MBA programs for top design consultancies

I’m in the process of searching for an MBA program that combines an MBA plus Design Thinking. I’m having trouble coming up with a list of relevant MBA programs.

Ideally I would like to work at a place such as IDEO, Smart Design, Frog… helping to show other businesses the value of good design. The MBA concentrations I’m considering are mainly: Branding, Marketing, Design Management/Strategy, Innovation and Technology, Green Design.

I’ve read that IDEO Hires a lot of it’s MBAs from Stanford (MBA + the Are there other programs where design companies typically hire MBAs from?

Some of the programs I’ve been looking at include:

United States

Stanford: Graduate School of Business
Degree: MBA
Notes: can take classes at the

California College of the Arts
Degree: MBA in Design Strategy

IIT Institute of Design & IIT Stuart School of Business
Degree: Dual Degree - Master of Design / MBA

Carnegie Mellon: Tepper School of Business
Degree: MBA Management of Innovation and Product Development

Kendell College of Art and Design
Degree: MBA Certificate in Design and Innovation Management

Northwestern University: McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Degree: Master of Product Design and Development (Non-MBA)

University of Michigan - Ross School of Business
Degree: MBA
Notes: Offers an Integrated Product Development Course.

University of Michigan - Ross School of Business & School of Art and Design
Degree: Dual Degree - MBA/MFA

College for Creative Studies
Degree: MFA Design / MFA Transportation Design (Non-MBA)
Notes: Program is partnered with University of Michigan: Ross School of Business

CaseWestern Reserve University: Weatherhead School of Management
Degree: Sustainable MBA
Concept: Sustainable Enterprise
Notes: Connected with The Fowler Center For Sustainable Value

CaseWestern Reserve University: Weatherhead School of Management
Degree: Design MBA
Concept: Manage by Designing

New York University: Stern School of Business
Degree: MBA

Entertainment, Media & Technology
Product Management
Luxury Marketing
Management of Technology and Operations
Entrepreneurship and Innovation


University of Toronto: Rotman School of Management
Degree: MBA with an emphasis in Business Design
Location: Toronto, Canada

York University: Schulich School of Business
Degree: Dual Degree: MBA / MFA or MA
Location: Toronto, Canada

Domus Academy
Degree: Master of Business Design (Non-MBA?)
Accreditation: Through the University of Whales
Location: Milan, Italy

Design London: Multi-Disciplinary Program
Degree: ?
Location: London, United Kingdom
College: Imperial College Business School
Degree: MBA

College: Royal College of Art
Degree: MA

University of Gothenburg: School of Business, Economics and Law
Degree: Master of Business and Design
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Umea University
Degree: Master (Non-MBA)
Advanced Product Design
Interaction Design
Business Development and Internationalism
Location: Umea, Sweden

Are there any other programs I should know about?

I think Stanford is my top choice right now. They are a top 10 MBA program so it will be extremely hard to get in.

I’m not sure where I should place the most value at in my decision (School rank vs Program). I really don’t want to spend $100k on an MBA and never be able to pay it off if choosing a school that is not top ranked.

I am not sure if this is interesting to you at all but I know of a ton of students that did their Masters at Umea University in the north of Sweden and later got picked up by IDEO and Smart among others. Especially their Interaction Design department is very popular with the consultancies, when 2/3 get scooped up right after graduation.

Thanks for the heads up on that school.

I took a look at some of their programs. While I’m not against the idea of the interaction design or the advanced product design tracts… I definitely wish to have the focus be more on the business side of things.

pretty good list, just add the Masters in Product Development at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Thanks! Will add it to the list

Hey, I’m also considering a business + design course for masters. But I’m not sure as to what options I would have after doing it. ie. would I be like a regular MBA , working in a company or would I get to work with a design firm. Basically, what I don’t understand is that whether such a course would narrow down my options or broaden them? Narrow down , in the sense , that I get placed with only those companies which are willing to experiment with a design approach to business. Or broaden it , in the sense that the course could equip me with handling regular MBA jobs as well as give me an edge over MBAs. I really need to understand the commercial viability of the course also, whether or not I would be able to get a well paying job after completion of the course. Could you throw some light on all of the above?
And incase you are open to considering schools outside US, then , Domus Academy , Italy offers a masters in business design. You could look into the course.

Thank you for the suggestion about Domus Academy. I looked at their program a little bit more. It seems like an interesting program overall. The only thing I didn’t like is you don’t receive an MBA as far as I can tell. You earn an MBD which I’m not sure if it’s an equivalent to the MBA or not.

