Strategic Design and Management (MS)

  • 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).

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    Design Thinking in Global Contexts

    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. 

    Real-World Focus

    A 36-credit program, Strategic Design and Management 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. 

    Global Executive Option

    An 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.


    Tailored to Working Professionals

    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. Students in this program also benefit from the resources, student networks, and faculty expertise of a university-wide community engaged in management and entrepreneurship. 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, ranging from an alumni mentorship program to three-, nine-, and 12-month fellowship, incubator, and accelerator options. 

    Future Opportunities

    Graduates are well positioned for careers in business, sustainability management, innovation, social enterprise, strategic and service design, and entrepreneurship.

  • Student Work

    See More Student Work From the Program


    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.

    The curriculum chart below reflects the typical course of study in this program. To view curriculum adjustments for the exceptional 2020-2021 academic year, click here.


    Program Contact

    • Michele Kahane, Program Director & Professor of Professional Practice in Management and Social Innovation
    • Koray Caliskan, Associate Director & Associate Professor of Strategic Design and Management
    • Matthew Robb, Associate Director & Assistant Professor of Design and Sociology

    Full-Time Faculty

      Part-Time Faculty

        See All Program Faculty


        What is the program's focus?

        As our geopolitical structures, our socioeconomic systems, even our personal career aspirations, as well as the underlying contexts of ethical responsibility evolve 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, and 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 transforming 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 the way 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 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 are contacting us, creating tremendously important opportunities and prospect for our students.

        Whom is this program suited for?

        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.

        In what ways 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, 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, studios, and labs. 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 online. It can also be completed 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.

        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, 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.

        What do I need to know about the program's integrative studios, research component, and internships?

        The MS Strategic Design and Management program has three six-credit components. Students complete two six-credit integrative studios in the program's spring semesters. In Integrative Studio 1, students—working in teams—apply their learning in projects structured like ones in real-world industry. Students complete one six-credit research component in the fall semester of the second year, conducting in-depth design research for the entire semester on a topic of their choosing. In Integrative Studio 2, students build on the Independent Research Course work to prototype and test the business models generated from the research conducted in the prior semester.

        Internships: 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 who 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 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 organizations. Or they may want to develop and help lead evolution within their current organizations. 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), and 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?

        For the most up-to-date information on tuition and credit costs, please visit the Registrar's website, which outlines tuition and fees.

        What should I know if I am an international student?

        This program is designed as a global program, and most of the online version can be completed from anywhere in the world. 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.

        Admission Requirements

        Applicant Profile

        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. A minimum of 3-5 years of professional experience is strongly encouraged.

        Application and Financial Aid Deadlines

        Application Deadline

        The application deadline is January 2. To be most competitive for admission and merit scholarship consideration, please apply before the deadline. We will continue to review applications submitted after the 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.

        Financial Aid Deadline

        Merit Scholarships:
        All admitted students are considered for merit scholarship awards determined by the strength of their applications. International students are eligible only for merit scholarships.

        Federal Student Aid:
        If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found at The FAFSA is available each year on October 1. The New School’s federal school code is 002780. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid. Submit your FAFSA by our February 1 FAFSA Priority Deadline.

        Application Instructions

        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.

        In addition to submitting the online application, applicants can submit an optional portfolio using SlideRoom:

        1. Finalize your portfolio at the time you submit your application. This will help prevent any delays in reviewing your application, as we need to receive all required materials before we can place your application under review.
        2. Once you have submitted the SlideRoom materials, a confirmation number will be emailed to you. Save this for your records and enter it on the online application when requested.

        Required Application Materials

        1. Application Form: Complete the online application. All applicants are required to apply online.
        2. Application Fee: The application fee is $50. The fee is paid through the online application and is non-refundable. There is also a $10 SlideRoom fee.
        3. Transcripts:
          Unofficial Transcripts: Applicants must upload an unofficial transcript, mark sheet, or academic record for each institution (even if you didn’t receive a degree) in the Educational Background section of the online application.
          • All transcript uploads must be accompanied by a key, a legend, or the back copy of the transcript.
          • Non-English transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation. Records from non-U.S. institutions must have grades or marks and contain a copy of diploma if the degree has been conferred.
          • Make sure your name appears on the transcript/record. Scans must be clear and legible.
          • If you experience trouble uploading your transcript, email and give a detailed description of the issue and attach the document in question.
          The New School reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admission process. Any fraudulent activity or discrepancies found between uploaded and official transcripts will result in the immediate revocation of admission and/or dismissal from The New School. Transcripts uploaded with the online application are considered unofficial.

          Official Transcripts: Applicants offered admission will be required to submit official transcripts with proof of their degree conferral prior to enrollment. Admitted applicants must submit all official transcripts pertaining to their entire academic career. Transcripts uploaded with the online application do not satisfy this requirement.

          Submitting Transcripts By Mail: Applicants should make arrangements to have their college/university send transcripts directly to The New School at the mailing address for Supplemental Materials. All transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope with the institutional seal and signature of the registrar. All documents not written in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

          Submitting Electronic Transcripts (U.S./Domestic Institutions Only): The New School accepts electronic transcripts only from our approved vendors:
          • National Student Clearinghouse
          • Parchment Exchange
          • SCRIP-SAFE International
          We do not accept electronic transcripts sent directly by a student or school offices. All international academic credentials must be submitted as indicated in the International Academic Credentials sections below.

