skip to Main Content

Design Graduate Specialization

Graduate Student Specialization in Human-centered Design

Announcing the new Graduate Student Specialization in Human-centered Design in partnership with the UC San Diego Design Lab, Cognitive Science (CogSci), Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science (HWSPH).

The Design Graduate Specialization is a set of courses graduate students can choose to take that fit into their home degree program requirements.  It is analogous to receiving a minor, but at the graduate level. The courses fit into their home program as either electives or as courses that were already part of their core requirements, plus the option to take courses from other programs taking part in the specialization outside of their home program. In addition, students will be required to take at least one course that explicitly addresses and discusses issues of power, privilege, and ethical responses. The Design Graduate Specialization is created so that it can be integrated into a one or two-year Master program or a Ph.D. program.

Human-centered design (HCD) is a way of thinking, applied to almost any issue: physical projects as well as to virtual ones, to procedures, services, and organizational structures. HCD provides powerful tools that focus upon the needs and capabilities of people, to ensure that the work aims at the root causes of the issues being addressed, not just the symptoms, that it is recognized that all major problems are part of large, complex systems, and because these issues apply to people, organizations, societies, and many different cultures, they must be thoroughly tested through an iterative course of rapid prototyping, testing, and refinement. The approach to teaching HCD within the specialization explicitly honors and recognizes the different ways that HCD manifest within different disciplines. Students, thus, focus on classes within their home discipline that utilize variants of HCD while also being exposed to other notions of HCD via a foundational 4-unit seminar series that brings all specialization students from across the campus together, plus a 1-unit lecture series, Design@Large, and, finally, the option to take HCD-related courses in other disciplines, among those programs that are part of the specialization. 

The specialization requires four courses (16 credits) plus attendance at our visiting lecture series course (1 credit) for a total of 17 credit hours.

Programs that offer the Design Graduate Specialization

Contact

For questions or to discuss the Design Graduate Specialization, email Ashian Nuristani <a2nuristani@ucsd.edu>, Cognitive Science Student Services Advisor.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing of this specialization, students should be able to:

    1. Use human-centered design principles, as appropriate for their home discipline, to guide the design of tools, artifacts, services, and other resources. 
    2. Use appropriate observation approaches relevant to one’s home discipline (e.g., ethnography, surveys, interviews, etc) to gain insights about the needs, assets, contextual requirements, desires, and insights of various stakeholders.
    3. Use appropriate design processes and protocols relevant to one’s home discipline, such as user experience design, interaction design, speculative design, participatory design, co-design, or community-driven design.
    4. Collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams and communicate effectively with others with differing training, perspectives, and beliefs.  
    5. Use iteration as a process to clarify and refine understanding of stakeholders, needs, problems, or solutions. 
    6. Develop self-awareness of one’s and other’s power, privilege, and the appropriate ethical response when in the role of a designer.

The specialization requires four courses (16 credits) plus attendance at our visiting lecture series course (1 credit) for a total of 17 credit hours. Courses are as follows:

A.  DSGN 201: Human-Centered Design and Complex Sociotechnical Systems. An introductory, project-based course on principles of HCD and their application to complex, sociotechnical systems (described below)

B.  DSGN 219: Design@Large Speaker Series. A weekly lecture series course (1 credit: Described below).

C.  Three DSGN courses from the approved list of design courses. Two of these must be from the student’s home department. The third can be any course on the list of approved courses, with a recommendation that the third course be chosen from outside of their home department. 

D.  Among the courses chosen to meet requirement C, one must include instruction on power, privilege, and ethical response. All students will be required to take at least one course that provides instruction and learning opportunities related to understanding issues of power, privilege, equity, marginalization, and ethical responses to these issues. The sub-list of approved classes that meet this requirement are listed at the end of the full list below. 

