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Doctor of Design Courses + Curriculum

The Doctor of Design program comprises a 54-credit, six-semester learning sequence tailored for the pursuit of original design-based investigations. Other requirements include the preliminary comprehensive exam (comps), the final exam (defense), and a final research product (dissertation).

Notably, the structure of the DDes program allows design professionals to complete the degree program through distance education. Students have an opportunity to work on interdisciplinary courses and individual research projects remotely while continuing to fulfill professional and personal obligations if and as necessary.

Students work closely with an individual mentor and are guided by supporting committee members with varied expertise. Doctoral programs require a minimum of four (4) graduate faculty members, including the graduate advisor (mentor) who serves as chair or co-chair of the committee. The Chair must be a member of the College of Design Doctoral Faculty; at least one other member must be a faculty member of the College of Design. Additional committee members may be recruited from other NC State Colleges (e.g. Agriculture, Engineering, Education, etc.) and/or from UNC system-wide faculty (e.g. UNC Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Charlotte, etc). External committee members may also be invited from industry to work with students. For more on committee composition, see:

Similar to the PhD in Design program, the DDes program introduces research design and its methods in their first year; students then delve deeply into independent inquiry. Early in the second year, students craft a detailed design research proposal and prepare for the preliminary exam. The third and final year is dedicated to original investigation towards the final dissertation or equivalent alternative product in design research.