2024 Best Online Masters in Design Management

By Claire Abraham
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 10, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Explore online masters in design management programs. Learn about the curriculum, careers, and benefits of earning a graduate degree in this field.

A masters in design management combines the study of design and business and can help prepare you for senior or leadership roles in this creative industry.

Best Online Masters in Design Management

The design management masters is for professionals who want to run design departments or businesses, lead teams of creative people, and advance their artistic expertise.

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Professionals who acquire this degree may go on to work in many different career fields, including project management, marketing, graphic design, and consulting.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Design Management Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University offers a low-residency program for a Master of Design in Integrative Design. Students can complete most of their coursework online but are required to make 3 campus visits each semester. The program is designed to provide a high level of flexibility and usually takes 2 to 4 years to finish. The curriculum includes theoretical and studio courses.

Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University offers a Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services. The degree can be earned online or on campus. The online program features the same curriculum as the on-campus program but is designed to provide flexibility for working students. To graduate, students must earn four stackable certificates and complete a capstone course.

Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Design Management and Communications. Students can enroll full-time or part-time and typically finish in 2 to 5 years. Most courses are asynchronous. Standardized test scores are not needed to apply. Accepted students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer.

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers a dual degree program in conjunction with the Maryland Institute College of Art. Graduates of the program receive an MBA from Johns Hopkins and an MA in Design Leadership from MICA. This full-time program typically takes 2 years to complete and uses a cohort model with a fixed schedule.

The Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Maryland Institute College of Art

The Maryland Institute College of Art offers a Master of Professional Studies in the Business of Art and Design. This unique degree program focuses on business management for creative professionals. This online program can potentially be completed in 15 months. Students are required to participate in a 2 day residency about halfway through the program.

MICA is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy. Five specializations are available: UX and UI, Learning Design, Communication with Data, Content Strategy, and Interdisciplinary Studies. The program is fully online and part-time. Courses include Data Science, Management and Business Strategy, User-Centered Design, Effective Communication, and more.

Northwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Radford University

Radford University offers an MFA in Design Thinking. The degree can be earned 100% online, potentially in just 2 years. Students in the program are required to participate in virtual studios, take courses covering history, research, management, and more, and complete a thesis. Students can enroll part-time or full-time.

Radford University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Savannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design offers an MA in Design Management that can be earned online and on campus. Courses include History and Interpretation of Innovation, Financial Reporting Analysis, Idea Visualization, Design Innovation Development and Marketing, and more. Students also have opportunities to participate in internships.

The Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southeastern University

Southeastern University offers a Master of Arts in the Art of Design Management. It can be earned in a hybrid online and on-campus program that requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Students can typically finish in 2 years. The curriculum is intended to simultaneously develop students’ business knowledge and creativity.

Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The New School

The New School offers an MS in Strategic Design and Management. The program offers hands-on studio courses and access to internship opportunities. The curriculum blends art, business, and social science. This full-time program can be completed on campus, online, or in a combination of both. To graduate, students must complete 36 credits. The program can typically be finished in 2 years.

The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Masters in Design Management Programs

Online Masters in Design Management Programs

A design management masters helps professionals learn the best practices for establishing, directing, and evaluating design products and services.

If you decide to pursue this degree, you’ll likely take classes that teach you basic business management techniques. You can also develop your communication skills, your artistic acumen, and your ability to lead others with a creative vision.

Coursework can differ greatly from program to program, but you can expect to become more proficient in some of the following areas:

  • Innovative research techniques
  • Effective marketing strategies
  • Financial management
  • Advanced design processes
  • Creative personnel development
  • Art history
  • Journalism
  • Graphic design

This degree is especially beneficial for roles that deal with leadership and visual communication. Common career fields for design management include project management, marketing, graphic design, and consulting.

There are three common types of graduate degrees in this field:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Design Management. This course of study tends to emphasize theoretical coursework, such as design thinking and idea visualization.
  • Master of Science (MS) in Design Management. This course of study typically has more emphasis on research-based instruction.
  • Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design Management. This degree path is more practice oriented, focusing heavily on business operations and design production.

Since all three degrees train professionals in business and design, there may be considerable overlap in coursework between the different programs. You may want to speak to a university guidance counselor to determine which degree is best for you.

Design Management and Communications Careers & Salaries

Design Management Careers & Salaries

Earning a masters in strategic design and management has the potential to lead to opportunities in a variety of different business and design roles, depending on your degree path and specialization.

You may focus on art design, industrial processes, financial management, or communications, depending on your interests. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the potential career paths a design management professional may pursue.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $135,030
Advertising and Promotions Managers $127,150
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $119,860
Art Directors $100,890
Top Executives $98,980
Industrial Designers $77,030
Market Research Analysts $63,920
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Interior Designers $60,340
Graphic Designers $50,710

In a masters in design management program, you can build a solid background in both the creative and the practical processes required to lead in the design industry. If you are interested in running your own business, this degree can give you training in management, human resources, marketing, and production design.

If you would prefer to work as part of a team, a design management masters can help you qualify for senior or management positions.

