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EDI Experience

Take a human-centered approach to graduate study.

Program Overview

The Master of Science in Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program is a 15-month, full-time graduate program that teaches engineers how to address design problems using a human-centered approach. While solving the needs of real people, EDI students are deeply immersed in design thinking — an innovative process of user observation, visualization, rapid prototyping, and iteration. You’ll graduate ready to lead cross-functional teams and design groundbreaking new products and services.

A student writes on a storyboard in class.

The EDI Student

The EDI program seeks engineers who thrive on creating new things, are comfortable with problems that are hard to pin down, and care about culture and contemporary context.

Students typically enter the EDI program shortly after finishing their undergraduate degree or another master’s degree or within a few years of starting their careers.

Although most EDI students enter the program with a BS degree in engineering or a related field, students with other academic backgrounds and work experience in engineering design may be considered.

See our admissions info
Students work in front of a board with post-it notes.

Program Duration and Requirements

Courses in the 15-month program are taught on a quarterly schedule. Students complete the program in four quarters: fall, winter, spring, and the following fall. Most students also participate in a summer internship between the third and fourth quarters of study.

The program requires 16 course units, including:

  • Human-Centered Design Studio, a year-long studio course sequence 
  • four additional core courses on design methodologies, product development process, and strategy
  • six elective courses
  • a three-unit thesis project
  • a non-credit Design Boot Camp
View the curriculum

Pillars of the Student Experience

The EDI student experience is diverse, both inside and outside the classroom. Explore what makes our program unique.


Our faculty practice human-centered design every day.

EDI faculty are leaders from across Northwestern and industry and maintain a dynamic relationship with the innovation industry through research, consulting, and professional experience with companies and organizations from many sectors, including technology, design, consumer products and services, and more.

Meet our faculty

Year at-a-Glance

A glimpse of the next 15 months of your life

EDI students quickly learn that the program comprises far more than just classroom learning. You will take part in a variety of activities with your cohort, faculty, and advisers during the program. Below are some key events that take place during a typical year in EDI.

Design Boot Camp

All incoming students attend a pre-term workshop called Design Boot Camp. This set of intensive training sessions strengthens students’ skills in selected tools of the design trade, including 2-D visualization and communication, 3-D modeling, and mechatronics. Students work on a simple project that allows them to practice their newly acquired skills. The Boot Camp sessions are primarily devoted to instruction, and students work on their own time to complete their projects.

Fall Quarter
  • Studio lunch
  • Homecoming — Prototype Purple
  • Thesis studio (second-year students)
  • Design Innovation Challenge — mid-October
  • Design Expo
  • Final Thesis Presentations and Fair (second-year students)

Winter Quarter
  • Studio lunch
  • Individual advising 
  • Portfolio review
  • Design Expo

Students having a class discussion

Spring Quarter
  • Studio lunch 
  • Thesis kickoff 
  • Thesis studio

Summer Internship

During the summer between the third and fourth quarters of study, students are encouraged to independently identify and secure an internship that aligns with his or her post-EDI career goals. Internship opportunities vary. No student is guaranteed placement.

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