Masters in Design Engineering (Europe/US)

Hi guys,

My name is Sandipan. I have completed my Bachelors in Engineering (Electronics) however I am looking to give way to my interests and change discipline to design. I have come across one or two programs which accepts applicants from a non-design background. The programs are called Design Engineering (or Design & Engineering) and both the disciplines are given equal weightage. A lack of a good portfolio and relevant work experience makes it almost impossible to compete with applicants for standard/traditional design masters.

If you guys know more about such programs, do let me know.


Aston University in the UK has MSc Design Innovation which takes students with a non-design background. Probably not the best choice but will certainly take you.

The Institute of Design (the graduate design program at the Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago has a rigorous program (actually, several different programs) that also accomodates (and requires, I believe) non-designers with an additional 9-month “Design Foundations” program that precedes the master’s program.

It’s well respected and outputs good critical thinkers. However, like ANY design graduate program, you will not get the immersion in pure, hard skills that you would through an undergraduate design program. There’s no subsitute for an undergraduate program’s 3-5 years of continual practice, critique and correction. You will approach some of those skills in a graduate program (but not all, and in limited exposure), and the problems you handle in a grad program will be meatier, more process/experience/strategy-based, more difficult, more interdisciplinary, and involve more teamwork vs. individual work.

The graduate vs. undergraduate question has been addressed and discussed many times in many threads on the Core77 boards; searching for them might help you as well.

Full disclosure: I am a graduate of the above program, though I knew I would not learn a lot of “skill-based” things there (like sketching), so I preceded my graduate work with two years of undergraduate ID study.

Hi Sandipan,

The best combination will be an education that gears you towards developing interactive products.
There is a high demand for people who can create working electronic product prototypes as well as providing input on the design process.
If you come from an electronics background and have a sense for design plus some creative experience, you will be a great candidate for many programs. Moreover, electronics is often the most sought skill in that you can act as a mentor for others so you can have a side job as a student tutor! I know this is possible at the ID department at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. You will have to post a letter very soon to be able to enroll for the 6-month pre-master track required for students coming from other fields.

For more information see this website:

And contact the study advisor who can answer all your questions.

All the best!

Hi Ralph. Thanks for your input. The 6-month pre-master track at Eindhoven University of Technology is just open for EU students I suppose. I am from India. Are you aware of any such foundation programs?

Hello! Were you able to change the discipline? What have you finally decided?

Hello! Were you able to change the discipline? What have you finally decided?