Tepper’s Master of Integrated Innovation

Tepper’s Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services isn’t a new program — in fact, its origins are more than 30 years old. It was recast three years ago

Program Name: Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services

School: Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business

Length of Program: 9 months or 16 months

Cost: $46,000 or $70,917 (estimated)

CMU Tepper’s Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services degree has been around, in one form or another, for about 30 years, says Peter Boatwright, program director. It all started with a class in the 1980s that brought together the design, business, and engineering schools, Boatwright tells Poets&Quants, which evolved into a capstone course. Over time the class grew until in became a Master of Product Development program about 15 years ago.

“Back in the old days it was not very structured, but knowing we had sharp students we said, ‘Let’s get them together and let them do what they do,'” Boatwright says. “Then after 30 years you figure out a lot of structure.”

Three years ago the program earned its current moniker when the university launched the Integrated Innovation Institute, which trains students in “the discipline of product and service innovation.” The bicoastal institute — in addition to Pittsburgh, it also operates out of CMU’s campus in Mountain View, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley — trains students for two other master’s degrees as well as executive education, and engages in applied research on innovation, the Internet of Things, healthcare opportunities, and more.


Peter Boatwright

CMU is going all-in, it seems, to produce product managers. Earlier this summer Tepper Dean Bob Dammon joined School of Computer Science Dean Andrew Moore at an event promoting the new collaboration between the schools, a Master in Product Management that aims to fill that void in the job market. Likewise, the mission of the MII-PS is to produce such jacks- and jills-of-all-trades who can be plugged into highly specialized positions and hit the ground running.

Boatwright describes the MII-PS program as an advancement opportunity. Looking to advance your career in product development, brand marketing, industrial/product design, innovation and design thinking, design strategy, or consulting? This may be the degree for you. Furthermore, as detailed on its website, the program is designed for “cross-training engineers, designers, business students and those in related fields in the relevant skills and knowledge for innovation,” where students graduate “to become accomplished practitioners and leaders of the product development process.” Among the companies where grads have gone on to work as product managers, senior design researchers, and associate brand managers: Motorola Solutions, Frog Designs, and Nissan North America. It’s been named a Top 3 Product Design program by Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report.

The MII-PS degree takes about 40 students a year. It uses the same Integrated Product Development capstone as the integrated product development track within the business school’s MBA program; the track, Management of Innovation and Product Development, provides MII-PS students opportunities to work with those in the MBA program as well as sponsoring corporations on new products and market entry plans.

“Every year another of these degrees is announced. Harvard just announced business and engineering, and Stanford has a program, Northwestern has one,” says Boatwright, who has been involved with the MII-PS program since 2004, when he began teaching the capstone, Integrated Product Development. “We’re in a good set. It’s a good club!”

How is this program different from what else is on the market? “Not many schools have all three components — business, design, and engineering. MIT recently started (Integrated Design & Management),” Boatwright says. “It’s not just ‘Hey, I put together three and somebody else put together two.’ It’s important when you’re innovating that you have the three core disciplines. A successful product or service has to function after form — so people get a car too go places and it has to be reliable and robust, an that’s what we call engineering. They make things work. But there’s also a lot of interaction — human-computer interaction, onscreen interaction, and there’s physical interaction as well and that’s the world of design — it’s got to work for people. And not just work but you want it to be desirable. We want to have pleasure in our products. So holistically, all that design that creates the interaction with a person, that does under the design umbrella.

“And that’s not even enough, because whatever you’re creating, you’re creating value in the marketplace, and you want to keep on doing it. So then there’s economic viability on the business side.”

Who is the ideal applicant and student? “We take three ideal students, which is somewhat of a challenge because we always have to get the right mix of students incoming. So students with a design background, business background, or engineering background, thinking of that as their undergrad education plus a couple years of experience. The people who come to us don’t want to be an engineer all their lives — and that’s why they come to us. We cross train students in these disciplines to make them one of the world’s innovators.”

What’s the application process? Are GMATs or GREs required? An essay? Applicants to Tepper degree programs must submit either a GMAT or GRE score (minimum GRE: Verbal 146; Quantitative 144), and non-native speakers must submit a TOEFL score from a test taken within three years. They also must submit college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a resume. The fee is $65.

Applicants also must complete a video review.

Specific to the MII-PS degree, applicants also will be favored who have an undergraduate degrees in engineering, design (industrial design, for example, or fine arts, architecture, user research experience, etc.), or business/entrepreneurship. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or equivalent from an accredited institution, as well as some work experience, is preferred.

Applicants also must provide a portfolio of work “representing recent professional, academic, or personal projects” and a statement of purpose in which they answer three questions:

  • What are your reasons for applying to the MII-PS program at Carnegie Mellon University?
  • How will your education, experiences and graduate training in the MII-PS program help you fulfill your professional goals?
  • Why are you a great candidate for the program?

Finally, according to the program website, they must demonstrate “a passion/interest in product & service development, innovation and/or entrepreneurship.”

What is the application deadline? Application deadlines for fall 2018 will be announced in October 2017.

What will students learn in the program? What’s the program format? The nine-month format has a two-semester (Fall and Spring) curriculum that requires students to complete a minimum of 102 units of coursework Students can complete a maximum of 60 units during the fall term and 48 units during the spring term; at least 18 units of the total must be used toward electives relevant to the product development process and be approved by an adviser. All coursework must be completed with graduate level courses, and students must have a minimum QPA of 3.0 to graduate.

In the 16-month format, students must complete a minimum of 141 units of coursework over three semesters and a summer internship. They must maintain full-time student status (36 units) during three semesters: fall #1, spring #1, and fall #2. Students must complete at least 42 units of electives relevant to the product development process and be approved by an adviser. All coursework must be completed with graduate level courses, and as in the nine-month program, students must have a minimum QPA of 3.0 to graduate.

Both versions of the program include courses that familiarize students with the aspects outside their own discipline — “engineering for non-engineers, design for non-designers,” Boatwright says. Among the “cross-cutting courses” will be Internet of Things, User Research, Innovation Methods, and more.

Describe the degree’s capstone project. The Integrated Product Development course at CMU was a pioneer in the field of integrated product development, setting the standard for courses of its kind, according to the degree website. “The core IPD faculty have created unique tools and methodologies that have become key to the course.  The faculty have written multiple books on innovation, including the text Creating Breakthrough Products, by Jonathan Cagan and Craig Vogel, which is the cornerstone of the course.

“The emphasis of the IPD course is on the early, ‘fuzzy front end’ stage of product development. The course gives structure and clarity to this stage as well as to the ones that follow and helps direct the product development process to be more efficient and effective downstream.” Past IPD problem statements include the development of interior features that expand the market for the LEAF, Nissan’s zero-emissions vehicle, and an exploration of how sustainability could enable Procter & Gamble’s dAir Care brand to transform the current Air Care category. To work with industry sponsors during in the degree-required IPD capstone course, signing contractual terms regarding intellectual property and non-disclosure agreements may be required.

“It’s a real project, and a real important part of the education,” Boatwright says. “The first half of the capstone is figuring out, ‘What does the world need, and what do these people need in particular?’ and the second half is building it. They actually prototype this stuff and make a final presentation to the company.”

What do you expect student outcomes to be? “It’s easiest to think in their disciplines. Business students largely are consultants, project managers, and product managers. Those are the three areas that they go into with a business background. Engineers, there are various flavors with engineer in the title, typically, partly because with all these careers, not every company has positions which span disciplines. Same for designers. The titles may look more traditional — ‘senior engineer’ instead of ‘innovation engineer.’ Grads of the program go to a wide variety of companies.”


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