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Industrial Design MFA

Course Description

The MFA program has been constructed to allow designers to position themselves at the top of the industrial design field. Working hand-in-hand with professors and peers, you will engage with the philosophies and practices that shape contemporary industrial design.

Graduate study in Industrial Design is composed of several types of course work which cover design research, innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship and the theoretical context of design. Students have dedicated workstations in the graduate studio where they are engaged in a graduate studio course each semester. You will take additional seminar courses, electives and classes both within the School of Art + Design and elsewhere in the wider University. Opportunities to engage in sponsored research and collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects are offered. At the core of graduate studies are examinations of changing social/cultural conditions, human needs, new materials, emerging technologies, and opportunities for design innovation in product development.

The design program has a strong user focus, and an emphasis on research based design practice, ranging from products to services and experiences. The MFA culminates in a Thesis project, which is deposited with the Graduate College and exhibited in the Masters exhibition in the Krannert Art Museum.

Our MFA program also encourages applications from people with first degrees in related areas, (including engineering, computing, business and architecture) who are motivated and interested in a change in career direction.

As an MFA student at the School of Art + Design, you’ll enjoy an array of resources assembled to enhance your education:

Individual studio spaces
Well-equipped presentation areas and seminar rooms
Cutting-edge technology facilities stocked with more than 70 computers and advanced software packages for 2-D, 3-D, CAD, computer modeling, rapid prototyping, and animation programs
3-D printers and laser cutters
A modern engineering and woodshop facility
The 8,000+ pieces in the Krannert Art Museum archives
The extensive holdings at the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art
Partnerships with design-oriented businesses, manufacturers, and other relevant professionals
In addition, you can access labs in other mediums, including metals, ceramics, graphic design, and photography.


MFA program enables you to practice in design, design research or design management with the benefit of having developed your abilities beyond your undergraduate design degree. The MFA is the terminal degree in industrial design and is a necessary pre-requisite to teach in US universities.

Our ID faculty members combine research expertise with professional design practice. Their work ranges from the design of bicycles to sustainable and accessible consumer products, and explores empathy, designing with users, and the emotional relationship to the products we use. You will work closely with these professors as you articulate your own questions and, through your design work, propose your own answers. You will also work with a variety of faculty from different disciplines across the University.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have earned at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college in the United States or a comparable degree from a recognized institution of higher learning abroad. A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (A=4.0), or comparable GPA for an international applicant, for last two years of undergraduate study is a minimum requirement for admission. If your undergraduate study is longer than 4 years, additional semesters may be used to calculate the admission GPA. Please note that proposed programs of study may require a higher GPA than the Graduate College's minimum standard.

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Recipient: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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