New design programs emerging worldwide

Posted by: Venessa Wong on November 10, 2009

BusinessWeek published a list of design programs to watch as part of a special report on design thinking. I recently followed up with representatives to see how these new and upcoming master’s programs are developing.

In reponse to reader inquiries, I called RISD, which was not on our list, to see if any graduate-level programs were in the works. A spokesperson confirmed that while RISD offers its students opportunities to work on industry sponsored projects, at this point it does not have any formalized master’s programs marrying design and business, or any partnerships with business schools. Still, the president, John Maeda, stresses the importance of intuition, design, emotion, and art in innovation. We’ll watch for news.

Here is a rundown of the nine other programs.

Aalto Design Factory Demo Day1.jpg Aalto University (a merger by the Helsinki School of Economics, University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki University of Technology)
Helsinki, Finland
International Design Business Management
Starting fall 2010, the existing International Design Business Management (IDBM) minor was also offered as a full master's program to students in the three schools through the new Aalto University, which opens in January.


College Creative Studies.jpg College for Creative Studies
Detroit, Mich.
MFA in Design & MFA in Transportation Design
These programs, launched in fall 2009, feature business coursework developed and taught by faculty at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Currently, 12 students are enrolled in the design program and six in transportation design program. In addition to learning about market positioning and writing business plans, students participate in industry-sponsored projects and learn to approach environmental issues, innovation, and social change through design thinking.


Parsons The New School for Design
New York, N.Y.
MS Design Management & MFA Transdisciplinary Design
The New School is developing two new programs. The MFA in Transdisciplinary Design, which will accept its first class in fall 2010, pending state approval, will tackle projects that require collaboration between disciplines. The MS in Design management will be an online program on digital entrepreneurship, sustainable design and service design that teaches managing people, projects, and finances.


RIT.jpg Rochester Institute of Technology, E. Philip Saunders College of Business
Rochester, N.Y.
MBA & Master's in Innovation Management
The Saunders College of Business (SCB) and the Industrial Design department are working to create a jointly managed track that formally combines design and business. SCB, which offers an MBA and Master's in the Innovation Management, heavily recruits design students and encourages its students to take their four electives in design and innovation. The Industrial Design department also urges its students to study business. SCB created an undergraduate class in design thinking in 2008 that became a requirement and will be available to graduate students in 2010.


Tongji_D&I logo.JPG Tongji University
Shanghai, China
College of Design & Innovation
This year, Tongji spun off the College of Design & Innovation, formerly a department under the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. It has about 700 students, mainly graduate but also undergraduate and PhD, and offers a research-based program to foster sustainability and social innovation in China through design research, design management and education. The university also founded the Tongji-KIC Design Innovation Center in Shanghai to encourage collaboration between industry and academic institutions in the area.


U Applied Arts Vienna.jpg University for Applied Arts Institute for Design
Vienna, Austria
Master Class for Convergent Industrial Design
The Institute for Design offers a Master Class for Convergent Industrial Design, which generally takes four to five years to complete. Hartmut Esslinger, founder and co-CEO of frog design, recently helped to shift the focus of the program from aesthetic design to humanistic and socially responsible design. Students can study management and innovation methods. The program is partnered with the Vienna University of Technology and the Vienna University of Economics and Business and has received support from the Federal Ministry for Transportation, Innovation and Technology.


u_mich.bmpUniversity of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
MFA/MBA Dual Degree
The four-year program, coordinated by the School of Art & Design and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, will accept a small number of students to pursue an MFA and MBA beginning 2010. Students will learn the impact of business and marketing practices on the inception, production, and distribution of creative work, as well as the relationship between creativity and business practices.


University of Technology, Sydney
Sydney, Australia
The university's Business School is in the early stages of planning an initiative to focus the curriculum around design and is consulting with innovation firm Second Road. Administrators are discussing ways to integrate design thinking into management education at UTS and plan to build a new faculty building to create a ‘design’ environment for upcoming business courses.


i.schoolB.jpg University of Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
i.school
The new i.school (the 'i' stands for innovation) offers symposiums and short-term workshops, mostly taught in Japanese, that teach human-centered innovation and communicating across disciplines, , among other themes. It accepts graduate students and a small number of undergraduates from other university departments but does not grant degrees. The i.school plans to offer both short-term and long-term workshops.


(*All images provided by the schools.)

Reader Comments

Mika Helenius

November 12, 2009 12:27 PM

AaltoU (Aalto University) is wonderful initiative to innovate something completely new for world class industrial professionals, graduate & phd students and academic faculty members to change the future. AaltoU’s other TOP programs like PDP and SDE at AaltoU will soon hit the Top 10 list – it is just matter of time! These three programs will set the future direction in many academic institutions around the globe!

Axel Magnuson

November 16, 2009 1:30 AM

As you've pointed out, the implications of design thinking extend to schools of business and engineering, and schools of design. Schools of design probably have the biggest chasm to cross. Innovation involving design thinking has meant that firms have hired legions of designers of all stripes. That in turn has meant that skills beyond the core competencies of traditional design specialists are called into play: the ability to manage complex data in the design process; the ability to work concurrently and collaboratively in teams; the ability to communicate well enough with other specialists to seize the import of other perspectives on parts of the design process; and the ability to be creative, to size up data and shape it to bring insight to design. Schools of design struggle to bring those qualities into their curricula, trying to balance the core belief in the importance of "...intuition, design, emotion, and art." with the imperatives of designing complex products and brands within complex organizations.
I would also include two prestigious alternative “D-School” programs: Stanford’s Institute of Design, led by IDEO co-founder David Kelly, and the Illinois Institute of Design which offers a Master of Design Methods. Thanks for this entire series on innovation and for the editorial decision to span disciplines and industries.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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