Master of Design (MDes) Design Strategies


Program Description

The Master of Design (Design Strategies) is directed at people who are established in their careers and wish to deepen and enhance their strategic thinking and methods by integrating design, business, and technology.

The specialism is intended for both design and non-design professionals with solid working experience in or related to the areas of design, such as communication, brand management, production, marketing, engineering or teaching.

Those who are considering becoming entrepreneurs, taking on more responsibility for design-led business development, or translating new technology into designed experiences and practical applications will benefit from this specialism. Design Strategies has been rated as one of the World’s Best Design Thinking Programs by BusinessWeek.

Application Timeline - Sep 2021 Entry

  • Applications period: Sep 24, 2020 – Apr 30, 2021
  • Reviews deadlines:
    • Early Round: Dec 18, 2020
    • Round 1: Jan 29, 2021
    • Round 2: Mar 12, 2021
    • Round 3: Apr 30, 2021
  • Application deadline: Apr 30, 2021
The close-knit network of professionals who understand design at a strategic level and come with a diversity of perspectives and experiences – share and cross-pollinating ideas. / PolyU Design

Programme Aims

This specialism seeks to locate design strategically in the context of business and technology by exploring best practices as shown in case studies, human-centred explorations to identify previously unrecognised user needs and desires, comparative analyses of business opportunities, successes, and failures, analyses of branding strategies, and with particular attention to the local context of transforming original equipment manufacture (OEM) to original design manufacture (ODM), and finally to own brand management (OBM). The specialism is applicable to both business and nonprofit organisations and extends across local and global issues.

Design and Research Analysis, a research subject that combines theories and practice. Our students were asked to analyse the city’s environmental issues and propose solutions to the Environmental Bureau. / PolyU Design

Programme Objectives

This specialism seeks knowledge in design that facilitates the integration of design, technology, and business by:

  • creating value by design
  • applying design to business development
  • transforming OEM/ ODM to OBM
  • branding products and services for domestic and international markets
  • exploring cultural differences and issues in local and global contexts
  • understanding customers’ needs and goals

Programme Structure

Design Strategies has a flexible approach to learning for engaged professionals. Subjects are taught on weekends with most subjects taken in any order after the completion of a selection of core subjects. For example, a typical 3-credit subject requires three weekends spread over a 4–5 week period. Not a studio programme, the purpose of this specialism is academic — to deepen design understanding and integrate design in its business and technological context through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing. The programme concludes with a report that synthesizes individual experience and interests with programme materials leading to strategic development for an organisation or in the pursuit of social or cultural goals.

Class delivery mode & duration

Normally classes are held during weekends except one core subject and one elective that are delivered on weekday evenings. Each subject requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks. Normally it takes 2 years to complete the specialism.


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent; and a minimum of two years of professional experience in a design-related field is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

A complete application includes
  • Application form
  • Letter of intent
  • Three letters of recommendation (Academic/ Profession)~
  • Evidence of academic qualification, i.e. Official Full Transcripts and Degree Certificates
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report^

~ Design Strategies applicants need to provide an employment proof for meeting entrance requirements.
^ If you are not a native speaker of English, and your Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification is awarded by institutions where the medium of instruction is not English, you are expected to fulfil the following minimum English language requirement for admission purpose: A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 80 for the Internet-based test or 550 for the paper-based test; OR An overall Band Score of at least 6 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).


All admissions must go through the interview process. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview in person (for local applicants) or over internet video calls (for non-local applicants).

Our students have a Bachelor degree + at least two years of professional experience. The current cohort of locals + non-local students (expats and those from overseas) has an average of 8 years’ experience. / PolyU Design

Financial Aid

PolyU Design BA graduates can apply for Alumni Bursary (subject to approval) when admitted into one of the MDes programmes in 2021/22. This financial aid will be in a form of reimbursement of an amount equivalent to 15% of the tuition fee paid.

Local students who are holders of HKID Card (Permanent) admitted to one of the MDes programmes in 2021/22 may apply for the subsidy capped at HK$120,000 offered by the University Grants Committee (UGC)’s Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme for the settlement of the tuition fee. The main purpose of the Fellowship Scheme is to attract meritorious local students to pursue interdisciplinary and in-depth postgraduate training in priority areas of strategic importance for Hong Kong and to meet the societal needs for talents speedily.

Other types of financial aid for local students are available through the Government's Student Finance Office: Continuing Education Fund (CEF) and Extended Non-means-Tested Loan Scheme (ENLS).

No scholarship is available for non-local students.

* Remark: PolyU reserves the right to change the terms or withdraw the above fellowships or bursary. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU’s decision is final.

Student Message

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

PolyU Design has been an important hub of design education and research for Hong Kong since 1964. The School thrives on its geographical position in bridging the East and the West, allowing its studen ... Read More

PolyU Design has been an important hub of design education and research for Hong Kong since 1964. The School thrives on its geographical position in bridging the East and the West, allowing its students to develop their design strengths with a uniquely international cultural awareness at both professional and social levels. Read less