grad_designplusinnovation_ms

The Master of Science in Design + Innovation program is an interdisciplinary degree combining engineering, business, human ecology, user experience, and art. It is a collaboration between the College of Engineering, School of Human Ecology, School of Business, the Art Department within the School of Education, and the Information School in the College of Letters & Science. The degree will prepare students to solve complex problems by providing them with a robust set of design thinking strategies and tools from multiple perspectives. Graduates will be equipped to work across disciplines and innovate in their respective field. The program will be comprised of 30 credits, which include 18 required core credits and 12 elective credits. Coursework will include hands-on learning opportunities and is intended to be completed in 12 months.

Fall Deadline This program does not admit in the fall.
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline February 1*
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 2

Application  Process

Applications are accepted for the summer term only. Applications will open approximately one calendar year prior to the start of the term. Rolling admission will begin after October 1, with a final application deadline of February 1.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements (GPA, test scores, etc.)

  1. ALL applicants must meet the general Graduate School Requirements for Admission.  
  2. GPA: A minimum 3.0/4.0 GPA on the last 60 undergraduate credits is required.
  3. Degree: A bachelor degree (or equivalent), in any relevant subject area, is required before the start of the program. The degree is not required to be complete at the time of application.
  4. Creative Brief: Submit creative brief as described below. 
  5. English Proficiency Scores (TOEFL/IELTS) – required for those whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English. See Graduate School Requirements for Admission for more information and exemption policies.

Required Application Materials

All application materials must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal. Do NOT send any paper copies of documents by mail (email or paper mail) unless specifically requested to do so by the Graduate Admissions Team. Applications must be complete to be reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Team. 

  1. Online application: https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/.
  2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  3. Creative Brief: We require submission of a creative brief that includes three parts: a) a Statement of Purpose, b) a short Design Prompt,  and c) a Portfolio of Past Work. This creative brief must be uploaded in the online application “Statement” tab as one PDF document and cannot exceed 4 MB.
    1. Statement of Purpose: In 250-500 words, please respond to the following question: “Why are you interested in the Master of Science in Design + Innovation program and what do you hope to get out of the program?"
    2. Design Prompt: In 250-500 words, please answer the following prompt: “If you could redesign anything (think broadly: product, process, service, brand, experience, etc.), what would it be? Why? What are the first three things you would do to get started?”

    3. Portfolio of Work: In no more than 10 pages/slides, please tell the story of 2-3 recent projects of which you are proud. Be as visual as possible, including project images and sketches. Make sure to explain project context, key insights, and the design and innovation process you used.
      Note: The MDI admissions committee recognizes that students from different disciplines will have different portfolios of work. The goal of this submission is to demonstrate your ability to think through a project conceptually and concretely, as well as your ability to tell the story about your work.

  4. Unofficial transcripts: All applicants must upload a copy of their transcript from their undergraduate institution and other previous higher education institutions, including other graduate studies. An official transcript is not part of the online application process unless specifically requested in writing by the Admissions Team.
  5. Two (2) letters of recommendation: Enter the recommender email contact information into the online application. Recommenders will receive an email with instructions for the survey and recommendation letter upload process. We do not accept recommendation letters via email, paper format, or online portfolios.
  6. English Proficiency Scores (TOEFL/IELTS) – required for those whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English. See Graduate School Requirements for Admission for more information and exemption policies. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admissions term for which applicants are applying. TOEFL scores should be electronically sent directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to institution code 1846 (no department code is needed). IELTS scores should be electronically sent directly from IELTS to UW-Madison, Graduate Studies.
  7. Application Fee
  8. Personal Interview (if necessary) - A personal interview with MDI program staff (in the form of a telephone call or video chat) may be required.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

PROGRAM RESOURCES

Students in this program are not eligible for teaching assistant, research assistant, or project assistant positions as this is an accelerated coursework only degree.

FEDERAL LOANS

Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible to receive some level of funding through the federal direct loan program. These loans are available to qualified graduate students who are taking at least 4 credits during the fall and spring semesters, and 2 credits during summer. Private loans are also available. Learn more about financial aid at their website

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES FUNDING AND SCHOLARSHIPS

For information on International Student Funding and Scholarships visit the ISS website.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

mode of instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No Yes

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement At least half of degree coursework (15 out of 30 total credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a C or above in all coursework.

