Carnegie Mellon School of Design

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Carnegie Mellon School of Design
School of design.jpg
Principal facility of the Carnegie Mellon School of Design
Type Design
Established 1900
Parent institution
Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Language English

The School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University is a degree-granting institution within a private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The School of Design is one of five schools within the Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts offering both under and post graduate education. The School is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and awards BDES, MA, MDES, MPS, MII-PS, DDES, and PhD degrees. The School of Design has 20 full-time and 12 adjunct faculty, and a student body of approximately 225.

The program is noted for its balance between theory and 'making' and its emphasis on process-oriented approaches to design.


The university began as the Carnegie Technical Schools founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900. In 1912, it became the Carnegie Institute of Technology and began to offer four-year degrees. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design is one of the oldest programs in North America and the Carnegie Technical School offered classes in design as early as 1915, and in 1936 awarded its first Industrial Design degree. Graphic Design existed at that time as a series of electives within Painting, Decorating and the Sculpture departments. In 1967 the Department of Design was officially established with four-year degree programs in industrial and graphic design. In 1997 the department changed ‘graphic’ to communication design.

In 1994 The School of Design became the first institution to offer a degree in Interaction Design with the launch of a two-year masters (MDes). It was one of the first schools in North America to offer a PhD in Design (2000) and is one of only four or five schools in the U.S. to offer one now.

The School is known for its expertise in service design and in 2004 helped to launch the Service Design Network (with Koln International School of Design, Linkopings Universitet, Politecnico di Milano and Domus Academy) and its faculty have contributed to a growing body of research in this area.

In 2014 the School introduced a new area of specialty: Transition Design that focuses on design-led societal change toward more sustainable futures.

Programs of Study[edit]

Carnegie Mellon is a school of design for interactions. Curricula focus on enhancing the quality of interactions between people, the built or ‘designed’ world and the natural world (environment) and design is seen as a catalyst for positive social and environmental change.

Human/user-centered design research methods, traditional and emerging processes and technological innovations are employed in the design of products, communications and environments. Three broad areas of focus inform programs and curricula: Design for Service, Design for Social Innovation and Transition Design.

The School offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels:

Undergraduate Degrees[edit]

• Undergraduate Degree in Design (BDes): communication design, product design and design for environments • Undergraduate Minor in Design • Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Degree (BXA)

Graduate Degrees[edit]

• MDes degree (Master of Design) • MPS degree (Master of Professional Studies) • MA degree (Master of Arts in Design) • MII-PS degree (Master of Integrated Innovation for Products & Services)

Doctoral Degrees[edit]

• DDes degree in Design Studies (Doctor of Design): 3-year professional doctorate • DDes degree in Transition Design • PhD degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Design) • PhD degree in Transition Design


Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design is annually ranked as one of the top design schools in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Design’s Communication Design (graphic) program 4th in the country and the Industrial Design program third. CMU’s Industrial Design program has historically ranked in the top 10 design schools in the U.S. in the annual Design Intelligence survey of architecture and design schools. In 2014 and 2015, LinkedIn ranked Carnegie Mellon’s Design program as number one on their list: Best Undergraduate Universities for Designers. It was also ranked as number one for Graduate Universities for Designers.

Graduate Employment[edit]

Alumni from the school work in both the commercial and not for profit sectors as well as in academia. Graduates have been employed by companies such as: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, the Mayo Clinic, Skype, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Whirlpool, Volkswagen/Audi, Motorola, HP, Philips, IDEO, Meta Design, Frog, Smart Design, Huge, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Graduates of the school have pursued careers in academia and research in institutions such as: Georgia Tech, Rhode Island School of Design, Stanford University, California College of Art and Design, Northeastern University, University of Michigan, School of Visual Arts, Design Skolen Kolding (Kolding, Denmark), Hong Kong Politechnic, Jiangnan University School of Design (Wuxi, China), Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea), Seoul National University (Seoul, Korea), Hong Ik University (Seoul, Korea), and Hanyang University (Korea).

Previous Heads of the School of Design[edit]

1970 - 1985, Joe Ballay

1985 - 1987, Alex Bally

1987 - 1991, Carroll Gantz

1991 - 1992, Steve Stadelmeier (interim)

1992 - 2002, Richard Buchanan

2002 - 2008, Dan Boyarski

2008 - 2009, Steve Stadelmeier (interim)

2009–present, Terry Irwin

See also[edit]

Transition design


  • Fenton, Edwin (2000). Carnegie Mellon 1900-2000: A Centennial History. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press. ISBN 0-88748-323-2. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°26′43″N 79°56′38″W / 40.44523°N 79.94397°W / 40.44523; -79.94397