The Master of Science in Strategic Design and Management program brings together a diverse group aspiring to initiate and lead change in emerging fields: business professionals wishing to address business challenges through design, design practitioners seeking to acquire expertise in business and leadership, and entrepreneurs looking to develop transformative business propositions for an evolving global economy. Led by a world-class faculty, the program is both academically rigorous and practice-oriented, providing hands-on learning experiences. Students can complete the MS entirely on campus or online, or in a blended learning format.
This program is part of Parsons' School of Design Strategies (SDS). Learn about the
SDS community and explore our
blog to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.
The MS in Strategic Design and Management responds to the major restructuring of economies worldwide. The program brings together design thinking — tools borrowed from studio practice and applied broadly, such as ideation, prototyping, design research and ethnography, and collaborative work — and service design and sustainability frameworks. Strategic Design and Management graduate students focus on the evolving global economy and are exposed to sophisticated real-world perspectives on strategy, sustainability, management, leadership, entrepreneurship, and design innovation and research.
A 36-credit program, Strategic Design and Management coursework incorporates cutting-edge analyses of the new economy, which help students develop new business models and organizational designs for creative and other industries. These classes provide hands-on experience in designing, managing, and improving many types of firms, including design-intensive and creative businesses. Studios enable students to apply their course learning to projects and prepare for industry and consulting jobs. Parsons also offers an 18-credit graduate certificate in
Business of Design.
executive version of the MS Strategic Design and Management program is also available. It is structured as a series of six three-day seminars held at the
Parsons Paris campus, combined with online learning, hands-on studios, and global experiences in New York and Shanghai. Courses are taken one at a time, and the full program takes about 18 months to complete.
With evening and online classes, this flexible graduate program is well suited to early- to mid-career professionals seeking to complement their design and business expertise with professional application. The program connects students to the broader intellectual community of Parsons and the other schools and research centers of The New School. Housed in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, the program is part of a leading urban university known for its courses on design thinking, organizational management, nonprofit management, sustainability management, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Parsons is home to the
ELab, a design led business lab dedicated to entrepreneurial practice and research. ELab currently offers four programs, spanning from an alumni mentorship program to 3, 9, and 12 month fellowship, incubator, and accelerator options.
Graduates are well positioned for careers in business, sustainability management, innovation, social enterprise, strategic and service design, and entrepreneurship.
The Master of Science degree is awarded for completion of 36 credits. Transfer credits are not accepted. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.
*Online sections of Integrative Studio 1 and Integrative Studio 2 require a mandatory on-campus intensive prior to the start of spring semester.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the Strategic Design and Management Community
As our geopolitical structures, our socio-economic systems, even our personal career aspirations as well as the underlying contexts of ethical responsibility are evolving ever more intensely and turbulently, we have set an ambitious mandate 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 develop 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 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.
The program's unique, focused, and innovative curriculum prepares a future generation of "chaos pilots," game changers, and innovation pioneers who 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 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 an evolving 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 these 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 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, policymakers, and business catalysts.
We support the content of new learning with immediate and real-life application through studio courses with external partner engagement and with tangible deliverables.
In addition, 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 who are leading the charge for strategic design thinking and design intelligence in their 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.
MS SD&M 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 on one hand to mid-career business professionals who need to complement their existing capabilities with design thinking and on the other 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 is also 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 work 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, 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, incorporating 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, made up 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.
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.
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, and 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-designed, 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 from other colleges of The New School, which participates in the governance of the program; and numerous other initiatives that function as sounding boards and feedback mechanisms for the program, the director, and the institution.
Individuals who are unable to pursue 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
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.
The MS Strategic Design and Management program has 3 six-credit components; that is, 2 six-credit integrative studios in the program's spring semesters. In the Integrative Studio 1, students—working in teams—apply their learning in projects structured like real world industry. Students complete 1 six-credit research component in the fall semester of the second year conducting indepth design research for the entire semester on a topic of their choosing. In Integrative Studio 2 students build off of the Independent Research Course work to prototype and test their business models generated off the research conducted in the prior semester.
Both online studios 1 and 2 require attending in person for full 5 days during the January Intensive in NYC to graduate.
Internships: Please note that students may carry a maximum of 2 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 who 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 or 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.
For the most up-to-date information on tuition and credit costs, please visit the
Registrar's website, which outlines tuition and fees.
This program is designed as a global program, and most 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 can complete the certificate program either online or on-site. On-site students must complete the I-20 application process after they have been admitted.
The Strategic Design and Management program seeks students who want to become the game changers of the new economy and its new actors, digital firms, social information networks, and co-productive individuals. Motivated by the opportunities of our transforming economic landscape, committed to contributing new business models, innovative organizational designs, and progressive architectures for cyberspace, and determined to shift paradigms, students of various professional and academic backgrounds, experiences, and trajectories that want to not only change their own course, but help shape the future of business through design management practices are invited to apply.
The application deadline is January 1. To be most competitive for admission and merit scholarship consideration, please apply before the deadline. We will continue to review applications submitted after the January 1 priority deadline pending space availability in the program. The Admission Committee will make a decision on your application only after all the required materials have been received. Spring term admission is not offered for this program. The fall term readmission deadline is August 1 (review
readmission information below).
Financial Aid Deadline
All applicants selected for admission into our program are considered for a merit scholarship award that is determined by the strength of their application. Scholarship award notification is communicated at the same time as the admission decision. International students are eligible only for merit scholarships. If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found on the Web at
www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA is available each year on October 1. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid; we recommend submitting by our FAFSA priority deadline of February 1 for fall applicants. (The New School’s federal school code is 002780.)
All applicants are required to apply online. Save your work frequently and print a copy for your records. You must complete all required fields and uploads prior to submission.
Any additional supporting documents that need to be sent by mail must include an
Application Materials Cover Sheet. All supporting materials must be received before your application can be reviewed.
See below for additional information regarding submission of transcripts and recommendations.
Application for Readmission (PDF) should be completed by students who wish to return after an absence of four semesters (fall and spring). Students must reapply to the program to which they were originally admitted. Readmission is only available for current New School programs. If you are looking to transfer 24 or more semester-based credits, you should apply for admission as a transfer student according to the instructions outlined above. The following materials are required of applicants seeking readmission:
Rhea Alexander and Raz Godelnik, Program Directors