Design Thinking

Objective and Vision

UC Forward: Design Thinking is a cross-college (CECH, DAAP, COB, ENGR, A&S) multidisciplinary certificate program designed to help students acquire the skills and dispositions needed to conceptualize, design, and evaluate innovative product concepts that meet market needs through a combination of focused foundational courses and experiential learning activities. The Design Thinking certificate brings together faculty and students to enhance core disciplinary skills while challenging deeper fundamental tenets in order to promote innovation through user-centered and creative problem-solving techniques.

Core courses focus on understanding how design thinking can lead to transformative innovation, with the goal of developing students who think creatively and critically and who are confident to take risks and be a force for change in their organizations and communities. The certificate program structure provides opportunities for students across the university to collaborate in multidisciplinary environments focusing on problem-solving and innovative approaches to market needs.

Each student will complete a portfolio illustrating the process and product of the transformative experience. The portfolio will be developed and refined throughout the certificate experience. In addition, the portfolio will provide an instrument for ongoing program evaluation and improvement. Students will complete the certificate by participating in the annual Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in the spring semester.

Course Requirements

Students must complete two core courses:

Inquiry to Innovation (PD2030): This multi-disciplinary course helps students develop the skills they need to be effective collaborators and problem-solvers. Topics include strategic thinking, research, design thinking, collaboration, gaming strategies, decision making, brainstorming, and community engagement. Students work together to solve an authentic real-world problem that changes each term.

Introduction to Ideation and Innovation (DSGN6000): This mind-broadening course covers the front end of design, from identifying the need to evaluating product concepts to meet the need. Topics covered include the fuzzy front end of the design process, user-centered design, concept generation, creative thinking, competitive analysis and benchmarking. Students will use what they learn to complete a comprehensive final project.


Students must complete at least nine credit hours from the approved elective courses in the table below.

NOTE: Students who wish to take an elective that is not on this list can petition that it be accepted for credit. This will be determined in consultation with the UC Forward faculty advisor within each representing college. Additional courses that may qualify can be found by searching for the T Attribute in OneStop (T = Transformational).

Elective Courses for Certificate in Design Thinking
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
AFST3021 Black Entrepreneurship  3
BME3050 Medical Product Design I  3
BME5010 Medical Device Innovation I 3 to 6
BME 5020 Medical Device Innovation II 3 to 6
DSGN1070 Global Issues in Design 3
DSGN1071 User Centered Design 3
ENGR6010 Effective Tech Org (requires permission of instructor) 3
ENGR6050 Fund of Leadership 3
ENTR2001 Essential of Entrepreneurship 3
ENTR4001 Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship 3
FIN4008 001 New Venture Finance 3
HIST3027 American Economy and Society 3
HIST3079 Stock Exchange and Society 3
INDL3031, 4030, 4031 Topical Studio 3
INDL3043 002 Collaborative Junior Studios (Design+Nursing: Concussion Prevention) 3
IT1040C Website Creation and Management 3
OLHR2049 Intro to the Practice of Leadership 3
OLHR6050 Teams   3

Additional Requirements

Each student must maintain an e-portfolio that presents a cohesive and engaging depiction of his or her journey though the certificate program, provides details and illustrations of course work and collaborations, and includes genuine reflections about the process of innovation.

Students must also present a poster at the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase that outlines his or her certificate program or that is specific to a single trans-disciplinary project completed while in the program.