What is the program's focus?
As our geopolitical structures, our socio-economic systems, even our personal career aspirations as well as the underlying contexts of ethical responsibility are transforming ever more intensely and turbulently, we have set a mandate with a tall order for the MS in Strategic Design and Management (MS SD&M): We exist to inspire, educate, and develop the next generation of cadres that will create, shape, and govern a new era of human ingenuity. We accomplish this by pushing the envelope and creating a new space of "design intelligence," an imperative, collaborative, and transformative approach that puts ontology and purpose before epistemic know-how, context before content, effectiveness before efficiency, and engages and leverages the attributes, competencies, and capabilities of "designerly" thinkers to architect new policy and stimulate new action. We up the ante by extending the dominant paradigm of strategic management with the design dimension to capture the importance of larger contexts for economies, firms, and individuals as open interdependent systems; and by evolving our more than ten years of experience in educating undergraduates in design and management into a strategic framework that that allows designers to shape and shepherd the creation of the future.
By fusing and infusing economic logic, business rationality, and organizational reality with the powerful notion of design thinking in particular, we provide a programmatic approach to a select group of motivated and qualified business professionals, creative practitioners, and aspiring innovation pioneers to get ahead of the curve of transience and transition and rather impact, influence, and inflect the paradigm shift in their own right. They will become the game changers, trail blazers, and chaos pilots that are entrusted with originally defining, designing, and directing the systems and the substance for how new technologies, actors, relationships, performance models, and rules of engagement generate entirely novel social and economic value.
What are the goals of the program?
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, organizational reality, and design thinking.
Traditional management and business–related programs are highly "synthetic" in nature and transactional in perspective, merely focused on problem-descriptive and contingency-analytical skills. In contrast, students in Parsons' MS S&DM will emerge with far more advanced attributes, competencies, and capabilities. They will develop their already 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.
Academically, we provide a programmatic path by starting at the economic level, providing a macro-vision of future value creation and consumption systems. We then proceed to the firm level by investigating the parameters, conditions, and limitations of new business models. These, in turn require new forms of collaboration, co-creation, and co-determination in high-powered creative groups and teams. At the individual level, we focus on generating the leadership effect and innovation capacity. We integrate the above with a fundamentally challenging ethical context of the experience economy with its dimensions of social value, private means, intellectual contributions and property, and the imperatives of sustainability, ecological accountability, and otherwise business-environmental responsibility. And we finally put it together in our capstone course New Design Firms, identifying the potential, the competitive advantage, and the fundamental imperative of design-centric strategy for managers, entrepreneurs, innovators, policy-makers, and business-catalysts.
We support the content of new learning with immediate and real-life application through studio courses with real-life external partner engagement and with tangible deliverables.
Additionally, the program delivery not only relies on highly qualified and accomplished faculty but also reaps tremendous benefits from its capability of attracting high-profile real-world instructors that are leading the charge for strategic design thinking and design intelligence in their respective design consultancies, creative firms, and innovative entrepreneurial or corporate ventures.
This relatively young program remains dynamic, continuously prospecting for new opportunities to incorporate into curriculum, delivery, and positioning. Our identity is creating impact at unprecedented levels in industry and academia and is aggressively defining the contours of a new discipline with its new competitive parameters. An exciting number of future employers, faculty, and partners contacting us are creating tremendously important opportunities and prospect for our students.
Who is this program suited for?
MS SD&M is particularly 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 on one hand 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.
How is this program unique and competitive?
The program is unique in that it integrates a creative, rigorous course of study in business logic, economic rationality, organizational reality, and design thinking. The curriculum 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 SD&M program proposes to do. The creators of the MS SD&M 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 the Business of Design graduate certificate option composed of the six content-focused courses without the studio and lab experience. Geared to the working professional, MS SD&M accommodates students with online, evening, and blended instruction, enabling the program to reflect a global focus. The MS SD&M 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 faculty.
What is the program's instructional delivery format? What is its curricular structure?
Students anywhere in the world can complete the MS SD&M program in an online format with a total of two weeks of intensive studio work in residence in New York City (scheduled mostly during the week following the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday in January). It can also be undertaken entirely on-site in New York. Combining online and on-site modules is also possible, immigration and residency requirements permitting. The curriculum 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.
What are the academic requirements and required levels of professional and practical experience for the MS SD&M program?
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.
Where can I find additional information about the programs?
The central information source for our ongoing activities and initiatives is our program-specific blog: sds.parsons.edu/designmanagement.
For institutional information, visit the links below:
Is the MS SD&M program for me?
The MS SD&M is intended for students interested in a cutting-edge, profoundly novel, progressive, and strongly future-oriented program, one that will undoubtedly become mainstream quickly. MS SD&M 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, the 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.
Indeed, the program requires students to take on and commit to the challenge of becoming co-producers of their own experience and contribute in addition to their academic work. Most of our projects and activities outside of the curriculum are student-design, student-initiated, and student-run, such as the Global Design Network for alumni relations, the hosting of high-profile renowned new-economy NYC firms for presentations of opportunities and relationships, the Culture Council composed of practitioners, students, and faculty form other divisions of The New School that participates in the governance of the program, as well as numerous other initiatives that function as a sounding boards and feedback mechanisms to the program, the director, and the institution.
What else should I know about the Graduate Certificate in Business of Design?
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 both online and on-site and with fall entry. The MS SD&M and the graduate certificate are distinct programs. Students can apply to transfer between the two programs based on exceptional circumstances and justification to be reviewed by the director; however, admission is not guaranteed.
What do I need to know about the program's integrative studios, research component, and internships?
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.
What types of jobs, careers, and professional paths are open to individuals who complete this program?
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 SD&M is the platform that supports this talent pool programmatically and academically.
What is the cost of this program?
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 SD&M 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 $28,000 per year, based on this calculation:
$1,520 per credit (2014–15) x 18 credits, or roughly $27,360 per year, plus university fees.
Students who apply to the MS SD&M program by the priority scholarship deadline will be automatically considered for merit scholarships if accepted to the program. Please note, however, that students in the Business of Design certificate program are not eligible to receive merit scholarships.
How do I apply to the program?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What should I know if I am an International Student?
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 studio sessions.
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 Business of Design are able to complete the certificate program either online or on-site. On-site students must complete the I-20 application process after they have been admitted.