What is the program's focus?
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 industrialism.
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).
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, and design thinking.
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.
Who is this program suited for?
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.
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, 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 faculty.
What is the program's instructional delivery format? What is its curricular structure?
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 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 SDM 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?
A program-specific blog is under construction and will be launched soon. Visit the links below for more information.
Is the MS SDM program for me?
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.
What else should I know about the Graduate Certificate in Design Business?
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 two programs.
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 SDM 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 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.
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 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.