The way
we do it

MFA in Interaction Design

Course Structure

All our courses follow the Umeå University structure and are structured into 5-, 10- or 20-week blocks. Within each block shorter course modules offer specific skills training, theoretical studies and practical exercises.

Studio Courses

Studio courses are usually part of a 5-week block and are aimed at learning specific skills and applying them in practical exercises. Students work individually or in groups. The duration of studio courses can range from three days up to two weeks.

Applied Design Projects

Applied design projects form the backbone of the study programme. Projects usually include lectures, field trips, site visits, group method work, user studies and studio work. Our faculty carefully formulates the content and direction of projects in cooperation with the external partner. Project tutoring is given by our own faculty and visiting professional designers.
We choose human-centered projects based on specific user groups rather than product categories. Three categories of use are defined; professional use, domestic use and public use. Examples include Communication Tools for Truck Operators (cooperation: Volvo Trucks), Health Care Support in the Home (cooperation: Umeå Municipality), The Networked Home (cooperation: Electrolux, Italy) and Living with Media (cooperation: IKEA, Sweden).

Examination Project

The fourth and final term is devoted entirely to the examination project. The exam project is carried out in cooperation with a corporate sponsor or other external partner usually on the initiative of the student. It is important that the exam project is seen as collaboration and not a commission. Students are expected to define a problem area, establish contact with a sponsor and write a project brief that includes project aims, description of methods, anticipated deliverables and outline budget. The process of defining projects starts early in the third term and is done in dialogue with faculty members and the programme leader. A professional designer is assigned as external tutor to examination projects.

Corporate Sponsorship

Major term projects and examination projects are done in cooperation with an external company, research group or other partner. Projects can be initiated either by Umeå Institute of Design or by the company concerned and it is important that the project is seen as collaboration and not a commission in order to encourage experiment and avoid conflict with the company's on-going product development activities.
The project brief is usually drawn up in detail by the institute and typically includes project description, aims, suggested methods, expected deliverables and presentation.
Since the establishment of Umeå Institute of Design in 1989 we have cooperated with more than a hundred companies including major corporations such as Volvo Cars, Saab Automobile, IKEA, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Electrolux as well as many small and medium-size companies. Projects are also frequently done as part of our on-going applied research collaborations with Volvo Trucks (SET), ABB and Umeå Municipality.

Internships

Internships are not obligatory but students often take the opportunity during the summer months. Internships can be with Swedish companies or organizations but it is increasingly common to work internationally.