The Department of Design advances the professional work of thoughtful, creative, and meaningful design to delight, inspire, and serve the needs of people. Design is the planning that lays the basis for creation and development of every object or system people use. Design programs train students to be problem solvers who consider the aesthetic, functional, and user-focused aspects of an object or a process. This requires considerable integrative research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustments, and redesign.

The concentration in Environmental Design educates students and develops their competency in design solutions that will enhance and improve the experience of the “user” occupant of both the interior and exterior built environment.  Theory, method, and practice of this integrated discipline approach create a basis for effective research and conceptualization of design ideas for public and private spaces.

The M.A in Environmental Design further provides the student with the opportunity to develop projects that integrate architecture, interior spaces and graphics in a multi-disciplinary approach that is common in today’s practice. The program aims to provide a broad based design experience that involves the analyses of building systems, circulation, spatial experiences, materials, furniture, lighting, use of graphics and advanced digital technology. Students develop specific experience within an environment that may involve strategically focused project types such as retail, hospitality, health care, mixed use development, sport facilities, etc. where integration of multi-disciplinary design is interdependent and plays an important role in users’ interactions with the built environment.

The design department offers 3 Master of Arts degrees, which share a core curriculum.

The M.A. in Design Management educates students in the theory, methods, and practices relevant to managing design in an organizational and business context. The program gives students the requisite knowledge to augment their professional skills and abilities, perform as effective design managers, and advance their careers.

The M.A. in Environmental Design educates students in the theory, methods, and practices of design for the built environment.  This program prepares students for professional practice in integrated multi-disciplinary design practice.

The M.A. in Interaction Design educates students in the theory, methods, and practices of interaction design. It gives students the requisite professional knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform as interaction designers.

KU is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The entrance and graduation requirements in this catalog conform to the published guidelines of that organization.

M.A. in Environmental Design Admission

By permission of the Kansas Board of Regents, application for admission to graduate programs in the Department of Design may be refused if available instructional space does not allow addition of more students. The application deadline for Fall is April 1 and October 1 for Spring.

A departmental graduate faculty committee reviews transcripts and evaluates applications to determine admission qualifications. Applicants to the M.A. programs must have undergraduate and/or professional backgrounds judged by the Graduate Faculty to be appropriate preparation for the specialization selected.

A complete application for admission consists of the following materials:

  1. Graduate application and application fee (See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog for further information);
  2. 1 unofficial copy of the transcript from all colleges or universities attended, showing receipt of a bachelor’s degree, and 1 unofficial copy of the transcript showing any graduate degree or credit earned;
  3. 3 letters of recommendation from people in a position to comment on your abilities and performance;
  4. Statement of design philosophy and approach;
  5. A portfolio of your design work, or if your previous degree was not in a design related discipline, samples of written work or other creative artifacts you have produced.  Portfolio should represent the scope of your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities to date. Please include documentation of each project: the challenge it was intended to address, the process involved, your role and the role of others in its execution. Please upload your portfolio digitally under "other documents" during the online application process.  The portfolio is limited to 10 megabytes (not zipped) in PDF format;
  6. For international students, a financial statement showing minimum financial support for the first year of study (see the Admissions page on the school’s website).
  7. Evidence of language proficiency if the native tongue is not English.
  8. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results.

Submit your graduate application and application materials online. Please contact the Admissions Coordinator if you have any questions:

The University of Kansas
Department of Design
Admissions Coordinator
1465 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 205
Lawrence, KS 66045-7531

Course and Credit Distribution Requirements
Total Credit Hours 31

CORE COURSES (12 credit hours)
ADS 710 Advanced Human Factors in Design (3)
ADS 712 Design Strategies & Methods (3)
ADS 714 Designing Business Services & Consumer Services (3)
ADS 765 Interaction Design (3)

ELECTIVES IN ARCHITECTURE or DESIGN (select 3 courses, 9 credit hours)           
ARCH 524 Structures I (3)             
ARCH 530 Environmental Systems (3)
ARCH 626 Building Technology (3)   
ARCH 600 Special Topics in Architecture (3)   
ARCH 731 Architecture of Health (3)        

ADS 560 Topics in Design (3)
ADS 740 Special Problems in Design (3)
ADS 751 Creating Design Scenarios (3)
ADS 770 Design Cognition (3)
ADS 540 History & Philosophy of Design (3)                       
Visual Communication (Graphic Design)                     
VISC 525 Environmental Graphics (3)
ADS 745 Branding & Design (3)  
VISC 815 Graphics  (3)      

RESEARCH (2-3 credit hours)
ADS 860 Graduate Synthesis & Applications Seminar 1 x 2 (2)
ADS 861 Thesis Research Seminar (1)

PRACTICA (3 creidt hours)
ADS 890 Thesis (1-8 cr) (3)