The master degree program »Integrated Design« connects you to an intimate, core group of young professionals to discuss, engage, explore and pursue areas of interest culminating in a research and/or project-based M.A. thesis.
The “Integrated Design” M.A. program at KISD offers a unique post-graduate study opportunity giving you a chance to pursue your specific design research interest in-depth and build upon your previous work, or study experience. Over the course of three semesters, you will explore your field of expertise, discover new design perspectives, and incorporate an interdisciplinary element – ultimately relating your work to a global context.
If you are open-minded, have an independent spirit and act as a self-initiator in open-structured environments, then KISD will be the perfect place for you.
Upon graduating, you will be qualified to work independently on design research projects, take management positions on design teams and pioneer in other emerging design fields with an integrated design approach.
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Köln International School of Design (KISD) is an institute of TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, one of the largest public universities in Europe. KISD offers its students a project-oriented and student-centered learning and research environment, allowing students a high degree of flexibility and independence.
Integrated Design Approach
Since its founding, KISD has been based on a structure that aims to overcome traditional design boundaries and combines different design approaches, practices, and techniques. Our Master degree program in “Integrated Design” encourages students to integrate or combine design-specific perspectives in theory and in practice.
Design is an integral part of our everyday culture and knowledge and is incorporated naturally into complex systems. At KISD we take a holistic approach to design and assert that it can only be regarded and developed by means of linking knowledge from various fields. Students in the M.A. program will have the opportunity to get profound insights into different scientific disciplines in order to successfully apply these perspectives to their design work.
We believe strongly in the importance of incorporating cultural and context-based knowledge into design work. KISD has a network of international partner institutions, and hosts guest lecturers and professors on a weekly basis. With a high percentage of international students studying at KISD, we put great emphasis on the promotion of cross-cultural competencies. The M.A. program offers the possibility of acquiring a double degree with Tongji University in Shanghai, China, and encourages all students to approach their work within a global context.
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As a KISD Master student in “Integrated Design,” you will be led through three stages of your studies: Integrated, Interdisciplinary and Elaborated.
Integrated – 1st Semester
In the first semester, you will be introduced to the KISD educational model, the concept of “Integrated Design”, and will get to know various emerging issues in design. You will start conducting research and develop questions relating to your focus areas – sharing these weekly in the colloquium. Weekly mentoring will help you to continuously reflect on the progress of your development. Coursework includes seminars with KISD professors and the opportunity to work on projects in teams and individually. Additionally, through exposure to visiting external lecturers, you will be encouraged to explore various professional opportunities of designers who also have an ‘integrated’ approach to their work.
Interdisciplinary – 2nd Semester
In the second semester, you will begin working more intensely on your individual research – developing and designing approaches in your respective area of interest. We encourage you at this stage to use design-specific tools such as sketching, modelling or mapping to relate your area to other disciplines – drawing from the knowledge of other fields. Ultimately, you will be asked to reflect on your topic by taking into account a big-picture view of where design fits into global, social, and cultural contexts. At the beginning of the semester, you will choose two of the twelve KISD areas of expertise as your thesis supervisors. At the end of the semester, you will present a solid research proposal for your M.A. thesis. Parallel to the interdisciplinary exploration coursework, you will be given the opportunity to choose a Bachelor course in which to step into the role of a Teaching Assistant.
International – Optional Semester
If you are interested in the topic of “Urban Transformations”, you have the opportunity during the third semester, before writing the thesis, to study for one semester abroad in China, and upon successful completion, gain a double degree from the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Further academic partnerships and subjects are in the planning stages and will follow.
Elaborated – 3rd Semester
The third semester is dedicated to independent elaboration or continuation of your M.A. thesis. The M.A. thesis at KISD is both research- and project-based. Your ultimate assignment will be a written documentation of your process and elaborated research on the topic, but you will also be encouraged to conduct hands-on experiments or work with companies to do design work in-line with your research question.
Throughout your studies, you will participate in mentoring and a colloquium allowing for the sharing and discussion of your individual development and objectives with your fellow students. Peer learning is an important aspect of the KISD environment and these avenues provide a space for personal reflection and an open culture of dialogue and feedback.
