About the da Vinci Center and Master of Product Innovation (MPI) Degree

What is the future of work at a time when new technologies and startups are disrupting traditional industries at an unprecedented rate? How do companies and individuals adopt best practices for innovation and remain not only current, but ahead of the competition? 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.

The da Vinci Center's programs are cross-disciplinary and applied. Students from design, business, engineering, and the 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.

About the MPI Program

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.

STUDENTS WHO IMMERSE THEMSELVES IN THE MASTER OF PRODUCT INNOVATION PROGRAM WILL BE EQUIPPED 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

Application Deadlines for FALL 2019

Fall 2019 Options with one application— DUE JUNE 15th

  • Full time option (30-33 credits — 18 months to completion)
  • Part time option (30-33 credits — 2 years to completion)

*All fall applicants should complete the fall 2019 application. Full time or part time options are selected through direct advising in the program. If you have questions, please contact Mary-Chris Escobar at escobarmc@vcu.edu

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

Apply Now

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.

Regardless of timeline to completion, all students are required to participate in the European Innovation Academy—the World’s Largest Extreme Entrepreneurship program—in Turin, Italy (http://inacademy.eu/italy/). This program is offered in July only and will need to be completed in the first or second summer in the MPI program.

In June we also offer an intense technical elective to provide students with the skills needed to be a leader during their EIA experience and the MPI program. This course may shift subject matter from summer to summer.

Part time students should work with their advisor, Mary-Chris Escober (escobarmc@vcu.edu) to determine the best path through the program over the course of 2 years.

MPI Semester Course Offerings

SUMMER 2019

  • INNO 691: Intellectual Property, Scrum & UX/UI (3 credit hours)—Begins June 10th
  • INNO 600: Integrative Design Studio / EIA (3 credit hours)—Begins July 7th

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FALL 2019
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 2020
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 2020
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 must 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 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 must take and report scores from either the GRE or GMAT exams.
  • An applicant with a background in engineering must take and report scores from GRE, GMAT or MCAT exams.
  • An applicant with a background in humanities & sciences may submit a portfolio or test scores from the GRE, GMAT or MCAT exams. For further clarification, please contact escobarmc@vcu.edu.

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