A master’s degree in integrated design is a good fit for those who want to lead the industry by creating original and advanced solutions to problems that may be years old, decades old, and even centuries old.
Integrated design integrates various disciplines from the artistic to the scientific to achieve solutions for the betterment of humanity. The field is for those who enjoy thinking outside the box and don’t believe how things are now are the way they should be forever.
What is Integrated Design?
In short, integrated design is the practice of increasing a project’s overall success by rethinking design principles that may be holding it back and coming up with new alternatives. Integrated design can involve multiple project teams working together from start to finish with the singular goal of achieving maximum efficiency, lowered costs, and better performance in everything from building skyscrapers to designing new technology.
Interactive design can have two major definitions. First, the conventional definition describes the practice of the entire team working together through the development and progression of the project. The enhanced definition of integrated design also includes the collaboration of what these teams are working through, such as design, use, climate, systems, and other factors. In many instances, the combination of both definitions ensures a project is planned and executed to its maximum potential.
What to Expect
In many cases, a career in integrated design requires a graduate degree. The master’s in integrated design is often the degree of choice for these professionals. Students learn to think creatively and critically by intersecting art, design, business, technology, science, and much more.
The degree develops high-level problem solving across a broad spectrum of specialties, fields, industries, and the dedication to lifelong learning as technology improves and regulations change. Graduates develop new ways of learning, collaborating, working, and improving communities through positive change for the environment and society.
A master’s degree in integrated design can be earned online or in person. The program itself can be completed anywhere from approximately 16 to 24 months. Specialties can include a master’s in integrated business design, technology design, graphic design, mechanical design, or any combination. The degree can require additional items such as thesis statements, projects, and in-person residencies. This is where students work as teams on real-world challenges by collaborating with non-profits or other organizations to solve problems in real-time.
Master’s Degree in Integrated Design Curriculum
Students must first select an institution that meets their demands in location, learning options, degrees offered, reputation, graduate success, etc. Applicants are generally required to have an undergraduate degree in a related field such as business, design, technology, or other.
A minimum GPA may be required and is usually 3.0 or higher. Your prospective school will also ask for other information such as your resume, school transcripts, an entry essay, a portfolio of your work, and other necessary items.
Integrated design courses
A master’s degree in integrated design covers subjects such as:
- Understanding business and technological challenges
- Conceiving and developing solutions to design issues
- Utilizing research and data to create solutions to problems
- Using technology to design models of solutions or solutions themselves
- Implementing these solutions on a practical and cautious basis
- Testing on and improving solutions
- How to manage and adapt to uncertainty
- How to improve on this existing design
A few of the courses and curricula you may experience include:
Residential integrative practices: An intro to ID program concepts, theories, themes, and processes. Students learn to build integrated design skills for residential purposes and team building.
Integrated projects: Students demonstrate individual and team skills within cross-functional, cross-disciplinary teams across several fields. Projects can take on a wide variety of industries.
Written Communication: The written word is important to ID when communicating complex ideas and design aspects to team members, clients, etc. This course builds and improves the student’s current writing skills to incorporate an ID mindset.
Graphics: Your degree may have an artistic bent to it. In that case, a graphics course is essential to focus on graphic design and production aspects. Design content may vary, and more than one graphics course can be taken when needed.
Public or private languages: Students examine the specialized languages of various industries such as manufacturing, science, health, education, government, NGOs, etc. They also learn the means to translate these languages for the general public. Courses involve intensive study, reading, and the reproduction of at least one specialized language. Graduates must demonstrate proficiency in adapting the language for public consumption.
Technology essentials: Learn an overview of core information technology concepts to include frameworks and methodologies. Students are required to develop an aptitude for using tools, software, applications, and systems. They also learn basic programming languages and methods.
Decision and solutions: Students create a portfolio of solutions for a given situation. They explore solutions and determine the options and mechanisms for reducing uncertainty and risk. They must demonstrate why they choose a particular solution and its advantages to the others. Course may include quantitative and qualitative techniques.