DSGN 201: Human-Centered Design and Complex Sociotechnical Systems (In-Development)

DSGN 201 is a new course that provides a grounding in human-centered design, particularly as applied to complex sociotechnical systems. The course objective is to teach the fundamentals of design thinking and HCD together with projects that develop an understanding of how the principles are applied in practice. Within this class, foundations on both power and privilege and ethics within human centered design will be emphasized. In addition, there will be a strong emphasis on teaching fundamentals in defining the needs and concerns of the target population for the application of the projects.  Finally, a range of design strategies, from more of a classic professional-led approach to co-design and community-driven variations of design will be reviewed. 

DSGN 219: Design@Large Speaker Series (In-Development, DSGN 119 may be substituted to meet requirement)

Design@Large is a weekly seminar sponsored by the Design Lab that brings in outside and local experts in design to discuss their work. It introduces a broad range of applications and approaches. Students are required to attend the lectures, lead discussion sections with undergraduate students, and/or review and provide feedback on undergraduate end-of-quarter reports. 

The approved list of graduate courses for the Specialization for AY 20/21 are listed below. Note that permission of the instructor is required when students seek to take courses outside of their home department.

Finalized course lists for the Specialization are in development for upcoming AY 22/23.

For requests or suggestions for classes in your home department to be added to the approved list, please email Ashian Nuristani <a2nuristani@ucsd.edu>, Cognitive Science Student Services Advisor.

Cognitive Science

COGS 220: Information Visualization
COGS 230: Topics in Human-Computer Interaction
COGS 231: Design Seminar on Human-Centered Programming
COGS 260: Crowdsourcing

Communication

COGR 275: Design and Politics
COGR 275: Mediated Ability: Media, Technology, and [Dis]ability
COGR 275: Ability/Cultures of Care
COMM 106i: Internet Industries
COMM 201D: Methods in Media Archaeology
COMM 201D: Methods in Material Culture
COMM 243: Media Technologies
COMM 275: Advanced topics in Communication: Histories of the Senses
COMM 275: Advanced topics in Communication: Designing for Access
COMM 275: Advanced topics in Communication: Disabling Modernism

Computer Science and Engineering

CSE 210: Principles of Software Engineering
CSE 216: Interaction Design Research (cross-listed with COGSCI 230)
CSE 218: Advanced Topics in Software Engineering- Ubiquitous Computing
CSE 276B: Human-Robot Interaction
CSE 276D: Healthcare Robotics (will cross-list as DSGN)

DSGN (includes courses taught by Design Lab FTE faculty that are or that will be cross-listed as DSGN)

DSGN 100: Prototyping (2 or 3 sections)
DSGN 160: Civic Design
DSGN 260: Human-Centered Design and Complex Sociotechnical Systems.
COGS 219: Design@Large Speaker Series (will cross-list as DSGN)
MGT 452: New Product Development (Taught by Design Lab FTE faculty member; will cross-list as DSGN)
ECE 284: Mobile Health Device Design. (Taught by Design Lab FTE faculty member; will cross-list as DSGN)

Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science

FMPH 258C: Ethics in Public Health Research and Practice
FMPH 460: Design & Public Health

Sublist of Courses for the Power, Privilege and Ethical Response Requirement

FMPH 258C: Ethics in Public Health Research and Practice
FMPH 460: Design & Public Health
FMPH 270: Cultural Perceptions about Health and Disease
COGR 275: Design and Politics
COGR 275: Mediated Ability: Media, Technology, and [Dis]ability
COGR 275: Ability/Cultures of Care
COMM 275: Advanced topics in Communication: Designing for Access
COMM 275: Advanced topics in Communication: Disabling Modernism

Capstone, thesis, or dissertation 

There will be no capstone, thesis, or dissertation (henceforth labeled project) requirement for the specialization. Instead, project requirements will conform with home degree requirements on projects and advising, including no project requirement. If a home program requires a project of some kind, students will be encouraged but not required to incorporate human-centered design. 

Back To Top