Hands-on applied learning. focused on real-world challenges, is an essential part of CCA's MBA in Design Strategy program. We look to provide mutual value among our students, faculty, and program and businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies by engaging student teams to do the following:
- generate new strategies and plans
- create new products and services
- devise ingenious solutions
- unearth new business opportunities
- develop new business models
- and much more.
Join Our Extended Community
We offer the opportunity to work with a single team of students, or an entire class of student teams. Projects can range from small, four-week projects (including research or evaluations) to semester-long projects that develop ideas and innovative solutions for needs and opportunities three to five years in the future. These can include marketing, brand strategy, finance, strategic, and operations plans.
These projects uncover new opportunities not yet identified or addressed by partner organizations. They also give our students experience working with real organizations on interesting challenges and offer great networking and career-building opportunities for students.
Our partners find that working with the DMBA students not only results in high-quality deliverables and outcomes, but also stimulates fresh thinking and approaches that go well beyond the scope of the projects. The studio becomes an experimental lab for both students and organizations to discover the effectiveness of design strategy for innovation and complex problem solving.
A sampling of the opportunities, including related courses and potential deliverables, is listed below.
For more information about these, or to propose a specific project or partnership, please contact Tim Smith.
Whole course, semester duration
Courses: Innovation Studio, Market Insight Studio, Sustainability Studio, Experiences Studio
Potential Deliverables: innovative product and service prototype solutions
These projects usually involve whole studio courses (approximately 30 students) but may, in some cases, be smaller. Investigations usually focus on a specific market and customer domain. Students work with partner organizations to develop appropriate and innovative concepts for a 3-5 year window.
One team or whole course, semester duration or shorter project
Course: Market Insight Studio
Potential Deliverables: customer and market research report, marketing plan, meaning strategy
These projects typically involve whole studio courses but may, in some cases, be smaller. Research focuses on qualitative and quantitative techniques to identify market opportunities. In some cases, potential market solutions may be proposed as proofs or concept.
Student Team Projects
One team, semester duration or smaller project
Courses: Business Models & Stakeholders, Market Insight Studio, Leadership by Design, Operations & Systems, Managerial Finance, Brand Strategy, Strategic Foresight, Strategic Management
Potential Deliverables: marketing plan, finance plan, operations plan, strategic plan, brand strategy plan, scenario development, new business models, etc.
These projects involve a team of students working closely with an organization -- generally a nonprofit -- to develop a plan for a specific area of need that is valuable and actionable by the organization. This kind of engagement enables organizations to work through opportunities or identified issues that the organization simply doesn’t have the resources to pursue.
Every year, we match or second year students with outside professionals in the wider community for career advice. The time commitment is only one hour per month, on the phone, via Skype, or in person for the academic year (eight months). If you or someone else in your organization are interested in being a mentor, we'd like to pair you with one of our promising students.
Other mechanisms for outside organizations to interact with our students and program include the following opportunities:
- Internships (summer and academic year)
- Job placement
- Speaking engagements
- Teaching assignments
- Guest critiques or mentoring
- Sponsor faculty positions
- Sponsor programwide events
- Sponsor student scholarships
- Sponsor IMPACT awards
- Sponsor ENGAGE projects
- Attend school and program events: Annual Career Expo, DMBA annual charrettes, etc.
- Our faculty regularly give workshops on the themes and skills in the program to organizations of all types (for profit, nonprofit, and government). We can even customize workshops for your organization.
Of course, outside organizations are always welcome to join our community and attend free program events and performances as well as be notified of schoolwide events.
Note: If sponsorship fees associated with projects apply, these fees are tax-deductible.
"They were spectacular. Working with the CCA MBA in Design Strategy Program was a revelation for La Cocina. We are often paired with student groups ... but CCA's students made a particular impression in their vision, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and impact. In a very short time, the students proved effective at understanding our business model, communicating effectively and efficiently and going deep into the project on their own time. They provided resources and results that went above and beyond our project expectations, and their impact continues to be present in the everyday work that we do. Not only will we consider the recommendations of the students but we will also implement several of them, saving us time and otherwise unnecessary waste. I would be thrilled to work with students of this caliber any day."
Caleb Zigas, Executive Director, La Cocina
"I was impressed with the work product from the team of DMBA students. They were dedicated and put in a lot of effort to make their document useful and workable for our organization. The students were well prepared when they met with me to discuss the important issues and they came up with creative and insightful suggestions. It was clear they had done their homework. I made copies of the final Operations Plan report and distributed it to my Board at our recent meeting. All of the Board members were impressed with the quality and depth of knowledge shown by the student team."
Marcia Gibbs, Director, Sustainable Cotton Project
DMBA In the News
Listen to the BusinessWeek podcast.
Read the Core 77 interview.
For questions about the MBA in Design Strategy program, please email us.
To be notified of public program events, sign up now.
To visit the program, including courses in session, please email us. In addition, guests visiting CCA can receive a discount on their lodgings just for being a part of the CCA community. Each of the SoMa Hotels (specifically the Good Hotel, the Carriage Inn, and the Americania Hotel) will honor a special discount rate for guests who mention "CCA" when making reservations. For complete hotel contact information, see Special-Rate Lodging.
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