Design, business, or technology essentials: Your master’s degree in integrated design may require you to choose a specialty such as one of these three. Depending on your preferences and the degree requirements, you may take one or all three.
Electives: It is recommended to take electives that will enhance your degree. These can include certifications in a particular software or practice. These can consist of web design, software engineering, information technology, building practices, etc.
Portfolio creation: This may be given as its course or throughout your academic career. All graduates of an integrated design program must leave with a professional, impressive portfolio to show future and prospective employers.
Student Projects: Many institutions require you to participate in at least one student project for integrated design. They can include anything from a presentation on an actual project, such as the BP oil spill, to participating in a project, such as a neighborhood improvement. You may even view a few actual integrated design projects on Pinterest.
Integrated Design Concepts
Integrated designers have problem-solving skills that organizations and businesses seek for conceptualizing design solutions to complex problems. An integrated designer uses their skills to propose innovative solutions that are practical, effective, compliant and inspiring. An integrated designer is required to know any combination of the following:
The knowledge to understand complex design, business, and technological challenges
- Ability to explain complex situations to all facets of the team, from leadership to administrative
- Ability to collaborate with leading organizations against real-world problems during intensive design strategies
- Knowledge to build and lead teams in a cross-functional manner
- Utilize an extensive knowledge in design, business, technology, communication, and more to propose solutions
- Storytelling techniques for proposed solutions to illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each
- Leadership in helping clients and supervisors choose the correct course of action for their needs
- Utilization of critical problem solving and decision-making techniques and tools
- Development of a strong professional network and teams of people from diverse industry backgrounds
- Ability to identify challenges and opportunities before deadlines, within budgets, or before a window closes
Today’s technology-driven marketplace has led to the growth of careers that require agile thinkers who can work across several disciplines and domains.
Today’s leading companies face many challenges, including regulations, budget restrictions, building codes, best environmental practices, aesthetic challenges, etc. Integrated designers help meet this demand by using their education to overcome them expertly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Integrated designers often help in these general fields:
Design: Integrated designers are needed in graphic design, art direction, advertising, UX/UI design, industrial design, product design, and even video game design.
Business: Integrated designers can work in various departments and firms, such as brand or digital marketing, project management, product marketing, business analytics, and executive leadership.
Communications: Many firms need experts for integrated design in media and entertainment, public relations, social media management, film, and even communications within large organizations.
Technology: IDs are also needed in web design, software engineering, mechanical and civil engineering, systems engineering, user interface development, app development, and virtual reality technologies.
Construction: From architectural to engineering to interior design, an integrated designer can help in all aspects of new or replacement construction. These include residential, commercial, industrial, mega buildings, and more.
In short, industry leaders seek talented individuals with a mindset to create new ideas and outside-the-box thinking that leads to breakthrough solutions that change how their entire industry works.
Integrated Design FAQs
An undergraduate integrated design degree takes as long as a traditional bachelor’s degree, generally about four years. Those with an undergraduate degree may spend 18 to 24 months earning a master’s degree in integrated design.
It can depend on the selected specialty. For example, a student who wants to focus on the design aspects can earn a master of arts or a master’s in fine arts in integrated design. Some programs also offer more technical master of science in integrated design tracks.
Integrated design is a highly competitive industry with many talented people. The good news is that integrated designers can take on many careers that allow them to build and grow their skills in software design, mechanical engineering, architecture, and others.
Jobs for integrated designers can be plentiful if you know what to look for. For example, typing “integrated designer job” into a search engine might not yield much. However, if you look for jobs in your specialty (like integrated design in software engineering, for example), you might find more opportunities.
Integrated design is one of the newest and most exciting careers of today. Unfortunately, there are few IDs to look to as mentors. However, there is less competition and more opportunities for you to be a leader in the field. It is not a standard career, although you may experience the standard path of entry-level, associate, leadership, and further beyond.
Remember that as you go, you should document all challenges and solutions you encounter in your education and career to show to future employers. If you are a student who is ready to be not just a leader in finding new and unknown solutions but in becoming a thought leader in these aspects, a master’s degree in integrated design may be right for you.