Curriculum

Our curriculum includes systems thinking and modeling, strategy and scenario planning, qualitative and qualitative research, rapid prototyping, data visualization, analog and digital design tools, and collaborative leadership.

  • Year One
  • Year Two

Fall

Course Type Credits
Systems Thinking Critical Studies 3
Research + Insights Seminar 3
Design Methods CD Studio 3
Design Sprint Workshop (Studio) 1
Speculative Design & Long Term Design Thinking Studio 3
Hallie Ford Elective - Print Hallie Ford Studio 3

Spring

Course Type Credits
Design Futures and Ecologies Critical Studies 3
Styles of Facilitation and Collaboration Seminar 3
Methods 2: Design Deliverables Studio 3/6
Visual Facilitation Workshop (Studio) 1
Hallie Ford Elective - Code or Craft Hallie Ford Studio 3

MA program: MFA program:

Fall

Course Type Credits
Cultural Entrepreneurship Critical Studies 3
Strategy & Forsight Studio 3
Capstone Studio Studio (Making) 3
Data Visualization Workshop (Studio) 1
Design Studio Studio (Critique) 3
Hallie Ford Elective - Teach or Craft Hallie Ford Studio 3

Spring

Course Type Credits
Creative Leadership, Equity and Ethics Critical Studies 3
Capstone Seminar (Writing) Seminar 3
Capstone Studio (Critique) Studio 3/6
Conflict Facilitation Workshop (Studio) 1
Design Studio (Making) Studio 3
Hallie Ford Elective - Craft Hallie Ford Studio 3

MA program: MFA program:

Program Comparison

MFA Collaborative Design

  • For the early to mid-career creative
  • An immersive MFA program
  • Studio emphasis, terminal masters
  • Mentored capstone + thesis
  • Three afternoons / evenings per week
  • Two years / 60 credits

MA Design Systems

  • For the early to mid-career creative
  • An executive Masters program
  • Leadership / professional emphasis
  • Thesis only
  • Two afternoons / evenings per week
  • Two years, 40 credits

More About Curriculm

Shared Projects

The Collaborative Design curriculum is project-based, preparing participants to tackle complex problems at multiple scales using a variety of design techniques. Courses are often connected to each other through shared projects. We learn together in a cycle of discovery, doing, evaluation, and iteration. Topics adapt each year to local, regional and global opportunities and concerns, as well as faculty and student interests.

Course Descriptions

Critical Studies

Critical Studies courses enable students to understand and work with complex systems; approach design as an interacting set of actors, objects and techniques; take initiative to make proposed design solutions a reality; and develop leadership skills that will maximize effectiveness with colleagues, stakeholders and clients.

​Critique Seminars

Critique Seminars provide participants with critical feedback on group and individual projects. Using theory, case studies and in-class project, seminars explore current design research methods, collaboration and facilitation techniques, problem identification and stakeholder engagement methods, and culminate with a capstone project that launches each participant into the next stage of their creative career. Our seminars are highlighted by monthly Designed Futures talks with guest speakers.

Studios

Studios provide hands-on project experience in specific problem domains, working with clients, collaborators and partners. Each studio facilitates a pattern of discovery, proposal, and build, where students are presented with - or develop - a design brief, and collaboratively create design solutions.

Workshops

Workshops build specific skills in a fast-paced one-credit studio intensive. The role of the workshop instructor is to bring domain expertise or a thoughtful plan for experimentation that allows students to acquire a set of skills, techniques or way of working.

Independent Study

Independent Study allows for exploration of topics not incorporated into the curricula of regular classes. Students work with the chair and community partners to craft a project proposal and resources to pursue a particular line of research, design, craft, or entrepreneurial activity.

​Collaborative Design Internships

Collaborative Design Internships are an important component of the program, offering the chance to apply program learnings to the workplace, and bring industry challenges into the classroom. Students are expected to engage in these 1-credit opportunities beginning in the spring of Year 1.

Hallie Ford Electives

Hallie Ford Electives are offered by PNCA’s six graduate programs, and broaden participants skills in craft, code, theory, writing, print and pedagogy.

The MFA Capstone

Capstone Projects

The world is becoming increasingly complex. Industry, society and environment cannot be understood or influenced separately. We take on the big issues — resource depletion, energy and climate change, emerging technologies, demographic shifts, equity — in a project-based format with key partners, preparing participants to tackle complex problems at multiple scales using a variety of design techniques.

Questions?

Reach out to MK Guth: Director of Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies, to schedule a tour or to learn more about the program.

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