Graduate Programs

MDes Curriculum

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

The MDes curriculum includes both design education and engagement training. Within the structure of the umbrella topic, the first year is focused on identifying the problems and the second year on addressing them. Stamps MDes faculty are the primary source of support to candidates in planning their academic program, seeking advice, and dealing with challenges as they arise. Credits for studio work are split between collaborative work and individual development.

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MDes Sample Plan of Study
First Semester  
Students improve facilitation skills and build deep knowledge of collaboration methods.
Design Studio 1: Inquiry 6 credits (4+2)
Research Methods 3 credits
Design Seminar 1: Integration 3 credits
University Elective 3 credits
Total 15 credits
Second Semester  
Students gain theoretical grounding and practical application of all prior work.
Design Studio 2: Prototyping 6 credits (4+2)
Design Seminar 2: Design for the 21st Century 3 credits
University Elective 3 credits
University Elective 3 credits
Total 15 credits
Students make industry connections and get a clearer perspective on where they fit.
Fieldwork Studio 6 credits (4+2)
Total 6 credits
Third Semester  
Students make tangible progress toward their thesis and further tools for building with and for end users.
Design Studio 3: Co-creation 6 credits (4+2)
Thesis Prep 3 credits
Design Seminar 3: Professional Practice 3 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 Project 9 credits (3+6)
University Elective 3 credits
Total 12 credits
  60 credits total


MDes Curriculum Overview

Design Studio 1 is focused on Inquiry. What is known? What is not known? Who do we know? Where is the opportunity? The cohort will be exploring the territory and looking for open areas where contributions can be made. That effort is supported by the Research Methods and Integration seminars that delve into the resources of the University and beyond. How do other researchers go about doing their work? What can we contribute to that? What are we integrating? How are we going to integrate it?

In 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 this new program in Integrative Design and how it operates in the world. How is it different? And why?

The summer Fieldwork Studio takes the things that we’ve learned and the ideas that we’re exploring and moves them into different contexts. 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 corporate context, and then to working in a small consultancy. It’s all about integrative design - trying out different models in different contexts.

Third semester is the ramp-up towards the thesis. The Co-creation Studio focuses on finding your constituents, your stakeholders, and your partners; beginning the process of getting buy-in on the identified opportunity; and actually beginning to build a project. This is backed up by Thesis Prep, which focuses on the research and methodologies that are necessary to undertake the project and the writing necessary to complete the document itself.

Professional Practice looks toward the future, when you'll have your Masters of 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, with faculty, and with your networks to define, refine and present your thesis to the world.


MDes Credit Breakdown

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

First - Third Semester  
Collaborative work overseen by studio leader 4 credits
Individual development within the collective activities, overseen by primary advisor 2 credits
Fourth Semester  
Overseen by primary advisor 6 credits
Overseen by studio lead 2 credits