Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What qualities does the Graduate Admissions Committee look for in an applicant?
Answer: The Graduate Admissions Committee looks for well-rounded students who show their potential to excel in the three disciplines of Engineering, Design, and Business. We look for strong competency in one of the disciplines and aptitude for the other two. A strong, visual portfolio that demonstrates conceptual and analytical thinking is essential.
Question: What are the backgrounds of students in the program?
Answer: Students have a variety of backgrounds, though most come from design or engineering disciplines. A few students hold degrees in business or the liberal arts. All students will be challenged to develop their creative muscle and iterative skills.
Question: Can I apply for the M:IPD if I have an engineering background?
Answer: Yes, students with an engineering background may apply to the M:IPD program. These applicants will join students with non-engineering backgrounds in the program.
Question: Can I apply for the MSE:IPD if I do not have an engineering background?
Answer: Due to the rigorous course of study, applicants to the MSE:IPD program must possess an engineering background. Students without an engineering background may apply to the program, but they must express a willingness to take up to 8 CUs of additional background courses.
Question: How long does the program take to complete?
Answer: The M:IPD and MSE:IPD degrees each take four full semesters to complete.
Question: Can I complete the program on a part time basis?
Question: What do students do over the summer?
Answer: In the summer months, students are encouraged to develop their design skills in a professional setting. Students have completed prestigious internships all over the world, including: XYZ (South Africa), David Trubridge, (New Zealand), Samsung, Coach, and Gensler, among others. IPD is committed to exposing the students to the global design context and has done so in the past through organized research trips to South Africa in 2011 and Thailand in 2012.
Question: I want to be a design entrepreneur. Is IPD right for me?
Answer: Yes. Students develop their ability to apply the iterative design process to both products and business models. If a student is specifically interested in becoming an entrepreneur, their advisor will work with them to create a schedule that reflects this interest. There are many resources at Penn, including student groups, business plan competitions, and campus incubators that also support design entrepreneurs.
Question: I don’t have skills in Rhino, Solidworks, or Adobe. Should I learn these prior to enrolling in the program?
Answer: Students will have the opportunity to learn Solidworks through MEAM 101, and can learn Rhino through a specialized workshop aimed at IPD students. Students without working knowledge of Adobe can learn it on their own or choose courses that will help them learn it.
Question: How much of the coursework is collaborative and how much is independent?
Answer: IPD emphasizes collaboration and a team based design, especially during the Final Project. While students have the opportunity to work independently in some courses, the program strongly encourages communication and a collaborative design process.
Question: What can I expect to have in my portfolio upon graduation?
Answer: M:IPD and MSE:IPD students will work on a variety of projects during their four semesters. Based on the student’s interest, his or her portfolio will showcase design research techniques, concept generation, concept refinement, and prototyping ability.
Question: What do students do after they graduate?
Answer: Graduates are employed in a variety of design related fields, from established design strategy consulting firms to architecture and engineering firms, to tech startups and entrepreneurial ventures. They are consultants, designers, entrepreneurs, writers, researchers, builders, and engineers. For more information about recent graduates, please visit the alumni page.