A new economy with its new technologies,
actors, business models, and rules of engagement needs a new generation
of game changers defining, designing, and directing it.
In his 2006 book titled In the Bubble:
Designing in a Complex World, John Thackara urges us to step back from
our epistemic frenzy of designing incrementally for the sake of
designing and "making money" and instead think about the ontology—that
is, the purpose— behind our complex, complicated, and convoluted
constructs that we have engineered around ourselves during several
decades of excessive consumerism, explosive materialism, and extensive
In the light of unprecedented levels of
transience, turbulence, and transformation of our socioeconomic systems,
we must rethink, redefine, and redesign our responses and efforts and
hone our generative attributes, capacities, and competencies in order to
address ongoing challenges, novel problems, and new crises. We must
restructure our organizations, collaborations, and relationships. We
need to prepare for new paradigm shifts rather than merely seek
pragmatic improvements. We must learn how to conceive entire new
contexts of interaction that are far above and beyond our current
limited focus on the content of products. We must learn the new rules of
engagement vis-à-vis new economies, using innovative business models
that are driven and supported by novel technologies.
At Parsons' School of Design Strategies,
we have advocated critical positions and educated entry-level managers,
future leaders, passionate innovators, and avid entrepreneurs for the
past 10 years in an undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration
degree program by fusing business acumen and design thinking in a
strategic design management program (BBA Strategic Design Management).
Based on this experience and guided by a vision of a new quality of
cadre for the future economy, we designed a graduate-level MS program in
Strategic Design Management (MS SDM).
The program's unique, focused, and
innovative curriculum prepares a future generation of "chaos pilots,"
game changers, and innovation pioneers that will lead (instead of lag
behind) the necessary transformation, define elements of the new economy
(rather than simply execute them), and design new organizational and
collaborative structures (rather than simply join them), grounded in a
principled fusion of economic rationality, business logic, and design
Traditional management and
business–related programs are highly "synthetic" in nature. In contrast,
students in Parsons' MS SDM will emerge with much more than merely
problem-descriptive and contingency-analytical skills. They will develop
existing generative attributes and acquire new ones in order to
initiate and lead change. Students will develop a broader range of
competencies that leverage design thinking and support a deeper
understanding of the issues affecting a transforming economy than they
would in a traditional design program that focuses on designing objects.
Design thinking, in combination with a strategic, sustainable,
future-oriented business and economic perspective, will allow them to
experiment with organizational contexts, new collaborative structures,
and innovative project settings. They will initiate, implement, and
participate in real-life projects with partners in creative industries,
design consultancies, and other organizations.
MS SDM is ideal for mid-career,
experienced professionals who are motivated to initiate change in their
personal careers, organizational settings, or social contexts by
applying a powerful combination of economic logic and design thinking to
new challenges and problems.
The program is intended to appeal to
mid-career business professionals who need to complement their existing
capabilities with design thinking and to design practitioners,
consultants, and managers who seek a deeper grasp of business, economic,
and financial issues in order to make more sustainable organizational
decisions. It also is intended for professionals of all industries who
want to change the direction of their careers or redirect their firms
toward more future-oriented organizational practices and more robust
economic relationships. Students are expected to be working in order to
immediately practice learned material and implement adopted concepts,
constructs, frameworks, and methods.
The program is unique in that it
integrates a creative, rigorous course of study in business logic,
economic rationality, and design thinking. The curriculum, delivered
globally through multiple and blended delivery models including hubs in
New York City, Paris (2014), and later Mumbai and Shanghai, is supported
by a world-class faculty and an extensive network of design
consultancies, design and design management professionals, and
practitioners in the creative industries.
Whereas many schools have heeded the
trend toward more ontology and sustainability in their business and
design programs, few have been able to integrate the two as successfully
as the MS SDM program proposes to do. The creators of the MS SDM
curriculum designed the program from the ground up, carefully defining
every course from scratch, including an integrative approach to new
media, platforms, and modes of delivery (online, onsite, and hybrid).
The course of study features a progressive pedagogy composed of
seminars, lectures, and studios and labs as well as a Graduate
Certificate in Design Business option composed of the six
content-focused courses without the studio and lab experience. Geared to
the working professional, MS SDM accommodates students with online,
evening, and blended instruction, enabling the program to reflect a
global focus. The MS SDM is positioned more as a learning platform than a
top-down taught program. In it, external partners from creative
industries, design consultancies, and innovative project settings will
host new talent, contribute to the program, and source new talent in a
collaborative environment alongside a world-class and globally aware
Students anywhere in the world can
complete the MS SDM program in an online format with a total of two
weeks of intensive studio work in residence in New York City. It can
also be undertaken entirely on-site in New York. The program is also in
development to launch at our Paris campus in 2014; future international
hubs are being planned. Combining online and on-site modules is also
possible, immigration and residency requirements permitting. The
has been designed as a full-time, nine-credit-per-semester course of
study without electives with the goal of simplifying the student
experience and optimizing the program's cost effectiveness. Currently
the program permits entry only in the fall semester.