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KISD is located in the city center of Cologne (Köln), Germany, on the banks of the Rhine River. Cologne, the fourth largest city in Germany with one million inhabitants, is well known for its open-minded culture and people. Historically the cultural capital of Germany, Cologne is still today one of the main cities for industry and the arts.
Additionally, Cologne is one of the largest student cities in Germany with 80,000 students, creating a wonderful range of cultural and social activities.
Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels (among others) are a short train ride away, making Cologne a very desirable place for trade shows, fairs and exhibitions in Europe. Thanks to excellent affordable airlines, flights to every major European city are accessible from the Cologne/Bonn Airport.
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What types of students study in the KISD M.A. program?
To give you a better idea, below are three profiles of graduated students, what they studied in their bachelor degree and what topic they researched and wrote for their M.A. thesis.
Hyunji from South Korea
BA studies: Industrial Design
MA thesis title: Bridging the patent data to public: A tool with patent information as an input into design process
MA thesis synopsis: I propose a tool with technology patent information helping to build structural ideas and evaluate the proper choices for designers. This tool is composed of a website mapped with technology patent information and the structure to use it in design process. It offers open data of patent to the public for research and lower the accessibility of information as one part of open patent paradigm.
Alessandra from Brazil
BA studies: Product Design
MA thesis title: Service design as an approach for collaboration – an investigation of the possibilities of using service design as an approach to redesign internal communication structures.
MA thesis synopsis: My master research focused on creating a service design framework to help companies investigate internal communication problems, and to co-create new solutions with their stakeholders. Besides the traditional service design approach, specific tools have been developed for the framework. These tools focus on helping stakeholders to promote organization and behavior change through their solutions. The framework process is divided into 3 phases, each of them contains tools to guide the company towards adopting an approach to problem-solving that involves stakeholders actively in the development of better experiences for their everyday work.
Herbert from Brazil
BA studies: Architecture and Urbanism
MA thesis title: Boundless design – understanding (and) design as fractals
MA thesis synopsis: The work of the designer is intimately connected and dependent on the relationship between subject and object. This thesis explores the process of understanding the nature of objects and of the cultural object as a way to guide the design process by asking the questions that truly define this interaction: what, how and why.
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If you would like to study with highly motivated, independent young professionals from around the world and have the opportunity to dive into a design-related topic with a holistic approach to design, we encourage you to apply!
If you want to apply for the master degree program at KISD, an academic degree is required (BA or higher) covering 3.5 years of study time (210 ECTS). As the course language is English, you should have proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, or other). For TOEFL, a minimum score of 72 (Internet-based version) is required. The master degree program is extremely demanding and benefits a lot from peer learning. Therefore, you will be asked for some information about yourself and your study plan. Your application documents should be submitted in English.
Let us know what you have done before and what makes you a unique applicant and prospective student.
Please communicate why you want to study the graduate program »Integrated Design«, why in Germany and why at KISD. We want to understand how much you know about us and how this meets your own expectations regarding the program. Thus, let us also know what exactly you expect from your graduate studies at KISD. This might be a precise depiction of an integrated design project you have in mind – or a substantial argumentation to support your general interest in the field of integrated design. Please try to be as clear and comprehensive as possible in presenting your expectations and interests.
Reference or Letter of Recommendation
Please send us at least one recommendation letter either from academic or from professional institutions/ organizations. The author should also act as a personal referee – in case we need more information about you.
We recommend you to update and adapt your existing portfolio for the assessment. Choose projects and experiences that give a good overview both of your fields of interest and your design/design-related experience and qualifications. Works can come from academic, professional, or free projects.
Testified Copies of Certificates of Previous Study Course(s)
We need to know what you have studied before (BA or higher).
Please note the following
For non-German applicants: If you do not hold an academic degree (BA or higher) from a German university, you need to apply additionally at uni-assist. They will check your national degree qualifications. You find more information about uni-assist here or on the uni-assist website (please note: the uni-assist platform for KISD opens September 1 and closes November 30).
For all applicants: Please note that all documents should be adequately designed. We do not define a »style sheet« for the presentation of your application – so this is your opportunity to give us an idea of your skills and competence in presenting specific interests regarding our program.
Application Period: 1 August – 1 October.
Start of Study: summer term (mid-to-late March)
Apply here: application.kisd.de