students in a studio looking at work pinned to a wall

xdMFA Program Curriculum

The mission of the Experience Design MFA is to enable learners to gain the design thinking, knowledge, and skills required for developing high fidelity, people-driven outcomes at personal and systemic levels. Coursework synthesizes theory and methods from design research, service, user experience, and communication design, encompassing digital and physical technologies. Learners grow these competencies through exercises, projects, and learning experiences designed to develop practical, analytical, creative, emotional, and social intelligences. Graduates are prepared to enter a wide range of design practices as designers and educators who are equipped to lead and develop culturally relevant design innovations in complex contexts.

a person documenting a plate of food with a smartphone

Conduct Research

Develop and conduct in-depth research on human and system behavior for design innovation.

a busy street intersection in a city with pedestrians and cars

Embrace Complexity

Analyze and visualize real and perceived factors at a systemic level.

an open book stacked on a pile of books

Apply Theory

Apply a wide range of theories and frameworks to experience-centered design processes.

people sitting in a meeting room worthing together

Productive Partnerships

Develop outcomes with stakeholders via engaging and empowering co-creative processes.

a student project showing a new design for a courtroom

Detailed Design

Create design prototypes and plans with a high degree of formal and functional detail.

a group of construction workers

Cultural Alignment

Create culturally relevant design outcomes informed by research.

a man giving a presentation to a room of people

Effective Reporting

Report design analyses and recommendations effectively for a wide range of audiences.

 

The MFA in Experience Design is a studio-based program, where most learning is facilitated through iterative processes involving repeated critique and feedback. The nature of Experience Design as a practice that synthesizes research and making means that activities for learning are widely varied. For example, activities can include:

  • Sketching to “reality-test” ideas that have not been visually articulated.
  • Sketching for testing the operation of a design.
  • Sketching to communicate ideas and proposed designs to others.
  • Comping to communicate the form, makeup, and operation of design prototypes.
  • Concept mapping to visualize relationships between concepts to inform writing.
  • Systemic mapping to visualize real and perceived components of complex systems.
  • Wireframing and storyboarding to prototype interfaces, interactions, and services.
  • Creating probes and activities for engaging stakeholders in design processes.
  • Experience mapping to visualize peoples’ interactions with design.
  • Photographing and recording observed instances of design in context.
  • Designing face-to-face and recorded presentations whose visuals effectively support spoken and textual content.
  • Observations, interviews, and focus group facilitation that lead to the production of an ethnographic report.
  • Design and writing of reports that communicate design proposals and the research evidence that informs them.
  • Using prototyping tools like InVision, Sketch, Adobe XD, Axure RP, or Marvel to enable product testing.
  • Building physical prototypes at a rudimentary level for rapid product testing.
  • Designing and facilitating charrette sessions to involve community members in the design process.

Courses in the xdMFA

Learners in the xdMFA are required to successfully complete four different types of coursework in order to earn the MFA degree. These four types include:

More information about activities in studio classes for the degree is available on each course type page.

xdMFA Course Sequence

Depending on the year students are admitted into the MFA in Experience Design, students will start on the Year A, B, or C schedule. Course offerings rotate every year in a three-year cycle.

Use this list and the grid below to determine which courses are planned to be offered.

  • Start Fall 2018: Year C
  • Start Fall 2019: Year A
  • Start Fall 2020: Year B
  • Start Fall 2021: Year C
  • Start Fall 2022: Year A
  • Start Fall 2023: Year B
  • Start Fall 2023: Year C

Toggle course content years below to view possible curriculum order.

Fall 2019, 2022, 2025 (Year A)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Meaning-Making or Interaction
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Development ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Design Research Theory ART 651

xd Theory Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: psychological & communication theories, philosophy, logic, rhetoric
skills: writing, reframing, innovation

Special Topics Design Studio ART 560

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: synthesis
skills: collaboration, adaptation, experience design, research, design thinking, design process, problem-solving

A History of Design ART 555

xd Theory Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: context
skills: writing, reframing, analysis, research, critical thinking

Design Research Methods ART 627

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Oxford Weekend
focus: primary and secondary research methods
skills: research, ideation, field research, observation, research design, theoretical frameworks, reporting, responsible design, ethics

Spring 2020, 2023, 2026 (Year A)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Storytelling or Materiality
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Operation ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Experience Design Methods ART 622

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: methods
skills: products, services, sensory design, design sprints, co-creation, charrettes, leadership

