Program Details

A graduate design program preparing students as agents of social change who can foster community engagement.
Philadelphia, United States
Program Type:
Full Degree
Degree Level:
Industrial Design

Program Overview

Program Description:
The University of the Arts Design for Social Impact Master of Design program prepares students to become leading agents of social change, instrumental in fostering strategic creativity, organizational learning, and community engagement. The program promotes a social design process that facilitates collaborative projects across disciplines, and that produces actionable models and scenarios to create sustainable change. Our process is hands-on, action-oriented, and highly visual, placing the needs and desires of people and organizations at the center of our work. We recognize the need to balance ecological, social, and economic values in the development of innovative solutions. Students work with businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and community groups in sectors such as health care, social services, technology, and education. Project outcomes include new service models, design for user experience, strategies and tools for community engagement, and the development of social entities, organizations, new businesses and initiatives. Our alumni follow a range of professional pathways within and beyond design including design research, industrial design, experience and interaction design, design strategy, and other entrepreneurial directions. The Design for Social Impact graduate program offers: A curriculum that balances classroom learning and real-world application; Partnerships and projects with local, national and international companies that allow students to put learning into practice and make valuable professional connections; An emphasis on collaboration and producing sustainable change; A diverse, tight-knit student body that brings together creative thinkers from a variety of countries and backgrounds; Experienced faculty whose fields include architecture, environmental design, industrial design, interaction design, social design, design strategy, design research, cultural anthropology, psychology, industrial systems, organizational development, business and entrepreneurship; Pathways to employment in some of the nation’s leading companies and design firms, including IBM Design, University of Pennsylvania Health System, SAP, Electronic Ink, Comcast Interactive, Urban Outfitters, and beyond. Regardless of the are of undergraduate study, students with creative and exploratory natures, the ability to see larger patterns and make connections, a sense of empathy for other people and their experiences, and a willingness to question preconceived notions, the MDes in Design for Social Impact program at the University of the Arts is an excellent and viable option in graduate study.

Additional Program Information

The University of the Arts is authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to grant degrees in the visual, performing and related arts, and is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; telephone: 276-284-5000). The College of Art and Design is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of the Schools of Art and Design, and the Industrial Designers' Society of America. The School of Music is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
Financial Aid:
A completed graduate application form, plus $60 application fee; official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended; three letters of recommendation; a one- to two-page statement of professional plans and goals; GRE scores recommended but not required; a personal interview with the program director or chairperson; curriculum vitae; portfolio. Applicants should submit digital images or time-based media for review.
International Requirements:
Applicants must obtain a minimum TOEFL score of 92 (IBT) or 580 (PBT), a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, or complete Level 9 in the University’s ESL Institute. Students who do not meet score minimums may be required to successfully complete an English Language Program prior to matriculation. All applicants with post secondary or university transcripts from outside the United States are required to submit an official evaluation for each transcript. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mandates that all foreign students applying for (or transferring their current) F-1 student visa sponsorship show sufficient funding for at least one year of study. A Certification of Finances form will be sent to you upon receipt of your application. The Certification of Finances is not required to make an offer of admission however, the I-20 form cannot be issued without a valid Certification of Finances.