The curriculum pairs a 3-credit seminar with a 9-credit studio in each of the first three semesters of study. The high-credit studio provides the time for students to integrate user-experience research with studio activity and to build a substantive body of work, rather than a collection of small projects. The topic of the studio changes each semester and may include Industrial Design students in the spring semester. The program invites a number of speakers and workshop leaders to campus, as well as critics for end-of-semester reviews. Students frequently take field trips related to the studio topic, and they stage a graduate symposium in one of their four semesters.
Students enroll in a 3-credit elective, which can be any graduate course in the university (or at nearby Duke University or UNC/Chapel Hill under NC State tuition). In addition, a final project research course provides students with guidance in developing a proposal. The fourth semester is devoted entirely to the final project, under the supervision of a three-faculty graduate committee.