Masters of Design and Public Administration Dual Degree Program

Design (M.Des.)/Public Administration (M.P.A.)

A unique dual-degree program for professionals who aspire to lead collaborative, innovative, and effective initiatives in the public and nonprofit sectors.

The Master of Design and Master of Public Administration (M.Des. and M.P.A.) dual-degree program—the first of its kind in the nation—prepares students to effectively address dynamic and complex civic and social challenges with rigor, depth, and imagination.

Students pursue two graduate degrees, one with the Institute of Design (ID) and one with Stuart School of Business, as they learn to move fluidly between strategic thinking and creative doing and to leverage the strengths of both.

Through the M.P.A. program’s applied approach, students develop their knowledge and skills in public and nonprofit management, analytics, policy analysis, strategic planning, and effective implementation strategies in the civic space.

At ID, students acquire emerging design competencies suited for work in the public sector, including:

  • Embracing Complexity: Understanding and articulating the context and systems surrounding a problem, creating a shared view of a challenge, converging on an approach, and activating a set of interventions
  • Cultivating Possibilities: Unlocking collective creativity, considering diverse interests, and building understanding—all while activating new ways for communities to come together and envision a path to an intelligent future
  • Driving Impactful Change: Making an evidence-based case for action and policy change; successfully moving stakeholders to action with data-driven insights and prototyping skills

In hands-on projects and internships in the global city of Chicago, collaborations in Illinois Tech’s inspiring and supportive community, and their individual work, students in the M.Des. and M.P.A. program apply design methods, theory, and knowledge to real-world challenges and opportunities, transforming ideas into realities in the civic and nonprofit sectors.

Producing sharp insights, tangible options, and actionable directives, they graduate able to substantially impact their colleagues and constituencies and to be leaders in their field.

Program Overview

This unique, dual-degree program combines a user-centered, methods-based approach with applied education in public policy and management, making it ideal preparation to lead collaborative, innovative, and effective initiatives in the civic sector. Students pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously: one with the Institute of Design and one with Stuart School of Business.

Career Opportunities

Institute of Design graduates have a greater than 90 percent placement rate and report high job satisfaction. ID career services include structured programs like recruitID and careerID, as well as an active and engaged alumni network and robust events and programming, such as the annual Design Intersections conference. Partnerships with organizations across Chicago and beyond give ID students a range of experience, building their resumes even before graduation.

The Stuart School of Business offers a dedicated Career Management Center (CMC) exclusively for its students, hosting onsite recruiting events, résumé reviews, mock interviews, information sessions, and networking events. The CMC, along with Stuart faculty and alumni, have developed strong networks to help students secure internships at a wide range of governmental agencies, organizations, and companies in the Chicago area.

ID graduates hold positions of influence in companies and design firms such as Amazon, Apple, BCG, Doblin, EY, Fjord, Google, IDEO, INSITUM, Logitech, McDonald’s, McKinsey, Motorola, Microsoft, Salesforce, SapientRazorfish, SC Johnson, Steelcase, and Verizon.

Stuart M.P.A. graduates lead in organizations such as the American Cancer Society, City of Chicago, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Transit Authority, Chinese American Service League, Federal Aviation Administration, Lincoln Park Zoo, Metra, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and the State of Illinois.

Disclaimer for prospective students, please read.
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The Master of Design and Master of Public Administration dual degree is a two-year, 69-credit-hour program:

  • 45 Institute of Design credit hours (M.Des. required and elective courses)
  • 24 Stuart School of Business credit hours (M.P.A. required courses)

With 30 credit hours of elective courses, this dual-degree program is highly customizable to each student’s interests. The program director or academic adviser will develop a curriculum plan when the student begins the program. Students select a series of courses from the available studios and lecture courses to meet the objectives of their professional goals. Up to six credit hours of elective courses may be taken outside of ID with the approval of the student’s adviser.

Typically, students will reduce the overall credit requirements compared to individual degree programs because M.P.A. will double count nine M.Des. credit hours toward M.P.A. electives and M.Des. will double count nine M.P.A. credit hours towards M.Des. electives. The program director may make exceptions to this plan depending upon the student’s individual situation.

For students with no formal design training, the ID Foundation Program (15 additional ID credit hours required) provides prerequisite skills and experience for the M.Des. and M.P.A. program.

View M.Des. details

Note: The Academic Catalog (use the “View M.P.A. Details” link below) will be updated soon with the program’s current name. All curriculum details and requirements shown remain the same.

View M.P.A. details

Students must apply and be accepted to both programs: Master of Design (M.Des.) and Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.). Admission to all degree programs at Illinois Tech is highly competitive. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. Test scores and grade-point average are just two of several important factors considered.

  • Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited educational institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have a strong record of academic achievement, and be highly recommended
  • Portfolios are required for applicants who possess undergraduate design degrees. Applicants without design degrees are encouraged to apply to the M.Des. program. Regardless of previous degrees, students may be required to complete prerequisite design courses before starting their M.Des. coursework
  • English proficiency exam, if required

M.Des. and M.P.A. Certificate Option

As an alternative to the dual-degree program, Master of Design students interested in public policy and civic design can develop deeper expertise in a specific subject area through one of the Master of Public Administration certificate programs listed below. Each certificate requires 12 credit hours, which can be counted as elective courses in the M.Des. program of study.

STEM Qualification for International Students

The M.Des. and M.P.A. degree qualifies as a STEM degree, which allows international students to apply for a 24-month extension to the typical 12-month optional practical training (OPT) period. This means students completing this degree may be eligible for up to three years of work in the United States. See the Illinois Tech Office of Global Services website for more information.

“I was looking for civic design and how design can be used in the public sector. This is a very up-and-coming discipline or space of work. That’s why I chose Illinois Tech and started with the Master of Public Administration and the Master of Design.”

—Catalina Prada (current student, M.Des. and M.P.A. dual-degree program)

M.Des. and M.P.A.

A unique dual-degree program that prepares graduates with the knowledge, skills, and experience to effectively address complex civic and social challenges.


First Program of Its Kind in the U.S.


Placement Rate for Institute of Design Graduates