Product Design (MDes)

Product Design Master’s Program

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.

Who Should Apply?

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.

Learning from Exceptional Faculty

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.

About the Curriculum

Sample Curriculum

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.

Total Credits: 60
Duration: 2 years, full time
With the exception of six general elective credits, all courses listed below are required.

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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)

Explore the Full Curriculum

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.

Contact Product Design Program Director Matt Rhoades at

A closeup of Matt Rhoades in a black collared shirt in front of a slate gray wall
Matthew Rhoades

Product Design (BFA)
Program director, BFA & MDes, Product Design; holds nearly 30 design and utility patents and four world records
Justin Bernard Headshot
Justin Bernard

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

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

Product Design (MDes)
Designer who's produced sets, exhibitions, costumes, sculptures and more
Tony Guido headshot
Tony Guido

Industrial designer and design educator focused on transformative products, services and systems
Josh Koplin
Josh Koplin

Product Design (MDes)
Educator, designer, and co-founder & COO of Humanistic Robotics, Inc (HRI)
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 Matt Rhoades and faculty member 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

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! 2022

Liftoff! is the spring exhibition for the School of Design. It showcases student work from Graphic Design, Illustration, Product Design, and Museum Exhibition Planning and Design.

Explore Liftoff!


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

Scholarships & Aid

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 

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 or contact Student Financial Services.

Learn more about program tuition and fees 

How to Apply

Application Deadline

Fall 2024 priority deadline: Applications received by Feb. 15 will be among the first considered for admission and scholarship. We will not accept any applications or materials after August 12.

Review graduate tuition, financial aid and scholarship information.

Application Requirements

  • Start or resume your application.

  • $60 nonrefundable application fee

    • If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

  • Official undergraduate transcript

    • Official transcripts must be sent directly from the college where you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

    • If you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree outside the U.S., see our transcript requirements for international graduate applicants below.

  • Two letters of recommendation

    • Two letters of recommendation from professors or professionals in your field, who are familiar with your capabilities, are required. In the case that these recommenders are not available, you may request letters from colleagues, collaborators or peers, if necessary.

    • Applicants must enter contact information for their recommenders on the application. An email will be sent to recommenders providing a link for them to upload their letter. Letters of recommendation may also be submitted by the recommender via email to

  • Statement of intent

    • 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 statement of intent may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal. 

  • Résumé

    • Your résumé should highlight all your professional accomplishments, including employment, internships, honors, exhibitions and publications.

    • Your résumé may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal. 

  • Portfolio 

    • MDes applicants should submit a portfolio of three to five in-depth pieces that showcase self-generated projects, professional assignments or work developed in a previous program. Each project may include a combination of drawings, graphic design, models, photographs, research, scenarios, videos, web design, writing and storytelling samples, etc.

    • The portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission. 

  • Interview

    • After the application has been processed, each applicant is contacted for a personal interview conducted by the program director. Interviews may be conducted on campus or by phone or Zoom.

International Applicants

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

  • Official undergraduate transcripts

    • Applicants who have academic documents from institutions outside the U.S. are required to provide original, attested or certified true copies of academic records from the institution where they have earned, or will earn, their undergraduate degree. These records should be in the original language in which they were issued.

    • For postsecondary school records that are not in English, applicants must also submit an official translation of all their academic documents. Translations must be a complete, literal, word-for-word translation in the same format of the original academic document. Transcripts cannot be translated by the student or any members of their family. Acceptable translators include English teachers or other school officials, professional translators, or a local EducationUSA office

    • Admissions might request that students obtain a course-by-course credential evaluation if we are not able to confirm the equivalent level to a U.S. undergraduate degree.

  • Proof of English proficiency

    • For international applicants whose primary language is not English, and who have not completed two semesters of college-level English in a college/university where the language of instruction is English, proof of English proficiency is required. 

    • Recommended minimums for English proficiency exams are as follows. 

      • TOEFL iBT: 79
      • TOEFL essentials: 8.5
      • IELTS: 6.5
      • Pearson PTE Academic: 53
      • Duolingo: 100
    • Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study might receive an offer of conditional admission that requires enrollment in the university’s English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies in the fall semester.

    • In special circumstances, applicants who do not have access to the TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo English tests can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted by email to Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and might require an interview.

  • I-20/F-1 international student visa information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by 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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