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Design Management

What design expertise do design managers have?

Our students come from various disciplines including industrial design, graphic design, communication and information design, interior design, interactive media design, architecture, and fashion design. They work for – or go on to work for – corporations, design firms, educational institutions, and government. Design Managers practice industrial design, graphic design, service design, environment design, brand identity, or interface design, among others.

How well equipped must a Design Manager be as a designer? How good must a MPS recipient be to be taken seriously as a Design Manager? These are unresolved questions. But a good balance between Design and Management is probably the right answer. An MBA is just business. A DM isn’t just business.

What is “design thinking”?"

Design thinking is the strategy side of design. Design thinking is an approach to problem solving that values exploration, experimentation, and does not fear making mistakes. Design thinking is the way designers normally solve design problems using the left side of the brain. What makes design thinking unusual is when it is applied to business problems, in which the normal methodology is typically quite different and relies on the right side of the brain. Design thinking uses research; understanding the consumer; and tells a story that will resonate. Design management and design thinking lead to a design brief, a formal document that describes a problem as accurately as possible and provides a framework for assessing the rightness of a solution.

What is design management?

A disruptive way to solve business problems. What is design? Planning. What do designers do? Plan function and meaning. What is innovation? A new way of thinking about a problem; solving a problem creatively; creating a problem the user didn’t know he had.

Design Management is a problem-solving process that enables innovation and creates well-designed products, services, communications, environments, and brands that enhance the quality of life and provide organizational success.

Wikipedia says: “Design thinking refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions in the design and planning fields. As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.”

From the SASD DM brochure: “Design represents a valuable asset. It represents the tools to solve problems and innovate. The ability to understand, optimize, and steer that asset is vital to an organization’s success… Design management is profitable. Designers are becoming crucial members of the business landscape. The field of Design Management encompasses every discipline of design including graphic and communication, architecture and interior, industrial and engineering, and fashion and textile.”

These are the six core aspects of design and business:

Leadership Working with teams and championing an idea.
Strategy Developing concepts and design elements that align with a company’s core plan of action.
Marketing Understanding product and package design, promotion, and physical plant design.
Operations Identifying, understanding, and influencing efficient operational practices.
Finance Comprehending annual reports, cash flow statements, and balance sheets.
Legal Protecting an organization’s intellectual property like trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
DM links design, innovation, technology, management, and customers to provide a competitive advantage across the “triple bottom line”: social/cultural, environmental, and economic (People, Planet, Profits).

DM is the art and science of using design to enhance collaboration and synergy between design and business to improve design effectiveness.

Using design thinking and processes to solve business problems, DM advocates design across an organization as a key differentiator and driver of organizational success.

Design managers lead design firms and design teams in creative industries.

DM incorporates design thinking, service design, and sustainability in the production and management of information, services, and experiences.

Design management is Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Profitability.

Design Management MPS Program

Will I write a thesis

Yes, a thesis is a necessary part of the MPS program and is completed in the fourth and final semester of study. You will be given material to help you find a suitable topic and a schedule to follow to produce the best results.

How does SASD’s program compare with other programs

Design Management is a very young area of specialization and academic development. Each graduate program chooses how to balance design and business ideas. Everyone agrees that there is and should be some aspect of design in Design Management. An MPS is not the same as an MBA, after all. Finding the right way to inject design into the curriculum is an ongoing topic of great reward. We believe our balance is optimal, but it is up to you, the prospective student, to determine for yourself which program best meets your needs.

Are any of the classes available online?"

No, none of the MPS courses are taught online. Two of the most important aspects of the program are leadership and collaboration, neither of which can be fully explored and experienced in an online course.

Can I work while I am studying?

Absolutely. The program is organized so that business classes can be taken on weeknights beginning at 6:15pm and the MPS courses are scheduled for Saturday mornings beginning at 9:00am.

How long is the program?

It typically takes four semesters to complete the MPS program’s 42 credit hours. You may begin in either the fall or spring semesters and you may elect to take business courses in the summer to spread the coursework more evenly throughout the year. The MPS courses are only offered in the fall and spring.

What kind of books and how many will I be reading?

You will typically read one book per semester for the Collaborative Design Studio and up to ten books (or significant other readings) per semester for the Design Management course. The books in the DM course are chosen by the visiting lecturers, so every semester has a different group of selections. Shown here are a some recently assigned books.

What will I learn in the SASD MPS-DM program?

DM study prepares graduates to create, manage, and lead design in process-driven organizations by providing perspectives on business, operations, sustainability, management, leadership, entrepreneurship, design innovation, and design research.

