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Human-Centered Design Thinking Graduate Certificate

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Certificate Overview Open Accordion

Solve problems creatively as you study human-centered design thinking online

Improve your personal creativity. Initiate and lead change in your industry. Advance your career as you learn theories, strategies, and methods that relate to the entire innovation process. You'll research, develop, problem solve, prototype, test, and more.

As a student in this online graduate certificate program, you will engage in creative collaboration centered around principles of inclusivity and diversity. You'll develop 21st century skills involving interdisciplinary communication and emerging technologies, co-design with users and stakeholders, create innovative products or experiences, and become a change leader.

After successfully completing this program, you will:

  • Understand design thinking theories, methods, and processes
  • Discover the way expert designers think through the creation process
  • Develop a variety of design thinking skills and research-based approaches via hands-on activities
  • Identify and define problems
  • Respond creatively and resiliently in unanticipated situations
  • Critically evaluate potential solutions
  • Collaborate with team members holding different values and perspectives
  • Communicate complex ideas to diverse audiences using innovative technologies in virtual and augmented reality

What is design thinking?

The field of design thinking refers to both the theoretical concepts and applied processes used to develop new products, tools, strategies, and frameworks. An iterative process by nature, human-centered design thinking seeks to understand how human beings can create increasingly better solutions to complex problems.

“Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run a business based on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an overreliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as dangerous.”Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO

Some of the leading companies in the design thinking market include:

  • IBM
  • Enigma
  • Fidelity
  • MassMutual
  • IDEO
  • Intuit
  • Infosys
  • Adobe Systems

Expand your career opportunities

No longer strictly associated with the design world, human-centered design thinking skills are now utilized across numerous industries and at all levels of organizations. According to, design thinking is the most in-demand skill in the job market.

Between 2016 and 2018, recruiters seeking professionals with design thinking skills increased 200%, according to Rutgers. Companies actively implementing design thinking also outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over a 10-year period, as noted by the Design Management Institute.

Start gaining the advanced knowledge to grow in your current position or start down the path to pursue exciting new opportunities in career roles such as:

  • Change leader
  • Design entrepreneur
  • Business designer
  • Social innovator
  • Design researcher
  • Research and development engineer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Software developer
  • Computer scientist
  • User experience (UX) designer
  • User interface (UI) designer
  • Marketing manager
  • Design director
  • Architect
  • Interior designer
  • Industrial designer
  • Occupational therapist
  • Product development specialist

Study online with experienced, diverse professionals and students

Complete your coursework at times that are convenient for you with CSU’s flexible online learning format. Study at your pace to gain career-building skills that put you ahead of the competition.

Learn in a highly interdisciplinary program from instructors in a wide range of different fields, including engineering, architecture, interior design, digital art, education, cognitive science, occupational therapy, communications, journalism, computer science, merchandising, and business. Instructors are leaders in immersive technology, forging a path toward understanding the potential for virtual reality to support the land grant mission of teaching, research, and community engagement.

This program is unique in that it is offered by the interdisciplinary Nancy Richardson Design Center within the College of Health and Human Sciences. Discover the power of collaboration and alternative ways of problem-solving when students from a variety of fields work together providing multiple perspectives that result in better, user-centered outcomes.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Spring semester November 15

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

This is a cohort-based program. Cohorts typically begin on a yearly basis, but please contact the department representative to get details on the next start date before applying.

1Review Admission Requirements

This graduate certificate program requires that students have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited, four-year institution.

2 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select “Human-Centered Design Thinking – Distance" when choosing the Program of Study. (Note: You must first select "Certificate" at the top.)

3 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript from the institution where you earned your bachelor’s degree. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary):
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Alex Broz
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

9 credits
$689 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Certificate Awarded
Graduate Certificate in Human-Centered Design Thinking
Admission Reqs.
  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution.
  • 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework

Application Dates

Spring semester
November 15

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