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Design + Innovation MS

Master of Science in Design + Innovation

UW-Madison professor and student talk in the Makerspace

The collaborative Master of Science in Design + Innovation integrates aspects of design techniques and tools from multiple perspectives, including engineering, design thinking, business, visualization, social science, art and more.


Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Design + Innovation is an interdisciplinary and collaborative program created to teach students to understand multiple perspectives of design to find new and creative solutions to real-life issues.

Offered on campus, our program follows an accelerated 12-month schedule. Students must complete required core courses and then may choose elective courses from four specialized learning tracks. Our core courses provide students with shared foundational knowledge applied to team-based design projects. Our specialized learning tracks provide students with depth in areas of application such as Product Design, UI/UX Design, Communication Design, and Design Strategy.

Upon completion of our Master of Science in Design + Innovation program, students will graduate with cross-disciplinary skills applicable to a range of creative design career opportunities.

Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Design + Innovation is an interdisciplinary and collaborative program created to teach students to understand multiple perspectives of design to find new and creative solutions to real-life issues.

Offered on campus, our program follows an accelerated 12-month schedule. Students must complete required core courses and then may choose elective courses from four specialized learning tracks. Our core courses provide students with shared foundational knowledge applied to team-based design projects. Our specialized learning tracks provide students with depth in areas of application such as Product Design, UI/UX Design, Communication Design, and Design Strategy.

Upon completion of our Master of Science in Design + Innovation program, students will graduate with cross-disciplinary skills applicable to a range of creative design career opportunities.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits of degree.
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

Application materials required:

  • Online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Creative brief
  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation

Connect with us

Application Assistance: Design + Innovation Master's Program

November 03
noon-12:30 p.m.
Join program staff to learn strategies to make your Master's in Design + Innovation application stand out with a focus on techniques for developing a successful creative brief.
Register for Application Assistance: Design + Innovation Master's Program

Program Overview: Engineering: Manufacturing Systems Engineering

October 04
noon-12:30 p.m.
Join Program Director Susan Ottmann and Graduate Academic Advisor Justin Kyle Bush for a conversation about the Engineering: Manufacturing Systems Engineering master's program, including curriculum, application process and potential career paths.
Register for Program Overview: Manufacturing Systems Engineering

View all events

Program highlights

  • Because our program is cross-disciplinary, you learn to approach a problem from multiple perspectives, including engineering, design thinking, business, visualization, art, and more.
  • The program is collaborative: You complete team-based projects throughout the degree, mimicking real-life scenarios and allowing you to network and collaborate with peers in your field.
  • Specialized learning tracks provide students with depth in areas of application such as Product Design, UI/UX Design, Communication Design, and Design Strategy.

How you'll learn

  • On-campus courses begin in the fall semester.
  • Work within interdisciplinary teams to complete real-world projects in conjunction with industry partners.
  • Explore unique career paths within the fields of Product Design, UI/UX design, Communication Design, and Design Strategies.

Sample curriculum

Core courses

  • Advanced Design Thinking for Transformation
  • Tools for Prototyping and Manufacturing
  • Managing by Design
  • Collaborative Capstone I
  • Collaborative Capstone II

Select one of the following:

  • Data Visualization and Communication for Decision Making
  • Visual Thinking for Problem Solving

Product Design Specialization

  • 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 Specialization

  • User Experience Design 1
  • User Experience Design 2
  • User Experience Design 3
  • Introduction to Information Architecture and Interaction 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

Communication Design Specialization

  • Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art
  • Basic Graphic Design
  • Digital Imaging Studio
  • 3D Digital Studio I
  • Virtual Reality
  • Culture and Built Environment
  • Visual Thinking for Problem Solving
  • Data Visualization and Communication for Decision Making

Design Strategy Specialization

  • Communication 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

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • Insight Analyst
  • UX Design
  • Programmer
  • Product Manager
  • Strategy and Operations
  • Junior Experience Designer
  • UX/UI Designer
  • Product Developer
  • Customer Experience Strategist
Top Industries
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Manufacturing; Finance and Insurance
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Retail Trade

Projected Job Growth
8.50% for Insight Analysts (2020-2030)

Job Postings
183,905 in 2020

Top Employers
  • Doblin
  • Infosys
  • Renaissance Learning
  • Microsoft
  • Oliver Space
  • Publicis Sapient
  • China Southern Power Grid
  • Black Diamond Equipment
  • Landor & Fitch

Source: Lightcast™ 2022

Ready to learn more about Design + Innovation MS?
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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events.

Connect with a coach

Emily Phelan

 Throughout [my first fall] semester, I had the opportunity to lead groups through design challenges, collaborate with students in and outside of my cohort, and learn from the faculty and staff of UW. This experience has already been incredibly rewarding and I look forward to building on this momentum! 

Emily Phelan | Design + Innovation