List by Program Name > Master of Design

Program Name: Master of Design
Degree: Master of Design
Division: Design
Program Description

The MASTER OF DESIGN (MDes) is a 60-credit program that normally consists of a four-semester residency or two calendar years beginning in September of each year. In addition to course work, students are expected to complete and present a substantial design research project at the end of the fourth semester of study. The program also offers students the option of completing their degree on a part-time basis over the course of eight Fall and Winter semesters.

The program is aimed at graduates of Bachelor of Design programs, or related fields of study, and professional designers who wish to broaden their expertise through further critical, theoretical research and practice.

 MDes students pursue practice-led design research, explorations of process, applications of theory, and scholarly writing.  In a series of studio and theory courses and in their thesis projects, students are encouraged to look beyond the conventional strategies to formulate new and critical responses to social design opportunities.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the MDes welcomes students with diverse academic and cultural backgrounds.

Up to 15 credits at the graduate level from other recognized post-secondary institutions may be accepted for transfer credit, subject to the approval of the Program Director.

Program Requirements:

Master of Design - Full-Time Standard Academic Plan of Study

Course Fall Year 1 Credits
MDes 6005 Intensive Design Workshop:  Topic 1 1
MDes 6510 Projects Studio 1 6
MDes 6050 Design Studio Workshop:  Topic 1 3
MDes 6210 Design Seminar: Topic 1 3
MDes 6150 Design History 3
  Semester Total 16
Winter Year 1
MDes 6006 Intensive Design Workshop:  Topic 2 1
MDes 6520 Projects Studio 2 6
MDes 6060 Design Studio Workshop:  Topic 2 3
MDes 6220 Design Seminar: Theory 3
MDes 6120 Design Research 3
  Semester Total 16
Fall Year 2
MDes 6007 Intensive Design Workshop:  Topic 3 1
MDes 6530 Projects Studio 3 6
MDes 6070 Design Studio Workshop: Topic 3 3
MDes 6230 Design Seminar: Topic 2 3
MDes 6550 Degree Project Preparation and Presentation 3
  Semester Total 16
Winter Year 2
MDes 6560 Degree Project (Thesis) – Directed Studio 12
  Semester Total 12
  Program Total 60
MDes 6080 Graduate Design Practicum (in place of MDes 6060 or 6070) 6
MDes 6090 Graduate Design Field Study (in place of MDes 6060) 6
MDes 6199 Approved Transfer Credit (from another institution) Up to 15
MDes 6130 Design Research (Topic) 3
MDes 6008 Intensive Design Workshop:  Topic 4 1
Facilities and Technology:

Facilities Information


Design Faculty Information

Admission from University or College: Applicants to the Master of Design Program should possess a Bachelor of Design Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree in a related discipline, or the equivalent qualifications from a four year university or college program; ability as an artist, crafts person or designer; an interest in the role of design in society; the economy; design history and theory; teaching and research at a postsecondary level; and academic competency. Applicants to the MDES Program will generally be expected to have completed the equivalent of NSCAD’s undergraduate art history and critical studies and liberal arts and science requirements and to have maintained an overall “B” average in relevant academic course work. Applicants from other disciplines are welcome; however, they may be admitted on the condition that they successfully complete specific qualifying courses at the undergraduate level. A minimum grade of “B” must be earned in all courses. The selection of qualifying courses is at the discretion of the MDES Admissions Committee and may include both studio and historical and critical studies courses. This study will be undertaken at the applicant’s own expense and does not guarantee admission to the MDES Program.
Sample Study Guide:

With a unique curriculum that combines critical inquiry and material application, the MDes program offers the graduate design student several unique advantages:

Three or four Intensive Design Workshops, assigned one credit each, that allow students to work with guest designers in a concentrated and collaborative fashion on specific design problems over an intensive period. [MDES 6005, MDES 6006, MDES 6007, MDES 6008]

In a series of three six-credit courses (Projects Studio I, II and III), students first engage in a series of projects that develop their ability to combine theory and practice.  In the second course, the students focus on complex design projects that integrate new ideas with established theories and practices.  In the third course in this series, the students work on projects that emphasize design theory and research through practice, and that require reflective and mindful inquiry.  [MDES 6510, MDES 6520, MDES 6530]

Three Design Studio Workshops, assigned three credits each, will provide concentrated design exploration in three distinct topic areas, one in each of the three courses and using any one of a variety of approaches and designs.  [MDES 6050, MDES 6060, MDES 6070]

Three Design Seminars are offered, one on Design Theory and two on specific design topics.  Through analysis and interpretation, each of the courses will include readings, written assignments, oral interpretations and studio assignments.  [MDES 6210, MDES 6220, MDES 6230]

A three-credit Design History course provides students with an overview of developments in design in the context of historical developments in the twentieth and twenty-first century.  [MDES 6150]

A three-credit Design Research course introduces students to research methodologies, methods and techniques through a process that leads into an intensive, systematic inquiry of theoretical and/or practical issues.  [MDES 6120]

In preparation for the Degree Project (Thesis), a three-credit Degree Project Preparation and Presentation course will guide the students through readings, written assignments and oral presentations.  [MDES 6550]

Under the guidance of one or more instructors, each student will prepare and present their Degree Project (Thesis). The twelve-credit course is typically offered as the only course taken during the full-time student’s final semester.  Part-time students will be able to take the course over an extended period based on a mutually agreed upon plan of study between each student and the Program Director.  {MDES 6560]

Subject to the approval of the Program Director, a six-credit Graduate Design Practicum [MDES 6080] may be used as an elective in place of MDES 6060 or MDES 6070.

Subject to the approval of the Program Director, a six-credit Graduate Design Field Study [MDES 6090] may be used as an elective in place of MDES 6060.

Subject to the approval of the Program Director, a three-credit Degree Research course [MDES 6130] may also be used as an elective to fulfill graduation requirements