Admission requirements are regulated by the university.
Qualified candidates should support their
applications by documenting work experience, demonstrating relevant
character traits in a critical-incident essay (see Admission page),
describing their values and ideology in a letter of intent, and
possessing the ability and willingness to work with difficult people and
a commitment to initiate and lead change and, ultimately, eat, dream,
and live design thinking.
A program-specific blog is under construction and will be launched soon. Visit the links below for more information.
The MS SDM is intended for students interested in a leading-edge, novel, progressive, and somewhat experimental program, one that will become mainstream in five to ten years. MS SDM is not a "professional" program; that is, it is not focused on preparing students for a license, charter, or standard exam. It is an eclectic and demanding program; it is not for the passive, faint-of-heart, or those who are unclear about their own path. The program is experiential and developmental. It requires you to be generative, creative, productive, and to be open to personal and professional transformation.
Individuals who are unable to or not
interested in pursuing the full master's degree program—including the
studio and research work—may be able to complete the six three-credit
content-focused courses within a year, as outlined in the curriculum.
The certificate program is currently
offered online only and with fall entry. The MS SDM and the graduate
certificate are distinct programs. Students may not transfer between the
The MS Strategic Design and Management has three six-credit components; that is, two six-credit integrative studios in the program's spring semesters. In the studios, students—working in teams—apply their learning in projects structured like real-world industry consulting jobs. Students can complete one six-credit research component in the fall semester of the second year conducting either traditional observational and empirical research or in action research methodology within a company, as negotiated by a company, student, and advising faculty member. This latter research opportunity is separate from traditional one-, two-, or three-credit internships that students can undertake along with their courses during the program. Please note that students may carry a maximum of two internship credits in a given term in order to remain below the 12-credit-per-semester limit, beyond which the per-credit tuition is converted to a flat rate. Internships may be of particular interest to on-site full-time international students that do not have work privileges as part of their immigration status but are seeking real-world, hands-on experience.
Although the program is not intended nor designed to be a preparation for traditional professional settings, it prepares students to enter a variety of careers, work scenarios, job opportunities, and business environments. Students who are already working may apply their learning to become "intrapreneurs" in their respective organizations. Or they may want to develop and help lead evolution within their current organization. Consequently, all the managerial, entrepreneurial, leadership, innovation, and professional areas not reserved to licensed practitioners are open to graduates, including some featuring surprising job titles like CCO (Chief Change Officer/Chief Creative Officer), CIO (Chief Innovation Officer), CFO (Chief Fun Officer), LDT (Lead Design Thinker). The program enables you to create your own trajectory rather than be tied to an institutional placement service. Ultimately, your fellow students, instructors, professional and practitioner guest lecturers, and industry project participants become the network in which you market your talent; MS SDM is the platform that supports this talent pool programmatically and academically.
The program was carefully designed to
offer students the maximum cost-savings with regard to tuition while
maintaining their full-time academic status. The MS SDM curriculum does
not include electives; the program requires nine credits per semester.
The structure allows the university to charge on a per-credit basis,
bringing the current tuition rate to about $27,000 per year, based on this calculation:
$1,470 per credit (2013–14) x 18 credits, or roughly $26,500 per year, plus university fees.
The application process is carried out entirely online
; you do not need to contact the program administrators or advisors to apply or to find
application procedure and deadlines
. Any questions about the admission/application process may be directed to
This program is designed as global
program, and the great majority of the online version can be completed
from anywhere in the world. A minimal residency in New York City for
on-site integrative studio courses is required. Integrative studio
courses take place every spring during the week before the regular
academic semester begins (approximately the third week of January). For
this period of study, International Students
are eligible for a short-term I-20 certificate that allows them to
apply for a short-stay visa for each one of those two-week integrative
International Students taking the program
on-site are eligible for a regular I-20 certificate and resulting F-1
visa because the nine-credit-per-semester structure qualifies them for
full-time status. However, they need to keep in mind that the modular
options (combining on-site and online classes) are limited by
immigration requirements stipulating that full-time students need to
take a minimum of six credits of on-site instruction to maintain their
full-time status and immigration privileges.
Finally, International Students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Design Business program are able to do so online only,
which does not qualify as a full-time program. Consequently, these
students do not qualify for any type of student immigration visa.