Students may not have any more than two incompletes on their record at any one time.
Assessments and Examinations None
Language Requirements No language requirements.

required courses

Core Courses - required of all students (18 credits)
DS 641 Advanced Design Thinking for Transformation3
INTEREGR 477 Tools for Prototyping and Manufacturing3
OTM 760 Managing by Design3
INTER-HE 940 Collaborative Capstone I3
INTEREGR 941 Collaborative Capstone II3
One of the following:
L I S 707 Data Visualization and Communication for Decision Making3
or DS 620 Visual Thinking for Problem Solving
Specializations 112
Students select one specialization in addition to the Core Courses. Students may select courses across the specialization lists with approval of their faculty advisor. 12 credits minimum required.
Product Design
Introduction to Human Factors
Human Factors Engineering
Introduction to Robotics
Redesign and Prototype Fabrication
Product Design
Wearable Technology
Human Factors Engineering Design and Evaluation
Venture Creation
Technology Entrepreneurship
Creating Breakthrough New Products
Basic Graphic Design
Digital Fabrication Studio
Digital Imaging Studio
3D Digital Studio I
Global Artisans
Consumer Behavior
UI/UX Design
User Experience Design 1
User Experience Design 2
User Experience Design 3
Introduction to Info Architecture and Interaction Design for the Web
Information Ethics and Policy
Virtual Reality
Introduction to Human Factors
Wearable Technology
Human Factors Engineering
Venture Creation
Technology Entrepreneurship
Basic Graphic Design
Digital Imaging Studio
History of Graphic Design and Typography
Digital Interactive Studio
3D Digital Studio II
Communication Design
Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art
Basic Graphic Design
Digital Fabrication Studio
Digital Imaging Studio
3D Digital Studio I
History of Graphic Design and Typography
Digital Interactive Studio
3D Digital Studio II
Virtual Reality
Culture and Built Environment
Visual Thinking for Problem Solving 2
Data Visualization and Communication for Decision Making 3
Design Strategy
Communicating with Key Audiences
Consumer Strategy & Evaluation
Retail Channel Strategy & Omni-Channel Retailing
The Global Consumer
Product Development Strategies in Retailing
Consumer Behavior
Bridging the Gap Between Research and Action
Global Artisans
Culture and Built Environment
Product Design
Strategic Management of Innovation
Business Strategy
Venture Creation
Technology Entrepreneurship
Creating Breakthrough New Products
Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art
Total Credits30

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-SPecific Policies

PRIOR COURSEWORK

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students will not be permitted to use credits from previously earned graduate coursework. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With advisor approval, up to 6 credits numbered 300 or above may be counted toward the degree specialization areas (not the core degree requirements). These credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above.  No credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement.  Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, and payment of the difference in tuition, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a  UW–Madison Special student toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.  These credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

PROBATION

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time), this will be deemed unsatisfactory progress and the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.

ADVISOR

All students will be assigned an advisor who assists them in planning a course sequence that meets degrees requirements and who will discuss career objectives with the students.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

TIME CONSTRAINTS

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.

OTHER

  1. Students enrolled in this program are not permitted to accept teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships or other appointments that would result in a tuition waiver.
  2. Students in this program cannot concurrently enroll in other graduate programs.
  3. Students in this program cannot take courses outside the prescribed curriculum.
  4. Additional Prior Coursework Policies (these policies are in addition to the prior coursework policies listed above):
    1. Graduate Program Credits earned in other UW-Madison Graduate Programs: With advisor approval, up to 12 credits may be permitted for use in the program. Credits may be applied to electives or core credits, with the exception of the two capstone courses. Courses must be 300 level or above, earned “B” or better grade, and earned less than 5 years prior to the start of the MS in Design + Innovation program.
    2. Undergraduate credits from other institutions: Undergraduate credits from other institutions are not permitted to be used in the MS in Design + Innovation program. 
    3. MAD-UX Certificate Credits: With program approval, and payment of the difference in tuition, students are allowed to count up to 9 credits. Courses must be 300 level or above, earned "B" or better grade, and earned less than 5 years prior to the start of the MS in Design + Innovation program.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Demonstrate creative, independent problem solving skills and entrepreneurial thinking.
  2. Apply design tools and strategies on interdisciplinary teams and projects.
  3. Communicate effectively both visually and orally.
  4. Implement an iterative design thinking process.
  5. Demonstrate a hands-on, iterative process that includes making, creating and designing.
  6. Gain depth in a field of study that can be applied in a social, global and design context.
  7. Apply principles of ethical and professional conduct in a field experience.

Lee DeBaillie, College of Engineering, Program Director

Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Information School (iSchool), College of Letters and Science, Professor and Director

Sara Hladilek, College of Engineering, Graduate Student Services Coordinator

John Hitchcock, Art, School of Education, Professor, Associate Dean for the Arts

Michelle Kwasny, School of Human Ecology, Academic Director

Christopher C. Luzzio, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, Associate Professor

Dennis A. Miller, Art, School of Education, Professor

Meghan Marie Mitchell, Art, School of Education, Associate Professor

Mark Nelson, Design Studies, School of Human Ecology, Professor

Robert G. Radwin, Industrial and Systems Engineering, College of Engineering, Professor

Lennon P. Rodgers, College of Engineering, Director of Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab

Lesley H. Sager, Design Studies, School of Human Ecology, Faculty Associate

John Surdyk, Management and Human Resources, School of Business, Director of the Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship and Faculty Director of the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community

Karl Joseph Williamson, College of Engineering, Shop Manager

Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Accreditation status: Planned 2025-2026