Grad Programs Overview

The Philosophy of our Graduate Programs

MA and MFA candidates enroll in these programs to enable and empower their pursuit of careers as leaders, key collaborators and thoughtful, empathetic doers who can affect positive changes in education, corporate arenas, a variety of research domains and the not-for-profit sector.

Both our MFA and MA programs are designed to educate people who are interested in trying to make a real, positive difference in how people live, work and pursue their aspirations in a world that is changing more quickly, more substantially and across a broader array of social, geographic, cultural, economic, political and technological spectrums than it ever has. To do this, we place students in learning situations wherein they learn to utilize a select array of design decision-making processes to bolster their ability to create and actualize solutions to real problems that affect real people in the real world.

The design decision-making processes referred to here should not be confused with so-called "design thinking," at least in terms of the formulaic, linear, non-circular definition this once-promising approach to a process-based means for fostering creativity and innovation de-evolved into over the course of the last decade. Design decision-making, as we teach and practice it, is messy and imbued with conflict. It embraces and celebrates failure, and is guided by circular, layered reasoning. We value mistake- and mischief-making, as we have learned through experience and study that these are both essential to enact large- and small-scale transformations. The outcomes of the learning experiences we facilitate are less defined by artifacts and aesthetics—although they both affect significant aspects of what we do—and more by the systemic alterations we facilitate to alter social norms, technological and economic practices, and public policies.

To learn more about how we teach and practice design research here at UNT, please click on the "Media" tab at the top of this page, and, once you've landed on that page, watch the short videos you'll find there in Section Two, "Teaching and Practicing Design Research at UNT."