Design

 

Doctorate | Design

Program Format:   
Entrance Exam: GRE

Become an expert in your design field!

Established in 2016-17, the goal of the Doctor of Design (DDes) at NC State University is to create new knowledge and promote its application in the professional design community and society at large. 

The program is open to established practitioners who wish to develop high-level, transformative expertise in applied design and innovation. The purpose of the program is to pursue design research in support of those professions creating the artifacts, communications, environments, organizing structures and systems of the future.

The structure of the DDes program allows design professionals to complete the degree program through distance education. However, mandatory physical attendance at a week-long workshop each semester is required for all DDes students.

The program comprises a 54-credit, six-semester learning sequence tailored for the pursuit of original design-based investigations. At the time of admission, DDes students are expected to demonstrate mastery over their respective practices and to articulate a clear, compelling topic along with specific research questions.

DDes students conduct original investigations and advance new knowledge specifically through design-based practices, cases and methods. These investigations may be grounded in a single design field or, alternatively, may cross boundaries and translate principles from other relevant disciplines. The program thus provides a forum for connecting design research to the needs of society, by creating new knowledge, promoting its applications by the professional design community, and addressing design impacts on larger systems.

Students work closely with an individual mentor and are guided by supporting committee members with varied expertise.

Similar to the PhD in Design program, the DDes program introduces research design and its methods in their first year; students then delve deeply into independent inquiry. Early in the second year, students craft a detailed design research proposal and prepare for the preliminary exam. The third and final year is dedicated to original investigation towards the final dissertation or equivalent alternative product in design research.

Eligibility

Application checklist:

  • Undergraduate and graduate degree transcripts (min 3.0 GPA)
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • TOEFL or IELTS (exceed min. NCSU Grad School standards)
  • Curriculum vitae (C.V.)
  • Statement of purpose, topic/focus, and description of proposed research questions
  • Digital portfolio of creative work and/or professional practice activities
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (at least one from applicant’s current employer)

The Doctor of Design degree focuses on applied design research relevant to professional practice in design. We seek applicants who are self-directed, focused, and resilient—capable of independent inquiry and critical thinking. Successful applicants will have a track record showing a high level of achievement:

  1. Successful applicants hold a master’s degree from an accredited design, fine arts, or equivalent program. Applicants are expected to demonstrate mastery over their respective practices in the submission of a digital portfolio. The portfolio should highlight relevant professional experience and/or current accomplishments in a design firm or studio, public or private museum, or governmental agency involved in design/planning.
  2. A short statement of purpose for graduate study (not to exceed 400 words or 1-2 pages overall) will convince the reader that the applicant is motivated and prepared.
  3. Successful applicants possess the capacity to articulate a clear topic with specific research questions. Applicants submit an abstract proposal for a clear and compelling research topic (statement not to exceed 750 words or 2-3 typeset pages overall).

Applicants submit transcripts of previous academic work with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (undergraduate and graduate studies) along with standardized graduate test scores such as the GRE (Graduate Record Exam); and international students further provide TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Cost

This 54-credit graduate program leads to a doctoral degree. At 2018-19 tuition rates, the cost of the required courses is $649 per credit for North Carolina residents and $1,457 per credit for non-residents. Thus, the total estimated cost for the program is $35,046 for North Carolina residents and $78,678 for non-residents. See Online and Distance Education Tuition and Fees for cost details.

Plan of Study

The Doctor of Design (DDes) program comprises a 54-credit, six-semester learning sequence tailored for the pursuit of original design-based investigations. Other requirements include the preliminary comprehensive exam (comps), the final exam (defense), and a final research product (dissertation).

Envisioned as a three-year academic program, under certain circumstances the DDes program may be condensed or extended to accommodate individual student needs. The plan of study must be arranged in advance and agreed to by all members of the student’s steering committee. NC State policies stipulate that doctoral candidacy must be attained within six years and all degree requirements completed within ten years.

The structure of the DDes program allows design professionals to complete the degree program through distance education. However, mandatory physical attendance at a week-long workshop each semester is required for all DDes students.

