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Industrial Design

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The vision of the Department of Industrial Design is to empower the next generation of designers to identify and solve small to large scale problems in order to devise systemic, forward-thinking solutions, mindful of societal needs and ecological repercussions, fostering health and well-being for people and the environment.

We do this by providing students with the necessary tools and experiences, spanning across the product development timeline from the front-end of problem finding through design research and synthesis, to discovery of meaningful design solutions that can range from products to services and systems. The industrial design program offers opportunities to collaborate with diverse disciplines on campus and beyond to tackle a wide variety of local and global design challenges.

Degree offerings include the Bachelor of Industrial Design (B.I.D.) and the Master of Industrial Design (M.I.D.).

Undergraduate Program Structure

Students in this program take a carefully defined sequence of courses developed to give them exposure and practice in the areas of theory and skill required by industrial design. These include design sketching and visualization, form development, history, creative thinking, engineering principles, research, design methodology, human factors, computer-aided design, manufacturing techniques, commercial factors, management, strategic design development, service design, and user experience design. In their third year, students select electives within and outside of the department, defining current issues in the profession. The upper-level studio classes are reserved for study abroad programs connecting students to the global design community, internships, and industry-sponsored projects with students from other departments and colleges. The curriculum aims to develop the ability to cope with diverse problem areas in industrial design, without restricting them to specific fields in design.

An industrial design degree from Iowa State prepares students for creative careers in private and corporate practice, with design consulting companies, in-house design departments, and product manufacturers.

Career choices with an industrial design degree include (but are not limited to):
Product designer, design researcher, automotive designer, footwear & accessory designer, construction & agricultural equipment designer, furniture & lighting designer, interaction designer, service designer, exhibit designer, packaging designer, advertising & experience designer, UX designer and researcher.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the industrial design program students will be able to:

  1. Analyze and address critically the needs of ALL stakeholders involved in the design process and avoid biases, through emphasizing critical thinking, empathy, compassion, and reflective practices. (DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION)
  2. Navigate and apply varying design methods and techniques commonly used to identify and solve small to large scale problems creatively and methodically. (CREATIVE DESIGN PROCESS)
  3. Develop comprehensive products, services and systems solutions through situation and circumstance appropriate touchpoints and platforms. (PRODUCTS, SERVICES & SYSTEMS)
  4. Understand and evaluate ethical, societal, environmental, and cultural short and long-term consequences of design solutions for all people and the planet. (SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICAL DESIGN - aka the designers’ dilemma of unintended consequences)
  5. Communicate professionally and effectively with all stakeholders of the design process from peers and co-workers to clients and end users in both forms verbally and visually. (COLLABORATION, COMMUNICATION & PROFESSIONALISM)

Degree Requirements

The curriculum in Industrial Design leads to a 133-credit undergraduate Bachelor of Industrial Design including the first year Core Design Program.

Admission into the professional program depends upon available departmental resources. Updated information on admission criteria is announced yearly on the College of Design website.

Transfer students with studio credits from other programs, colleges, and universities must present a portfolio of work done in those courses, for departmental review,  in order to have the credits apply toward studio.  Students are required to present this portfolio upon admission and prior to registration for classes.  Arrangements for this process must be made with department advisors.

A 60-credit post-professional graduate program is also offered leading to the terminal degree Master of Industrial Design.  

Total Degree Requirements:  133 credits

Only 65 credits from a two-year institution may apply, which may include up to 16 technical credits; 9 P-NP credits of free electives; 2.00 minimum GPA.

International Perspective:  3 credits

U.S. Diversity:  3 credits

Communications:  10 credits

ENGL 150Critical Thinking and Communication (*)3
ENGL 250Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition (*)3
LIB 160Introduction to College Level Research1
One of the following:3
Introduction to Communication Studies
Interpersonal Communication
Fundamentals of Public Speaking
Acting Foundations
Total Credits10

 * with a C or better

Humanities:  6 credits

6 credits from program curriculum sheet

Social Sciences:  6 credits

6 credits from program curriculum sheet

Math/Physics/Biol.Sciences:  6 credits

6 credits from program curriculum sheet

General Education Courses:  9 credits

6 credits of course level 300-400 from program curriculum sheet: complete 3 credits from department curriculum sheet.