Classes provide experiences of designing, managing, and improving design-intensive firms and develop students’ capacity to inspire and lead creative teams.
Our curriculum develops strategic management skills in six specific areas: operations; finance; marketing; organization and human resources; innovation and change; and suppliers, distributors, and markets.

Our program is designed for recent graduates and early to mid-career professionals seeking to complement their design and business skills with new industry contexts and practices. Our two-year program helps craft creative leaders, those who can bridge the disciplines of design and business and nurture collaborative innovation with a sustainable strategic advantage.

SASD is known for its long-standing strength in industrial design. The DM program is an outgrowth of that base and the flexibility and excellence of the School of Business, staffed by faculty drawn from the ranks Fairfield County, CT resident business persons.

The two-year program of study requires 42 credits to complete and leads to an accredited academic degree, the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design Management. 42% of credits earned are courses in the Business School. The remaining 58% of credits are earned in DM courses at SASD.

What is an MPS degree?

The Master of Professional Studies is an accredited academic terminal degree, equivalent to an MFA, an MBA, or an MS. Our MPS degree is a balance of 60% design management courses, taken at SASD, and 40% business courses, taken at the University of Bridgeport’s School of Business.

MPS Admissions

What is "SASD” and what is it known for?

SASD, pronounced sass-dee, is an acronym for the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design. The University of Bridgeport is long renowned for its undergraduate industrial design program. Graphic design and interior design were added as undergraduate concentrations in the 1970s. The MPS in Design Management is an outgrowth of that strong base with the added flexibility and excellence of the School of Business, staffed by faculty from the ranks of Fairfield County, CT’s business community.

The college was renamed the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design after our benefactor, Mr. Akatsu, a graduate of the University of Bridgeport who wanted to ensure continued growth and excellence in one of the University’s strongest units, donated a considerable sum to support that goal.

Is financial aid available?

Design Management students are eligible for financial aid as long as they are enrolled in a minimum of six credits. For more information, contact the Office of Admissions.

What is the total cost of the program?

Graduate credits for the MPS program cost $650 per credit (this figure may change, so be sure to confirm the current cost per credit with the University’s web site or graduate admissions department). The program requires 42 credits, so $650 x 42 credits = $27,300. SASD’s MPS program is significantly less expensive than equivalent programs in, for example, New York City.

How important is writing well in the program and in Design Management?

Writing clearly is the strongest indication of thinking clearly. Confused, choppy, unclear writing suggests shabby, indefinite thinking. It is expected that graduate students become clear thinkers, so your writing is a critical way of judging the quality of your thinking. It is in your best interest to become a superior writer. Your writing will be compared to your classmates’ and if you are dissatisfied with your writing grades, you must attend to your writing skills. International students have an obvious added language challenge, but at the graduate level, regardless of language issues, the ability to write clear, coherent declarative sentences is necessary.

Can I begin the program in the fall or spring semesters?

Yes, either is equally good. The program can be joined in either the fall (start in late August) or spring (start in mid-January) semesters. The program works on a semesterly basis, not an annual basis, so starting at either point is perfectly fine. There is no difference in the sequence and availability of courses.

Who is the program for?

Our program is designed for recent graduates and early-to-mid-career professionals who want to complement their design skills with business skills. Our two-year program helps you become a creative leader who can bridge the disciplines of design and business and nurture collaborative innovation that promotes sustainability and a strategic advantage for your company. Our students come from various design disciplines including industrial design, graphic and communication design, information design, interior design, interactive media design, architecture, and fashion design. They work for corporations, design firms, educational institutions, and government.

What are the admission requirements?

In accordance with the University catalog, applicants must possess an undergraduate degree in graphic, industrial, interior, or fashion design, architecture, or related design or business fields from an accredited college or university with at least a 2.7/4.0 GPA.

Applicants should have a well-rounded education, as gained through general education courses.

Admissions will consider writing, speaking, and analytical skills, as demonstrated through college-level coursework or professional experience, although professional experience is not a prerequisite for admission.

Applicants must submit a personal essay and two letters of recommendation. The personal essay should be 250-500 words in detail about why you are seeking this particular degree, how you expect to apply your degree to your professional career after graduation, and why you want to pursue your degree through SASD. The two recommendation letters are to be from employers, professors, or professional associates, signed by the writer.

A one-page résumé is strongly encouraged.

An interview is not required, but recommended.

A portfolio is not required, but may be an advantage in the admissions process.
Evidence of internship, volunteer, or prior employment in design management, marketing, business or a studio setting will be viewed favorably.

Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis. Completed applications and all supporting documents must be received by August 1 for the fall semester and December 15 for the spring semester. Early applications are strongly encouraged as program space is limited.