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Experience Design, MFA

Experience Design is a holistic and integrative approach to design that focuses on the quality of the human experience in concrete situations. It employs investigation, analysis, creativity and technology as tools to understand human goals, needs, and desires and to mediate the human experience. The Experience Design program at Northeastern University embraces research-driven design thinking for entrepreneurship and innovation, focusing on important global challenges of today.

Photo Courtesy of Estefania Ciliotta Chehade, from Thesis Project.

The Graduate Program in Experience Design is designed to prepare students to become vital contributors and leaders of professional experience design teams where technological innovation intersects with design. Successful graduates will be able to analyze how people undergo real-world situations, enabling them to enrich experiences by orchestrating new design-driven relationships. They will be equipped with the skills to identify shortcomings as well as opportunities for improved engagement between artifacts, systems (virtual or physical), and the humans who encounter them.

Through examining how people behave in real contexts in relation to the constructed world and emerging technologies, CAMD’s graduate degrees in Experience Design allow graduates from design and other disciplines (such as architecture, business, engineering, communications, computer science, healthcare, humanities and the social sciences) or working professionals to gain knowledge and experience in the design competencies needed to address societal challenges. To accomplish these goals, students will learn how to invoke cooperation, collaboration and integration across disciplines and practices.

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The MFA in Experience Design offers a two year graduate experience that combines theory and studio-based practice and results in a terminal degree. Students will engage in and complete this program with a studio based Experience Design graduate thesis and a thesis exhibition. Graduates are prepared to continue onward to advanced academic or professional tracks as Experience Designers. They will able to collaborate effectively in this dynamic and burgeoning field of research and practice, ready to succeed in design agencies, design-related and design-driven industries, research institutions, public institutions, PhD programs and academic careers. The program intends to produce professionals skilled in design principles and practices needed to assume leadership roles in an evolving interdisciplinary field. Embedded in the CAMD graduate course offerings, MFA Experience Design students will have their own studio space and are part of a lively cohort of graduate students in related fields who intersect around vibrant events, exhibitions, guest lectures and workshops. Applicants are welcome with past experience in the design domain but also in related fields such as architecture, business, engineering, computer science, communications, and others.

The MFA in Experience Design is a STEM-designated degree as of the Fall 2024 start term. The degree requires 60 credit hours over two academic years. Students complete 10 required courses and 4 electives.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Apply iterative design processes to create, revise, evaluate, and develop effective prototypes and innovative solutions.
  2. Engage human-centered design research methods and systems thinking to identify and understand values, goals, motivations of intended audiences as a mode of inquiry, question framing and guide to action.
  3. Develop a high level of craft and technical skills in a relevant range of media and tools and effectively weigh applicability for intended audiences and outcomes.
  4. Develop and realize intent, concept and content with awareness of context and consequence.
  5. Implement visual patterns incorporating text, image, diagram including temporal and spatial representations to recognize, categorize, and articulate significant form and meaning
  6. Employ and embody ethical practices, team and cross-disciplinary collaboration, and effective communication and presentation skills.
  7. Apply relevant communication theories and principles and appreciate the pervasive and long-term impact of design decisions on people and societies.

Career Opportunities

  • Design Consultant
  • Design Lead
  • Design Researcher
  • Design Strategist
  • Designer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Exhibition Designer
  • Experience Designer
  • Futurist Product Designer
  • Product Manager
  • Strategist Service Designer
  • User Experience Designer
  • User Experience Manager
  • UX Designer

Co-op Opportunities

  • design and media sectors
  • news and publishing sectors
  • arts sectors
  • food and beverage sectors
  • fashion and travel sectors
  • government and civic sectors
  • health care and pharmaceutical sectors
  • educational sector
  • financial and business sector

Multidisciplinary Skills

creative problem-solving
critical thinking
data analysis
design research
design software
experience mapping
graphic representation
human factors
information design
project management
problem framing
rapid prototyping
technical skills
UI/UX design
user stories
user testing
verbal and written communication
visual synthesis


Additional degree options

Additional resources

Program Coordinator

Admissions Contact