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MDes Curriculum

The two-year Stamps Master of Design program requires 60 credits of studio, seminar, and course work.

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The MDes cur­ricu­lum includes design edu­ca­tion and social engage­ment train­ing. Within the struc­ture of an umbrella theme and cohort topic, the first year is focused on reach­ing a holis­tic under­stand­ing of the prob­lem and the sec­ond year on address­ing a spe­cific aspect of it.

Stamps MDes fac­ulty are the pri­mary source of sup­port and advice to MDes grad­u­ate stu­dents in plan­ning an aca­d­e­mic pro­gram and research agenda and deal­ing with chal­lenges as they arise through­out the design process. Cred­its for stu­dio work are split between col­lab­o­ra­tive work and indi­vid­ual development.

  • First Semester

    Students refine analytical and collaboration skills and build knowledge of integrative design inclusive of design methods and cross-disciplinary research methodology.

    Design Studio 1A: Inquiry6 credits (4+2)
    Design Methods3 credits
    Design Studio 1B: Integration3 credits
    University Elective3 credits
    Total: 15 credits

  • Second Semester

    Students develop critical thinking and making skills informed by perspectives from design's canon as well as those of other relevant disciplines.

    Design Studio 2: Prototyping6 credits (4+2)
    Design Seminar: Design for the 21st Century3 credits
    University Elective3 credits
    University Elective3 credits
    Total: 15 credits

  • Summer

    Students conduct fieldwork in a relevant real-world digital, physical, or hybrid environment within a public or professional context.

    Fieldwork Studio6 credits (4+2)
    Total: 6 credits

  • Third Semester

    Students make progress toward developing an integrative design project related to the umbrella theme and cohort topic and involving an accessible social context.

    Design Studio 3: Co-creation6 credits (4+2)
    Thesis Prep3 credits
    Design Seminar: Professional Practice3 credits
    Total: 12 credits

  • Fourth Semester

    Students finalize their thesis publication and use project-driven outcomes to help prepare them for career next steps.

    Thesis Project9 credits (3+6)
    University Elective3 credits
    Total: 12 credits

Ashley Moon M Des Arts Academy 5404

MDes Cur­ricu­lum Overview

DESIGN STU­DIO 1A is focused on human sub­jects inquiry and prob­lem def­i­n­i­tion using the STEEP­VAE ana­lyt­i­cal frame­work. What is known? What is not known? Who is affected? The cohort explores a given, real-world con­text look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties where con­tri­bu­tions can be made. 

That effort is sup­ported by the DESIGN METH­ODS and the INTE­GRA­TION STU­DIO 1B that delve into the resources of the Uni­ver­sity and beyond. How do design­ers and researchers from other dis­ci­plines go about doing their work? What can we con­tribute to that? What are we inte­grat­ing? How are we going to inte­grate it? 

In the sec­ond semes­ter, DESIGN STU­DIO 2 cen­ters on pro­to­typ­ing. It’s about tak­ing what we’ve learned from the first semes­ter and try­ing to deploy it. We want to cap­ture some infor­ma­tion and data about how our ideas oper­ate in the world. What works well? What needs to be fixed? This is backed up by DESIGN FOR THE 21ST CEN­TURY, a design sem­i­nar that explores, through an inte­gra­tive lens, the key crit­i­cal and the­o­ret­i­cal per­spec­tives that ground the dis­ci­pline of design. What con­sti­tutes research in design? What are the con­tri­bu­tions of design research to con­tem­po­rary society? 

THE SUM­MER FIELD­WORK STU­DIO takes the skills we have devel­oped and the ideas that we’re explor­ing and moves them into a dif­fer­ent pub­lic or pro­fes­sional con­text guided by a new or exist­ing line of inquiry that broad­ens the scope of our knowl­edge of the umbrella theme and cohort topic. For exam­ple, we might start our sum­mer as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tive pop-up stu­dio with another uni­ver­sity design grad­u­ate cohort, then move to work­ing in a pro­fes­sional or pub­lic con­text, and then to work­ing in a dig­i­tal space. It’s all about inte­gra­tive design — try­ing out dif­fer­ent mod­els in dif­fer­ent contexts. 

Third semes­ter is the ramp-up towards the the­sis. COCRE­ATION STU­DIO 3 focuses on find­ing your con­stituents and com­mu­nity part­ners; begin­ning the process of get­ting buy-in on the iden­ti­fied oppor­tu­nity; and actu­ally begin­ning to build your project. This effort is backed up by THE­SIS PREP, which focuses on deter­min­ing the inte­gra­tive design approach that is nec­es­sary to under­take the project and the kind of writ­ing nec­es­sary to com­pose the doc­u­ment itself.

PRO­FES­SIONAL PRAC­TICE looks toward the future, when you’ll have your Mas­ters of Design in Inte­gra­tive Design. How do you make a case for hav­ing such a unique qual­i­fi­ca­tion? What are the oppor­tu­ni­ties? What will the lad­der be post-graduation? 

Fourth semes­ter is pri­mar­ily your THE­SIS PROJECT. You’ll work together with the MDes cohort, your the­sis com­mit­tee, and other stake­hold­ers within your net­work to define, refine, and present your the­sis to the world.

Credit Break­down

Stu­dio work is divided into two dif­fer­ent sets of cred­its each semester.

First — Third Semester

Course TypeCred­its
Inte­gra­tive design work over­seen by stu­dio leader4 cred­its
Indi­vid­ual devel­op­ment within the col­lec­tive activ­i­ties, over­seen by pri­mary advisor2 cred­its

Fourth Semes­ter

Course TypeCred­its
Over­seen by pri­mary advisor6 cred­its
Over­seen by stu­dio lead2 cred­its