Elective IMS or ART

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid, online, or in-person

Summer 2020, 2023, 2026 (Year A)

Usability and Digital Media IMS 513

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: interaction design methods
skills: usability, user testing, heat maps, eye tracking, interaction design, interface

Applied Experience Design: Walt Disney World (or other elective) ART 536

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
focus: methods
skills: research, experience design, customer service, logistics, storytelling

Fall 2017, 2020, 2023, 2026 (Year B)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Meaning-Making or Interaction
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Development ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Writing for Design Audiences ART 623

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: methods
skills: writing, presentations, proposals, grants, UX writing, publishing

Special Topics Design Studio ART 560

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: synthesis
skills: collaboration, adaptation, experience design, research, design thinking, design process, problem solving

A History of Design ART 555

xd Theory Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: context
skills: writing, reframing, analysis, research, critical thinking

Design Research Methods ART 627

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Oxford Weekend
focus: primary and secondary research methods
skills: research, ideation, field research, observation, research design, theoretical frameworks, reporting, responsible design, ethics

Spring 2018, 2021, 2024, 2027 (Year B)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Storytelling or Materiality
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Operation ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Designing for Access ART 624

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: methods
skills: research, cultural relevance, different needs, usability, universal design, accessibility

Ethics and Digital Media IMS 524

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: theory
skills: context, ethics, customer service, accessibility, access, culture, leadership, business

Summer 2018, 2021, 2024, 2027 (Year B)

Usability and Digital Media ART 513

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: interaction design methods
skills: usability, user testing, heat maps, eye tracking, interaction design, interface

Applied Experience Design: Walt Disney World (or other elective) ART 536

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
focus: methods
skills: research, experience design, customer service, logistics, storytelling

Fall 2018, 2021, 2024, 2027 (Year C)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Meaning-Making or Interaction
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Development ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Systemic Design ART 625

xd Theory Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: theory
skills: mapping, need discovery, stakeholder needs alignment, systems theory, transition design, design for transformation

Special Topics Design Studio ART 560

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: synthesis
skills: collaboration, adaptation, experience design, research, design thinking, design process, problem-solving

A History of Design ART 555

xd Theory Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: context
skills: writing, reframing, analysis, research, critical thinking

Design Research Methods ART 627

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Oxford Weekend
focus: primary and secondary research methods
skills: research, ideation, field research, observation, research design, theoretical frameworks, reporting, responsible design, ethics

Spring 2019, 2022, 2025, 2028 (Year C)

Experience Design Studio ART 650

xd Core Studio Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Destination Weekend
content: Storytelling or Materiality
focus: synthesis
skills: experience design

Thesis Operation ART 700

xd Thesis Course
credits: 3
format: online
focus: self-selected project
skills: design research, experience design, reporting, dissemination

Methods of Dissemination ART 626

xd Methods Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: methods
skills: writing, presentations, social media, publishing, marketing, facilitation, leadership

Elective IMS or ART

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid, online, or in-person

Summer 2019, 2022, 2025, 2028 (Year C)

Usability and Digital Media IMS 513

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
focus: interaction design methods
skills: usability, user testing, heat maps, eye tracking, interaction design, interface

Applied Experience Design: Walt Disney World (or other elective) ART 536

Specialization Course
credits: 3
format: hybrid
travel: Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
focus: methods
skills: research, experience design, customer service, logistics, storytelling

Approved Electives

  • ART 536 Applied Experience Design (Walt Disney World, Hybrid, 3 hrs)
  • ART 571 Sculpture IV & V (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • ART 620 Drawing (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • ART/IMS 640 Experience Design Internship (Jobsite, 3-6 hrs)
  • ART 645 Printmaking (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • ART 680 Graduate Seminar in Art History (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 504 Visualization (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 507 Interactive Business Communication (Online, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 511 Visual Rhetoric (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 514 Web and Social Media Analytics (Online, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 518 Social Media Marketing (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 519 Digital Branding (Online, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 522 Advanced Web Design (Hybrid, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 540 Interactive Media Studies Practicum (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 561 Advanced 3D & Simulation (Oxford, 3 hrs)
  • IMS 677 Web Design (Online, 3 hrs)
(ART: Art; IMS: Interactive Media Studies)

The Miami University Bulletin series is the official source of information about the programs and courses of study offered at Miami University. Consult the bulletin for the most up-to date listings.