Design Management Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Design Management Master’s Curriculum

There are various types of masters in design management degrees available. Here are some of the courses you may take as a graduate student in this discipline:

  • History and Interpretation of Innovation: You’ll learn how catalysts such as culture, teamwork, and environment have historically facilitated the advancement of innovation.
  • Applied Theory in Design: In this course, you’ll study how theoretical principles affect current design processes.
  • Idea Visualization: In this class, you can develop your drawing skills and learn to present graphic art in real-time before other people.
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: This course shows you how to become more proficient in financial management.
  • Methods of Contextual Research: In this course, you’ll learn different techniques for conducting research.
  • Design Innovation Development and Marketing Strategies: You’ll learn how to use guiding principles of project planning and implementation as tools in business.
  • Facilitating Creative Thinking: In this course, you’ll learn how to become an effective leader of creative teams.
  • Sustainable Business Models: This course teaches techniques on how to develop a business in an environmentally sustainable way.
  • Business Communications: In this class, you’ll learn the most effective written and verbal methods for communicating with your staff, clients, and other businesses.
  • Visual Communications: You’ll learn how to use a variety of visual tools in communications. Subjects covered may include elements such as typography, color strategies, and digital imaging.

Some programs will focus more on the business side of a corporation, and some will delve more deeply into creative endeavors.

Admissions Requirements

Master in Design Management Requirements

The necessary admission prerequisites for a graduate program will differ from university to university, but here are some likely requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree. The preferred undergraduate discipline can vary from school to school.
  • Letters of recommendation. Most schools expect you to submit letters from colleagues or advisors outlining your qualifications.
  • Resume. Universities often request your resume so they can review your professional history and background.
  • Portfolio. Some programs ask to see your previous work or original designs.

Some schools also ask you to submit GRE or GMAT scores, although a growing number of schools no longer require them.

Design Management Graduate Programs Accreditation

Master in Design Management Accreditation

Credible design management masters programs are accredited by the US Department of Education or a regional accrediting board.

Accrediting boards regularly evaluate schools to assure that their academic programs, curricula, and teaching methods meet an acceptable level of academic rigor. They also assure that schools update their coursework to meet the needs of technical advances and legal changes.

Employers tend to have more respect for academic credentials that come from accredited universities. Plus, many accredited universities will not accept transfer credits from unaccredited schools. You can consult the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to verify whether your chosen school meets acceptable academic standards.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Master in Design Management Financial Aid

There are financial aid possibilities at the federal, state, and local level. Here are some of the possible options for students who qualify:

  • Federal aid. Federal aid often comes in the form of grants, work-study programs, and student loans. You can fill out the FAFSA online to apply.
  • State aid. You may be able to apply for financial aid through your state as well.
  • Work study. Some students get tuition assistance by working for the university they are attending.
  • Scholarships. Many universities offer scholarships to promising applicants. Other scholarship opportunities are made available through community organizations.
  • Employer-sponsored programs. Current or potential employers will sometimes offer financial aid to promising individuals.

Your school’s financial aid office can usually give you more information about your options.

What Is a Master in Design Management Degree?

Master in Design Management Degree

A master in design management degree is a graduate program that combines artistic creativity with pragmatic business sense. In this program, you can advance both your design and leadership skill sets as well as your business know-how.

In this type of program, you’ll likely take courses that hone your innovative skills and introduce you to the best practices in upper-level business management. This degree focuses on business and management practices that deal with design- or art-related industries. It might help prepare you to work in a business’s design department or create and sell your own beautiful products.

What Can You Do with a Masters Degree in Design Management?

A master’s degree in design management is designed to teach you how to manage a business that specializes in creative services and products.

Many design management professionals lead a team of professionals on a management team. A masters in this field might even help you start your own business. Current design management professionals work in senior or leadership positions in a wide range of fields, including communications, graphics, product management, and human resources.

Some work as marketing managers, brand managers, creative directors, design strategists, and industrial designers.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree in Design Management Online?

Master’s Degree in Design Management Online

There are various degree paths available in this discipline, and not all schools offer the same curriculum. In general, though, a masters program tends to take 1 to 2 years to complete with full-time enrollment. For example, a typical Master of Arts in Design Management often takes four semesters for a full-time student.

Some online programs, whether it’s a graphic design degree online
or an online digital media degree, offer accelerated tracks that allow you to finish sooner. On the other hand, if you attend school part-time, this degree will likely take longer to complete. Since the MA in Design Management often requires a thesis, that may extend the program even longer. You can consult with your educational institution to determine the length of your program.

Is a Masters in Design Management Worth It?

Masters in Design Management Careers

Yes, a masters in design management is worth it for many students. Professionals who have both design and business expertise are in high demand.

Overall, management occupations are expected to see 9% job growth over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of art directors is expected to grow 11%, which is faster than average. A design management masters degree combines business strategy with artistic innovation, enabling you to develop advanced, versatile skill sets that are needed in a variety of fields.

Careers related to this field include creative director, marketing manager, brand manager, design strategist, and industrial designer.

Getting Your Master’s in Design Management Online

Master’s in Design Management Degree Online

If you enjoy creative endeavors and want to advance your design and business expertise, then you might consider earning an online masters degree in design management.

With this type of masters degree, you can further develop your communication skills, your leadership skills, and your understanding of recent technological advances in graphic arts. A masters can also help you enhance your professional qualifications and your earning potential.

You can start exploring accredited universities today to find out more about the various design management graduate degrees available online.

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