Preliminary Year Program

Overview

The field of design continues to expand in exciting and unprecedented ways. The increasingly complex challenges designers embrace are not only changing the nature of what designers do but how disciplinary knowledge in design is understood. The Preliminary Year Program embraces this evolving reality by welcoming applicants without traditional design backgrounds. 

Motivated applicants who do not hold a bachelors degree in design or a related discipline are encouraged to apply to the MDes Preliminary Year Program. The Preliminary Year Program welcomes applicants from a range of backgrounds and considers areas of post-secondary study, non-academic activities, professional experience, and stated aims alongside evidence of visual production and critical cultural engagement. Preliminary Year students automatically enroll in the two-year MDes program upon successful completion of the introductory year.

The Preliminary Year studio is the heart of the Preliminary Year curriculum. The inquiry-based immersion in design practice engages methodology, technical skills development, and basic investigation into cultural and disciplinary contexts. Simultaneously, Preliminary Year students enroll in graduate and advanced undergraduate courses that introduce fundamental technical approaches, research strategies, special topics in design, and more. 

MDes Preliminary Year program applicants are required to submit a standard two-year application designating a field of interest (Industrial or Graphic Design). During the Preliminary Year, this choice of field will be confirmed or changed based on interest and engagement during the Preliminary Year.