M.S. in Industrial Design

About the Program

The MS in Industrial Design is a professional program based on interdisciplinary project work.  Students in this program learn to design effectively at the collaborative and chaotic “front end” of the product-development process.  They work with product users, researchers, businesspeople, engineers and manufacturers to create products and systems that are better at serving their users, societies and the world at large. 

Our Areas of Focus:

  • Understanding and designing for global societies.
  • Informing design through creative research into user needs.
  • Working closely with business and engineering to design platforms and systems- not just isolated objects.
  • Products are intelligent now. Hardware, software and electronic interactivity are designed together.

Our Students

are smart, curious and diverse, with undergraduate backgrounds as disparate as economics, philosophy, tech education, mechanical engineering and architecture, as well as some with undergraduate ID degrees. International students are warmly welcomed. Those graduate students without ID backgrounds take tailored sets of foundational skills courses so they can design and present their work at the same high level as those with existing ID skills.

Qualified students with interests outside ID may take designated courses in the PhilaU Sustainable Design or Interactive Design programs, in addition to the MSID core.

Our Collaborators

PhilaU’s MSID program is different from studying ID in an isolated art or design school. The University's medical, engineering, sustainability and business programs work with us to take on big real-world problems with an understanding of how to serve people better.

Our Projects

In 2013 and 2014, MSID students worked with the following nonprofits and corporations:


Aalto University, Helsinki

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Philips Medical


Midwives for Haiti

Johnson & Johnson

Philadelphia Science Leadership Academy and Franklin Institute

Dunmore Corporation (polymer films)

Construction Specialties Inc.


Unifi Textiles

Federal-Mogul Systems Protection


for professionals with graduate degrees in this rapidly changing field is strong, with many employers indicating they are likely to hire designers with advanced skills over the next few years — assuming they can find them. The M.S. in Industrial Design degree will prepare you for entrepreneurial work in the field or for a position in a corporate design department or design consulting firm. If you’re currently working in design, this program can help you move from tactics to strategy, from working on problems you’re given to finding untapped new opportunities and new clients.

2013 Graduates are:

Designing the interior for the new AC-313 helicopter

Bringing design thinking to Philadelphia public schools

Creating user interfaces for IBM at their new Austin UX Studio

Developing intelligent appliances for new tech startups

Our program is right for you, if you:

  • Are a design professional looking to update your skills, work with new kinds of clients, or take on entrepreneurial projects.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in arts, design, engineering or architecture and wish to gain high-level expertise in industrial design.
  • Want to pursue industrial design as a career but hold an undergraduate degree in a different field.

    Information for Applicants:

    Priority Deadline:
    The program is studio-based and has limited space, so the number of students we can accept each year is limited. To ensure the best chance of inclusion, please submit your application before the end of May.

    GRE test scores are not necessary for this program.

    All applicants should submit a thoughtful essay, focused on the unique ways they anticipate contributing to this interdisciplinary program. 

    Although it is not required for those without degrees in design, students from all disciplines are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio of personal or professional work, in order to demonstrate the applicant's ability to draw, build, and advance ideas through visualization and prototyping.

    Quick, fluent English speaking and comprehension are crucial to success in a graduate-level studio design program.  For international applicants, MSID has determined that TOEFL IBT speaking and listening subscores above 20 will generally allow students to function effectively.  Students whose scores are slightly below these levels are still encouraged to apply; they may be offered admission, conditional on completion of a recommended foundational English program. 


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Or reach out to us by calling 215-951-2943 or email us at gradAdm@philau.edu

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