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Graduate Programs in Design Innovation (MDes)

The Design Innovation program at MassArt is built around a human-centric, holistic, and iterative approach to blending design and business thinking. The curriculum consists of approximately 60% design and 40% business content, and aims to bring quantitative business metrics to the designer’s qualitative problem-solving process within the context of an art and design college. 

Graduates of the Design Innovation program will be poised to enter the workforce as service designers, experience designers, design strategists and innovation leaders. These hybrid design and business professionals are positioned to influence growing industry areas both nationally and internationally, offering a distinctly different kind of leadership to the marketplace.

View the MDes Brochure

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and develop experience design, service design and cross-disciplinary design projects
  • Develop empathy and understanding relating to client/constituency needs and to the creation of solutions that resonate with them
  • Ability to systematically deconstruct and analyze problems, synthesize findings, and come to creative solutions applicable to business and design
  • Understand the role of design in culture and commerce
  • Develop the contextual language of business and design, and gain business skills relative to the creative economy
  • Gain communication skills relative to leadership, business, and multiple audiences
  • Develop awareness and understanding of the diverse cultural, historical, and experiential issues expressed and inherent in one’s design practice and in the discipline of design
  • Develop the aesthetic sensitivity, technical competence, awareness and analytical thought necessary to design solutions for social, economic, environmental and global challenges
  • Team leadership and understanding of how to motivate interdisciplinary teams, and collaboration skills
  • Ability to verbally and visually present work in a professional manner
  • Hands-on graphic visualization, technical drawing, model making and prototype development


Unique to MassArt

The direct placement of the Design Innovation program in a college of art and design immerses students in a thriving creative community, where they make things with their hands while engaging the mind. 

Design Innovation students are afforded numerous opportunities to gain professional experience during their course of study. All graduate students are eligible to apply for a range of paid on-campus assistantships. Off-campus internships are encouraged, and many Design Innovation students take advantage of paid positions which can also earn credit, during the academic year and the summer break. Current MDES students have recently completed internships at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and iRobot.

"Design Innovation can be the change agent to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems" - James M. Read, MDes Program Coordinator and Founder


Who should apply?
Design Innovation at MassArt is for highly motivated professionals who aspire to lead the design and planning of new products, services, systems, and organizations. We invite those who are passionate about innovating a better tomorrow through design to apply.

How long will it take me to complete the program? Can I enroll part-time?
The MDes curriculum is 60 credit hours, meant to be completed full-time over two years. Part-time participation is not an option at this time.

What kinds of positions will I be qualified for after graduation?
Graduates of the program will be qualified for employment as design strategists and innovation leaders within many domains such as design consulting firms, corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, or entrepreneurial ventures.

How does this program differ from other MDes programs?
The MDes curriculum applies a human-centric, holistic, and iterative approach to blending design and business thinking. Classes are co-taught by design and business professors in a fully integrated, collaborative teaching model. The program is one of the only hybrid design and business programs offered by an art and design college. The MDes curriculum at MassArt consists of approximately 60% design and 40% business course work.

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