Graduate Program Manager

The Master of Strategic Communication Design (MSCD) is an immersive 39-credit hour program typically completed in a single year. Located in a state-of-the-art studio in the heart of Boulder's entrepreneurial tech community, the MSCD is entirely project-based. With the guidance of industry-driven instructors, our students leverage design's potential as a critical problem-solving tool in a rapidly changing world. This human-centered program evolves students into branding design and entrepreneurial professionals through innovative, intensive and progressive learning experiences.

MSCD graduates have been appointed to leadership design positions in top companies, including Google, Apple, Uber, Saatchi and Saatchi, Twitter and Dropbox—to name just a few.


Application Requirements

All MSCD applicants are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. In certain circumstances, we will consider students who discovered design after an unexceptional experience with an ancillary degree like pre-law or business.

How to Apply

The application is listed under Strategic Communication Design on the Graduate School website. Required forms that should be linked to the application are as follows:

  1. Personal statement. This statement is an essential part of the application. This is where you write and explain your discovery and path to design. In a maximum of 1500 words, please supply long-form answers to the following questions:
    • What attracts you to the MSCD program; why are you a good fit for it, and what do you hope to get out of it?
    • What particular experiences––personal or professional––have prepared you for work in design?
    • What do you envision as the most compelling opportunities for you as a designer and a future leader?
  2. Design portfolio. If you have a design portfolio, include a link to it in your personal statement. If you do not have a portfolio, include some examples of your creative potential. Examples to demonstrate your creative abilities might be photographs, painting, drawing, digital designs, curation of creative events/exhibitions, etc.
  3. Two letters of recommendation. These need to come from professionals and/or professors. Personal recommendations are not accepted.
  4. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended. We expect applicants to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75; the average among successful applicants is 3.45 (on a 4.0 scale).
  5. Writing sample. Submit a sample of your writing that you feel is exemplary and representative of your writing abilities.
  6. International students may also need to submit official scores from a test of English proficiency. Applicants should have at a minimum:
    • a TOEFL score of 75 (internet-based),
    • an IELTS score of 6.0, or
    • a Duolingo score of 100.
  7. A non-refundable application fee of $60 is also required ($80 for international applicants).


For questions regarding the application, please contact the Graduate Program Manager who can also discuss your ambitions and what to expected of the program.

Program Requirements

The STCM is a 39-hour professional masters degree program to be completed within a single calendar year—from August to August—over four semesters: Fall, Spring, Maymester and Summer Session D. We follow the CU Boulder calendar and, in doing so, are guided by a year-long arc from Foundations (fall semester) to Variations and Explorations (spring semester), to Solutions (Maymester and Summer Session D).

The master's degree is awarded for successful completion of 39 credits over four contiguo­­us semesters. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.

Plan of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
CORE (required)  
APRD 5005 3
APRD 5006 Design for Startups 3
APRD 6871 Special Topics 3
ELECTIVES (required)  
APRD 5002 Foundations of Experience Design 3
 Credit Hours12
Spring Semester
Variations and Explorations  
CORE (required)  
APRD 5007 3
APRD 5008 Designing for Scale 3
APRD 5017 3
APRD 6871 Special Topics 3
Foundations of Brand Design  
Advanced Brand Design  
Designing the Customer Journey  
Advanced Tools for Interaction Design  
 Credit Hours15
CORE (required)  
APRD 5010 Maymester 3
APRD 6871 Special Topics 3
APRD 5013
Brand Design for Sustainable Futures  
APRD 5016
APRD 5019
Special Topics  
 Credit Hours12
 Total Credit Hours39