Photo: Giga Tsikarishvili. The image shows a work by Giga Tsikarishvili.

MFA Programme in Design

Master’s programme
2 years
120 credits (ECTS)
Study pace
Study form
Application open
Application code
Full education cost: 568 000 SEK
First payment: 142 000 SEK

No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students.

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Design as a practice can promote positive change.
The master’s programme in Design views design as an expanded practice that investigates how design can contribute to contemporary questions relating to society, culture, technology, and politics. Rather than specializing on a specific medium, our aim is to outline urgent fields, identify relevant questions, and explore how design skills can contribute in a meaningful way. In consequence, topics, projects, and methods may unfold across formats, media, disciplines, discourses, and contexts.


The master’s programme in Design studies and positions the designer’s role in our complex and contradictory times. We believe that robust and critical design practices can contribute important knowledge to a variety of fields. As an open, social, and relational practice, we believe design has the potential to both make and reflect the world we inhabit. By recognizing the complexities and entanglements of our current times, we position the role of the designer as a mediator of conditions, as well as possibilities.

Over the last few years, the programme’s curriculum has engaged directly with a variety of themes and urgent questions. Working with and through an expanded set of design tools, student projects have engaged in questions relating to the role of the designer in contemporary discourses and practices in post-humanism, the Anthropocene, critical heritage, identity politics, urbanism, contemporary labour and manufacturing, linguistics, and publishing.

An expanded design approach

At the Academy of Art and Design, design is defined as a subject that broadly shapes our lives in many ways. In return, we position design as an expanded socio-material practice that can engage with social, political, and ecological implications. Simultaneously, we value design’s artistic competence to visualize, materialize, and mediate experiences with great care for detail. We research new fields and develop new methods and material practices to engage with contemporary urgencies. Therefore, the programme practices through an expanded design approach in order to design the way we live together by means of artefacts, methods, and tactics. This expanded approach should here be understood as enquiry-driven practice.

Committed to a diverse and sustainable future

At its foundational level, our programme draws from Sweden’s prominent traditions in democratic design as well as its long-standing commitment to social welfare. You will engage in practical projects that investigate new and challenging ideas of how designers can situate themselves and work for sociably sustainable futures. This context is enriched by a multiplicity of perspectives, questions, cultures, and practices brought in by students and teachers from different national and international backgrounds.

Practical projects, both individual and group, will be at the core of your studies. The intention and attitude of the programme is explorative and experimental.

Get to know teachers and other staff at the Design Unit.

Programme structure and content

The first year introduces you to key design tools and trains you to identify and formulate design questions, including developing research methods and material tactics in how to articulate your responses to these questions. Through practice and theory, you will study how designers can act and intervene for progressive social change. Mandatory courses prepare you to begin your thesis project:

  • Design as Exploratory Practice
  • Visualizing Complexity
  • Design as Mediating Practice
  • Design in a Sociocultural Context
  • Social Intervention

The second year prepares you further for your thesis project with a range of assignments where you engage and contribute to design discourse, advancing your knowledge in your own field of interest. You will identify and formulate a variety of material responses to your identified design questions, with the intention to develop not just singular artefacts, objects, or media, but an area of design research leading you towards a sustainable practice.

Who should apply?

If you choose our programme, you will:

  • be introduced to methods and attitudes in order to develop an artistically strong and sustainable practice that can contribute to urgent issues, both ecological and socio-political;
  • expand your design knowledge and develop skills in an open and explorative environment that allows experimenting with ways of doing design and design research;
  • and benefit from a professional staff who supports a studio culture that values and supports peer-to-peer learning.

Prerequisites and selection


Bachelor's degree in design of at least 180 credits or equivalent. Applicants must prove their knowledge of English: English 6/English B from Swedish Upper Secondary School or the equivalent level of an internationally recognized test, for example TOEFL, IELTS. In addition, approved work samples are required.


Find the portfolio instructions for the MFA Programme in Design here: 

More information about Portfolio


The selection is based on an assessment of submitted work samples.

After graduation

Graduates of the programme receive the degree Master of Fine Arts with a major in Design.


HDK-Valands facilities on Kristinelundsgatan, where the programme is situated, are situated in the middle of Gothenburg in the same building complex as Röhsska Museum of Design and Crafts. It is an international study environment with well-equipped workshops close to the arts.

More information about facilities