designship tagline: the power of apprenticeship and design

The Designship Blueprint: Created by the Design Industry

The Designship program is the first apprenticeship program for design postgraduates in the nation. Our one-year, competency-based program, created by industry experts from across the country, is equivalent to executive-level leadership and management training specifically for designers. This dynamic program fills a large void in professional development training for designers in all organizations. We prepare designers for leading roles in their organizations by augmenting companies’ retention efforts and increasing their return on investment.

Designship is made possible through the U.S. Department of Labor’s award of a $3 million American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grant to the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). MIAD, one of only 46 AAI grant recipients chosen, is expanding the apprenticeship model throughout the nation.

The design industry developed our apprenticeship program in the fields of:


Designship partners with businesses to implement professional design apprenticeships


Companies identify designers to enroll as apprentices into Designship training program


Designship prepares the companies’ selected mentors to oversee apprentices


Design apprentices start their year-long experiential programs


Apprentices commence online leadership and management instruction


Designship provides support to align mentors’ and apprentices’ success


Designship manages all administration associated with registered apprenticeships

When Apprenticeship Goes Beyond Internship

A professional apprenticeship is very different than a college internship. It combines a fully immersive work experience with accelerated professional development coursework for college graduates.

Designship brought together industry experts to create structured, professional training activities that develop the critical core competences and management skills needed in the workforce. Through these activities, mentors have the opportunity to pass on a set of specialized skills and knowledge to a new generation of employees; a win-win for the apprentice and the employer.

Professional Design



After college

During college


Apprentices seek training and development for a long-term career in their occupational field

Interns may be exploring different job opportunities as they determine their occupational field

On-the-job training experience

One full-year training and mentoring experience developed specifically for design college graduates in their respective fields

Usually a one- or two-semester, often unstructured, work assignment for college students in a general area of interest

Job opportunity

Full-time employment

Companies hire designers to enroll as apprentices into Designship℠ apprenticeship program

Temporary employment

Job placement after completion of the internship is uncertain


Experiential learning as well as online leadership and management coursework

Knowledge and skills are demonstrated on-the-job during the apprenticeship

Experiential learning only

Information adapted from the U.S. Department of Labor website.

There are many key benefits of a professional apprenticeship for both businesses and apprentices.

For questions, please see our FAQ page.