Master of Product Innovation

Some Rams Are Unicorns

A 13-month, cross-disciplinary master’s program focused on students applying knowledge in advanced product innovation and entrepreneurship topics with real-life clients.

Overview

One of the first of its kind, the Master of Product Innovation degree at Virginia Commonwealth University's da Vinci Center for Innovation is a program designed for the unique demands of today's innovation landscape.

Integrating arts, business and engineering principles, students in the Master of Product Innovation learn advanced product innovation and entrepreneurship topics pertaining to conceptualization, development, and commercialization of new products and services. Unique instruction and team-based experiential learning opportunities culminate in a master’s project where students develop a real product, build a business, and take the next leap into their professional careers. 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 businesses.

The da Vinci Center's programs are cross-disciplinary and applied. Students from design, business, engineering, humanities, and sciences come together to learn the strengths of each others disciplines and hone their skills through work on applied projects. These projects allow students to engage directly in product innovation for Fortune 500 companies and with cutting edge startups. The result is a master's degree for the 21st Century - one that is agile, forward looking, and grounded enough to take the risks required to produce the innovators and leaders for the future of business and industry.

SUMMER/FALL DEADLINES:

Early Decision Application Deadline

DECEMBER 15

Final Application Deadline

FEBRUARY 15

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How is the MPI program different from other masters programs?

The real world is cross-disciplinary, so our program explores arts, business, engineering, and more, all in one program. Our students learn by tackling real world problems and build their own ventures, rather than memorization and regurgitation of facts. Please join us at an upcoming virtual Info Session to join students, faculty, and alumni of the program and learn more.

Master of Product Innovation Information Session

January MPI Info Session

January 20

Join us to learn about our cross-disciplinary graduate program! We will share some general information about the program and hold a Q&A with an MPI graduate. *Please register if you are not able to join during this time, we will also send a recording to everyone that registers. The application deadline is February 15. Learn more at this link.

Register

Master of Product Innovation Information Session

February MPI Info Session

February 2

Join us to learn about our cross-disciplinary graduate program! We will share some general information about the program and hold a Q&A with an MPI graduate. *Please register if you are not able to join during this time, we will also send a recording to everyone that registers. The application deadline is February 15. Learn more at this link.

Register

As a student, you will graduate with the ability to...

  • Plan, apply, and execute product innovation skills for developing and launching new products and services;
  • Serve as an interface between different departments and disciplines within an organization;
  • Become an effective product innovation team leader and project manager;
  • Utilize innovation and entrepreneurial mindset and methodologies;
  • 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.
  • Develop their own product, service or business and work towards capital.

 

Tuition

Tuition price for a 13-month, full-time student:

$45,630

*rate is based on full-time enrollment and does not include fees; fees will vary per student

Program Description

The MPI requires a minimum of 30-33 credit hours across a prescribed 13-month, 18-month or 2 year (part time) program. The course schedule below describes the 13 month option. Other timelines can be discussed with our advisor, Mary-Chris Escober.

MPI Semester Course Offerings

SUMMER 

  • INNO 691: Special Topics in Product Innovation (1 credit hour each)—Begins in early June (more details below)
  • INNO 600: Integrative Design Studio / EIA (3 credit hours)—July 2nd-23rd
  • INNO 600 / European Innovation Academy

The provost has yet to make a decision whether to allow study abroad trips for summer 2021. At this time EIA is still planning to offer an in-person Portugal event, as well as a virtual EIA experience. We will make announcements as any new information comes to light. Regardless of the impact of these decisions, we will offer at least one option to fulfill the INNO 600 requirement to ensure all students starting in summer 2021 will be able to finish the MPI program in 13 months (if desired). 

Any student who wishes to complete INNO 600 this summer will also be given the option to attend EIA in Portugal in summer 2022. We will still cover accommodations and the entry fee for EIA for any MPI who wishes to attend. Please note that if you select this option, you will extend your time in the program and complete the second half of your capstone in Fall 2022. The rigor necessary to complete EIA does not allow time to complete both EIA and the INNO 652 capstone (6 credits) during one summer.

