Design Research

Major: Design Research
Degree Awarded: Master of Science in Design Research (MsDes)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 46.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 50.0499
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 04.0401

About the Program

The Design Research program creates an arena for advanced students to explore and enhance their skills in areas that include technology, environmental design and health, including community-based design. Driven by the interdisciplinary nature of design, the program addresses the future in response to the emerging and complex designed environment. Designers operate in a world of increasing intricacy; this degree gives candidates a greater depth of knowledge and experience in topics relevant to present and future challenges in design. In this self-defined and flexible MS in Design Research program, students have the option to study full- or part-time, meaning that students can work a full-time job while pursuing their graduate degree. This program is unique in that it gives students the ability to chart their own customized pathways to consider multidisciplinary problems beyond the scope of traditional boundaries of individual design disciplines. Our flexible approach allows students to collaborate locally and regionally with research labs and organizations, such as the Department of Public Health, to build connections that will drive professional success.

The program includes making, research, fabrication, collaboration, and human-centered design thinking. The MS in Design Research program is part of the nationally ranked Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, housed in award-winning, technologically enhanced facilities, and taught by faculty who have worked at the top of their fields. Situated in the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism, the program benefits from its associations with faculty and students in the Interior Architecture & Design and Urban Strategy graduate programs.

The program focuses on providing a forum for students to pursue paths of inquiry and investigation within design, technology, social impact, community, environmental design, and health. This flexible program operates with a core curriculum that is built on, and augmented by, a customized set of electives and the second year thesis sequence. The curriculum, though self-directed, is grounded in research, studio class work, philosophy, theory, and iterative making. Through deep cross-collaboration, our students create cutting-edge solutions and speculative environments to study culture and human-centered design.

Admission Requirements

Undergraduate baccalaureate degree in or related to design.

Additional Information

For more information, visit the Graduate Admissions webpage.

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
ARTH 530History of Modern Design3.0
or VSST 501 Contemporary Art Issues
DSRE 620Design Problem Solving3.0
DSRE 625Technologies of Making3.0
DSRE 630Data Visualization for Design Professionals3.0
DSRE 635Translational Design Research3.0
DSRE 641Contemporary Design Theory3.0
DSRE 645Design Research Thesis Proposal3.0
DSRE 650Thesis Research and Practicum1.0
DSRE 750Thesis in Design Research I3.0
DSRE 760Thesis in Design Research II3.0
DSRE 770Thesis in Design Research III3.0
Electives *15.0
Total Credits46.0

Sample Plan of Study

First Year
ARTH 530 or VSST 5013.0DSRE 6303.0DSRE 6413.0DSRE 6501.0
DSRE 6203.0DSRE 6353.0DSRE 6453.0 
DSRE 6253.0Elective3.0Elective3.0 
 9 9 9 1
Second Year
DSRE 7503.0DSRE 7603.0DSRE 7703.0 
 9 6 3 
Total Credits 46


Note: Some terms are less than the 4.5-credit minimum required (considered half-time status) of graduate programs to be considered financial aid eligible. As a result, aid will not be disbursed to students these terms.

Design Research Faculty

Genevieve Dion, MFA (University of the Arts) Director, Center for Functional Fabrics. Associate Professor. Industrial designer, wearable artist, new materials technology research.
Ann Gerondelis, AIA, IDSA (Georgia Institute of Technology) Design Department Head. Teaching Professor. Embodied perception and its relationship to the design of human experiences, from the scale of the built environment to objects that surround us.
Alan Greenberger, FAIA (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) Department Head, Architecture, Design & Urbanism. Distinguished Teaching Professor. Urban planning, economic development, urban governance
Joseph H. Hancock, II, PhD (Ohio State University). Professor. Apparel merchandising, textiles and clothing, culture and marketing strategies.
Nick Jushchyshyn, MFA (Academy of Art University) Program Director, VR & Immersive Media. Associate Professor. Visual effects, digital media and animation.
Jackie Kilmartin, MS (University of the Sciences). Assistant Professor. Owner/designer Lillian Jackson Textiles, bio-medical textile engineer, Shima Seiki Knitwear Specialist
Nicole Koltick, MArch (University of California, Los Angeles) Director, Design Futures Lab. Associate Professor. Researching possibilities for architecture and design through the use of unexpected and innovative interdisciplinary models; computational design, digital fabrication, contemporary form making, design research, philosophy and theory of design, speculative design
Kathi Martin, MSIS (Drexel University) Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Fashion Design. Professor. Fashion and textile designer; textile artist; CAD and 3D garment simulation, best practices online databases and graphic interfaces for fashion and historic costume, virtual characters for fashion design.
Alphonso McClendon, MS (Drexel University) Program Director, Design & Merchandising. Associate Professor. Merchandising operations, product development, sourcing, omni-channel strategies.
Diana S. Nicholas, RA, AIA, NCARB, MFA (University of the Arts, Philadelphia) Director of MS Design Research, Coordinator, Sustainability in the Built Environment Minor. Assistant Professor. Coordinator, Sustainability in the Built Environment Researching Health in residential urban environment and interprofessional collaboration
Debra Ruben, NCIDQ, IDEC, LEED AP, MS (Drexel University) Academic Associate Dean; Interim Associate Dean, Graduate Studies. Associate Professor. Interior design
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