Master of Design in Integrative Design

Combine design and business to solve today's most pressing problems.

From healthcare to retail, technology to transportation, social issues to issues of economy — any complex thing is bound to be, well, complicated.
But no matter what industry or inequity the problem stems from, design thinking gives us a place to start uncovering answers. The way design methodologies creatively frame and solve problems is the key to dismantling and decoding them.
Integrative Design blends many new ways of thinking — design thinking, systems thinking, future thinking, to name a few — with new ways of designing — experience design, strategic design, service design, business design — while keeping holistic, human values front and center.


Our approach

Integrative Design offers a competitive advantage in many fields, including business, engineering, healthcare, and education. Thus, students in the CCAD MDes program work directly with sponsoring organizations from across the spectrum that currently face a specific challenge that Integrative Design can help fix.
Together, the MDes candidates collaborate to find that solution, whether it be prototyping a new product or service, overhauling how patients or customers navigate a billing system or creating a program that helps communities address social change so all its members can reach their full potential.
We also focus heavily on providing leadership opportunities so students have the experience and confidence to bring Integrative Design’s innovation potential to myriad challenges and similarly transform their careers in the process. MDes students are invited to manage a design team, facilitate a strategic design workshop, participate in speaking opportunities, or spearhead a brainstorming session with other organizations.



The MDes program structure: a four-semester build

Our hands-on, experiential learning curriculum is spread out through four semesters. Each semester builds on the last one, widening students’ circle of knowledge with increased complexity of the Integrative Design approach. Throughout these topic-focused semesters, MDes candidates collaborate on real-world commercial, cultural, and community-based projects.

First Semester: Self

Real World Project I: solve a difficult problem in a saturated market
Explore how your individual background can contribute to driving innovation and what needs your field has that could be solved by Integrative Design; learn about the theories of Integrative Design and its potential to drive change; and apply what you’ve learned to a real business problem brought on by a saturated market.

Second Semester: Ecosystems

Real World Project II: solve a technology-driven, complex problem
Study, perform, and devise best practices of strategic research, which is the framework for deeply understanding any ecosystem in which you’ll work. Learn how to effectively uncover a market’s nuances, the context and the people your solution would serve (clients, users, and stakeholders), and the connections and interdependencies of a problem. You’ll learn how to apply this knowledge to generate a systemic vision from which businesses and organizations can foresee their opportunities and scenarios of value -- and from which you can create a new solution.

Third Semester: Complexity

Real World Project III: solve a human-centered, complex problem
Whether you want to design a new product-service experience or architect an organizational change, learn how to apply creativity to break down complex business and societal problems; scale integration of that solution for local, global, or universal reach; and manage risk and uncertainty as you prepare to bring a solution to life.

Fourth Semester: Implementation

Real World Project IV: Thesis
Learn how to lead the process of implementing a solution so that it is viable, reliable, and desirable; learn how to provide the strategic and business tools to spot and implement future scenarios of value; and learn and create tools to measure your solution’s impact.

The final thesis project is a capstone course during which you’ll be responsible for all phases of the design process, from initial development to final solution: Seek out and develop your own project for a real client from either the for-profit or non-profit space; consult with clients; organize teams; and oversee process, deliverables, and final solutions.



MDes program outcomes

Transformation is key -- for the organizations we help and the MDes candidates themselves.
Not only do CCAD Master of Design in Integrative Design graduates have the skills and confidence to stand out in their desired profession, they’ll be able to apply the Integrative Design framework across industries, across communities, across the world.
Graduates are able to effectively tackle challenges, galvanize their teams, and make a meaningful impact using this unique strategic process and the intangible creative skillset that comes with it. They’re the organizational leaders, cultural catalysts, and innovators of tomorrow. 

The CCAD difference

Our real-world, project-based curriculum equips students with the skills to excel at a wide range of design and management roles and plugs them into Columbus’ uniquely connected network. The MDes practicums are collaborative studio-based projects through the CCAD MindMarket,  a learning lab that connects students with industry and non-profit partners who are looking for creative and innovative solutions.


More information is available for your consideration in our Grad Studies Guidebook, or join us on campus for an information session to learn more.


Learn more about Columbus



CCAD’s real-world, project-based approach to integrative design equips grads with the skills to excel at many design and management roles. Our grads have applied the skills they built at CCAD to a variety of positions and fields.

Brand manager
Creative director
Design consultant

Design researcher
Design strategist
Environmental designer

Design manager
Service designer
Social designer


Find the right internship, write a standout resume, interview well, and land the ideal job for you.

Visit Career Services


MDes program course descriptions

Design Integration Studio I & II
GRID5001& 5002 - 6 credits

The core studios assist students with the development and understanding of their design projects through critique, discussion, presentations, and charrettes. Concurrent with the Design Projects, the Integration Studio offers opportunities for reflection and practice in building teams, collaboration, experimentation, and synthesis. Must be taken in conjunction with Design Projects.