College of Design Core:  13 credits
DSN S 102Design Studio I4
DSN S 115Design Collaborative Seminar1
or DSN S 110 Design Exchange Seminar I
DSN S 131Drawing I4
DSN S 132Digital Design Literacy1
DSN S 183Design in Context3
Total Credits13

History, Theory and Criticism:  15 credits

IND D 210Fundamentals of Industrial Design3
IND D 280History of Industrial Design3
IND D 380History and Culture of Objects3
Two courses from the approved course list; must include one 300 level or higher.6
Total Credits15

Industrial Design:  60 credits

IND D 201Industrial Design Studio I6
IND D 202Industrial Design Studio II6
IND D 220Concepts of Sketching and Making I3
IND D 250Activity-Centered Industrial Design3
IND D 260Design engineering: From Thought to Thing3
IND D 301Industrial Design Studio III6
IND D 320Design Research Methods3
IND D 330Creative Thinking in Design3
IND D 340Digital Design Technologies3
IND D 360Materials and Processes for Industrial Design3
IND D 370STEM literacy: How Things Work3
IND D 440Portfolio and Professional Practice3
IND D 499Senior Project6
Total Credits51
Experiential Learning: 6 credits6
Industrial Design Studio IV
Industrial Design Internship
Industrial Design Studio V: Commercial Practices
Industrial Design Studio: Design for Social Impact
Study Abroad Option
Industrial Design Practicum
Special Topics
Special Projects
Experiential Learning Special Projects
Study Abroad Option
Total Credits60

Electives:  11 credits

Electives should be assembled to support a focused area of study.

Suggested Departmental Electives:

IND D 240Digital Tools For Industrial Design3
IND D 350Applied Human Factors Lab1
IND D 435Strategic Design: Project Management3
IND D 460Product Realization3
IND D 520Design Theory Methodology3
IND D 530Design Thinking3
IND D 540Design Communication3
IND D 550Human Factors: User Experience Design3
IND D 560Change by Design: Disruptive Innovation3
IND D 570Systems Thinking in Design3
IND D 580Material Culture and Values3

Industrial Design, B.I.D.

First Year
DSN S 102 or 1314DSN S 102 or 1314 
DSN S 183 (or General Education)3DSN S 183 (or General Education)3 
ENGL 150 (or General Education)3DSN S 1321 
DSN S 110 or 1151ENGL 150 (or General Education)3 
General Education3General Education3 
General Education3General Education3 
 LIB 1601 
 17 18
Second Year
IND D 2016IND D 2026 
IND D 2103IND D 2503 
IND D 2203IND D 2603 
IND D 2803Departmental elective3 
 15 15
Third Year
IND D 3016Experiential Learning6Study Abroad6
IND D 3203IND D 3303Elective3
IND D 3403IND D 3703 
IND D 3603IND D 3803 
 15 15 9
Fourth Year
Experiential Learning3-6IND D 4996 
IND D 4403Departmental Elective3 
Departmental elective3Departmental Elective2-3 
Gen Ed or Elective3Gen Ed or Elective3 
 12-15 14-15

Graduate Program

Master of Industrial Design | MID
60 credit study | distributed across two consecutive years

What will (Industrial) Design look like in the future? Where is the field going? What new methods and methodologies will be needed to tackle current and emergent global issues? What will it mean to be human in the age of Artificial Intelligence? How will design disciplines answer to these new futures, new typologies of users, and constantly evolving technologies, and increasing environmental challenges?

These are just some of the questions we are concerned with in the MID program. Designing successfully during these times of uncertainty will require open minded designers, who, as connectors, are flexible, critical, empathetic and creative risk takers. Designers who are capable of working and collaborating in different contexts, under ever changing circumstances, across domains and most importantly in different roles. 

Description of the degree 

The Master of Industrial Design (MID) program at the College of Design, Iowa State University, emphasizes a creative problem-solving based curriculum rooted in design thinking methodologies, that allows students to explore their interests in the broad and expanding field.

