Virginia Commonwealth University

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Master of Product Innovation

Integrating arts, business and engineering principles, students in the Master of Product Innovation learn advanced product innovation topics pertaining to conceptualization, development, and commercialization of new products/services. Through unique instruction and experiential learning that culminates with a yearlong master’s project, students have a real product innovation experience. The program emphasizes product innovation and teamwork skills so that graduates can take on key leadership roles that stimulate the creation, development and management of new products and services.

Students in the Master of Product Innovation program will learn to:

  • Plan, apply, and execute product innovation skills for developing and launching new products/services;
  • Serve as an interface between different departments and disciplines within an organization;
  • Become an effective product innovation team leader and project manager;
  • Develop strategy and roadmaps for maximizing product innovation performance by teams and business units;
  • Translate opportunities into product specifications, commercial concepts, and eventual new product introductions.

Application Deadlines

To join the Fall 2016 class, please submit your application by May 31, 2016.

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Program Description

The M.P.I. requires a minimum of 30 credit hours across a prescribed two-year program. Prior to the first semester of graduate study, students will participate in an intensive Product Innovation Boot Camp experience. Full-time students in their first semester will take two of the three introductory courses: INNO 501 Arts Principles for Product Innovation, INNO 502 Business Principles for Product Innovation and INNO 503 Technology Principles for Product Innovation. A student would not be required to take that course which corresponds to their undergraduate major/degree; however, it is strongly encouraged that students take all three courses and serve as leaders in the course that matches their undergraduate discipline. Students will also take INNO 600 Integrative Design Studio in their first semester to develop design skills for use in subsequent course work.

In the second semester, students will enroll in INNO 590 da Vinci Project Course to participate in a da Vinci project and hone their product innovation skills. Students also will successfully complete two technical electives, which include INNO 691, INNO 697, or other approved graduate level course. At least one 600-level technical elective is required.

In the second year of the program (third and fourth semesters), students will participate in the Master’s Project in Product Innovation course work and complete a yearlong product innovation project. The capstone project will be under the direction of faculty advisers and represent a company-sponsored project or a student-initiated project, either of which will address a real contemporary issue. While the contexts may differ across projects, the talents and know-how of an interdisciplinary team of students comprising arts, business and engineering skill sets will focus on the respective issues, thereby exemplifying a real product design and development project. Advisers and company sponsors will regularly interact with student teams to ensure successful progress and reinforce project professionalism.

Curriculum at a Glance

Product Innovation Boot Camp
Prior to the first day of class of the first semester, MPI students will participate in an immersive, hands-on product Innovation boot camp experience. Students will apply arts, business, and engineering principles to establish a product innovation foundation.

First Semester (12 hours)

  • INNO 501: Arts Principles for Product Innovation
  • INNO 502: Business Principles for Product Innovation
  • INNO 503: Technology Principles for Product Innovation
  • INNO 600: Integrative Design Studio

Second Semester (9 hours)

  • INNO 590: da Vinci Project Course
  • Two Technical Electives

Third Semester (6 hours of Master Project + 3 hours optional)

  • INNO 651: Masters Project in Product Innovation I
  • Optional Elective

Fourth Semester (6 hours of Master Project + 3 hours optional)

  • INNO 652: Master Project in Product Innovation II
  • Optional Elective

Part-time option
The program can be taken part time. After participating in the Boot Camp experience prior to their first semester, part-time students will take two of the three introductory principle courses. In the second semester, part-time students will complete INNO 590da Vinci Project Course and one technical elective. Another technical elective will be taken in the summer semester. In the second year, the part-time student will take the remaining principles course and INNO 600 Integrative Design Studio. After completing the prerequisite course work, the master’s project can be taken.

Students will take technical elective course work which includes INNO 691, INNO 697, or other approved graduate level course. Specific courses will be determined by the student with approval by the M.P.I. Faculty Committee. All technical electives must be graduate course work, with at least three credit hours at the 600 level.

Admission criteria

To be considered for admission to the program, an applicant must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university
  • Have, except in very unusual cases approved by the graduate dean, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for at least the last two years of undergraduate work
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, satisfactory scores from a standardized test commonly used and deemed appropriate for evaluation of English language proficiency, such as the TOEFL
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Applicant’s written statement of intent for pursuing graduate study in the product innovation discipline

Additionally, at the time of application an applicant must specify an area of specialization as arts, business or engineering. The following application requirements apply:

  • An applicant applying for the arts specialization must submit a portfolio of 20 to 30 examples of representative work.
  • An applicant applying for the business specialization must have a score in at least the upper 60th percentile on either the GMAT or GRE exam.
  • An applicant applying for the Engineering specialization must have score in at least the upper 60th percentile on the GRE exam.

At the discretion of the M.P.I. graduate committee, a personal interview may be requested.

For further information, contact Joseph Cipolla, Interim Executive Director, at

To apply, please go to the VCU Graduate School admissions website.

VCU Graduate School of Admisisons