The Collaborative Design and Design Systems Programs are no longer admitting new students.
The MFA in Collaborative Design and MA in Design Systems reimagine what design can do in the world, producing creative and ethical leaders who will drive positive impact in private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Students, faculty, partners, and clients work together on complex problems using a collaborative, systems-based, and human-centered approach.
Students engage with the most innovative professional minds in Portland, Oregon, and access new technologies and partnerships via our diverse faculty and mentor networks.
With a shared vision for the ability of interdisciplinary and creative leadership to effect systemic change, we imagine a world that is radically more equitable, inclusive, and resilient.
Our programs believe that socially minded, environmentally sensitive designers foster a more humane world that can meaningfully address the emerging challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, racial injustice, poverty and healthcare.
What is Collaborative Design?
Collaborative Design exists at the intersection of participatory engagement, applied systems thinking, and Design (yes, with a capital D). We design with people, not for people. The multistage collaborative design process involves research, design sprints, systems mapping, futures-centered design, visual facilitation, and data visualization to interrogate the wicked problems facing the world today. Integral to this approach is critical, iterative, and participatory feedback that places those most affected by a design process at the center.
In rapidly changing global contexts, students graduate with a portfolio that demonstrates their ability to critically design and engage in ambitious, collaborative, and entrepreneurial work. Alumni go on to launch successful programs, work for leading design initiatives and nonprofits, create thriving design consultancies, and work in higher education.
Who Are Collaborative Designers?
What do Collaborative Designers Do?
User Design Research
Information Design & Data Visualization
Community & Group Facilitation
Product Design Iteration
Creative Direction & Narrative Building
Critical Design & Systems Thinking Scholarship
Personal Creative Practice
Design & Process Consultation
The Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies is thrilled to welcome humanitarian designer, architect, theorist, activist and artist Nashin Mahtani!
December 1, 2021
6:30pm - 8:00pm
Bee & Bee PDX student project chosen as finalist for Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Awards 2021!
MFA Collaborative Design + MA Design Systems student project, Bee & Bee PDX, chosen as finalist for Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Awards 2021! Led by faculty member Skye Moret, students in the CD/DS program collaborated with Ivy Chuang, founder of Blendily, to create a beautifully designed honeybee habitat.
Humaira Tasneem hosts Design Week Portland panel: The Right to Fail: Risk + Reward In Building Creative Culture.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a method that is integral to our design thinking in the MFA in Collaborative Design + MA in Design Systems, in that 'it is a method of research that relies on purposeful engagement with with participants to deeply study human-centered problems and ignite action towards positive change'. Check out MFA Collaborative Design student SJ Bowden's data visualization of the PAR process!
MFA in Collaborative Design
This 60-credit program is tailored for early- and mid-career creatives who are ready for an immersive experience. Late afternoon and evening classes up-level skills and aptitudes for a rapidly changing design environment. We take a critical and entrepreneurial approach to “wicked” problems such as resource depletion, emerging technologies, climate change and global demographic shifts.
MA in Design Systems
This 40-credit program embraces the reality that all creative endeavors are embedded within complex systems: of design, relationships, hierarchies, production, power, collaboration, and competition. This program is for the working creative who wants to master those systems, whether inside a firm, between organizations, or among multiple stakeholders.
"Collaborative Design prepared me for a life of working with entrepreneurs by introducing me to the world of social innovation and community-oriented design. I am so grateful for the connections I developed with fellow alum, mentors and professionals through the program."
Classes are held in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate early and mid-career creatives who want to accelerate their skills while continuing to work.
Participants work with the most creative, professional minds in Portland, Oregon – a leading edge of creativity - and access new technologies and partnerships with national and international knowledge networks. Upon completion of the 60-credit, two-year program, graduates leave with a project portfolio that demonstrates their ability to think critically and act entrepreneurially in rapidly changing environments.
They go on to launch successful programs, work for leading design initiatives and nonprofits, create thriving design consultancies, and work in higher education.View Faculty & Facilities