Stra­tegic Design: Design, Manage­ment and Research

Study Strategic Design at HfG

Stra­tegic design or SG“ for short: This is the combi­na­tion of design, manage­ment and rese­arch. In this way, our scope of action is expanded. In the Master’s degree program we ques­tion a lot and observe even more. We look at problems from all sides and pit clever minds. Above all, we can process our know­ledge in such a way that it can also be unders­tood by people from other disciplines.

Design is unders­tood here as in addi­tion to attai­ning finan­cial success, also pursuing social progress toward improved living situa­tions for people. In other words, stra­tegic design, that influences social deve­lo­p­ments and chal­lenges of the future. This requires know­ledge of cultural and social science. The master’s program at the HfG, Schwä­bisch Gmünd provides you with these skills in a project-based, inter­di­sci­pli­nary and appli­ca­tion-oriented manner.



The often so strict sepa­ra­tion between product, commu­ni­ca­tion and inter­ac­tion design previously is now incre­asingly disap­pearing. We, ther­e­fore, focus on an inter­di­sci­pli­nary approach. With us you opti­mize processes, invent services, develop busi­ness models, create commu­ni­ca­tion concepts, keep an eye on diffe­rent media, rese­arch user beha­vior, get rid of products and design new ones. In doing so, you use approa­ches and methods from other disci­plines such as econo­mics, socio­logy, rhetoric and futurology.


Toge­ther we are smarter. That’s why you work on your projects in teams. We coope­rate with nume­rous insti­tu­tions from science and tech­no­logy, busi­ness, educa­tion and culture. The HfG enjoys a very good repu­ta­tion and the students also benefit from this. Some of us develop our final thesis in coope­ra­tion with a company. Our lectu­rers work in busi­ness and know exactly what demands are made on us in prac­tice – they prepare us for this and we benefit from their expe­ri­ence and know­ledge of the industry.


None of us revolve around ourselves. What we do, we do for other people. That’s why, in stra­tegic design, we first listen carefully to what people are occu­pied with and what their needs are. This is valuable and can also shake you up because some­times it means that you have to leave your own ideas behind. Later, in the design process, it is also important to get feed­back from users – posi­tive and nega­tive feed­back. After all, this is how we increase the quality, rele­vance and cost-effec­ti­ve­ness of our products.

Course Content

How is infor­ma­tion and know­ledge orga­nized and used in a useful way? Which mobi­lity systems and which services will we need in the future? Which products and processes can make human life easier and better in a complex and resource-limited society?

  1. Focus on Design

    In the master’s program, you learn to expand the skills you acquired in the BA in larger and inter­di­sci­pli­nary design projects. The reper­toire of design methods will be enri­ched with theo­re­tical know­ledge from design rese­arch and cultural studies. You will opti­mize the work on projects with new analysis and plan­ning tools. The design work is seen here as the result of a process that goes far beyond the clas­sical design process itself. Students acquire stra­te­gies and design methods that demand conside­ra­tion of socio­lo­gical, economic and cultural issues. In this way, problems are viewed in an compre­hen­sive way and design solu­tions are conceived as a holi­stic process.

  2. Focus on Management

    The curri­culum aims at the acqui­si­tion of process and project manage­ment methods. This includes both stra­tegic as well as opera­tional manage­ment. This content is directly linked to the design projects: you test the manage­ment and plan­ning stra­te­gies on your design projects. Manage­ment refers not only to corpo­rate contexts, but also to concept-driven and problem-oriented design processes and solutions.

  3. Focus on Research

    The rese­arch concen­tra­tion involves scien­tific methods and deve­lo­ping rese­arch ques­tions. In addi­tion, you will deal with the current status of design rese­arch as well as concepts from related scien­tific fields such as cultural studies. The area of publi­shing as part of scien­tific work is also covered. Both theo­re­tical know­ledge and metho­do­lo­gical skills are applied in the design projects. Within the elec­tive area you can set your own focus areas.

Course of study

In the first two semes­ters you will take courses in all three funda­mental areas – design, manage­ment and rese­arch. Starting in the first semester you will test methods and processes of design in a stra­tegic design project. Findings from the accom­panying courses are inte­grated into the project. In stra­tegic manage­ment you will receive an intro­duc­tion to the basics of stra­tegy deve­lo­p­ment and formu­la­tion. Scien­tific methods as well as the theo­re­tical exami­na­tion of ques­tions of cultural studies and design rese­arch round off the program of the first semester.

In the second semester, you will also work on a design project, focu­sing on plan­ning and orga­niza­tion as well as commu­ni­ca­tion stra­te­gies. In addi­tion, courses on Opera­tional Manage­ment“ are offered. In the rese­arch module, you will delve into ques­tions of design rese­arch. You will also learn tech­ni­ques of scien­tific work and publi­ca­tion strategies.

