product design College of Design
Product design student working with a faculty member to build a prototype.

Graduate Major in Product Design

Product Design is a creative, interdisciplinary program in the College of Design that blends elements of industrial design, engineering, business, and humanities. This graduate track provides methods and tools for inventing our future in the form of innovative objects, systems, and services. Combining these disciplines allows students to design desirable products and services (both physical and digital) that are also functional, marketable, and human-centered. This graduate track enables students to take ideas from concept to reality and succeed in the market. The interdisciplinary nature of the Product Design track provides the opportunity for students to shape their graduate studies by enabling them to select courses from a diverse list of electives.

How to Apply

To apply to the Product Design Graduate Program, you must create an account with the University of Minnesota Graduate School. You will use this account to submit your application.

Questions about the application process? Email Ehsan Naderi at

Graduate Program Plans

Plan A: Thesis-based Track

The primary goal of Plan A is to train design professionals and academics who want to deepen their theoretical and practical knowledge of the discipline and apply that to their career. Plan A combines both research and theory courses with hands-on project-based courses. This graduate track is appropriate for those who wish to pursue careers in academia or a career in the industry as a design researcher.

Plan C: Course-based Track

The primary goal of Plan C is to provide a hands-on advanced product design experience for students who are interested in augmenting their background and experience in a related or unrelated field with product design skills. The core product design foundation courses in Plan C can be supplemented with a wide range of electives in engineering, business, and humanities. In addition to theory and skill-based courses, students in Plan C participate in a year-long multi-disciplinary project-based experience that involves working with local industry representatives on a real-world challenge to develop a new product concept with a functional physical prototype and an extensive business plan.

Selected Course Offering

  • PDES 5701 User-Centered Design Studio

  • PDES 5702 Visual Communication

  • PDES 5703 Prototyping Methods

  • PDES 5704 Computer-Aided Design Methods

  • PDES 8721 New Product Design and Business Development I

  • PDES 8722 New Product Design and Business Development II

  • DES 5185 Human Factors in Design

  • DES 8164 Innovation Theory and Analysis

  • DES 8167 Aesthetics of Design

  • DES 8112 Design Theory

Selected Electives

  • PDES 5711 Product Innovation Lab

  • PDES 5705 History and Future of Product Design

  • DES 8151 Product Development (Softlines)

  • HUMF 5001 Foundations of Human Factors/Ergonomics

  • BMEN 5151 Intro BioMEMS and Medical Devices

  • ME 8243 Designing Smart Products

  • CSCI 5127W - Human-Centered Design and Prototyping of Ubiquitous Computing Systems

  • CSCI 5115 User Interface Design, Implementation and Evaluation

  • CSCI 8115 Human-Computer Interaction and User Interface Technology

  • MGMT 5102 StartUp: Customer Development and Testing

College of Design Facilities

Digital Fabrication Shop

3D printing, CNC routing and self-service laser cutting are available to students for prototype making. Students can use their 2D and 3D digital files for making physical products and objects.

Fabrication Shop

The fabrication shop equipment allows students to build professional wood, metal, and plastic structures. The shop features a variety of tools such as SawStop table saws which prevent injury. The metal shop features welding bays for MIG, TIG and gas welding, a plasma cutter, sheet metal tools, pipe bending, a mill, lathe, sandblaster, and a vacuum former.

Computer Labs

The College of Design computer labs are equipped with a variety of design industry standard software applications, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk packages, SketchUp, Licaso, Alias, Rhino, Axure, Unity 3D, SolidWorks, Solidworks Visualize, Keyshot, VRay plugin, ElumTools, etc.

Imaging Lab

Photographic documentation is an important part of design at the University of Minnesota. The College of Design Imaging Lab provides College of Design students with the resources and support to work with digital photography within a studio setting as well as the equipment to record and edit digital video.

Virtual Reality Design Lab

The Virtual Reality Design Lab (VRDL) is run by faculty and staff in the College of Design to support research and creative activities of faculty and students. The VRDL is a continuation of the Digital Design Consortium, a partnership between the College of Design and Computer Science and Engineering.

Goldstein Museum of Design

The Goldstein Museum of Design (GMD) houses a superb collection of historic dress and textiles available for study. The GMD curates 3-6 exhibitions per year related to various aspects of history and culture. The GMD offers assistantships and opportunities for students to study historic dress and textiles.


Barry Kudrowitz, research interests:

  • Perception, evaluation, and testing of creativity

  • Play and humor in design

  • Creativity and idea generation tools

  • Design of food

  • Concept visualization and sketching

  • Product design education

Ehsan Naderi, research interests:

  • Media affordances and immersive environment

  • User research / consumer perception and behavior

  • UX and interactive product design

  • Product evaluation and testing

Product Design affiliated faculty



Barry Kudrowitz,
Director of Graduate Studies for the
Product Design Graduate Minor


Barry Kudrowitz,
Assistant Professor and
Program Director


Contact Information

Undergraduate Student Services
12 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108
107 Rapson Hall, 89 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
P: 612-624-1717 | E:

General Information
P: 612-626-9068 | E:

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