Create something beautiful with a master's in Product Design. Through in-studio work and collaboration with your peers and faculty, you'll gain knowledge of human-centered design and sustainability. The Master in Design Studies (MDes) program is a two-year, 60-credit program comprised of studio, methods and seminar courses. You'll learn-by-doing with studio-based projects, culminating with a final semester master’s thesis project.

  • Overview
  • Faculty
  • Curriculum
  • How to Apply

The Master of Design in Product Design is a two-year, 60-credit program that has at the core of its curriculum a focus on human-centered design and maker culture. The program explores the nature of materials, products and manufacturing from a regional and global perspective, using Philadelphia’s urban core as a laboratory for design intervention and innovation. With opportunities to work both in Philadelphia and abroad, the program brings together an international cohort working to solve diverse social, economic, technical and material challenges.

Maker Resources: Hardware, Software & People
Founded upon maker movement principles, the graduate studio is home to a full line of digital fabrication resources. Situated next to our more traditional industrial design wood and metal workshops, the studio itself is a student-run hackerspace. A laboratory for ideation and testing, our facilities are stocked with a suite of digital tools currently including 4 axis CNC routing, desktop 3D printers, digital scanning, a range of printing and flatbed cutting technologies, an electronics area, and solid and nurbs modeling CAD-CAM software tools — all of which can be used to facilitate and iterate design and fabrication workflows. The intensive studio experience is an essential part of our curriculum in which students are expected to “fail forward” through hands-on hacking, scripting, programming, and building mockups and prototypes. The ultimate goal is to take concepts all the way from conception through ad-hoc engineering and into short-run productions all as a means of testing.


Visit the Department's Website

Explore our faculty, visiting artists, alum and more via the department's dedicated website.

Department Website

Featured Faculty

Director, Product Design, Visiting Assistant Professor

Master Lecturer, Industrial Design and Product Design
Jonas Milder, Associate Professor, Industrial Design
Jonas Milder

Industrial Design
Associate Professor
Andrew Dahlgren
Andrew Dahlgren

Industrial Design
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Our faculty of practitioners means you'll have access to currently practicing design professionals with backgrounds in fields ranging from architecture, environmental design, industrial design, interaction design, social design, design strategy, design research, cultural anthropology, psychology, industrial systems, organizational development, business and entrepreneurship. View all faculty profiles for the Product Design program.

You can also learn more about our faculty and work by visiting the product design department website.

Visit Department Website

Product Design is explored through contemporary techniques of design and fabrication, and the program is largely maker-studio based with an emphasis on haptic learning, collaboration and entrepreneurship. The two-year program culminates with a highly self-directed experience in which students are expected to conceptualize a product and write a critical academic master’s thesis. 

Sample Curriculum

Total Credits: 60
Duration: 2 years, full-time

Year One

Team Building (1.5c)
Maker Studio I (3c)
Design Seminar: Concepts & Contexts (3c)
Semantics & Rhetoric of Objects (3c)
Visualizing Design Concepts (1.5c)
Elective (3c)

Year Two

Manufacturer Studio III (3c)
Business Planning & Practices (3c)
Product Lifecycles & Flows (3c)
Thesis Preparation (3c)
Elective (3c)

User Studio II (3c)
Design for Sustainability (3c)
Cognitive Science of Interaction Design (3c)
Collaboration & Co-Design (1.5c)
Design Research & Synthesis (3c)
Design Methods I (3c)

Interactive Media (3c)
Thesis Project (6c)
Thesis Documentation (3c)

Design Internship (3c)


View the complete curriculum on the Registrar's site for the Product Design, Master in Design Studies program.

How to Apply

Application Deadline: The University of the Arts operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning there is no specific application deadline. However, graduate programs are filled on a space available basis, and applicants are encouraged to apply early as some programs may fill. Additionally, certain scholarship awards may have priority consideration deadlines. Please review Graduate Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarship information here.

To apply, the following materials are required:

  • A Completed Online Application Form 

  • Application Fee of $60 (nonrefundable; submitted with your application)

  • Official Transcripts

    • Official transcripts from all prior undergraduate and graduate schools attended are required. Transcripts should be issued directly by the Registrar's Office at the college(s) attended and sent to the Office of Admissions, The University of the Arts, 320 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to For transcripts from outside the United States, please refer to the instructions provided below for international students.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
    • Letters of recommendation may either be requested through the online application form, or mailed to the Office of Admissions. At least two must come from professors or professional in your field familiar with your capabilities and credentials. The third may be from a colleague, collaborator or a peer.
  • Statement of Intent & Resume
    • Your Statement of Intent and your Resume are uploaded and submitted as part of your online application. Statements should be a minimum of one- to two-pages and detail your professional plans, interests and goals. What do you hope to gain by your studies at the graduate level? Your resume should highlight all of your professional accomplishments including employment, internships, honors, exhibitions and publications.
  • Creative Portfolio
    • A portfolio of professional work samples submitted through the UArts Graduate SlideRoom Portal is required for all applicants. Portfolios should consist of 20 pieces that showcase self-generated projects, professional assignments or work developed in a previous program (i.e. research, drawings, models, scenarios, writing and storytelling samples, photographs, videos, design for websites, graphic design, etc.). There is a $10 fee to submit a portfolio in addition to the $60 application fee.
  • Personal Interview
    • After the application has been processed, each applicant is contacted for a personal interview conducted by the program director. For applicants who cannot interview at the university, interviews can be conducted via telephone or Skype.

International Applicants

In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants or those with foreign credentials must submit:

  • Official Transcripts and Transcript Evaluation

    • All applicants with transcripts from outside the United States are required to submit transcripts officially translated into English. A transcript evaluation by a NACES-approved evaluator is required in order for an application to be complete, and a decision made. A Course-by-Course report is required and it is the applicant's responsibility to contract directly with the agency for this service and provide the necessary documents. While applicants may use any NACES-approved accredited evaluating agency, the University recommends World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE).
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
    • International applicants whose primary language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum TOEFL score of 92 (iBT) or 580 (PBT) or higher, an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher is required for unconditional admission.

Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study may receive an offer of conditional admission that first requires enrollment in the University of the Arts' English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete Level 9 of ESL study in ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies.

In special circumstances, applicants who have not taken the TOEFL or IELTS can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted in writing and include the reason for opting not to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require an interview.

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