Program Overview

Master's in Information Design and Strategy

As digital output becomes the backbone of business strategy, there is an acute need for professionals with a big-picture understanding of information management, design, and technology. The Northwestern University online Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy (IDS) program teaches students how to translate information and data into meaningful visual forms, narratives, and interfaces.

This interdisciplinary program prepares students for cross-functional leadership roles in today’s sophisticated digital media industry and related fields. The program is particularly useful for people in creative fields who want to expand their career opportunities with a stronger grounding in business strategy. The program’s strong theoretical framework and focus on fundamental concepts makes the degree applicable to many types of organizations — business, the arts, government, healthcare, and education, to name a few — regardless of changes in technology.

As a part-time and completely online degree, students anywhere in the world can access this program while maintaining personal and professional commitments. Find out more about online learning at SPS.

Program Goals

An interdisciplinary professional program, IDS graduates will possess the knowledge, skills and aptitude to:


  • Translate complex information into compelling visual forms and narratives, particularly within digital media
  • Lead cross-functional teams to develop and implement a comprehensive media communication strategy
  • Design seamless customer experiences that support an organization’s strategy across multiple digital platforms
  • Develop innovative solutions to complex business problems by combining analytical and creative skills

Areas of Specialization

IDS Alum Chris Rinere

Finding innovative and user-friendly training methods for working professionals and students has been a career-long focus for Chris Rinere, a recent graduate of Northwestern's Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy program.

Curriculum Requirements

Students are required to complete 12 courses to earn the degree. The curriculum covers eight core courses, three elective courses corresponding to a declared specialization, and a capstone project (498) or thesis (590). Review curriculum details and elective choices while you consider applying to this program. Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program.

Core Courses:

  • LEADERS 481-DL Leadership
  • MS_IDS 401-DL User-Centered Design
  • MS_IDS 403-DL Effective Communication
  • MS_IDS 405-DL User Research
  • MS_IDS 407-DL Info and Content Strategy
  • MS_IDS 409-DL Data Management Principles
  • MS_IDS 411-DL Info Design and Architecture
  • MS_IDS 413-DL Visual Communication
  • MS_IDS 498-DL Capstone Project
  • MS_IDS 590-DL Thesis Research

Elective Courses:

  • MS_IDS 422-DL Intro to Learning Theory
  • MS_IDS 423-DL Instructional Design
  • MS_IDS 425-DL Learning Environment Design
  • MS_IDS 432-DL Advanced Writing Workshop
  • MS_IDS 433-DL Social Media and Content
  • MS_IDS 435-DL Persuasion
  • MS_IDS 452-DL Intro to Data and Analytics
  • MS_IDS 453-DL Techniques of Analytics
  • MS_IDS 455-DL Data and Text Visualization