Design Thinking and Methodology
GRID5802 - 3 credits

This course will introduce students to a human-centered approach to collaborative innovation and responsive problem solving. Students will learn history of and present applications for design thinking through case studies drawn from commercial, educational, and social sectors. The course culminates in participatory workshops that familiarize students with critical issues in planning and facilitating design thinking in contemporary organizations.

Design Integration Studio III & IV
GRID6001 & 6002 - 6 credits

The advanced studios assist students with managing and understanding their Design Projects practicums through critique, discussion, case studies, readings, and charrettes. Particular emphasis is placed on collaboration, building teams, facilitation, synthesis, conflict resolution, and managing creativity. Must be taken in conjunction with Design Projects.

Design Projects
GRID5105 & 5106, GRID6000 - 18 credits

These practicums place students in collaborative studio-based projects through the CCAD MindMarket. Students will work on commercial, cultural, and community-based projects, putting their previous design experience into practice while further cultivating collaborative approaches to solving problems in interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinary methods. Must be taken in conjunction with Design Integration Studios.

Leadership and Complexity
GRID 5803 - 3 credits

Complex leadership redirects the emphasis away from the individual as leader and toward a more systematic interdisciplinary strategy. This course actively engages students in developing the adaptive leadership skills needed to thrive in complex and changing environments. This includes how to diagnose, interrupt, and innovate to foster individual creativity, collective engagement, and creative community within ambiguous, risky and dynamic atmospheres.

Thesis Project
GRID6070 - 6 credits

In this capstone project course, students will be responsible for all phases of the design process – from initial development to final solution. They seek out and develop their own projects for real clients from either the for-profit or non-profit space. Students consult with clients, organize teams, and oversee process, deliverables, and final solutions.

Research, Creation, and Development
GRID6003 - 3 credits

Students in this course will practice how, what, and when to develop research for real-world design scenarios and solutions. They will then develop and formally present their research methods and findings. The appropriateness of specific research methods and strategies, and the understanding of their applications will be practiced and emphasized.

Communications & Advocacy
GRID5804 - 3 credits

This course provides students with the tools to facilitate constructive dialogue within creative teams and with external partners. The ability to advocate for good design solutions within organizations and communities is stressed. Narrative techniques, marshaling and mastering an argument and negotiation skills are explored.


Service Design 
GRID5806 - 3credits

The services section is among the largest and fastest growing portions of the global economy.

This course explores how innovative services are developed through systematic processes. Students learn how to Identifying potential areas of service, establish standards of delivery, define when and how to provide user interactions (channels, artifacts, actors), and measure the impact to ensure value creation and profitability.

Using a systems-thinking approach, the course is structured around hands-on, collaborative projects, applying the diverse methods, techniques and tools of service design to develop innovative customer experiences. Case studies from a wide variety of industries and contexts are explored. Elective. May be taken by non CCAD students and professionals seeking to expand their understanding and skills.

Business Foundations for Design
GRID5801 - 3 credits

The material in this course will assist design leaders with considering financial information as part of complex decision-making. By understanding the financial behind business decisions, students will be better able to manage fiscal tensions within a successful design business. This course is designed to prepare future leaders to comprehend, analyze, and develop such financial information and consider it within a relevant design context.

Planning, Sustainability and Ethics
GRID5805 - 3 credits

This course stresses strategic planning as vital to success of any enterprise. Planning is viewed in an expanded sense that fosters values, sustainability and ethical behavior. The development of goals, identifying constituents, measuring success, and establishing a feedback system for continuous improvement are emphasized.

Course information

Check out the Master of Design courses in the major flyer.

View Online Catalog



Adjunct Instructor
Graduate Studies, Master of Design
Assistant Professor
Advertising & Graphic Design, Master of Design
Chair of Interior Architecture & Design, Associate Professor
Interior Architecture & Design, Master of Design
Director of Liberal Arts, Department Head of ESL, Assistant Professor
Liberal Arts, Master of Design, Master of Fine Arts
Chair of Master of Design in Strategy & Innovation, Professor
Master of Design
Adjunct Instructor
Master of Design
Adjunct Instructor, Business, Math, & Entrepreneurship
Liberal Arts, Master of Design
Associate Professor
Advertising & Graphic Design, Master of Design, Master of Fine Arts
Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor
Graduate Studies, Master of Design, Master of Fine Arts
Adjunct Instructor, CORE Studio, Business, Math & Entrepreneurship
Liberal Arts, Master of Design
Department Head for Business, Math, & Entrepreneurship, Assistant Professor
Liberal Arts, Master of Design
Assistant Professor
Industrial Design, Master of Design


Apply now

Need more information? Contact us.


Check out the latest Master of Design in Integrative Design news