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The Master of Arts in Design Research (MA) and Master of Design (MDes) programs are on pause for Fall 2024.

Program Overview

Master of Design (MDes)  Master of Arts in Design Research (MA in Design Research)
The Master of Design’s 5-semester experience gives students the opportunity to transform their practice and shape the trajectory of their career. Under the guidance and support of a supervisor, students receive training to pursue original research, whether that is a matter of questioning the discipline, fostering social change, or advancing services through human-centered exploration. The program begins with coursework and culminates in a design project and a written thesis document that reflects each student’s personal direction for design practice.

The Master of Design (MDes) is the terminal professional degree in the design field. Persons who may in the future wish to seek a tenure-stream position in design education require a terminal degree.
For designers who want to energize their practice, the MA in Design Research’s 3-semester applied emphasis allows a student to immediately transfer what they learned into the workplace. The MA shares the same curriculum as the first year of the MDes program but culminates in a 1-semester Major Research Project or Major Research Paper completed under the guidance and support of a supervisor rather than a 12-month thesis. The MA program helps students develop the applied research expertise needed in today’s workforce and offers practical and attainable means of developing a strong, forward-thinking contemporary practice. Students sharpen their design skills, gain exposure to design research methods, and learn to articulate the value of design-based innovation.

The Master of Arts (MA) degree is ideal preparation for higher study and self-directed research. The MA is typically considered a gateway to the academic terminal degree, the PhD.

Commencing in 2005, the Master of Design (MDes) program at York University is the first graduate program in design in Ontario. The program is distinguished by its emphasis on design practice and its interdisciplinary approach to making graphic design.

For over ten years, the MDes Program at York has been proud to see its graduates entering professional and academic careers across Canada and elsewhere. The following list reflects some of the many positions held by our graduates:

Founder, Palettera Custom Correspondences, CanadaDesigner, Bruce Mau Design, Canada
Senior Designer, Frog Design Inc., USAGraphic Designer, CPC Healthcare, Canada
Senior Designer, Pentagram Design Consultancy, USAGraphic Designer, LOKI, Canada
Assistant Professor, Department of Design, OCAD University, CanadaVisual Interface Designer, Index Exchange, Canada
Professor, Department of Design, Sheridan College, CanadaAdvisory Designer, GTS Design, USA
E-Learning Designer, Organizational & Employee Effectiveness, Human Resources, Ryerson University, CanadaAssistant Professor, School of Art and Design, Texas State University, USA
Assistant Professor, College of Communication, Boston University, USAProfessor, Department of Graphic Design, Humber College, Canada
Doctoral Candidate, York & Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture Program, Canada

The MDes program provides students with a graduate experience that includes opportunities to interact with visiting designers and critics who offer varied models for practice and criticism and introduce students to an expanded realm of discourse in the greater design world. The program also offers graduate students the opportunity to participate in workshops with nationally and internationally renowned designers.

Past visiting designers and scholars  have included:

Majid Abbasi, (CA/IR) graphic designer and publisherHarmen Liemburg, (NL) graphic designer
Alex Alter, (CA) graphic designer and artistMary Louise Lobsinger, (CA) historian and critic
Reg Beatty, (CA) book artistIsabel Meirelles (US/BR)) information designer
Michael Bierut, (US) graphic designerFraser Muggeridge, (UK) graphic designer
Elgin Cleckley, (CA) exhibition designer and architectPetra Müller, (SW) design professor
Sean Donahue, (US) design researcherWinnie Ng, (CA), Ryerson University
Elliott Earls, (US) graphic designerMichael Renner, (SW) graphic design professor
Paul Elliman, (UK) graphic designer and artistColin Ripley, (CA) architect
Sameer Farooq, (CA) graphic designerMatt Ratto, (CA) Critical Making Lab, University of Toronto
Ed Fella, (US) graphic designerNick Shinn, (CA) typeface designer
Maggie Fost, (US) graphic designerGary Thomas and Jo-ann Cook/Crush, (CA) motion designers
Rob Giampietro, (US) graphic designerMassimo Vignelli, (US) graphic designer
Cyrus Highsmith, (US) typeface designerScott Zukowski, (US) graphic designer
Paul Kelly, (CA) Adobe Certified Software Instructor

Learn More

The Graduate Program in Design at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Student Program Assistant to learn more.