Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design

Research + Work


The Master of Design (MDes) program explores design in a multidisciplinary setting across Industrial Design, Communication Design and Fashion Design housed in the School of Design at the Design Architecture Art and Planning (DAAP) College at the University of Cincinnati. The program is rooted in an evidence-based design approach promoting the valuable need for process, strategy and research methods for advancing the successful understanding of human behaviors, places and things for design opportunities in the context of complex social-cultural, environmental and material challenges. 

The Master of Design is a thesis project-based program. Graduate students engage in research from the initial semester developing individual inquiries in partnership with faculty in the School of Design to expand knowledge through theory, primary and secondary research, applied research, coop practice and chair-directed studies. Required courses are offered to expand student’s inquiries in research methodologies, design strategy at the service/social system levels approach, translational research for engaging inquiries in real contexts, professional practice and design discourse for writing, and visual strategies for dissemination.

The objectives of the MDes are to:

  • Focus on Methods: designing understanding
  • Focus on Strategy: innovation paradigms
  • Focus on Systems Thinking: socio-cultural of interdependencies/dynamic structures
  • Focus on Expertise Domain: applied/measurable
  • Focus on Empathy: social responsibility and impact

Thesis project topics are initiated by graduate students in partnership with their advisors’ background under one of the three overall application areas: human abilities, active communities, and responsible environments. Areas range from Industrial Design, Communication Design, and Fashion Design, and are built by the associated graduate faculty who bring unique expertise to expand design interventions. Graduate students work in related areas with the guidance of their faculty advisors to frame inquires and explore design applications. The final work is defended verbally, visually, and in writing—publishing while concluding their work through an exhibition at DAAP Works.

Graduate students are expected to work with a high level of independence, motivation, and competence through their Master of Design education.

Students with undergraduate degrees in design related and other fields are both invited to enter into the two-year Master of Design program at the University of Cincinnati School of Design.

Degree: Master of Design

Duration: 2.0 Years

Location: West Campus

Contact Information:

College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Claudia B. Rebola
DAAP 6415A
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016
(513) 556-4239

Admission Requirements

  • University application forms
  • A baccalaureate design degree from an accredited college or university, with at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (in a 4.0 grading system)
  • Unofficial transcript(s) from all colleges/universities attended. Note: Official transcripts are not required during the admissions process, and only unofficial transcripts are required for the application. Applicants should not send official transcripts until they are offered admission. For complete requirements please visit the Graduate School transcript requirements:
  • A resume or curriculum vitae summarizing accomplishments to date.
  • At least two years of professional experience in design practice or teaching. Internships and sponsored projects can count towards this time.
  • A letter of intent that briefly answers the following: 
    • Name at least one faculty member with whom you’d like to work and explain why. 
    • One of the benefits of studying in a tier 1 research University is the access to many other disciplines of research and study. What other departments at UC could you imagine making use of, either for study or collaboration?
    • If you were able to get a research grant, what problem would you focus on and what would you propose to do?
  • At least three personal references who can comment on past performance and future potential in academic and professional efforts
  • A portfolio that includes 12-15 examples of work and completed projects as an indication of the level of skill development required to pursue graduate studies, interest areas, points of view, abilities to set up problem areas and or problem-solving skills. The examples should support the letter of intent. This document must be submitted here: are no longer accepting website links or hard copies of portfolios. 
  • Applicants with English as a second language must have a score of 570 (paper-based) or 230 (computer-based) or 88 (Internet-based) on the Test of English as a second language (TOEFL). The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted. For IELTS, an overall band score of 6.5 is needed. 

Application Deadlines

The deadline is February 1st every year. 


Major Map Versions:
Master of Design Fall 2019


The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

This program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).

Program Details