Study options

Master's Programme in International Design Business Management - Master of Arts

The Master's Programme in International Design Business Management helps you become a future creative professional in integrating design and technology with global business development through transdisciplinary teamwork and real-life challenges provided by our renowned industry partners. IDBM students tackle these complex challenges in multidisciplinary teams and develop holistic perspectives on the questions of tomorrow. The IDBM curriculum integrates business, design and technology to enable students to create new value and meaningful innovation.

Graduates of the program earn a master’s degree in business, design or technology, and gain extensive interdisciplinary teamwork experience that enables them to work in a wide variety of fields.
IDBM students at IDBM Impact showcasing a digital solution


Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

2.12.2019 – 3.1.2020

Language of instruction:



2 years, full-time


Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design


120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period has closed

Scholarships and Tuition Fees

Study objectives

IDBM educates students with arts, business, science and engineering backgrounds as T-shaped professionals providing them with a strategic view into creative leadership and management of international design-centric businesses, operations, and product and service development. The objective is to gain knowledge in multiple disciplines and to learn to connect one’s own disciplinary expertise to a wider transdiciplinary design business framework.

The global approach of the IDBM programme prepares students to work in multi-cultural settings and collaborate across national and cultural boundaries. Graduates of the IDBM programme will be able to manage and lead initiatives and other individuals in order to undertake new business ventures within global environments.

The objectives of the programme are to enable students to:

  • discover and make full use of your own potential in interdisciplinary teams
  • acquire knowledge about current and future trends shaping organisations and societies
  • expand your competences achieved at the bachelor’s level by bringing in design and technical perspectives to better recognize and understand how to create value for end-users
  • develop important interpersonal and communication skills through collaborative industry projects
  • gain insights to how design can be managed, as well as how its impact can be evaluated and analysed
  • learn from industry leaders how to create new ideas and execute them with design-driven strategies and processes
  • improve on vital project management skills to make you a more effective team player

Career opportunities

Studies in International Design Business Management prepare for a career in industries that use and manage design as a key component of their competitive strategy. This can involve large multinational corporations, as well as small start-ups operating in a variety of fields. These businesses typically leverage design to create new products and services, often involving the latest technology and business venturing and entrepreneurship.

After graduation, our students embarking on a career in the private or public sector typically work in domains such as:

  • service design
  • business design
  • design and technology strategy
  • product and project management
  • development of product and service offering
  • academic or design research
  • innovation management, marketing
  • creative direction, export management
  • trend analysis and forecasting

Content of the studies

The learning outcomes are achieved through compulsory and elective studies. The compulsory IDBM core studies are linked to an extensive joint industry project and related teamwork. The business, design and technology components of the programme ensure that the students gain the necessary business, design and technology perspectives. Parallel to these the IDBM industry project deepens participants’ understanding of the real-life processes of the participating firms in global design intensive businesses. Skills in project management and business planning are developed through the projects.


For further details on the education content, see the study guide for the academic years 2018-2020.

Structure of studies

Admission to the IDBM programme is granted through six tracks in three different fields depending on the applicant's background and the targeted degree.

Students from all of the tracks will study the same compulsory IDBM major studies during the first academic year. At the core of the programme is the semester long Industry Project where multi-disciplinary student teams work together on real-life challenges provided by industry partners.

The master’s degree studies in International Design Business Management in the field of design consist of the following modules *Updated 12 December 2018.

  • Compulsory IDBM studies 40 cr
  • Compulsory studies in Department of Design 12 cr
  • Master’s thesis 30 cr
  • Alternative and Elective studies 38 cr

Graduates of the IDBM programme will be able to drive innovation and lead initiatives to undertake new business ventures within global environments.

This includes the ability to:

  • Use design approach in product, service, and business development
  • Lead and collaborate in multi-cultural and interdisciplinary teams, connecting one's own disciplinary expertise to a wider business context
  • Drive change and development activities in organisations
  • Communicate ideas and concepts both verbally and visually at operative and strategic levels
  • Understand and utilise academic research in defining and approaching problems in systematic and systemic manner.

See further information on the course content on the programme website and Into student portal (

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

An applicant can apply to the IDBM programme through more than one School. Such an applicant, however, can be selected only through one of the Aalto University Schools. An accepted student completes the master’s degree of the School which he/she is accepted to.

The criteria mentioned here are for the IDBM programme in the Department of Design at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in architecture can apply both through the science/technology field and through the design field, depending on the applicant’s background studies and career intentions or aspirations. Students graduating from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture will complete and be awarded a Master of Arts (MA) Degree in International Design Business Management (IDBM).

What we look for in an applicant

Applicants must have a suitable Bachelor’s degree related to one of the disciplines included in the programme.

In their application documents the applicants are expected to demonstrate (1) their personal motivation for joining the program, (2) their academic excellence as displayed in their past studies and portfolio and (3) their professional experience. The professional experience of the applicants is looked at broadly and is considered to include work experience relevant to the IDBM programme as well as experience in artistic and scientific work, including entrepreneurship and other relevant civic activities.

Evaluation criteria

The criteria we use to evaluate the applications in the first stage are

  • Motivation letter (max 2 points)
  • Academic Excellence (max 2 points for transcript: the applicant’s grades from studies completed and of which the applicant has provided the appropriate documents by the end of the application period will be evaluated.)
  • Portfolio (max 10 points)
  • CV Professional Experience (max 2 points)

In addition to these, in the second stage the evaluation criteria also includes

  • Interview, including applicant’s practical ability to communicate in English (max 10 points)

First stage and required application documents

In the first stage of the admission the selection committee evaluates the applications based on the application documents. Study Option’s specific requirements for the application documents are listed below. Please also note requirements for the application documents presented in the general application instructions.Attach each application document to the electronic application form in PDF form.


A portfolio consisting of the applicant’s own works is mandatory. Please upload a single PDF-file to the application system before submitting the application.

In the portfolio, applicants display work that illustrate their design skills and artistic expression. The portfolio must contain diverse samples of the applicant’s previous design, scientific, professional and/or artistic activity and interests. Artwork/project work can be provided as technical drawings, illustrations or photographs. If you present a work that has been undertaken as a team, please clarify your particular role in, and contribution to, the project. The work contained in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials utilized, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or otherwise published.


The applicant’s professional experience will be looked at broadly, and especially with regard to  work experience relevant to the IDBM programme as well as experience in design, artistic, scientific and/or business/entrepreneurial practice, including any other relevant civic activities. Professional experience will be evaluated based primarily on the Curriculim Vitae CV.

Motivation letter

The applicant must convey his/her motivation for studying in the IDBM Major Studies Programme by writing a motivation letter. The letter should address the following questions:

  • Why am I applying for admission to the IDBM Master’s Programme?
  • What am I expecting to learn or gain by participating in the IDBM Programme?
  • What can I contribute to fellow students and to the continued success of the IDBM Programme?

The letter of motivation is written in the application form and the maximum length is 4000 characters.

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English.

Second stage

Part of the applicants are invited to the second stage. The invitation to the second stage is sent to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

Based on the total score in the first stage (incl., ranking and rating), the most suitable applicants will be invited for a face-to-face interview. The number invited is typically double the number of study places offered. The maximum intake is 12 students per field (design, business, and technology/science). The applicant’s practical ability to communicate in English will also be evaluated. The applicants are asked a series of questions regarding their motivation, mindset, preferences, aptitudes and interests. The interviews can alternatively be conducted via SKYPE or phone, if or when necessary.

Applying to master’s programmes

Read more International Design Business Management (IDBM) community on their website

The application period has closed

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