June 12, 2017



Formal education through a degree program is a way to learn design thinking and its applications under rigorous instruction of educators and industry leaders. Below are some masters programs which utilize design thinking at their core, as well as some majors which typically teach it as well.

Be sure to check out this guide to choosing a degree program as well.

Northwestern offers multiple masters programs that has design thinking at its core. They range from programs for recent graduates to those with years of experience to those seeking to mix design with an MBA.

  • Engineering Design Innovation
    • In this 15-month program, students earn their master of science degree while collaborating in teams on human-centered design projects.
  • Masters of Product Design and Development Management
    • This program is designed for professionals in the field who are eager to master the concepts and tools of product design and development management. Students may enroll in the program on a full- or part-time basis.

  • Multidisciplinary MBA + MS Design Innovation
    • The first dual-degree program of its kind, MMM provides students with the distinct advantage of enrolling in the Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering to gain complementary skill sets in both strategic leadership and design innovation.

The University of Pennsylvania's Integrated Product Design Master's programs merge the disciplines of design, engineering and business for the purpose of creating compelling new products and experiences. The program is designed to train students in technology, business, manufacturing, aesthetics and human-product interaction and provide them with a framework for bringing these disciplines together to create something new.

This 2 year program contains two tracks, one which evenly covers all three fields and one with a heavier focus on engineering. There is also a certificate available for students of other majors at this school.

The Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon trains students to become elite innovators, teaching them the discipline of product and service innovation.  Just like successful products or services, successful innovation covers technological performance (engineering), human interface (design), and economic value (business). The institute cross trains students in engineering, design, and business to enhance their thinking and to generate results, focusing on education and research in innovation methods and practice.

The Integrated Innovation Institute impacts both industry and society through its professional master's degree programs, applied research and executive education.  As a bicoastal Institute, it is located in Pittsburgh, PA and in the heart of Silicon Valley at Carnegie Mellon's campus in Mountain View, CA.

It's primary masters program is its 1.5 year Masters of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services

This 2 year program is all about Impact and working on the world’s biggest challenges. The program believes that designers need to be responsible for the “last mile” of design. It is educating the next generation of designers and leaders who will innovate and implement, and funding the next generation of researchers who will generate novel solutions to the complex problems facing our society and our planet. Generally there are two themes that students will pick such as Empowering Power and Empathetic Autonomy which will help dictate projects one takes on.

Integrated Design & Management (IDM) is dedicated to enabling the learning and development of extraordinary, innovative leaders who will bring new levels of creativity, vision, and integrity to business and society.

The curriculum combines the inspired, intuitive methods taught in the world’s best design schools, with the systematic, analytical methods of the world’s best engineering and business schools.

To achieve balance, the backgrounds of IDM’s student body and faculty are composed of equal parts engineering, business, and design. Through exposure and interaction of these different backgrounds, students learn to appreciate and integrate the value of the other disciplines in their activities.

With a program has something for everyone, from undergraduates, graduates, and PhD students, and even a certificate program for those who don't want a full degree. And with public school tuition, this is easily one of the most affordable programs out there.

HCDE is designing the future by:

  • Considering the role of technology in human activity.
  • Prioritizing the needs, desires, and behaviors of people and communities who interact through sociotechnical systems.
  • Addressing the specifics of design by working with interdisciplinary communities of researchers to build the technologies of tomorrow.

This Lab proposes a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and Making: TOM. They want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define the approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation is UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology. We see design and technological innovation as integrally linked: innovation opens possibilities and extends the reach of design, while design links new technologies with human experiences and ensures that innovation truly benefits people and communities. Bringing together technical depth, design methodology, and a focus on societal impact, we aim to educate students who understand both the under-the-hood details that make something work and the big-picture context that makes something matter.


UX design is the process of designing (digital or physical) products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with. It’s about enhancing the experience that people have while interacting with your product, and making sure they find value in what you’re providing.

What is UX article

An industrial designer designed every product you use in your home, office or in school. It’s an amazing field and one that if you go to college and major in it, will allow you to learn the skills to actually make the inventions you think about. Some schools will call it “Product Design”, or be even more specific with titles such as “Furniture” or “Toy design”. Look for programs who participate in design competitions, and have internship or "Co-Op" programs available.

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