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Last updated on Sep 12, 2022

Design: Design, MFA

industrial design studio


Built on a firm foundation of technical skills, pushing the limits of cutting-edge tools and technologies alongside traditional craft-based techniques, MFA in Design students work to reimagine the methods, modes, and meanings of design in contemporary culture.

New Frontiers of Design

Whether intended to be commercial, civically minded, personal, or experimental, your course of study is technically sophisticated, culturally engaged, and even socially disruptive. It is driven by research and richly informed based on a thorough examination of users and contexts.

It is also both formally and conceptually inventive. We provide you with foundational technical, formal, and conceptual skills coupled with contextual understanding. We also prepare you for a range of personal, private, and public careers in design including advanced work in creative leadership, whether in commercial, civic, and curatorial arenas.

Grounded in personal exploration, we position you within a new generation of design leaders.

Cross-Disciplinary Culture

Today’s designers need to move nimbly across ideas, disciplines, and skills. We combine three concentrations -- graphic design, industrial design, and interaction design -- to create an open and adaptive design environment in which you share a studio (with dedicated desk space, shared prototyping facilities, and gallery space -- all accessible 24/7) with students from these design disciplines.

Our learning environment and globally recognized faculty -- including Sara Dean, Scott Minneman, JD Beltran -- foster creativity, encourage experimentation, and allow the exchange of ideas in and out of the classroom.

Core courses are combined with cotaught, cross-disciplinary studios, giving you a unique vantage point on design practice, collaborative development, and hybrid design structures. You develop necessary skills while fostering cross-disciplinary research that prepares you for emerging design markets and innovative practices.

By engaging new technologies, current global challenges, and emerging forms of practice, we train you to join the next design innovators -- for both Silicon Valley and the global market.

San Francisco Bay Area Design Community

San Francisco is a global center of design innovation and technology. And CCA’s San Francisco campus is located in the city's robust design district -- an innovation corridor.

We leverage our location and connections with leading design minds to create courses, jobs, and events for our students. We partner with key industry leaders to add relevance to our studios.

Surrounded by world-class museums and cultural centers, leading design firms, and amazing design resources, you study in the core of a vibrant, inspiring environment. From Google to Intel to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), our alumni enter careers in game-changing environments.

Past visiting faculty and guests include such visionaries as

  • Tim Brown (IDEO)
  • Julian Bleecker (cofounder of The Near Future Laboratory)
  • Ellen Lupton (curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York; director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art)
  • John Thackara (writer, speaker, and design producer; director of Doors of Perception)