The Master in Design Engineering (MDE) program prepares the next generation of leaders to create transformative solutions that positively impact society. The integrated fields of design and engineering are uniquely positioned to address the world’s toughest challenges.

Master in Design Engineering at Harvard program logo

Our world faces increasingly complex, often unpredictable dilemmas of consequence to human lives and environments, including rapid urbanization, ecological changes, and resource scarcity, and their negative impact on sociocultural dynamics. These and other problems demand innovative, multi-faceted solutions that transcend disciplines and scales. By training a new generation of innovators who operate both creatively and analytically, think strategically, and collaborate broadly, the MDE program develops graduates capable of leading change and advancing novel, real-world solutions.

The two-year, four-term MDE program bridges the gaps between academic fields and practical, real-world stakeholders, and fosters a design intelligence that engages quantitative and qualitative thinking, combining computational, visual, experimental, strategic, and aesthetic methods. The interdisciplinary curriculum, conceived collaboratively by faculty at the GSD and SEAS, and combining the intellectual and physical resources of both schools, encompasses engineering and design as well as economics, business, government regulation and policy, and sociology. Students take the equivalent of four courses per semester over two years, complemented by a series of public lectures and intimate discussions with prominent innovators, designers, and thought leaders in business and industry. During the second year, students complete an independent design engineering project on a topic of their choice. The MDE pedagogical model is geared towards enabling synergies that emerge through the collaboration of the interdisciplinary cohort. The instruction further emphasizes collaborative problem solving.


design-engineering-logo-2The MDE program offers the opportunity for high-caliber students to become thought leaders in a variety of roles in industry, government, NGOs, and academia. It prepares a new type of designer who speculates, analyzes, assesses, and acts. MDE graduates are able to understand and communicate the architecture of complex problems; they study and engage a variety of situations with the technical and critical skills needed to design new forms of intervention and mitigation.

The MDE program teaches and expects students to develop practical, comprehensive prototypes to address real-world questions such as:

  • What would it take to convert the U.S. transportation system from its almost total reliance on gasoline to more stable, economical, and environmentally friendly alternatives?
  • How could the health care delivery system be transformed to yield better outcomes at lower cost?
  • What steps can cities take to adapt to rising sea levels and other climate change-induced environmental impacts with minimal disruption to society?
  • What is the future of food in the context of global warming, the explosion of the world’s population, and the need to deliver quality food that is affordable?
  • In developing products that integrate into the Internet of Things, how should companies design devices and services that balance individual privacy and security with the benefits of networked intelligence?



If you are interested in joining a select group of students in this innovative degree program, please see the program’s admissions page for details on the application process and admission criteria.


For more information about the Master in Design Engineering program, please contact