Master of Science in Product Development Program (MPD)

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Developing leaders for the engineering and manufacturing fields 

INCOSE - Academic Equivalency LogoDetroit Mercy's Master of Science in Product Development (MPD) provides industry with a new class of technologically grounded leaders: individuals with the special blend of engineering and management skills who can conceive and create today's increasingly complex products and manufacturing systems.

Our MPD program provides you with a comprehensive study of product development methods and business practices through case studies and projects that are challenging and rigorous.

The program features both technical and relevant business content that future leaders in engineering will find invaluable to their careers.  In addition, our curriculum covers all aspects of product development.

In person or online completion in two short years

The two-year, cohort-based program begins only in January of each year and classes typically meet two evenings per week. Students may participate either on campus or through virtual instruction. Please note, however, that an in-person, two-week full-time kickoff experience is mandatory. See Program Structure below.

Two-week kick-off learning experience

Learn about the two-week kick-off learning experience for the Master of Science in Product Development called the January experience.

Recent grad talks MPD

Want to know more about the program?  Hear from Don Harring '16, a graduate of the Master of Science in Product Development program.

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    Program Structure

    Credits overview:

    The 36-credit hour Master of Science in Product Development (MPD) curriculum requires 11 three-credit courses and a three-credit capstone thesis.

    The program is designed to be a two-calendar year (six semester) experience beginning with an intensive full-time, two-week kickoff known as the January experience. Students may enter during other semesters, but are required to complete the January experience during the first two weeks of the Winter semester.

    Students typically complete the program courses in a cohort-based sequence with the other members of their starting class. Those starting the program during the fall or summer semesters will be integrated into a cohort in progress. The initial semester of the program involves a two-week kickoff experience coupled with an intensive course over those two weeks, followed by two courses for the remainder of the first semester. Student cohorts take two courses in each semester for semesters two through five, and complete the capstone thesis during semester six.

    Details of the program requirements may be found in the Graduate Catalog. Note that, because it is a cohort-based program, electives are selected on a cohort-by-cohort basis working in conjunction with the program director.

    Schedule of class meetings:

    For the convenience of students, classes are typically offered in the late afternoon or early evening time period (4 - 7 p.m.) Students must receive work release time during the two-week launch experience. All MPD classes are available live but remotely using a distance learning platform. Following the kickoff experience, students may complete the remainder of the classes from anywhere in the world via the Internet at the appointed class meeting time.



    Admission to the Master of Science in Product Development program requires the support of the applicant's supervisor. Program applicants are required to meet Detroit Mercy's normal graduate admission standards, plus have at least five years of engineering work experience (three years if the applicant possesses a graduate degree).

    Previous graduate study is highly desirable. The applicant's supervisor should be prepared to accommodate the study and learning demands placed on their employees in this rigorous academic program, as well as participate in a program orientation.

    Prospective students are encouraged to submit their application as early as possible. Applications are reviewed on a "rolling admission process." Once the maximum sized cohort for January has been attained, students are admitted for the next cohort, which will begin the following January.

    Admission Requirements

    A Bachelor of Science in engineering and five or more years of work experience in industry, government, or academia. Alternate qualifications include a master's degree or Ph.D. in engineering with three or more years of work experience in industry, government or academia.

    Applicants with degrees in other related technical fields will be considered on an exception basis. In those cases, the decision will emphasize both math and analytical contents of the applicants education and work experience.

    A letter from the applicant's supervisor attesting to the applicants preparedness for the program and support from the organization.

    A short essay (350 to 500 words) indicating how this program would help the applicant in his or her current work assignments and enhance preparedness for future responsibilities. The selection committee will consider all the above factors in making admission decisions.

    Application Materials

    Applicants apply online plus send an current resume and this MPD Supplemental Application to :

    Dr. Jonathan M. Weaver
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering and MPD Program Director
    College of Engineering and Science  E-269
    University of Detroit Mercy
    4001 W. McNichols Road
    Detroit, MI 48221
    (313) 993-3372

    Details may also be found in the Graduate Catalog


    History of the MPD Program

    The Master of Science Product Development (MPD) was developed in collaboration with three academic institutions: University of Detroit Mercy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Rochester Institute of Technology; and six industrial partners: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, IBM, ITT, Polaroid and Xerox; along with the U.S. Navy and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Naval Postgraduate School located in Monterrey, Calif. has now also started offering the MPD program to Navy personnel and contractors. The principal objective of the MPD program is to enhance the global competitiveness of US industries. The program is beneficial for both product and manufacturing personnel.

    The Detroit Mercy program, a local version of MIT's System Design and Management Program — Product Development Track, focused specifically on the automobile industry — was launched in January 1999. This program is consistent with the design and management terms, tools, processes and strategies that have evolved through the Center for Innovation Product Development (CIPD, an NSF Engineering Research Center at MIT). At the same time, the Detroit Mercy program is focused on and responsive to the needs of the automotive industry. Students learn the methods developed at CIPD through their application to cases and projects related to the development of the automobile and major automotive product and manufacturing systems.

What do alumni say?

"The classes in the Master of Product Development program are taught by leading professionals in the industry with vast levels of knowledge and experience which is incorporated directly into the lesson plans.

The University's Jesuit and Mercy values helped me to believe in myself. Whenever I would overcome a major obstacle, I took time for reflection upon myself to improve my future experiences and behaviors."

—Greg Ognjanovski ‘21
Master of Product Development
Engineer – Ford Motor Company

I am now a Director for Digital Architecture and Requirements Engineering and have emerged as a leader in the worldwide systems engineering community, and I can trace the path that led here directly back to the MPD curriculum.

—Michael Vinarcik ‘04
Master of Product Development
Director, Digital Architecture and Requirements Engineering
Engineering Innovation Factory at SAIC

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    Michael Vinarcik ‘04 - Tracing his Path to Success

    vinarcik headshot"The MPD program had a significant impact on my career. The product development, systems architecture and systems engineering principles I learned in the MPD program laid a strong foundation upon which I have built my career. I am now a Director for Digital Architecture and Requirements Engineering and have emerged as a leader in the worldwide systems engineering community, and I can trace the path that led here directly back to the MPD curriculum.

    Our graduates are in demand because the curriculum emphasizes an appropriate blend of theory and practice. From the January Experience that initiates each cohort through the final thesis, students are taught principles and are given opportunities to apply them. It is our recognition that product development and systems engineering have aspects of an art, a science, and a craft, and we develop students by tailoring our teaching methods to inspire students’ creativity, instructing them in the fundamentals and giving them opportunities to practice what they have learned. Our graduates are able to add immediate value to organizations, and we are seeing an increased number of companies sending their employees to us as a professional development option. Qualifying students are also granted an exam waiver by the International Council on Systems Engineering; this enables them to obtain Associate or Certified Systems Engineering Professional certifications without the normal examination. This is appealing to students and organizations; obtaining these credentials through success in our program provides an additional qualification valued worldwide.

    I chose to pursue my MS Product Development degree at University of Detroit Mercy because of the reputation of both the school and the program. I had to seek out a nomination and demonstrate that I was willing and able to meet the requirements, and the two years I spent in it challenged me in ways I never expected. The quality of the faculty, guest speakers and curriculum became even more evident when I was enrolled. The convenient location and class times enabled me to complete the program while working full-time and the support — and high expectations — of the faculty made it a great learning experience."

    —Michael Vinarcik ‘04
    Master of Product Development
    Director, Digital Architecture and Requirements Engineering
    Engineering Innovation Factory at SAIC