          International Academic Credentials: All transcripts not written in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

          International Academic Credentials with Transfer Credits: Applicants who attended postsecondary institutions outside of the United States are required to have their transcript(s) evaluated by World Education Services (WES), Education Credential Evaluators (ECE), or by another member of the National Association of Credit Evaluation Services (NACES). A course-by-course evaluation must be prepared for each transcript.

          Follow all document requirements as outlined on the evaluation service providers’ websites. Evaluations completed by WES or ECE will be sent directly to us electronically by the vendor.

          All other NACES provider evaluation should be mailed directly by the vendor to the address for Supplemental Materials. A copy of the transcript which was evaluated should accompany the evaluation in the same sealed envelope or the official transcript should be sent directly to The New School by the issuing college/university.
        4. Résumé: Submit a brief résumé/curriculum vitae summarizing your academic qualifications, relevant work experience, volunteer/community work, travel, exhibitions, public speaking, or any other relevant experiences as they may relate to your field of study, including dates and positions held. Please also note any special language or computer skills that you have.
        5. Statement of Purpose: Please outline your reasons for applying to this program. In what ways will you contribute to the subject matter of the program? How have your specific work experiences in design, business, consulting, or nonprofit organizations shaped your motivation for this program and the resulting professional goals? Do you see this program as a career enhancing or career changing opportunity? Specifically, where do you see your career going upon completion of the program. You should include a thoughtful description of your background, tentative plan of study or area of inquiry in the field as you now envision it, your professional goals, and an explanation of how this graduate program will help you realize those goals. If you have not been enrolled as a student in the past five years, please address anticipated opportunities and challenges in pursuing the degree, and future career expectations upon completion of the program. (500–750-word limit)
        6. Recommendation Letters: Two letters of recommendation are required. Recommenders may submit recommendations online. Instructions are included in the online application. If preferred, the recommendation forms may be sent by mail in signed, sealed envelopes. To send by mail, download the PDF recommendation form found in the online application, complete the Applicant Information section, and save the form. Forward the saved form to the recommenders to complete the remaining sections and submit. Applicants may also send signed and sealed recommendations to the Office of Admission using an Application Materials Cover Sheet.
        7. Program Essay: A program essay of approximately 500 words must accompany the application. Be creative, allow your personality to shine through. The essay must identify your motivation for study in the program by briefly addressing each of the four following topics:
          • Describe a situation in which you combined analysis and creativity to solve a challenging problem. The problem could be personal, social, political, environmental, or something quite different. The Admission Committee is interested more in your process or method in considering the problem than in whether you reached a definitive solution.
          • Tell us something about yourself that we could not find in the application materials you have submitted.
          • If you could create a new course for the Strategic Design and Management program, what would it be called? Provide a short course description to accompany your new proposed course title.
          • What makes you happy?
        8. Portfolio (Optional): The portfolio must be completed in SlideRoom only. The Strategic Design and Management program welcomes applications from designers, researchers, professionals, and academics. Submit no more than 20 items that you believe best represent your background, interests in design thinking, design strategy, innovation, work process, and writings. These may include research outcomes, design strategies, articles, publications, photography, interviews, presentations, video clips, websites, blog URLs, essays, or other media. Where appropriate, include descriptions of the projects, explanations of your role (if the project involved a team), and/or a thoughtful description of the context of the project. If you have dynamic media or other time-based work, you can upload it using SlideRoom.
        9. Test Scores:
          GRE and GMAT (Optional): Although it is not required, if you took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), scores can be submitted to support your application. GRE scores should be sent electronically. The institution code 2638. Mail GMAT scores to the Office of Admission with an Application Materials Cover Sheet.

          TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, and Duolingo: All applicants whose first language is not English must submit valid TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo scores. The minimum score required for TOEFL (IB) is 92, for IELTS is 7.0, for PTE is 63, and for Duolingo is 115. Our TOEFL institution code is 2638.

          The New School does not require TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo scores for applicants who have earned a four-year degree from a U.S. college/university or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (minimum of three years attendance). After reviewing your application, the Office of Admission may require you to submit an English Language Proficiency test score to evaluate your candidacy.

          We accept test scores taken within the past two years. If your scores are older, you must retake the test.

          Applicants also have the option of enrolling in The New School English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Students must pass Level 6 to waive the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE/Duolingo requirement. Visit the ESL website for more information.
        10. Interview: Students may be invited for an interview in person or by phone.

        Additional Information and Instructions

        1. Applying to More Than One Program: In any given term, a student can apply to only one department or program within The New School. Applicants who file more than one application in a given semester will be required to withdraw one of the applications, and application fees will not be refunded.
        2. Application Materials: All materials submitted in association with The New School application become the property of The New School and cannot be returned to you or transmitted to a third party.
        3. Application Status: Applications become complete and ready for review once all required items have been received by the Office of Admission. You can check your application status online at the Admission Hub.

          Allow at least 14 days from the date you submitted your application for items to be matched and shown as received on the Hub. Applicants are responsible for following up with schools and recommenders to confirm that items have been sent.

          The Office of Admission will periodically notify applicants by email if their file is missing any documents and again when their file is complete for review. These notifications are sent to the email address provided in the online application.
        4. Readmission:
          The Application for Readmission should be completed by students who wish to return after an absence of four semesters (fall and spring). If you would like to apply for readmission, review the readmission deadlines and requirements in the Readmission section of our How to Apply information.
        5. Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials:
          Parsons School of Design
          Office of Admission (PS 300)
          79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
          New York, NY 10003

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