The Masters of Arts in Design program fosters creativity, innovation, responsibility, and intellectual growth by preparing its graduates to meet the challenges pursuant to a successful career within the professional design world. Through collaborative experiences and theory-driven coursework, students broaden their understanding of the impact of design on culture and community, thereby promoting responsible leadership, and emphasizing ethical engagement and social implications of design practice. The Masters of Arts in Design program at KCAD is a residency program the builds a studio culture that engages student in experiential, collaborative learning and invites students to develop a broader understanding of design and its impact on culture and community.
As a student in the Master of Arts in Design program, you’ll engage in collaborative learning experiences and research-driven course work to broaden your understanding of design and its impact on culture and community. This residency program for established design professionals merges its own unique course offerings with graduate seminars from the Master of Fine Arts program in a flexible curriculum framework that enables you to activate your specific interests and strengths while investigating transdisciplinary approaches to thinking, making, and learning.
Building upon advanced design research practice, the program encourages you to consider a wide array of artifacts and scholarly approaches by providing opportunities and resources that inspire critical dialogues and collaborative scholarship with students from KCAD’s other graduate programs.
In the Master of Arts in Design program, you’ll develop expertise in the application of historical, critical, and theoretical models and modes of praxis to a broad range of design projects. You’ll also become empowered to translate your understanding of design as a social and cultural force to situated practice within communities. Ultimately, you’ll emerge as a creative, innovative, intellectually curious, and responsible leader capable of inspiring ethical engagement and responding mindfully to the social implications of design practice.
The Master of Arts in Design leverages KCAD’s rich history of leadership in arts and design education and expertise in design thinking and human-centered design to help you take the next giant leap forward in your professional design career.
As a graduate of the Master of Arts in Design program, you’ll be prepared to meet the challenges pursuant to a successful career within the 21st century professional design world. You will leave the program poised to advance in your current position and in your career, and you’ll also be well positioned to pursue a doctoral degree.
In the Master of Arts in Design program, your capstone project will consist of research of source material, field research, and/or the application of methods learned in advanced seminar classes to a topic related to design practice, methodology, and culture. You’ll integrate all of your coursework and classroom experiences into professional quality work that exhibits mastery of the knowledge and skills gained in the program and contributes meaningfully to the field of design.
During your time in the Master of Arts in Design program, you’ll benefit from KCAD’s Material ConneXion Satellite Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more. You’ll also have access to The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more.
You’ll also benefit from access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan, a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region.
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This course will introduce students to the writing of key scholars associated with the emergent field of Visual Studies. Additionally, this course will also include material from cognitive science on the mechanics of sight, theories of "mind," and perception.
The course will require students to read and discuss key texts that formulate different approaches to critiquing visual culture in the modern and contemporary periods (c. 1850 to the present). The course will require students to complete critical reviews and research projects.
This course will provide a forum for the completion of the master’s capstone project, which is comprised of either research of original documents and source material, field research and / or the application of methods learned in the Research and Methods seminar to a topic of design culture.
The capstone requirement is designed to encourage and require the integration of all course work and the creation of a contribution to the field of Design. Capstone work must be of professional quality and exhibit mastery of the knowledge and skills gained in this program.
This course examines the strategic points at which the philosophical branches of Aesthetics and Ethics intersect. Students will consider a range of problematic cultural artifacts and images as filtered through Platonic, Deontological, Utilitarian, Pragmatic, Care-ethical, and other key philosophical thought projects.
This course will focus on diverse methodological approaches and research processes that will lead to the development of an appropriate research question for the capstone project.
The concept of Design Communication Management is developed by examining communication systems within design and innovation processes that involve research, analysis, synthesis, and implementation as related to product/problem formulation and their interrelationships with the organizational systems of organizational learning, financial process, and formulation and their interrelationships with the organizational systems of organizational learning, financial process, and customer systems.
Leadership by Design is developed by exploring elements common to leaders and organizations in which innovation success is achieved through structuring the interrelationships between design processes, design communications, consumer-centric design thinking, and organization systems and using research, analysis, synthesis, and implementation to foster a creative culture throughout the organization.
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