About Our Programs

We are one of the only leading design schools to offer degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels within a top-ranked multidisciplinary research university. Our students are exposed to a broad curriculum, and are encouraged to collaborate with peers from other disciplines. We’re also one of the first programs to integrate the topics of sustainability and social innovation into the core of our research and curriculum. These key factors shape our program and inform the thinking, methods, and practice of designers who graduate from the School of Design.

Our students become “systems thinkers,” able to see and solve complex problems in a globally connected and interdependent world. They are comfortable working collaboratively in transdisciplinary teams, and bring a holistic, research-based approach to design that helps them stand out among their peers.

Learn to design for the present and the future.

Organizations are actively seeking new problem-solving approaches that respond to escalating business, social, and environmental challenges. Design has become a highly interactive, collaborative, and transdisciplinary activity that is integral to the success of businesses and institutions worldwide. Our practice plays an increasingly important role in shaping the interactions people have with products, services, and systems that can have substantial impact on their experience.

Our approach acknowledges the social and natural worlds as the greater context for all design problems. Designers can no longer think about products or communications in isolation; to practice ethically and effectively, they must also consider interactions within broader social and environmental contexts. Our programs are unified by a framework that responds to changes in design, while also seeking to shape the future of the discipline and advance the field as it matures.

Through coursework and research, our students learn a rigorous process for documenting, analyzing, and understanding the past and present—in order to propose more desirable systems and interactions for the future. We encourage students to take a broad view of design and engage in radical invention as they become active creators of a better future.

Pick a path to suit your goals and experience.

Our flexible degree options allow you to create multiple points of entry and pathways through your design education. Once you’re here, you’ll have the benefit of working with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds, inspired by a wide range of motivations and career ambitions. You’ll work with people at every point in their careers, with experience in fields as varied as journalism, engineering, fine arts, anthropology, psychology, business—and of course, design.

Undergraduate Pathways

Our undergraduate program is customizable, with specialized tracks in the design of Products (industrial design), Communications (graphic design), and Environments (both physical and digital).

Graduate Pathways

The MDes program enables students with a background in design to deepen their expertise in designing for a range of interactions. Through the study of systems thinking, futuring, speculative design, design technology, ethics, and design research, students amass skills and knowledge that enable them to tackle contemporary design challenges in thoughtful ways. 

The MA program teaches students from non-design backgrounds the fundamentals of design, expanding their breadth and depth of understanding of the field. After one year of study, MA students are poised to integrate design into their native disciplines. MA students who aim to transition their practice into design may apply to continue their studies with the School of Design through our MPS (which is the first year of the MDes program), MDes, or PhD program.

Our PhD in Transition Design is a four-year program for people committed to making positive change in the world. In addition to offering a self-funded route, we also offer a small number of teaching fellowships to suitably qualified applicants.

Other Opportunities

We also offer education programs for other audiences, ranging from high school students to top executives and nonprofit leaders. Whether you’re a prospective undergraduate who wants to become a designer, a mid-career professional seeking to pivot to design or refocus your practice, or an experienced designer looking for more depth or considering an academic trajectory, our programs have you covered.