Summer 691 Electives (optional)

As it stands now, the da Vinci Center plans to launch 4-5, 1 credit, graduate electives starting in the first week of June. These are 1 week intensive courses offered from 5:00-9:30pm to accommodate students who work full time. They are built to move quickly and prepare you for the program ahead, but are optional. You will have time to complete other electives while in the program, but these da Vinci elective courses will only be offered in the summer. We are currently discussing which courses are capable of online delivery, given the uncertainty of in-person instruction. Our goal is to offer as many courses as possible in-person with necessary safety protocol in place. These are the courses we have planned:

  • INNO 691-902 // User-centered Research Methods // 1 credit
  • INNO 691-903 // User Experience User Research // 1 credit
  • INNO 691-904 // International Intellectual Property // 1 credit 
  • INNO 691-905 // Scrum Master Certification // 1 credit 

FALL
During the fall semester, full time students will enroll in at least two of the three introductory courses, as well as a product development with a project proposed by an external sponsor:

  • INNO 501 Arts Principles for Product Innovation (3 credit hours)
  • INNO 502 Business Principles for Product Innovation (3 credit hours)
  • INNO 503 Technology Principles for Product Innovation (3 credit hours)
  • INNO 590 da Vinci Project (3 credit hours)

SPRING

During the remainder of the program, full time students will focus on their masters capstone project. The first half focuses on the development of a product or service with the goal of forming a real venture or advancing an existing business. The capstone project will be under the direction of faculty advisers and mentors and will conclude in the following summer or fall semester. Concurrently, students will complete at least one additional technical elective.

  • INNO 651: Masters Project in Product Innovation I (6 credit hours)
  • Graduate Technical Elective (3 credit hours)

SUMMER or FALL

The second half of the masters capstone is determined by the level of success in INNO 651, as well as the direction chosen by each student. Students may elect a number of options to complete their capstone under the direction of faculty advisors and mentors. Some options may include: personal business development, product management internships, or a traditional masters essay on innovation and entrepreneurship topics.

  • INNO 652: Masters Project in Product Innovation II (6 credit hours)


Admission Criteria

TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ADMISSION TO THE VCU GRADUATE SCHOOL:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for at least the last two years of undergraduate work 
  • Non-native English speakers who have not previously been awarded an undergraduate degree, taught in English, from a university or college located in the United States will provide evidence of proficiency in English by one of the following:
  1. TOEFL = 100 or higher
  2. IELTS = 6.5 or higher
  3. A passing score on the VCU English Language Program comprehension test

TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ADMISSION TO THE MPI PROGRAM:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Applicant’s written statement of intent for pursuing graduate study in product innovation and/or entrepreneurship disciplines with consideration to one or more of the following questions:
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What strengths and skills can you bring to a team?
    • How has your life experience shaped your perspective?
  • Complete a scheduled interview with the da Vinci Center graduate admissions committee.
    *A personal interview will only be requested for select applicants.
  • Solve a problem and pitch your solution during a timed innovation challenge following your interview

THE FOLLOWING AREA-SPECIFIC APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS APPLY: 

At the time of application, an applicant determines their method of application according to the area of specialization best related to their background: arts, business, engineering or humanities & sciences.

  • An applicant with a background in arts or design should submit a portfolio of 15 to 20 examples of work. The portfolio should illustrate your strengths, skills, talents and interests demonstrating your problem solving abilities, a high level of craftsmanship and visualization skills that exemplify awareness, understanding and competency in creative design, graphic skills and/or technical ability. When possible, portfolios should be submitted in one file: PDF format, 20 page maximum and may be submitted either by emailing it to schumacheran@vcu.edu. Film work may be submitted in separate files in the following formats: .M4V, .MOV, .MP4, .TLV, .ASF, .MPEG, .MPG & .MKV.
  • An applicant with a background in business, engineering or humanities & sciences may take and report scores from the GRE, GMAT or MCAT exams, or may request to submit a portfolio of professional work in lieu of test scores. Please contact escobarmc@vcu.edu to discuss this option.

For further information, contact Mary-Chris Escobar, Assistant Director of Academic & Experiential Prograrms, at escobarmc@vcu.edu.

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

VCU Graduate School of Admisisons