In the first year, graduate students participate in seminars and studio courses, as well as independent research courses and electives from across campus. Emphasis is on conceptual design development and research in both a group and independent setting. Seminars meet twice per week and address critical issues in design through research, writing, presentation and discussion. Additionally, students work closely with faculty to identify studio course work — often drawing on significant resources from the undergraduate program — that corresponds to their needs and objectives. Students are encouraged to define personal areas of interest that connect throughout the sequence and ultimately relate to their thesis. By the end of the first year, students propose a thesis topic to research and develop during their second year.
Graduate Seminar in Design (Autumn)
The first seminar examines writing as design discourse: history, theory, criticism, journalism, and other forms that debate what design is, what it could be, what it should be. Students practice critical reading, discussion, and writing of their own. Expected outcomes include a written paper and presentation on a selected key concept, research line, and/or design case study.
Design Research (Winter)
Studies involve different methods for gathering information and testing hypotheses above and beyond the traditional “identify, iterate, decide” design model. Students are asked to map the research process, and explore it’s integration into work from the previous seminar. Expected outcomes include visual and/or written presentation of a hypothetical process which integrates research into the student’s working method.
Design Propositions (Spring)
Several lines of inquiry are identified based on a student’s individual area of interest. An in-depth analysis of a selected topic (written or visual) is developed throughout the quarter. In addition, a thesis proposal is one of the expected outcomes of the course.
In the second year, the focus is on developing a master’s thesis. The Autumn quarter is spent completing the research necessary to build out the project. In the final two quarters of study, degree candidates produce a substantial thesis project that is publicly exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery on campus.