The promises and perils of designing with data.

Today’s most pressing challenges cut across disciplinary boundaries, requiring thoughtful new approaches.

The MDes Program

The Master of Design (MDes) is a professional graduate program in design for emerging technologies that emphasizes critical design and social practice to address the new realities of emerging technologies in the 21st century. Technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, sensing, and the internet of things have great potential to reshape communities, industries, and environments, yet also raise ethical concerns and questions about their possible, often unforeseen, impacts. Today’s engineers, designers, and industry leaders developing creative technologies need to be equipped with thoughtful new approaches and design tool kits to respond to these dynamics.

The MDes prepares students for these roles by connecting technical rigor, design theory and social practice. Over three semesters, students develop core skills in design process, prototyping and communication, as well as a critical lens on technology and design through a sequence of debate-focused seminars. Graduates leave the program as engaged and responsive social practitioners with a deep understanding of the foundations of design and emerging technology and an informed awareness of people, contextual needs and societal impacts.

Three semesters

Thoughtfully designed, this intensive program packs a punch. Over a fast-paced 17 months (August through the following December), you’ll rapidly acquire new skills, effectively preparing you for your next career move, whether a launch, advancement or pivot. During the open summer term, you’ll be able to explore a new position or industry prior to graduation, through a professional internship.

Technical rigor

A foundational technology design course builds fluency in emerging technologies. Additional technical electives invite you to delve into key technology areas in which Berkeley faculty are driving breakthrough discoveries.

Design theory

A sequence of core design courses offers essential skills in design process, prototyping, and communication.

Social practice


Why Berkeley

Drawing on history, shaping the future

Throughout its history, UC Berkeley’s graduates have shaped world-changing technologies, outlined revolutionary approaches to design, and demonstrated a commitment to positive societal change through a wide-ranging set of careers and fields. The MDes draws on this rich history as it prepares you to shape the future. We see an urgent need for designers who can help shape new technologies as they are being developed and direct technical innovation toward meaningful applications. The MDes readies you to fill this role, and to develop as an engaged and responsive social practitioner.

The Bay Area’s Innovation Ecosystem

The San Francisco Bay Area is a vibrant hub of technological innovation, design leadership, and societal change – an ecology in which the MDes is embedded. You’ll engage with practitioners and leaders across a wide range of sectors in the Bay Area, accessing this ecosystem and forging lasting connections throughout your time at Berkeley.

Two World-class Colleges

The MDes is offered jointly by College of Engineering and the College of Environmental Design, two top tier colleges within the UC Berkeley campus. This unique integration of disciplinary perspectives distinguishes the MDes from other programs and will prepare you for a career that will similarly cut across traditional boundaries.

The College of Engineering (COE) is consistently ranked in the top three engineering schools nationally, and is renowned for offering a dynamic, interdisciplinary, and hands-on education. More than 200 faculty members represent a diverse array of cross-cutting research interests, ranging from clean energy to artificial intelligence. A culture of creativity and imagination combined with a commitment to social good supports students and faculty who are driven and equipped to change the world.

The College of Environmental Design (CED)’s graduate professional programs are ranked #1 among all public universities in the country. As an interdisciplinary hub for exploration in the built environment, CED’s programs create powerful synergies and expose students to a wide range of ideas from adjacent fields. Students work on teams with planners and designers – excellent preparation for the real world of design, where teamwork is the norm.

MDes students have dedicated work spaces with courses and additional resources available in COE’s Jacobs’s Hall and CED’s Wurster Hall. Learn more about your future home-away-from-home below.

Jacobs Hall + Wurster Hall

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, launched by the College of Engineering in August 2015, serves as an interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology. Jacobs Hall houses the Jacobs Institute, and also serves as the home base for the MDes program and its students, offering cutting edge prototyping and fabrication facilities, modern classrooms, and dedicated studio space for the MDes cohort.

Wurster Hall is an expansive and historic building that serves as home to the College of Environmental Design and offers additional resources to the MDes cohorts, including a robust library and extensive traditional and digital fabrication labs.
While enrolled in the MDes, Jacobs Hall and Wurster Hall will become your second homes. With its focus on studio practice, hands-on learning, and collaboration, the MDes demands a high level of commitment and engagement. In a given day, you may find yourself debating with a leading practitioner in a seminar room in CED’s Wurster Hall, assembling a drone for medicine delivery at your dedicated studio desk in the second floor of Jacobs Hall, and testing an augmented reality experience in Jacobs Hall’s visualization lab.

Learn more about Jacobs Hall and Wurster Hall.

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