Industrial Design is a human-centered discipline that questions existing boundaries and makes connections among diverse domains. Therefore, the program challenges students to develop the ability to recognize and define problems in new ways, and then find opportunities others might have missed or undervalued. Through a strategic  and creative problem-solving process, Industrial Design tries to reimagine how we should go about developing innovative, sustainable and durable solutions for people and society at large  that genuinely lead to better quality of life and better futures. The MID program actively connects with other knowledge domains and disciplines, to research how things are with the drive to propose how they ought to be. This is achieved through the challenging balance between critical and creative ways of thinking [and working] when devising novel, useful and meaningful artifacts, services, experiences, and environments. Ultimately, the program integrates the design triad of people, business, and technology, in innovative ways, and is based on insightful research to create new value and competitive advantage in a variety of societal, economic, and environmental contexts.

Details about the degree

The MID program is centralized on the creation and application of new knowledge through in-depth investigations of existing ‘gaps’ culminating in a graduation project, which includes a creative component (project based) or a written thesis (research focused). At the same time, students expand their design practice skills using different methodologies, collaboratively, throughout the entire design process. They explore, generate, transfer, and implement interdisciplinary insights into foundational knowledge for the discipline of Industrial Design.

The MID is accredited and recognized as a terminal degree in Industrial Design. This graduate program is designed to offer significant mix of skills and experiences, including students from different disciplinary backgrounds, faculty-directed research programs, internships, international study abroad, industry-sponsored coursework, and also teaching experience.

The MID program is positioned in one of the most comprehensive design colleges in the country, facilitating the integration of methodologies and skill sets from multiple disciplines. Additionally, the program has established curricular connections to the nationally ranked College of Engineering and its Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program, the Ivy College of Business, as well as to numerous industry collaborators and practitioners.

Degree requirements includes a completion of a 2-year, 60-credit program, including a required core (45 credits), focused electives (9-12 credits) and experiential learning credits (3-6 electives). The final MID Graduate Project includes one of the following: a) creative component with a design process report (6 credits) or b) research-focused written thesis (6 credits).  Students and their supervisory team work collaboratively on the in-depth graduate project, adding to the body of knowledge of [industrial] design through investigating, exploring and solution finding of a complex [industrial] design problem.

Curriculum Outline

Required Core Courses: 45 cr.
IND D 501Industrial Design Graduate Studio I6
IND D 502Industrial Design Graduate Studio II6
IND D 520Design Theory Methodology3
IND D 530Design Thinking3
IND D 540Design Communication3
IND D 550Human Factors: User Experience Design3
IND D 570Systems Thinking in Design3
IND D 580Material Culture and Values3
IND D 599XCreative Component6
IND D 601Industrial Design Graduate Studio III6
IND D 699MInD Graduate Thesis6
IND D 640Advanced Digital Technologies3
Suggested Focused Electives 9-12 cr.
IND D 435Strategic Design: Project Management3
IND D 440Portfolio and Professional Practice3
IND D 460Product Realization3
IND D 505MInD Lab I3
IND D 510MInD Lab II3
IND D 515Graduate Colloquium1
IND D 560Change by Design: Disruptive Innovation3
IND D 630Critical Reflections for Thesis Preparation3
Or Experiential Learning:
IND D 592Special Projects (3-6 credits)arr †
IND D 593Experiential Learning Special Projects (3-6 credits)arr †
IND D 595Study Abroad Option6
IND D 597Internship6
† Arranged with instructor.
First Year
IND D 5016IND D 502 or DSN S 5466
IND D 5203IND D 5403
IND D 5303IND D 5503
IND D 5703IND D 5803
Departmental Elective3Departmental Elective3
 18 18
Second Year
IND D 6016IND D 6403
Focused Elective3IND D 599X or IND D 6996
ISU or College Elective3ISU or College elective3
ISU or College Elective3ISU or College Elective3
 15 15

Admission to the MID program is by application to the department and to the Graduate College.  Information about our programs and how to apply can be obtained from the department’s web page at:, or send an email directly to the Director of Graduate Studies.