EDI Curriculum

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The EDI curriculum consists of 13 courses plus a three-unit thesis project during the 15-month program.

A chart of the EDI curriculum

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Core Courses

Core coursework provides students with a high-level understanding of the design process, research methodologies, and innovation strategy through team-based project work.

Guided by iterative prototyping and testing, teams define design problems and develop concepts for innovative products, interactions, services, and experiences.

All students take seven core courses:

View Segal's course descriptions

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Elective Courses

Six units of elective coursework are required. Students may choose electives from the complete course offerings of The Graduate School.

At least three of these courses must be at the 400 level.

Optionally, students may work with an adviser to select four elective courses that form a design theme, such as manufacturing methods, medical device innovation, or entrepreneurship.

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Thesis Project

Each student is required to complete a three-unit thesis project during their third and fourth quarters. The thesis project provides students with an opportunity to apply the methods learned through EDI coursework on an extended timeline and toward a topic of their choosing. Students work with industry mentors to determine an appropriate project topic and scope and then meet weekly to discuss their thesis progress.

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Design Boot Camp

All incoming students must attend a pre-term workshop called Design Boot Camp. Typically held for three weeks in September before classes begin, Boot Camp is a set of intensive training sessions that provides students the opportunity to strengthen their skills in selected tools of the design trade, including 2D visualization and communication, 3D modeling, and mechatronics.

During Boot Camp, students work on a simple project that allows them to practice their newly acquired skills. Sessions are primarily devoted to instruction, so students are expected to work on their own time to complete the project within the given timeframe.

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Summer Internship

During the summer between their third and fourth quarters, EDI students are encouraged to participate in one of several design-related summer internships. Internship opportunities vary and no student is guaranteed placement. For more information, contact Amy O'Keefe, associate director of the EDI program, at edi@northwestern.edu or 847-467-4275.

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Grade and Residency Requirements

  • EDI students must make satisfactory academic progress as defined by The Graduate School to qualify for degree completion.
  • In addition, every credit unit counted towards the master’s degree must receive a grade of "C" or higher.
  • Every student must complete all degree requirements within six quarters of study in order to qualify for the master’s degree.

Students who do not meet satisfactory academic progress requirements will be placed on academic probation for one quarter. If after one quarter academic progress has not improved, students will be subject to exclusion from the degree.

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Community Involvement

EDI students are expected to take a leadership role in the design community at Northwestern. Many EDI students get involved with Segal's student groups.

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