The third semester is dedi­cated to the master’s thesis. This can consist of a design project and a written scien­tific-theo­re­tical elabo­ra­tion. The thesis is usually written in coope­ra­tion with external project part­ners from rese­arch, univer­si­ties and compa­nies, i.e. with a high scien­tific or profes­sional rele­vance. After successful comple­tion of the three semes­ters, you will receive the inter­na­tio­nally reco­gnized Master of Arts degree.

Lear­ning objec­tives of the program

The master’s program expands the design-related skills you acquired in the bache­lor’s program to include scien­tific and economic skills. The profes­sional field of the desi­gner has changed massi­vely in recent years: Today, desi­gners are incre­asingly desig­ning processe- be it control tasks in compa­nies, sustainable services or complex or trans­me­dial commu­ni­ca­tion tools. What these fields have in common is the classic“ sepa­ra­tion between product, commu­ni­ca­tion and inter­ac­tion design which are beco­ming incre­asingly blurred in profes­sional life. Ther­e­fore, the master’s program aims less at specia­liza­tion in a parti­cular disci­pline, but more at trai­ning desi­gners who work in a super­or­di­nate and inter­di­sci­pli­nary way and act as media­tors and communicators.

You will learn team leader­ship skills, the multi-perspec­tive view of problems and the analy­tical work on solu­tions. Further­more, you know the soci­ally and ecolo­gi­cally respon­sible role of the desi­gner. You are fami­liar with the condi­tions and conse­quences of design-led action and learn to influence design thin­king and action in cultural, admi­nis­tra­tive and economic contexts. You are also able to work on rese­arch tasks in design and to use evalua­tion methods to opti­mize processes.

Coope­ra­tion with other univer­si­ties, rese­arch insti­tutes, insti­tu­tions and compa­nies creates under­stan­ding for the input of powerful expert groups and shape commu­ni­ca­tion and team skills.

Super­vi­sion and equipment

Profes­sors and lectu­rers of commu­ni­ca­tion, product and inter­ac­tion design as well as cultural and economic sciences will perso­nally super­vise you at our univer­sity. In addi­tion, top-class experts from industry and rese­arch are available to you as lectu­rers. Design and scien­tific exper­tise are on an equal footing with prac­tical support from external project part­ners from the busi­ness world. 

Oliver jung fotografie hfg bildstock 2016 tag236833

Here’s where we work

Stra­tegic desi­gners are versa­tile. We are profes­sio­nals in thin­king holi­sti­cally and unusually. That’s why we are parti­cu­larly sought after when it comes to inter­face tasks. With our design Master we find our place in large compa­nies, in specia­lized design offices, in rese­arch insti­tu­tions and in cultural insti­tu­tions. We opti­mize busi­ness processes, develop long-term visions, improve the coope­ra­tion of diffe­rent disci­plines and promote the inno­va­tive spirit. The degree course also quali­fies us for a docto­rate. It depends on your interests.

In addi­tion to teaching, I am involved with design rese­arch and my docto­rate work.“
Anna Keil­bach
Doctoral Candidate & Research Assistant TH Ingolstadt
I deal with the concep­tion and faci­li­ta­tion of design thin­king and co-crea­tion work­shops. I also create tools and expe­ri­ence maps.“
Steffen Weiß
Point Blanc
I oversee trade fairs and the website. I also create films and am respon­sible for the employee maga­zine and areas of corpo­rate communications.“
Jonas Heil­geist
Corporate Commiunications Maschinenfabrik ALFING Kessler GmbH
Toge­ther with my colle­agues from diffe­rent depart­ments, I develop the opera­ting concepts for the vehicles of tomorrow.“
Marko Goller
Interaction designer for HMI operating concepts Daimler AG
Ich entwickle Geschäfts­mo­delle für die Ener­gie­ver­sor­gung und die Infra­struk­turen von morgen. Dabei bin ich vor allem für ein tiefes Kund:innenverständnis zuständig.“
Andrea Kuffe­rath-Sieberin
CX Research Expert, Corporate Innovation bei EnBW AG
Als einzige Gestal­terin in einem inter­dis­zi­pli­nären Team bin ich in verschie­densten Berei­chen meiner Exper­tise gefor­dert, bspw. bei der Konzep­tion, Planung und Gestal­tung von digi­talen Kommunikationsmaßnahmen.“
Lisa Kern
Communication Designer bei Fraunhofer IGB

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Oliver jung fotografie hfg spacecamp 2018 6236

Ask Us

Any ques­tions? Then contact our degree program coor­di­nator for Stra­tegic Design:

 Yvonne Weimar

Yvonne Weimar

Studiengangskoordination Strategische Gestaltung