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Design Science MS

Contact Design Science Admissions

James Tobias

Program Coordinator

Kathleen Sienko

Program Chair

Design Science at Michigan Statistics

Top 10

engineering and business school on the same campus

19%

female, 13% underrepresented minorities, 31% international students

14:1

student-to-faculty ratio

71.5%

employed after six months graduation, 14% continuing higher education degree

$70,950

average salaray

Why Design Science from ISD at Michigan?

The ISD Design Science program is a unique interdisciplinary approach requiring students to integrate two or more traditional disciplines to tackle modern, complex design problems.

The program challenges students to create, study, apply, and teach design principles using quantitative, qualitative, and analytical methods and processes. 

This customizable program provides each student flexibility for in-depth exploration across multiple disciplines to learn rigorous design methods and theory that drive the design process. Each student defines a unique program of study tailored to his or her background and design interests in consultation with a program advisor. This path allows the integration of diverse disciplines from top tier graduate programs at the University of Michigan to balance rigorous coursework, trend-setting research, and practice.

What can you do with an MS in Design Science?

Graduates of the Design Science program are uniquely positioned to build bridges between key stakeholders bringing future employers in advanced industries and government settings the skills needed to meet the challenges of innovation in today’s workplace. The program expands students’ career paths to meet the growing need for the interdisciplinary design of complex products, devices, and systems.

Align your Interest

Students define a unique program of study that integrates graduate coursework from at least three different schools/colleges from across the University.

Every program of study brings together rigorous design methodology and domain expertise. Prior students have studied design in a wide range of domains, including sustainability, design for low-resource settings, and digital services.

Some of the areas of application include the following:

Innovation Science

The process of design and innovation is the subject of intense research focus as organizations strive to improve their ability to succeed in an uncertain and rapidly changing world. Rigorous research on the nature of creative collaboration is yielding insights into effective design processes and methods for instilling an innovative mindset.

Sustainability

Climate change is driving the need for changes in how inputs are converted to outputs to reduce harmful greenhouse gasses while saving energy and other costs. These changes need to be thoughtfully and rigorously designed, and design science can provide some of the foundations that connect design to environmental sustainability.

Human-Centered Design

As smart devices proliferate, our connections to the world are increasingly mediated by technology. How can we design devices, interfaces, and new systems (even those not involving technology) that achieve their objectives while providing an enjoyable human experience that respects the privacy and other ethical considerations? This discipline provides foundational knowledge to support human-centered design.

Design for Low-Resource Settings

In many parts of the world, resources such as clean water and reliable electricity are not available. How can designers navigate such environments to co-create artifacts that improve the living standards of such communities? Design for low-resource settings is a unique and important discipline using rigorous methods to meet related needs.

Courses Offered

Individualized plans of study will be developed by students in consultation with an advisor. Click on the Bulletin link for a description of each course.

Setting Ideas into Action

Make an impact by applying the knowledge and skills acquired through your MS degree in Design Sci

Capstone Project

An important element of the program is a capstone project which offers students the opportunity to solve a real-world problem with their new knowledge. The culminating project can be completed individually or on a team, virtually or locally, and in close interaction with faculty and industry leaders.

Practice your passion through projects in:

  • Research in cutting-edge labs
  • Onsite work in top-ranked companies
  • Field-work with meaningful non-profits

Graduate Student Involvement

Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC)

Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC)

Learn More — >

Professional Development

Engineering Career Resource Center (ECRC)

Engineering Career Resource Center (ECRC)

Learn More — >
Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Learn More — >
National Society of Black Engineers group photo
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

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Videos

Alumni Bios

Each of these alumni were once in your shoes, deciding on a master’s degree.

Image of Gregory Caputo

Gregory Caputo

M.S. Design Science, Integrated Systems + Design 2016

Senior Consultant - Digital Transformation

Image of Seda McKilligan

Seda McKilligan

MFA Industrial Design, 2005

Iowa State University

Professor and Associate Dean

Image of John Meluso

John Meluso

MS Design Science, 2017

Vermont Complex Systems Centre, University of Vermont

OCEAN Postdoctoral Fellow

Image of Gregory Caputo

Gregory Caputo

U-M Engineering, BSE Mechanical Engineering 2015

U-M Engineering, M.S. Design Science, Integrated Systems + Design 2016

Senior Consultant - Digital Transformation

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Career Summary

As a Digital Transformation consultant, I spend much of my time relating product management and human-centered design principles in my client work. One of my strongest methods is applying techniques commonly thought to only help with physical product design and practice it to solve business challenges. I routinely reference the methods like QFD, persona development, ideation, and prioritization techniques that we all learn in our X50 and design courses at U-M!