The main reason I’m looking at an MBA is because I want to get into the higher management positions within a design organization. I really enjoy design, but I tend to think more about the big picture of things compared to just the smaller details involved with some of the typical design work.

I’ve been really considering Branding/Marketing as an MBA concentration since that will allow me to look at positions outside of the design world. I think with a better understanding of Branding + my design background I could help companies create more of a holistic approach to their company and branding. Think of Apple as an example… How they have refined everything to the point where you know it’s an apple product just by looking at it. They have a cohesive language. This language not only applies to their products, but to their marketing strategies as well. I would like to help other companies strive to reach that level of thinking within their company by applying creative design solutions.

I have no interest in some of the traditional MBA routes such as Investment Banking or Finance. But with an MBA you are open to a change in career if you wish.

I think with a design background + an MBA you would be more valuable to some companies. If anything… you should at least be in a better position to be a director/manager within a design company.

One website I’m finding very useful while I study to take my GMATs is the

While there is little to no focus on design MBAs, there is a ton of useful information about various US and International programs. They also have a bunch of info about studying for the GMAT.

just out of curiosity, I’ve an engineer freind in KC who’s looking for an EMBA.
what’s the closest one worth looking into?

There are a couple of them in a 3 hour radius. However, none are top 25 schools if it matters.

University of Missouri, Kansas City (In KC)

Wichita State University (~3hr Drive)

University of Nebraska, Omaha (~3hr Drive)

The Wichita State Program is fairly good. My girlfriend’s sister got her MBA in Finance there and liked the program. One of my best friends just started his MBA this semester there also. As far as I know WSU is the only AACSB accredited school in that area.

I have a stupid question to ask…are you a practicing designer / architect ? …n if yes…how many years of experience do you have?
…i hv just finished my graduation…what do u think is d right tym to go for a post-grad/masters?
… I hv observed students in other fields (medicine, engg. etc.) who want to do higher studies overseas. They first take up a RA ( research assistantship) in a foreign university ( preferably a topic they like or are interested in for their masters ). The RA helps them clear up their heads and be sure about the masters programme. Do u think a RA would be useful for us? Are there institutes which do design research and take foreign students as RA?
Or maybe sumthng else…my mind is totally fuzzy right now…n i need sumthng which can help me clear it up.

thanks Ross, I’ll pass that along.

I am a practicing designer and unlicensed architect with 3 years experience. I have a professional masters degree in Interior Architecture and Product Design. I am currently doing freelance work while searching for full time employment.

Ideally you will take a few years off of school before going back. That way you have some time to gain a better understanding of what you would like to achieve with your masters studies.

I believe any design program you go to you will be doing research. I’m not sure if there are any RA positions with design schools. I believe a lot of them you will be a GTA (graduate teaching assistant) if you are to doing anything else besides just the core program. The GTA position will allow you to teach lower level courses while helping to cover some of your schooling costs.

When you start adding business to the design programs I’m not sure if that will change things. But as far as I know, you would need have an idea of what you want to study before going to grad school in design.

That makes two of us. That’s part of the reason I wanted to start this thread.


I might be coming too late to the game here, but I’m an ID turned interaction designer going to Ross in Ann Arbor for my MBA this Fall.

I’ve recently begun a website to chart the experience and I’ll offer helpful tips for the applications, calendar deadlines, essays, etc.

I applied to 11 top tier programs, interviewed at 9, accepted by 7 and at the end chose Ross over MIT for a myriad of reasons, but one of them being their support of design in the community and their Design+Business club.

You can check out the site or give any feedback (please, I love feedback)

Congrats on getting into Ross! It seems like it is a great program. I’ll be following your blog. I really look forward to the tips section.

Anything in particular that you might be looking for?
Test Strategy?
Application process?

Just adding this link in here for others. Financial Times has some good metrics and may help during your research phase.

Or if you want (this was helpful for me), here is a compilation of rankings of the top thirty schools by four publication: Financial Times, Business Week, Forbes, and US News – I’m working on something a little more interactive, but this will have to do for now:

Each publication has their own criteria for ranking the schools,so it’s important to learn which criteria is the most important/useful to you.

I’m not really sure what I would like to see. I use the GMATclub for a lot of my information.

One thing that would be nice is to take some of the information that I have started to compile in this thread and make a much larger scale version of it. Mainly noting which schools have a design curriculum component to their MBA. It would nice to know of any partnerships between schools and companies that allow you to work on real world products.

I am have an undergraduate degree(B.Tech in Information and Communication Technology). I am interested in design and would like to do an MBA.Currently I am working as a Business analyst. Will my MBA help me to get into Design Consultancies given that I have no experience in the design field?