The Master of Design in Product Design is a two-year, 60-credit degree program that has at the core of its curriculum a focus on human-centered design, maker culture and entrepreneurship. 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 master's in Product Design brings together an international cohort working to solve diverse social, economic, technical and material challenges.

Open to those holding a bachelor’s degree in art, design, architecture, engineering or business/marketing fields, the MDes in Product Design program is for graduate students looking to build sustainable products and businesses.

An international student body learns from faculty who are professionals and entrepreneurs in home goods; robotics; interactive, industrial and sustainable design; technology; and other fields.

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 master’s 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
With the exception of six general elective credits, all courses listed below are required.

First Year

Fall: 16.5 credits
Visual Communication (1.5c)
Semantics and Rhetoric of the Object (3c)
Design Research & Synthesis (3c)
Prototyping Studio (3c)
Cognitive Science of Interaction Design (3c)
Materials & Processes (3c)

Spring: 16.5 credits
Design Methods I: Physical Computing (3c)
Collaboration & Co-Design (1.5c)
Design for Sustainability (3c)
Design Seminar: Concepts and Contexts (3c)
Design Studio II (3c)

Second Year

Fall: 15 credits
Design Methods II: Product Positioning (3c)
Advanced Prototyping Studio (3c)
Thesis Preparation (3c)
Business Planning & Practices (3c)
Advanced Design Methods (3c)
General Electives (3c)

Spring: 12 credits
Thesis Project (6c)
Thesis Documentation (3c)
General Electives (3c)

View the full curriculum

To maintain academic good standing, graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Visit the university catalogue for more information on degree requirements.

Featured Faculty

Our faculty of practitioners gives you access to currently practicing design professionals with backgrounds in fields in 

  • architecture; 
  • business and entrepreneurship;
  • cultural anthropology; 
  • design strategy and research;
  • environmental, industrial, interaction and social design;
  • industrial systems;
  • organizational development; and 
  • psychology.

Hsin-Chun Wang
Hsin-Chun Wang

Product Design (MDes)
Program Director and designer who co-founded HCWD Studio
Tony Guido headshot
Tony Guido

Industrial designer and design educator focused on transformative products, services and systems
Andrew Dahlgren
Andrew Dahlgren

Product Design (BFA)
Designer, organizer, maker and teacher who's produced custom furniture, architectural specialities and art work
Ben Olshin
Ben Olshin

Product Design (MDes)
Professor, author and cross-cultural consultant who's work has been published in Japan Architect
Jennifer Goettner
Jennifer Goettner

Product Design (MDes)
Designer who's produced sets, exhibitions, costumes, sculptures and more
Josh Koplin
Josh Koplin

Product Design (MDes)
Educator, designer, and co-founder & COO of Humanistic Robotics, Inc (HRI)
Justin Bernard Headshot
Justin Bernard

Product Design (MDes)
Philadelphia based designer and fabricator who founded the design collective studioRON
Slavko Milekic
Slavko Milekic

Product Design (MDes)
Designer who's been engaged as a consultant for the development of interactive digital environments

Featured Alumni

UArts Product Design alumni are inventors and innovators, makers and disruptors. 

The MDes Product Design program serves as a powerful launchpad for students and faculty working across industries, from healthcare and government to consulting for a range of consumer product and service companies. Other alumni go on to start their own businesses.

MDes Product Design Director Hsin-Chun Wang, and faculty members Andrew Dahlgren and Anthony Guido will help students to prepare for their careers through mentorship opportunities, including portfolio review and internship referrals. Students have found internships and post-graduation employment at design consultancy firms, studios and corporations.

Companies alumni have worked for around Philly include: Amuneal, Design Science, Knoll, Penn Acceleration Lab, Think Company, Uarts, etc.

Dachuan Chu Headshot
Dachuan Chu

MDes '19

Product Design (MDes)
Designer, visual artist and photographer from Shandong, China
Charlie Ehlers Headshot
Charlie Ehlers

MDes '19

Product Design (MDes)
Product Designer for Sharing Excess
Seth Gamson Headshot
Seth Gamson

MDes '19

Product Design (MDes)
Product Designer and Production Manager at KerfCase
Nhi Tôn Headshot
Nhi Ton

MDes '19

Product Design (MDes)
Fellowship award winner for Product Design at UArts
Jinying Yu Headshot
Jinying Yu

MDes '18

Product Design (MDes)
Designer who limits visual noise in her products
Kent Wang Headshot
Kent Wang

MDes '17

Product Design (MDes)
Chinese designer working in the U.S. fusing system and object into products

Maker Resources: Hardware, Software & People

Founded on maker-movement principles, our student-run graduate studio is home to a full line of digital fabrication resources and is situated next to our more traditional industrial design wood and metal workshops. 

