Master of Design in Design for Health


Program Description

Design for Health

Responding to the complexity of health care through a comprehensive, academically-rich design approach. Empowering designers to create ethical, sustainable solutions to pressing challenges across the health sector.

Become an expert in the fast-growing area of health design in OCAD University’s Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Health. Study full or part-time at our campus just a short walk from world-caliber hospitals and health research institutes.

Nearly every aspect of health care needs design expertise, including systems, service, program, and product design. Health challenges considered in the program include:

  • Increases in chronic diseases
  • An aging population
  • The emergence of new infections
  • Health inequities
  • Social and environmental determinants of health
  • Growing cultural diversity
  • Consumer demand for more involvement in care planning and delivery
  • A shift to multi-setting and multi-disciplinary health-care delivery
  • Escalating costs and shrinking budgets
  • The spread of digital health and wellness technologies

Program Features

  • Studio-based learning with local and national health sector partners in order to design innovative solutions to complex and contemporary health design challenges.
  • Guest lectures by designers, scholars, and industry experts.
  • Elective and shared courses from other graduate programs at OCAD University and other post-secondary institutions.
  • Dynamic and interdisciplinary cohorts.

In order to support the needs of part-time students who may be working full or part-time while completing the program, courses are frequently clustered on one weekday per term and run during the day. The day of the week may vary between terms and academic years.


What You'll Do In The Program

The interdisciplinary Design for Health program has four main themes delivered primarily through studio-based learning:

  • Health contexts: Develop domain knowledge in health, healthcare delivery, communications, technology, and innovation.
  • Research and application: Identify, design, conduct, and apply qualitative, co-design, and evidence-based techniques to health challenges.
  • Design and innovation: Create new, ethical, and sustainable solutions with health sector stakeholders, patients, and partners.
  • Proficiency and leadership within interdisciplinary collaborations: Be embedded in interdisciplinary teams which include patients, health service providers, and designers to develop design solutions and to communicate outcomes.

Who Should Apply

We developed the MDes in Design for Health primarily for people who already have educational and practical experience in an area of design. The program is also for people in the health sector who are committed to design.

Most students will hold an undergraduate degree in design or a related field. Some will have experience in health administration, patient advocacy, health services, or health technology.

Admission Requirements

Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are open! Apply now through the Graduate Application Portal. 

Due to study permit processing timelines, May 8th will be our application deadline for international applicants. Applications will remain open until all spaces are filled. Applicants are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible, as our graduate programs fill quickly.

General application requirements

In addition to general graduate studies application requirements, found below, that are applicable to all programs, individual programs may have unique application requirements that you can consult.

  • Transcripts
  • Reference letters
  • Application fee
  • English language competency

Program-specific application requirements

Application for admission into the Master’s in Design for Health is competitive. Applicants must hold a bachelor degree in a design field, such as BA (in design studies), B.Arch., BED, BID, BDes, BSc, BEng or comparable honors degree/certification with a GPA of 75% (B+) or better during the last two years of study, or must demonstrate exceptional experience and expertise as a practitioner in a relevant discipline. All applicants must demonstrate creative and conceptual competence at a high level, as well as the clear potential for acquiring a sufficient level of expertise in the diverse disciplines relevant to this degree.

For consideration by the admissions committee, and in addition to the basic application requirements outlined above, applicants need to complete and submit the following through the Graduate Application Portal:

  • Statement of Interest: Describe your key areas of interest in the health sector, detailing how your academic background and professional experience relate to your interests, and how your intended practice and research align with the objectives of the program. The proposal must be 750 words in length.
  • Design Portfolio: You must submit samples of the relevant student or professional work produced in the last five years. Visual work, analytic reports, proposal documents, etc. may be included. You are expected to demonstrate proficiency in your primary design discipline(s). Your best work should be represented.
  • Alternative Portfolio (for non-design applicants): A limited number of candidates with ‘non- design’ qualifications and backgrounds such as engineering, computer science, public health, and medicine may be considered for entry on a case-by-case basis, considering criteria such as professional and personal experience within the area of design for health. Requirements for applicants with non-design undergraduate degrees are the same as for design degree graduates, except that the portfolio should focus on providing sufficient documentation of experience relevant to health innovation. 
  • CV: Applicants should include an updated copy of their curriculum vitae.
  • Program Specific Questions: Applicants will be asked to provide responses to a series of questions specific to the program.

How to Apply

Graduate applications for the 2020 academic year are still open for domestic applicants.

Step 1: Review application requirements and program-specific eligibility

This information can be found on the Application Requirements page.

Step 2: Apply online using the Graduate Application Portal

All applicants to Graduate Studies at OCAD University must first complete a graduate application through the Graduate Application Portal. If you are applying to more than one graduate program, you must submit a separate application for each program for which you wish to be considered. 

Application Fee: The application fee is $110 CAD, payable through the Graduate Application Portal. Application fees are non-refundable and charged for each program for which you apply. 

Step 3: Finalize and submit your application

The Graduate Application Portal will allow you to log in and start a graduate application which you can edit as often as required. However, once your application has been submitted, no further changes will be allowed.

Once your application has been successfully submitted through the Graduate Application Portal and your application fee paid, you will receive official emails acknowledging receipt of your application. Any further required steps or actions will be outlined at this time.

Our online application portal is the only method to submit your application. We do not accept paper applications or physical application materials. If you encounter issues while applying, please contact us at

Step 4: Application review process

Only complete applications will be reviewed by our Admissions Committees. Once the program-specific Admissions Committee has reviewed your submitted application, you may be contacted by the Office of Graduate Studies and invited to an interview (where applicable). If you are invited to an interview, it may take place in-person or remotely (e.g. teleconference or Skype). The application review process, including interviews, normally takes up to twelve weeks after the application deadline.

Step 5: Notification of admissions decisions

Once a decision is made regarding your application, you will receive a notification via email asking you to log in to the Graduate Application Portal and check the status of your application. 

Offer of Admission: If you are offered admission to a graduate program, you will have a limited time (normally two weeks) to accept the offer of admission through the Graduate Application Portal. Your offer of admission may be subject to conditions, which must be cleared before you can be permitted to register.

Waiting Lists: If you are placed on a waiting list for admission into a graduate program, you will receive a notification via email when your application status changes. If you are on a waiting list and decide not to attend OCAD University, please contact us to let us know of your decision.

Not Admitted: If you are not selected for admission, you may fall into one of three general categories:

  • Although you meet the minimum program requirements, due to a combination of a highly competitive process and a limited number of spaces, we were unable to admit you.
  • You have not met the minimum program requirements (e.g., GPA, English language requirements, etc.).
  • You were deemed ineligible (e.g., non-relevant degree, lack of academic qualifications).

Please note that applicants meeting the minimum requirements for admission are not guaranteed admission into a graduate program. Furthermore, program admission may be limited to students whose interests are compatible with the specific program mandate, available resources, and faculty expertise.

Last updated Jun 2020

About the School

Founded in 1876, OCAD U is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD U continuously builds on its traditional ... Read More

Founded in 1876, OCAD U is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD U continuously builds on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, members of the OCAD U community are uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology, and quality of life for all Canadians. Read less