The online Doctor of Design program is developed as a flexible and customizable course of study to meet the needs of our students. Students may elect to study full-time or part-time. The plan of study must be coordinated with the program director. The curriculum for this online design doctoral program varies greatly from student to student, combining online graduate design courses with mentored directed study and supervised research.

Sample Curriculum (based on full-time enrollment)

Note: Not all courses will be available every semester; DDN 740 and DDN 741 are prerequisite courses.
Semester 1 (9 credits) Fall

DDN 740 - Introduction to Practice-Based Design Research

Units: 3

This course presents an introduction and overview of interdisciplinary research theories, strategies, and methods as applied to issues in professional practice of design. Special emphasis is placed on the roles, values, and specific methods related to design practice, including [not limited to] case study analysis and evaluation; design typology; engaged research; research and development [e.g. prototyping]; and design process. Course content is adaptable to student needs and interests. Restricted to Doctor of Design [D.Des] students; other advanced post-professional design students may enroll with permission of instructor. Although course content and instruction is predominantly online, the course requires one week of face-to-face intensive on-campus instruction and other activities before Fall term begins [TBA].

Offered in Fall Only

Find this course:

DDN 741 - Case Study Analysis in Design

Units: 3

The case study method addresses the importance of learning how to learn as an essential element of professional growth as well as a means toward building a culture of reflective design practice. Case studies provide orientation and perspective on the complexity of design practice, both for novices and seasoned professionals. When closely examined, lessons learned from design processes and decision-making provide opportunities to build a body of professional knowledge. Course content is adaptable to student needs and interests. Restricted to Doctor of Design [D.Des] students; other advanced post-professional design students may enroll with permission of instructor. Although course content and instruction is predominantly online, the Fall course requires one week of face-to-face intensive on-campus instruction and other activities prior to the start of Fall term. The Spring course requires one week of face-to-face intensive on-campus instruction and other activities during Spring term [TBA].

Offered in Fall and Spring

Find this course:

DDN 883 - Directed Study (with mentor) - 3 credits

Semester 2 (9 credits) Spring/Summer

DDN 742 - Design Practice Legacy as a Learning Endeavor (online course) - 3 credits

DDN 744 - Interdiscplinary Issues in Design Research: Topics vary (online course) - 3 credits

DDN 883 - Directed Study (with mentor) - 3 credits

Semester 3 (9 or 12 credits) Fall

DDN 743 - Design Practice Leadership and Ethics (online course) - 3 credits

DDN 890 - Doctoral Preliminary Examination

Units: 1 - 9

For students who are preparing for and taking written and/or oral preliminary exams.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

DDN 893 - Doctoral Supervised Research

Units: 1 - 9

Instruction in research and research under the mentorship of a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

Note: DDN 893 is taken for 6 credits; DDN 890, a 3-credit course, is optional and is not counted toward the required 54 credit hours.

Semester 4 (9 or 12 credits) Spring/Summer

DDN 745 - Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship (online course) - 3 credits

DDN 890 - Doctoral Preliminary Examination

Units: 1 - 9

For students who are preparing for and taking written and/or oral preliminary exams.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

DDN 893 - Doctoral Supervised Research

Units: 1 - 9

Instruction in research and research under the mentorship of a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

Note: DDN 893 is taken for 6 credits; DDN 890, a 3-credit course, is optional and is not counted toward the required 54 credit hours.

Semester 5 (9 credits) Fall

DDN 895 - Doctoral Dissertation Research

Units: 1 - 9

Dissertation research.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

Semester 6 (9 credits) Spring/Summer

DDN 895 - Doctoral Dissertation Research

Units: 1 - 9

Dissertation research.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

FINAL EXAM (Dissertation Defense): Held on campus during workshop period

Pace to Degree

We suggest four approaches to finishing the online Doctor of Design degree. It is possible to change the pace of your enrollment (part-time or full-time) throughout your plan of study. For details on each of these options, view the Curriculum Structure document HERE.
Entry Semester Application Deadlines and Details
FallJan 15 (for PhD in Design)
FallMar 1 (for Doctor of Design)

M. Elen Deming, FASLA, DDes

Director, Doctor of Design (DDes) Program

College of Design

919.515.3876
doctor-of-design@ncsu.edu