Masters of Science in Transportation Systems & Design


Our program is typically 24-30 months long and requires 6 rigorous terms of study with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. ArtCenter conducts 3 terms per year, all-year-around (each term is 14 weeks of study). After the first 4 required consecutive terms we recommend students take 1-2 terms for internship, then return to school for their final 2 terms.

Core strategic design studio projects

A strategic design studio practice is the core of our program and integrates ArtCenters’ strong tradition of peer critique. Students are required to complete the first 4 terms consecutively. These first 4 terms comprise a range of design projects around topical transportation related issues which may take more than one term to complete. Teamwork is an important part of the Graduate Transportation Systems & Design (GradTrans) culture and expectation.

Supporting classes

Our strategic design studio practice is supported by classes covering contextual research, strategy and design methods. Our support classes also reinforce: transportation history, future scenarios forecasting, customer-centered research methods, visual communication, digital and presentation skills. Global expert Guest Speakers illuminate specialized topics and are invited as Guest Jurors for key studio reviews when appropriate.
Elective courses can be taken from other departments after the second term.

Internship eligibility

At the end of term 4, students will be groomed and introduced to internship opportunities to “test drive” their professional skills and build a network.

Graduate Foundation
terms 1-2

Upgrading your design skills and introducing research and strategic design best practices.

Term One (Fall)

The first term of study familiarizes students with core strategic design, research and validation methodologies that support our program learning outcomes. Our Transportation History and Futures classes introduce Students to critical English reading and writing fluency required to succeed in our program. Our program offers Students with diverse backgrounds and skills appropriate levels of design training, particularly with visual communication and digital design skills. Making sense of user needs is also a critical learning outcome in this first terms. Studio projects exercise and integrate new skills and knowledge.


Term Two (Spring)

Building upon the design methodologies, research techniques, critical reasoning and interaction design fundamentals learned in the first term, students will learn to manage increasing complexity in the design development of their studio project while initiating the research and strategy phases in a concurrent studio project.

Projects Level
terms 3-4

You work individually and in teams to apply Graduate Foundation skills in projects and strategic design challenges.
Periodically these include industry-sponsored studio topics.

Term Three (Summer)

While students prototype and validate their Interaction Design Studio proposals, they also commence research in their Urban Form Studio, which investigates the intersection of things that move, transportation devices, and things that do not, the built environment. The Design Strategy Studio applies students' creativity and design-thinking to solve topical, complex industry challenges typically given to MBA Students. Finally, students take a Graduation Strategy class to define career aspirations, field of work, how they will succeed and what capabilities they need to grow over their remaining terms. This narrative helps students choose an internship direction to get first hand experience in their chosen field and establish a professional network. This term is also the first opportunity for students to take an elective class.


Term Four (Fall)

Building to a climax with their studio projects, students start to consider their Masters’ Thesis Topic. Working with a Faculty group Students are mentored through a process to define value criteria and choose a Thesis Project aligned to their career aspirations. By the end of the fourth term, students will have accomplished much of their required secondary research and planned their primary research.
Students may continue the opportunity to take elective classes from other majors.

Students are encouraged to take an internship after they complete the fourth term.

Thesis Level
terms 5-6

You demonstrate mastery of the program by creating and validating a novel solution to
an important transportation problem or strategic opportunity.

Term Five

Students focus on the development of their Thesis Project, having completed much of their research during the previous term of study.
They continue the opportunity to study elective classes from other majors and take internships.


Term Six

The main focus for the sixth term is to prepare to engage potential employers. This includes finalizing their Thesis Project and other assets supporting their professional narrative, thesis paper, live presentation, digital presentation, web site, resume, cover letter, business cards, etc.
They continue the opportunity to take elective courses from other majors as well as internships.