The Berkeley Master of Design (MDes) is a three-semester, professional graduate degree that prepares students to work in creative and technical roles for designing products, services and environments enabled by emerging technologies. The MDes is jointly offered by the College of Engineering (COE) and the College of Environmental Design (CED); this collaboration is reflected in the interdisciplinarity of the program's faculty, student body, curriculum, and pedagogical approaches.
The program's interdisciplinary curriculum connects technical rigor, design theory, and social practice and prepares students for a broad range of creative and technical roles for designing innovative products, services, and environments. Graduates leave the program as engaged and responsive social practitioners, with a deep understanding of the foundations of design and emerging technology and an informed awareness of people, contextual needs and societal impacts.

Housed at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, the MDes provides a dynamic, hands-on curriculum that uniquely equips students to develop a critical perspective and navigate a range of technical languages and design methodologies. Studio-based coursework integrates programming, human-centered design process, and communication with hardware and software development. Exploratory project briefs encourage students to use design process to identify new problem spaces and to explore ideas through co-creative processes, iteration, and prototyping. A set of theory courses help shape students' critical lens on design through analysis and discussion of the implications of practice within an evolving environmental and socio-technology landscape. Students further deepen their knowledge through technical electives and offerings in social practice or entrepreneurship relevant to their personal interests and career goals. The MDes students' studies culminate in a Thesis Studio where they work in teams and bring their distinct perspectives to bear on applied projects.

The MDes is designed for early to mid-career professionals with an interest in pursuing graduate work at the intersections of design and technology. MDes students come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds, and are motivated by the opportunity to immerse themselves in a vibrant, creative, interdisciplinary, and impact-driven design community.

Strong applicants will be able to articulate and demonstrate their interest in design as a creative, goal-oriented activity that contributes to the emergence of innovative, socially impactful new technologies and environments. Possible areas of relevant prior experience include, but are not limited to, academic, professional, or personal work in technology, social or environmental policy, entrepreneurship, and/or community engagement. Strong applicants will also be able to articulate and demonstrate their interest in working with diverse communities and learning from different disciplinary/personal backgrounds and perspectives.

All applicants must have requisite technical preparation, for example a technical degree, coursework, and/or certificate, or equivalent professional experience, because MDes students are expected to be capable of independently learning new software tools and programming languages, and to quickly deploy these tools and skills in courses and projects. Applicants without clear technical preparation from their academic or professional background should, at a minimum, develop intermediate programming experience prior to the start of the program, and have sufficient knowledge of some technical subject area at the level required to pass a technical elective.

Application Criteria

For detailed information about the MDes program's application criteria, process and timeline, visit the MDes Apply page.

Graduate Division Admissions

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor's degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.