How does your Master’s degree differentiate you from others?

Advanced degrees are a great way to credentialize yourself in new and prospective client discussions. It is a great element of a personal brand.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

Favorite Student Orgs: Central Student Government Favorite Classes: ME250, ENGIN 100, and ME 211. Advice to students: Stay close to your classmates after graduation – not just your closest friends. The alumni network is an asset I never fully understood until I left – but it is one of the greatest parts of Michigan and helps to make sure that your college experience doesn’t end just because you graduated.

Image of Seda McKilligan

Seda McKilligan

Middle East Technical University, B.Sc. Industrial Product Design, 2001

University of Michigan, MFA Industrial Design, 2005

University of Michigan, Ph.D. Design Science, 2010

Iowa State University

Professor and Associate Dean

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Career Summary

I have always aspired to educate the next generation of students. My Ph.D. from the University of Michigan is an interdisciplinary degree, crossing the boundaries of many disciplines. This gave me the edge to be able to connect concepts, theories, and applications, and to communicate with people with deep disciplinary knowledge using their terminology. Today’s problems are complex, unexpected, and need an immediate response. The degree I earned at U-M gives me the agility in looking at these problems from diverse perspectives and pose solutions that cannot come from one single disciplinary background. 

How does your Master’s degree differentiate you from others?

My Ph.D. degree is unique and makes people question: Design and Science — how can that be combined? This itself makes us stand out. There aren’t that many people who are able to make unexpected connections among domains. 

Advice to Students

I’d recommend many extracurricular activities to give you yet another strength, undergraduate research assistantship positions to build your inquiry skills and connect with faculty members, and definitely any project-based learning opportunities. 

Image of John Meluso

John Meluso

Cornell University, BS Engineering Physics, 2014

University of Michigan, MS Design Science, 2017

University of Michigan, PhD Design Science, 2020

Vermont Complex Systems Centre, University of Vermont

OCEAN Postdoctoral Fellow

Close

Career Summary

How does your Master’s degree differentiate you from others?

My MS and PhD in Design Science set me apart as someone capable of and competent in rigorous interdisciplinary methods.

The Division of Integrative Systems + Design, and especially the Design Science Program, gave me the opportunity to develop expertise that places my work at the forefront of systems research and practice. I learned theories and methods from disciplines throughout the university, culminating in diverse projects across industry and academia alike. Together, these backgrounds prepared me to contribute valuable perspectives and skills to one of the leading complex systems research centers in the world.

 

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I took part in so many activities during my time at U-M, from singing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the University Musical Society’s Choral Union to playing intramural sand volleyball with friends! Definitely spend time finding and contributing to communities that you share interests with. They helped me feel like part of something greater than myself, and gave me a much-needed break from the academics! You’ll find you get back even more than you give.

Industries & Companies

Design Science woman testing a robotic hand

Industries & Occupations

Design Science woman testing a robotic hand
  • Automotive OEM
  • Retail and logistics
  • Education, Consulting
  • Manufacturing, Software
  • Automotive supplier
  • Engineering consulting
  • Design Studio
  • Marketing research
  • Advertising Agency
  • Mobility Solutions
  • Computer applications
  • Vendor Management
  • Designer
  • Analyst, R&D Engineer
  • Senior Strategic Consultant
  • Architecture Intern,
  • Software Developer
  • Design Researcher
robot automation in an automotive manufacturing facility

Companies

robot automation in an automotive manufacturing facility
  • GM
  • Ford
  • BMW
  • Bosch
  • Kohler
  • Nissan
  • Harley-Davidson Motor Company
  • Tesla, Continental
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Roush Industries
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America
design science student
student working on a project

Salaries

Discover the value of a Master's degree!

On average, U-M graduates with a master’s degree in an engineering field can earn 15-25% more than those with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.  Use the links below to research average salaries based on a U-M engineering master’s degree, experience level, and desired work location.