Program Overview

Online Master's Degree in Information Design and Strategy

As digital output increasingly becomes the backbone of most business strategy, there is an acute need for professionals with a better 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 to step into a cross-functional or leadership role by developing a deep and holistic understanding of today’s sophisticated digital media. The program is particularly useful for people in creative fields who want a stronger grounding in business strategy, so that they can expand their career opportunities and make a larger impact on their organizations. The strong theoretical framework of the program and its focus on fundamental concepts makes the degree applicable to many diverse fields and types of organizations — business, the arts, government, healthcare, and education, to name a few — regardless of changes in technology.


The IDS program was developed in consultation with industry leaders in this emerging field. As a part-time and completely online degree, students anywhere in the world can access a program of this caliber while maintaining their 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

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.

The IDS curriculum — including course names, numbers and requirements — is currently in development and is subject to change.

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 Visualization