Graduate Programs


Healthcare. Global Warming. Terrorism. Food Justice. Poverty. The 21st Century is rife with multi-causal, socio-culturally complex issues where a true-or-false rationale is disingenuous, unproductive, and even detrimental.


These issues are known as “wicked problems.” Applied as a verb, design can help us deconstruct and respond to the most challenging “wicked problems” of our time.

Through deep collaboration with our constituents, stakeholders, and partners from the corporate and non-profit sectors, integrative designers in the Stamps MDes program address wicked problems through hands-on, real-world projects. With its project-based curriculum, the Stamps MDes program erases traditional boundaries between design research and design practice to create a new process-oriented curriculum.

2017 Cohort Focus: Appropriate Care

Providing the right treatments at the right times is critical to quality healthcare. In tandem with excellent service, appropriate care plans pave the way for successful outcomes for the patient and the nation at large. Major questions for the 2017 cohort will include:

  • how do we leverage evidence-based practices to provide efficient, quality patient care?
  • What measures can we introduce to ensure patient preferences are respected while administering safe, timely, and effective care?
  • How can we eradicate disparities in healthcare to deliver exemplary treatment, regardless of patient gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status?
Our Method: STEEPV

Integrative design starts with deep inquiry and research. MDes candidates examine wicked problems using a methodological framework called STEEPV, interrogating the Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, and Values-based issues surrounding the challenge at hand.

STEEPV is an effective, human-centered methodology for addressing the complex, provocative issues of our world — and its applications are endless.

Our Approach: Real-World Collaboration Through Integrative Design

Over the course of the two-year graduate program, each MDes cohort forms a pro-bono integrative design firm of sorts, collaborating as a team on hands-on projects alongside real-world stakeholders, constituents, and partners.

Past project partners include the Kellogg Eye Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Guardian Industries Corp, and others.

Our Outcomes

Across industries, employers recognize the distinct benefits of deep collaboration with integrative designers to identify, envision, and co-create the systems-based products, services, and environments of the 21st Century.

Stamps MDes graduates will possess a unique set of crossdisciplinary skills and demonstrable evidence of those skills in action, creating true professional distinction and meeting the growing employer demand for creative, nimble, strategic collaborators.

Take a look at stories about the 2015-16 MDes Cohort's first year of projects and research here.

The MDes Cohort

The cohort is composed of professionals who wish to transform their careers through critical thinking, analysis, and an unflinching examination of complex, real-world problems.

Hand-picked with an eye for diverse global perspectives and knowledge from across the design disciplines and beyond, the MDes cohort is small in size, ensuring optimal collaboration in an environment where all members are seen, heard, and active.

2016 MDes Brochure