’ll learn a holistic approach to research-based design that prepares you to face these emerging challenges. You’ll practice reliable methods to cultivate insights into interactions among people, the built world, and the environment.

Where can a master's degree from CMU take you?

Ours was one of the first programs to offer a master’s degree in interaction design and is widely considered among the best in the world. We have deep roots in information and communication design, and our graduates enjoy access to a rich variety of career options.

In recent rankings of design schools based on career outcomes, our graduate programs consistently come out on top. Our alumni aquire some of the most desirable positions in the field, with multinational companies, design firms, and nonprofits. Some of our alumni become design researchers and educators, and others start their own businesses.

You might work as an interaction designer, information designer, user experience designer, design researcher, service designer, design strategist, information architect, creative director, data visualization expert, startup founder, or chief creative officer.

Pick a path to suit your goals and experience.

Our flexible degree options create multiple points of entry and pathways through graduate design education. Once you’re here, you’ll have the benefit of working with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds, inspired by a wide range of motivations and career ambitions.

Students from non-design backgrounds enroll in our one-year MA program to study design principles, practices, and theories that are core to the field and how they can be integrated into their native fields. The MPS and MDes progams offer design professionals the opportunity to sharpen their skills, engage in innovative design thinking and practice, study and apply design research methods to robust challenges, and learn to articulate the value of design-based innovation. Our PhD program attracts accomplished professionals who wish to redirect their ways of working toward more innovative and responsible practices.

You’ll work with people at every point in their careers, with experience in fields as varied as journalism, engineering, fine arts, anthropology, psychology, business—and of course, design. Which program is best for you depends on where you’re coming from, and where you want to go.

Graduate degree pathways

Students from diverse non-design backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the one-year MA program, with opportunities to transition into the one-year MPS, the two-year MDes, or the four-year PhD. Students with prior design degrees and/or experience are encouraged to apply to our one-year MPS, the two-year MDes program, or one of our doctoral program.

Doctoral Program for Academia or Professional Practice 

The PhD is appropriate for candidates who wish to become academics or applied research leaders in design practice. Applicants must have a master’s degree in design, or equivalent education or experience.

Study with renowned faculty, work with corporate clients.

Our faculty members bring an array of impressive skill sets from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. They are known experts in industrial, communication, and environmental design, as well as design research, fine art, philosophy, human-computer interaction, architecture, and business. Many of them are also pioneers in service design, design for social innovation, and transition design.

We have a solid history of successful collaboration with leading companies, nonprofits, and academic partners. Studio courses and research frequently include real-world projects. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with, and present to, clients, and possibly work as a research assistant.

Our programs are unified by a framework that responds to changes in design, while also seeking to shape the future of the discipline and advance the field as it matures. Whatever your focus, our approach prepares you for entry into top jobs at leading companies and organizations, while teaching you to pioneer innovation in the field over time and design with future generations in mind.