Master of Design

Be a leader in design-led innovation

Herron's Master of Design (M.Des.) degree program prepares you to accelerate change in a leadership role with businesses, organizations, institutions, and communities. We teach you how to apply design methodologies to clarify, humanize, and energize complex problems at all levels of society.

During your two-year intensive studies, you will harness people-centered design to facilitate collective decision-making. You will learn to foster interdisciplinary teamwork to innovate various products, services, and environments in social and business contexts and across sectors.

Completion of the 60-credit program will offer you a proven ability in strategic design that you can use to drive innovation and enhance people's experiences, all while advancing your career as a design practitioner.

  This M.Des. degree program replaces the M.F.A. in visual communication design.

Health care service innovation

Herron's visual communication design faculty and alumni have led patient-centered service innovation projects at IU Health, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, Community Health Network, Riverview Hospital, and the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Explore these innovations

Community problem-solving

The Collaborative Action Research in Design courses serve as experimentation labs for exploring public issues with community organizations. You will use the UN Sustainable Development Goals to frame problems and comprehend the complexities of local concerns.

See a project example

Year 1, Fall Semester

  • Introduction to Design Research
  • Integrative System
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 1
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 2
  • Design Thinking and Sensemaking
  • Design Methods for Framing Problems

Year 1, Spring Semester

  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 3
  • Design Methods for Ideating
  • Design Methods for Prototyping
  • Interdisciplinary Elective

Year 2, Fall Semester

  • Design Leadership
  • Design Management
  • Design Facilitation
  • Thesis Writing 1
  • Thesis Preparation
  • Interdisciplinary Elective

Year 2, Spring Semester

  • Thesis Writing 2
  • Thesis Project
  • Taking Your Research Public

Meet your allies, mentors, and collaborators

Our dedicated graduate faculty work hard to create a positive, inclusive learning environment that values each individual's intellectual and emotional capacity. As part of your studies, you will collaborate with the following core faculty members to shape your professional development and career goals.

By approaching design as a form of thinking in collaborative problem-solving, we can make a more empathetic and inclusive society.

Youngbok Hong, director of visual communication design programs, professor

Who should apply?

If you enjoy researching to understand people better or you frequently find yourself redefining problems, the M.Des. will help you advance or change your career into the field of design research.

With the M.Des. degree program's genuinely interdisciplinary philosophy, we welcome students from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds to facilitate meaningful, people-centered solutions. We consider each applicant's potential contribution to the student cohort, along with their academic achievements and professional accomplishments.

Experiential education for tomorrow's workforce

The M.Des. program focuses on applying course concepts in the real world — in healthcare, information technology, service design, and more — and prepares you for jobs like:

  • Design thinking specialist
  • Innovation consultant
  • Human-centered design strategist
  • Innovation manager
  • Design research manager
  • Customer experience specialist

Join Indiana’s premier school of art and design

Degree programs