Master of Arts in Creative Sustainability (ARTS)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Students learn to adapt knowledge, skills and new approaches to reach collaborative solutions based on ecological, economic and socio-cultural sustainability.

Study objectives

Multidisciplinary approach: Students learn to adapt knowledge, skills and new approaches to reach collaborative solutions based on ecological, economic and socio-cultural sustainability.

Systems approach: Students learn to use systemic thinking into problem-solving and create new holistic understandings of complex situations and critical infrastructures in society. The emphasis is on global awareness within the context of local communities and simultaneous modification of different aspects of sustainability.

Design thinking: Students learn to apply creative problem-solving methods and tools in facilitating dialogues, defining problems, generating ideas and obtaining solutions.

Sustainability management: Students learn to develop, support and manage sustainability initiatives for the society at large, for business purposes and for the needs of other organizations. Students also gain an understanding of the way that different organizational forms and work practices support the pursuits in sustainability.

Project management: Students learn to manage multidisciplinary teamwork, and to promote sustainability in culturally versatile organizational environments.

After completing the degree in CS in the department of Design students are able to

  • practice transparent and responsible design in different political, societal and business contexts.
  • use design thinking, systems thinking and participatory approaches to analyse sustainability problems and develop creative solutions.
  • facilitate teamwork across different disciplines and profession.
  • participate in and lead debates on design and sustainability.
  • carry out design research to support their practical work.

Study language

The language of instruction in the Master’s Programme in Creative Sustainability - Master of Arts is English.

Career opportunities

CS studies prepare the students to work as sustainability experts in organizations that have a strategic view on transformation towards sustainability. These include the private and public sectors as well as a wide range of NGO´s. The student can develop expertise in different professional profiles which vary from research skills to the practical skills of management, leadership and design in different environments.

Design confronts new challenges in innovating for sustainable development. The CS programme teaches skills to meet these challenges through specialization and interdisciplinary work, while students simultaneously fulfil criteria for professional design. Graduates from the CS programme are attractive targets for progressive local and international employers as well as prepared for independent entrepreneurial activity.

Content of the studies

The Creative Sustainability programme comprises classroom lessons, group assignments workshops, practical projects and a thesis. Courses deepen the basis for professional skills in sustainable product and service design. Contents of the projects vary from material innovation to enhancement of social sustainability. Courses and projects are carried out within topics of interest for partner organizations that can be e.g. private companies, NGOs or other associations or public organizations.

The two-year major consists of 120 ECTS composed of compulsory studies in the Department of Design, compulsory Creative Sustainability design studies and optional studies. The curriculum is based on personal study plans, in which the students can also include studies completed at other universities or other modules from Aalto University. The pedagogical approach is based on integrating teaching and research, problem-based learning, and a strong connection to practical outcomes. You can find more information about course offerings at the programme website.

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

What we look for in an applicant

Suitable applicants are dedicated to study sustainability in an interdisciplinary way and to work in related positions. We also valuable insights into design and the way design can be used as a transformative process.

Evaluation criteria

The criteria we use to evaluate the applications in the first stage are

  • CV (0-2 points)
  • motivation letter (0-2 points)
  • previous studies (0-2 points)
  • portfolio (0-5 points)

In addition to these, in the second stage, the evaluation criteria also include

  • Personal interview (0-5) points

The first stage and required application documents

In the first stage of the admission, the selection committee evaluates the applications based on the application documents. Study Option’s specific requirements for the application documents are listed below. Please also note requirements for the application documents presented in the general application instructions. Attach each application document to the electronic application form in PDF form.


A portfolio consisting of the applicant’s own works is mandatory.

In the portfolio, applicants display work that shows their artistic expression and design skills. The portfolio must contain diverse samples of the applicant’s previous scientific, professional and/or artistic activity. Artwork/project work can be provided as technical drawings, slides or photographs. If you present a work that has been undertaken as a team, please clarify your particular role in, and contribution to, the project. The work contained in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials used, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or published.

CV / Professional experience

The applicant’s professional experience will be looked at broadly, and especially with regard to work experience relevant to the Creative Sustainability programme. Professional experience will be evaluated based on the CV.

Motivation letter

The applicant must convey his/her motivation for studying in the Creative Sustainability programme by writing a letter of motivation. The letter should include responses to the following questions:

  • What is your most significant achievement or success in the area of sustainability and design?
  • Why do you want to become a student in the Creative Sustainability programme at Aalto University?
  • What types of projects would you like to do during your studies and as your masters’ thesis?
  • What do you want to do after the master programme?

(Max. 4000 characters.)

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English.

Second stage

Part of the applicants is invited to the second stage. The invitation to the second stage is sent to the applicants at the latest 7 days in advance.

Selected applicants will be invited for an interview. The interviews can be conducted over Skype if necessary. The interview is intended to evaluate the applicant’s potential to complete the studies successfully.

Other programme-specific application instructions

The Master’s Programme in Creative Sustainability is a multidisciplinary programme, and courses are offered by the following departments and schools of Aalto University:

  • Department of Design; School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Management Studies; School of Business
  • Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems; School of Chemical Engineering
  • Department of Architecture; School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Built Environment; School of Engineering

It is possible to apply to the Creative Sustainability programme through the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Department of Design), School of Business and School of Chemical Engineering. The applicant can apply to the Creative Sustainability programme through more than one school. In this case, the applicant should deliver the appropriate application package to each school. An applicant’s eligibility will be always checked according to the criteria of the school through which the applicant is applying to the programme (criteria on e.g. the score of language test, educational background and submission of the required attachments). The administrative eligibility of the applicant is checked by Aalto University Admission Services.

An applicant, however, can be selected only through one of the departments. Accepted students will complete the master’s degree in the department to which they are accepted.

If an architect applies through the Department of Design and is accepted, the degree completed will be a Master of Arts in Creative Sustainability. In order for an architect-applicant to be accepted, the applicant should show a strong motivation why he/she wants to apply through the Department of Design in particular.

Last updated Nov 2019

About the School

At Aalto University, we believe in curiosity and we encourage our students to explore the unknown and do things in a totally new way. We offer the highest level of education in business, art and desig ... Read More

At Aalto University, we believe in curiosity and we encourage our students to explore the unknown and do things in a totally new way. We offer the highest level of education in business, art and design, architecture, and technology in Finland. Read less
Espoo , Helsinki , Pori , Mikkeli + 3 More Less