A laboratory for ideation and testing, our facilities are stocked with a suite of digital tools, currently including 

  • 5-axis CNC routers, 
  • high-resolution 3-D printers,
  • a 3-D scanner, 
  • a laser cutter, and
  • solid and NURBS modeling CAD-CAM software tools.

An intensive studio experience is an essential part of our curriculum, in which students are expected to “fail forward” through hands-on scripting, programming, and building mockups and prototypes. The ultimate goal of the experience is to take concepts all the way from ideation, through ad-hoc engineering and into short-run productions as means of testing.

Center for Immersive Media 

UArts’ new Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. The space includes

  • optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about CIM
 

All graduate applicants are considered for scholarships based on application materials, such as creative requirements and interviews, as well as prior academic and professional experience and achievements. Merit-based scholarships are competitive and vary in amount but make a considerable reduction in tuition cost. 

In order to be eligible for named and endowed scholarships, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Product Design Scholarships

Students eligible for the Gillespie Scholarship (founded by friends of Elizabeth Duane Gillespie) are nominated by Product Design faculty, with need determination by Student Financial Services. Approximately $1,500 is awarded annually from this fund to assist students with financial need—as determined by students’ FAFSAs—with their educational costs.

The Jane Darley Naeye Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship, is given to students nominated by faculty in Product Design and other programs related to interior design. Approximately $10,000 is awarded annually to multiple students.

Students eligible for the Richard J. Schneebeli Scholarship are nominated by Product Design faculty. Nominations are based on exceptional ability and demonstrated achievement in product design; approximately $400 is awarded annually.

Students eligible for the Fellowship award are nominated by Product Design faculty. Nominations are based on exceptional ability and demonstrated achievement in their second-year thesis project. Approximately $3,500 is awarded annually.

 

Financial Aid

If you need additional financial assistance, there are many options available. UArts offers four- and five-month payment plans for the fall and spring terms. You may also apply for additional loans in the form of federal Grad PLUS loans or private (also known as alternative) loans. You can find information about federal loans at studentaid.gov. 

For many students, graduate school is a significant financial investment. Our Student Financial Services team offers one-on-one appointments to discuss personal finance, budgeting and best practices in saving and building credit. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources. For more details and guidance in figuring out how to afford your education, visit uarts.edu/gradaid or contact Student Financial Services.

Learn more about program tuition and fees 
 

How to Apply

Application Deadline

Fall 2021: Applicants who submit the application form and all required supporting materials before February 1, 2021 will be prioritized for scholarship funding opportunities from the university. Students may continue to apply on a rolling basis after the Feb. 1 priority deadline and will be considered for admission and scholarships on a space-available basis.

Review graduate tuition, financial aid and scholarship information.

To apply, the following materials are required:

  • 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 gradcredentials@uarts.edu. 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. Your portfolio should contain a minimum of three to five in-depth pieces that showcase self-generated projects, professional assignments or work developed in a previous program (i.e., drawings, graphic design, models, photographs, research, scenarios, videos, web design, writing and storytelling samples, 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 held by phone or Skype.

International Applicants

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

  • Official Transcripts
    • All transcripts from outside the United States must be in English and must be official. The Office of Admissions may request that international students obtain a transcript evaluation from a third-party credential evaluation service (such as World Education Services or Educational Credential Evaluators) in cases where further information is required to assess international credentials. 
       
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
    • International students whose native language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test. A minimum TOEFL score of 79, IELTS score of 6.0, or Duolingo English Test score of 100 is required for admission. In lieu of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test, completion of Level 9 in the University of the Arts ESL Institute will be accepted.   

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, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted in writing and include the reason for opting not to take the exams. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require an interview. A waiver may be considered for those applicants who enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university in the U.S. and successfully completed two semesters of college-level English, not taken in conjunction with ESL study, and earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those classes.

I20/F-1 International Student Visa Information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by the University of the Arts International Student Programs Office regarding visa counseling and all materials required to create an I-20 in order to obtain an F-1 visa. Contact Mara Flamm, Director of International Student Programs, with any questions regarding your I-20 or F-1 visa.

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Annual Events

Each year, UArts Product Design students exhibit select projects at Wanted Design Brooklyn, an exhibition held at Industrial City in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Design (MDes) program showcase in 2019 Wanted Design shows Brooklyn New York.
Product Design (MDes) program showcase in 2019 Wanted Design Brooklyn

 

Liftoff! is the School of Design’s spring exhibition. The exhibit showcases student work from our four programs: Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design and Product Design. With the help and expert guidance of faculty and staff, our students have created work that distinguishes them as artists and designers of the highest caliber. This exhibition doesn’t mark the end of their college careers, but the beginning of their professional ones.

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