Systems Design Thinking (formerly Integrated Design)

Fall Semester - Year 1

GRD 601Design Graduate Studio I3
DGR 625Environmental Scanning Research3
GRD 605Data Visualization I3
DGR 613Graduate Seminar3
Studio Elective3

Winter Semester - Year 1

GRD 602Design Graduate Studio II3
GRD 608Co-Creation and Participatory Design3
DGR 626User Exploration Research3
GRD 610Data Visualization II3
DGR 721Professional Practice I 3

Fall Semester - Year 2

DGR 711Graduate Thesis I6
GRD 701Design Graduate Studio III3
DGR 718Business Practices II: Business Model Generation3
Studio Elective3

Winter Semester - Year 2

DGR 712Graduate Thesis II6
GRD 702Design Graduate Studio IV3
DGR 719Business Practices III: Innovation and Entrepreneurship3
Studio Elective3

First Year


Design Graduate Studio I

The design projects assigned in Design Graduate Studios share a similar structure but differ in their complexity. Topics will be relevant to today's and future challenges.

Studio I often focuses on Scenario Design. Scenario Design is a design-inspired foresight visioning approach, an emerging activity within design-led innovation and strategic design processes. Students learn how to deal with situations where there are no clearly preferable outcomes, how to get a sense of the different possible responses, and how to make intelligent choices among them.

Environmental Scanning Research

In large organizations or companies, the ongoing tracking of trends and events within their internal and external environment can mean success, both today and in the future. The art of tracking these trends and events is called Environmental scanning. This class will provide students with tools on how to examine trends and important events, and how to understand the key environmental indicators—internal, external, qualitative, and quantitative that can have an important potential impact on their work.

Data Visualization I

Data visualization is an emerging field requiring technical skill, design aptitude, information translation, and interdisciplinary thought. This course will introduce the fundamental concepts, methods, and practices of data visualization design to visually display the results of student research, analysis and creating powerful tools for brainstorming.

Graduate Seminar

Graduate Seminar aims to enable students to undertake rich and robust creative exploration that is informed by contextual and critical inquiry. Graduate Seminar serves to advance both the critical inquiry and critical writing skills of students, and enable the cross-referencing of theory to practice. Social, political, economic and environmental themes will be used to inform weekly classes.


Design Graduate Studio II

The design projects assigned in Design Graduate Studios share a similar structure, but differ in their complexity. Topics will be relevant to today's and future challenges.

Studio II often focuses on Service Design. The design of services, or service design, is an interdisciplinary approach that combines a variety of methods and tools. It is a systematic design approach for the management of people, infrastructure, communication, and objects of a service.

Co-Creation and Participatory Design

Trends in the 21st century have paved the way for a participatory approach to design. The goal of this class is for students to understand human-centered and participatory methods tools and techniques – conducting observational research, interviews and workshops, undertaking internal and external research activities, generating conceptual frameworks, formulating insights, throughout a participatory design process.

User Exploration Research

The success of any project - a new product design, or the redesign of existing products - for an external client, or for an internal project, is to adopt a user-first approach that positions the people that use what we design front and center. This class will expose students to how designers should learn about, from, and with their users or customers, and will equip them with the research tools needed to design great user experiences.

Data Visualization II

In this hands-on lab course designed to build skills in advanced data visualization, students will work to build technical skills in R, one of the leading analytical programs used today. In addition to building customized data visualizations, students will learn methods for data transformation and processing necessary to effectively communicate data through images.

Professional Practice I

Part A provides a cross-disciplinary overview of the arts and creative industries and their importance to GDP and the economy overall, i.e. the creative economy. Students will strengthen their understanding of the broader business of creativity and arena of culture in which they will operate professionally.
Part B allows students to make a plan to address gaps in their resume, prepare their portfolios, and refine their oral presentation.

Second Year


Graduate Thesis I

Thesis I is part one of a self-directed major project that will be the culmination of the graduate study experience. Students will critically situate the project in a specific context and it will be informed by robust research methodologies. Students will develop a body of well-documented research, that will underpin thematically relevant creative outcomes in part two.

Design Graduate Studio III

The design projects assigned in Design Graduate Studios share a similar structure, but differ in their complexity. Topics will be relevant to today's and future challenges.

Studio III often focuses on Experience Design. Experience design is about alleviating people’s problems and bringing them joy through products, services, and systems that should improve the quality of life, and create efficiencies that did not previously exist. Students will learn how to orchestrate a complex series of interactions, including the emotional and physical responses that these interactions generate.

Business Model Generation

The course is designed to offer students a hands-on understanding of business strategy. Students will explore the process of strategy formation and implementation, and gain experience analyzing the effectiveness of both individual strategic initiatives and the organization as a whole. Students will develop a pragmatic understanding of what is required to advance a concept or design through the strategic process in the business environment.


Graduate Thesis II

Thesis II is part two of a self-directed major project, a body of work that is the culmination of the graduate study experience. Following on from part one, students will resolve, realize and present thematically relevant creative outcomes, evidencing practical impact or its potential for bringing about change.

Design Graduate Studio IV

The design projects assigned in Design Graduate Studios share a similar structure but differ in their complexity. Topics will be relevant to todays and future challenges.

Studio IV often focuses on Social innovation Design. Social innovation challenge traditional ways of doing things and introduce new, different and more sustainable behavior looking for the best equilibrium between effectiveness and social value.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs and designers alike need to have a good understanding of the business landscape within which contemporary design-driven groups and corporations are inextricably embedded. The class explores issues, theories, cultures, and methods associated with the goal of designing an “ideal business”. The aim is to develop a business design strategy and a plan, both imaginative and reliable, to initiate new ventures, through means of design methodology, sensitivity and culture, for business.

MFA Systems Design Thinking Program Student Learning Outcomes (PLO)

Upon graduation, students in the MFA Systems Design Thinking program will be able to:

1. Show the ability to translate qualitative and quantitative research into interdisciplinary disciplines and design creative projects.
2. Show a mastery of skills and knowledge on strategically solving real-world problems, demonstrating critical business skills, and identifying the behaviors of the complex system constituted by human, political, social, psychological, and technological factors.
3. Critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge on holistic design processes relevant to omnichannel user experiences.
4. Communicate visually and orally and work closely with others who are directly involved in design projects, communicate directly with the sponsors‘ team throughout the class-project, work with the stakeholder(s) directly in any point of discussion.    
5. Demonstrate the value in proposing, executing, and communicating complex design research and solutions pertinent to the real world.
6. Demonstrate professional expertise and execution of integrated design processes, during the discovery process, crafting proposals, handling all design-related tasks, showing the detailed exploration of any design decision-making scenario, and executing at proper milestones.