Design Research

Major: Design Research
Degree Awarded: Master of Science in Design Research (MsDes)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 48.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 50.0499
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 04.0401

About the Program

We train question makers, strategists, collaborative leaders, and design thinkers! The Dexel Ms Design Research (MsDes) is the innovative, interdisciplinary, and distinguished program for you to become a design leader in the 21st-century workplace.

Created to serve students across all design disciplines, creatives, and those looking to make a career change, our program is a self-tailored, yet structured and guided, program. This engagement-oriented program includes extensive coursework in social interest design, design-led strategy, and future-oriented technologies. Students in the program produce a wide range of new knowledge related to emerging technologies, services, spaces, products, and experiences. Design research in our program is a way of creating new knowledge that drives innovative design processes and collaborative problem-solving. 

Alumni from our program work across multiple industries, in complex settings with interdisciplinary teams including the non-profit, academic, health, product development, fashion, manufacturing, built environment, and financial sectors. Students in our Design Research Program are specifically educated and challenged in design and strategy, across diverse contexts. All are exposed to a wide range of research and design practices through multiple collaborations with both academic and professional partners. 

This 48-credit program is can be taken either full, or part-time, and we offer a range of modalities through our coursework to suit all schedules, including those with full-time work commitments. Our diverse range of current and past self-developed student topics include: circular design for service design futures, assistive tools for those in need of ambulatory access and transportation, shelter systems in the nonprofit disaster relief space, artificial intelligence and blockchain for human uses, services for sustainable living, health and community in education. 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 Design *3.0
or CCM 704 Research Methods in Communication, Culture and Media
or CRTV 620 Research Methods and Assessment of Creative and Innovative Thinking
or PSY 510 Research Methods I
or URBS 530 Quantitative Methods & Reasoning for Urban Strategists
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 Practicum3.0
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 Credits48.0

Or other course with advisor approval


Select 15.0 credits from 500-600 level courses, including I599, I699, T580, T680, in AS-I, CRTV, DIGM, DSRE, ENTP, ENVS, EPI, FASH, IDM, INFO, PBHL, RMER

Sample Plan of Study

Full-time Sample Plan of Study

First Year
ARTH 530, CCM 704, CRTV 620, PSY 510, URBS 530, or VSST 501*3.0DSRE 6303.0DSRE 6413.0
DSRE 6203.0DSRE 6353.0DSRE 6453.0
DSRE 6253.0Elective3.0DSRE 6503.0
 9 9 9
Second Year
DSRE 7503.0DSRE 7603.0DSRE 7703.0
 9 9 3
Total Credits 48

Or other course with advisor approval

Part-time Sample Plan of Study

First Year (Part-Time)
DSRE 6203.0DSRE 6303.0DSRE 6453.0Electives6.0
DSRE 6253.0DSRE 6353.0DSRE 6503.0 
 6 6 6 6
Second Year (Part-Time)
DSRE 7503.0DSRE 7603.0DSRE 6413.0ARTH 530, CCM 704, CRTV 620, PSY 510, URBS 530, or VSST 501*3.0
Elective3.0Elective3.0DSRE 7703.0Elective3.0
 6 6 6 6
Total Credits 48

Or other course with advisor approval

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) Senior Vice President for Real Estate and Development. Distinguished Teaching Professor. Urban planning, economic development, urban governance
Joseph H. Hancock, II, PhD (Ohio State University) Retail & Merchandising Program Director. 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) Associate Program Director. Associate Professor. Sourcing strategies for the apparel and textile industry, fashion business practice and entrepreneurship, merchandise operations and management, retail analytics and digital design.
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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