Hi there and welcome to my portfolio! My name is Kirsten Bolender and I am a visual designer from California.

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Field Report: My Experience with the Master’s Degree in Design Management at Macromedia University

Hello everyone, my name is Kirsten and I would like to share my experience with my master’s degree in Design Management at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Germany. I hope this article will provide a good overview of the program and help you decide if it is suitable for you.

My Reasons for studying Designmanagement

Before diving into the program itself, let me give you a little bit of context about my background to help you understand what drove me to study this particular program. I previously studied media design at the Hochschule Mainz, Germany. While I loved the hands-on approach to learning graphic design, I felt like something was missing. The program lacked a strong theoretical foundation in design, and I wanted to learn more about the management and business side of design. The majority of students have a foundation in graphic design, marketing or similar courses, but the program is not limited to only graphic design students and welcomes students from diverse backgrounds such as: Fashion design, product design, web design etc.

General Information about the study program:

State-approved M.A. – The program is state-approved and upon graduation, you will receive a Master of Arts degree.
Costs of Study – The Macromedia University is a private university, meaning that the studies cost approximately 900 euros per month, which translates to 21,000 euros for the entire master’s degree. This may seem expensive, especially if you are used to the low cost of education in Germany, but it is worth considering.
Period of study – The standard length of study is 3-4 semesters, depending on the number of ECTS points you received from your bachelor’s degree. If you start with 210 ECTS points, you can complete the program in 3 semesters, but if you have 180 ECTS points like I did, you may need to study for 4 semesters.
3 Semester (M.A.) incl. Online Semester – The university offers a special online-program for students coming in with 180ECTS Points that allows you to complete your master’s degree in three semesters by taking additional online courses in the first two semesters. Going into my master’s degree I started with 180ECTS points, and I decided to study in three instead of four semesters, by taking the additional online courses. I did save some money going for this route, but to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it. You have to cope with a lot of stress and I know that many of my fellow students couldn’t keep up with it and therefore ended up studying longer.
Start dates – Classes start on March 15th for the summer semester and on October 1st for the winter semester.
The Locations – The program is offered at the Macromedia University locations in Cologne, Stuttgart, and Munich. In Munich, the design management program is taught in English. The Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Cologne is located in the heart of the city’s shopping district, with easy access to public transportation. Parking, however, can be limited and expensive. The university building is equipped with a library, kitchen, and classrooms with a view of the beautiful Cologne Cathedral.

Application & Requirements:

Application deadlines – The application deadlines are: February 15th for summer semesters and August 15th for winter semesters for European students. The admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with at least 180 ECTS. If you are a non-european student, the deadlines may be different.
Required documents – The application documents should include your CV and Bachelor’s degree certificate. A letter of motivation or design portfolio is not required. But for the English study program, however, you also need a language certificate (e.g. TOEFL).

Structure and study contents:

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of the master’s program. The study program ‘design management’ focuses on practice-oriented design theory and offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers the topics: design strategies and principles, practical methods and approaches in design and project management and global developments & trends. It provides students with hands-on experience in real-world projects. The program offers a varied learning environment and diverse forms of examination, including written exams, assignments, and practical projects.

List of my degree program:

  • 1. Semester courses – Design Project Management, Design Strategies, Interdisciplinary Project, Advanced Design Management, Global Developments (Additional Online-courses: Current Issues, Research-based Project)
  • 2. Semester courses – Design Theory, Strategy and Innovation Processes, Advanced Human-Centered Design and UX Principles, Impact and Value of Design (Additional Online-courses: Practical-based Project, Digital Technologies)
  • 3. Semester – Master’s thesis.

Some Example Courses:

Course – Design Strategies:
The Design Strategies course covers various design strategies such as the Golden Circle Model, design principles, design canvas, and OKR. The course involved a partner project where students collaborate to create a fictional non-profit organization and present it’s business model using the design strategies learned. The form of examination includes a pitch presentation and an elaborated PowerPoint.
Course – Human-centered Design and UX Principles:
The Human-centered Design and UX Principles course provides hands-on experience in a real-world project environment. The college collaborated with a non-profit organization for people with retinal diseases, and the students’ challenge was to redesign a portion of the organization’s existing website in a human-centered manner using human-centered design and UX design principles. Students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the client, and successful concepts were implemented. The course was graded based on the quality of the pitch and a written exam on human-centered design and UX principles.
Course – Research-based Project:
The Research-based Project course involved conducting qualitative or quantitative research on a topic of the student’s choice and writing a 20-page paper on the findings. This course provides students with the opportunity to deepen their research skills and apply them to a real-world project.

Pros and Cons


  • Great/Motivated Students
  • Exciting and useful study topics
  • Professional Professors
  • Very hands-on experience
  • Great Location (Cologne)


  • High Costs of Study
  • Limited parking
  • Watch you rights (Read below!)

Big con – Watch your rights in partnership projects!
I experienced a significant challenge during my time at the university, which greatly impacted my overall experience. During a practical project with one of the university’s partnership clients, my study colleague and I created an exceptional design concept and presented it to the client. However, we were not made aware beforehand that we would be giving up all rights to our work. Initially, the client and the university had assured us that exceptional work would be rewarded. The client was enthusiastic about our concept and ultimately implemented it. My colleague and I respectfully approached the client to discuss compensation, however, he rudely declined and even prohibited us from using our work. He claimed that the university was paid for the students’ performance. Despite seeking support from the university, they failed to confront the client about it directly. This left us feeling exploited by the client and unsupported by the university, leading to disappointment in how the situation was handled. The university should provide clear guidelines and education on the rights of students in any hands-on projects or collaborations with external organizations. I hope the university will take this feedback into consideration and provide more education in this area in the future.

Overall Ratings & Conclusion

  • Organization: 4 out of 10 points
  • Students: 10 out of 10 points
  • Professors: 9 out of 10 points
  • Pracical-basesd Projects: 2 of 10 points
  • Study content: 9 out of 10 points
  • Location: 9 out of 10 points
  • University facilities: 10 out of 10 points
  • Digital studying: 8 out of 10 points

In conclusion, my experience with the Master’s degree in Design Management at Macromedia University was challenging but fulfilling. Would I recommend the study program to others: In general, yes. Would I do anything differently? Maybe study in 4 semesters.