Our approach to learning is project-based, meaning students engage in multi-layered challenges with hands-on design activity from the moment they arrive. Students have two options of study, 3-Year and the 2-Year. All students will do a Thesis Year in their final two terms of study.

The projects are crafted by the program’s core faculty, informed by their own cutting-edge research and influenced by global events and recent developments in science and culture.

Students learn to shift modes quickly, whether they are working in the studio or doing fieldwork in an international locale. In a typical week, a student might move from building a working prototype, to meeting with a research scientist, to testing in a participant’s home, to leading a community workshop, to salvaging electronics or to editing a short video.

3-Year Program

3-Year or the Development Year is designed to introduce sophisticated graduate students to their future practice as Media Designers. The Design + Technology curriculum prepares students to integrate past experiences from a broad range of backgrounds into a design approach that is fully realized in their concept year and thesis work.

3-Year Learning Objectives

  1. Construct and follow effective pathways and strategies for self-learning, self-initiate and take risks, using rigorous design thinking-through-making for inquiry, speculation, working with diverse people and world building Conceive, craft, articulate, situate, and critique media design.
  2. Identify and evaluate specific themes, practices and problematics of media design and begin exploring these in the context of their own interests and expertise
  3. Integrate and control technology with intentionality and creativity.
  4. Design with an awareness of diverse social and cultural contexts (approach ideas, materials and concepts as culturally and historically contingent, using design to rework and challenge orthodoxies embedded in dominant narratives)

View 3-Year Curriculum Grid

2-Year Program

2-Year or the Concept Year provides a curriculum… MDP selects applicants for the two-year option who are designers with exceptional training and experience in the visual, spatial, interactive and graphic design fields, and who can realize high-level concepts with skill in visual communication and interactive design.

2-Year Learning Objectives

  1. Critical Point of View
  2. Articulated Interest Area
  3. Engages Current Issues
  4. Quality of Design Outcomes
  5. Informed Risks & New Territories from Prior Work

View 2-Year Curriculum Grid

Thesis Year

The Thesis Year is a two-term personal project where students take methods learned and actively define new design opportunities / territories through research and engagement with diverse social, cultural and technological contexts. Students synthesize their work in the final year through a series classes, committee advisement meetings (one-on-one and group), lectures, presentations and reviews. The year culminates with a thesis symposium, exhibition, paper, and publication.

Thesis and Program Learning Objectives 

  1. Design – Define new design opportunities/territories through research and engagement with diverse social, cultural and technological contexts. Demonstrate an advanced ability to design and communicate across a range of media and modalities. Create work that engages a range of theoretical and applied domains.
  2. Practice – Construct a personal process and employ methodologies that support critical reflection, self-learning, agility, and taking informed risks. Assemble a body of work that interrogates specific interests and domains through design. Productively frame and argue for one’s design endeavors in the context of present and future critique.
  3. Influence – Exercise design and thought leadership by contributing to disciplinary discourse, arguing for new practices and initiating dialogues within new domains through design.