In a rapidly changing world, uncovering insights into the human context of design is an increasingly important challenge. Design no longer fits neatly into the traditional definitions of one medium or discipline – lines have been forever blurred by the competitive demands of business and technology. There is no turning back.
We believe that impactful design starts with a deep understanding of the users as well as a multi-disciplinary approach to creating solutions. Our curriculum focuses on a proven combination of research, business and studio courses to simulate ‘real projects’ in the classroom, often with an eye towards the future. These projects are sponsored and taught by industry leaders and practitioners who offer insights, critiques and guidance throughout the duration of the program. The design problems are complex, multi-faceted and market-driven, requiring a team of individuals with diverse skills to complete rather than the isolated works of individual designers. Not surprisingly, the successful results reflect a more holistic solution, integrating 2D and 3D as well as digital, spatial and interactive thinking.
With the tools for envisioning alternative scenarios that cross boundaries of traditional disciplines, our graduates are able to successfully solve problems and innovate in the face of a dynamic and uncertain future.
Interdisciplinary Design is not about making stand-alone artifacts, as beautiful as they may be. Nor is it a random, or worse, an individually-driven combination of different mediums or disciplines. Interdisciplinary Design is creating solutions that impact our lives in relevant and meaningful ways. Although other MFA programs offer similar-sounding programs, we believe that our curriculum is unique in the specific way it integrates proven business practices, research methods and advanced creative skills to prepare our students for success. For instance, our program includes:
- the study of marketing fundamentals and entrepreneurship practices specifically tailored for the design strategist or entrepreneur
- the application of observational and ethnographic research methodologies to identify unmet user needs as well as the ability to validate ideas through primary market research
- the utilization of scenario planning to explore innovative design opportunities for the future
- the translation and visualization of concepts and rapid iteration of prototypes in studio settings
While other MFA programs are contained within the confines of a classroom, our projects, often sponsored by industry, are designed to mirror real-life business challenges whose solutions are design-driven and interdisciplinary.
Our curriculum is led by faculty who understand what it takes to succeed in the design industry because they have been or currently are successful industry practitioners and leaders. Students learn not only to become critical thinkers and strategic designers but to be professionals because creative talent and executional skills alone do not guarantee career advancement or entrepreneurial success. Students are taught to work effectively in teams both as leaders and as team peers. They cope with the real stresses of deadlines and uncertainties, both within and outside of their control. They learn to champion their ideas through formal presentations and rigorous critiques led by industry professionals who are in positions to recruit and hire promising talent.
In the final academic year for graduate students, the MFA Interdisciplinary Design curriculum concludes with the Graduate Thesis, designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of their graduate studies experience. Students follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and a creative brief emerge from their research findings. These serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Through multiple phases – complete with milestones and reviews with their advisors – students complete a series of high-quality deliverables, building up to a final presentation to the Graduate Thesis Review Committee.