Austin Center for Design

Gain autonomy through design: make products & services that change the world!

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What is AC4D?

Austin Center for Design, an educational program in Austin, Texas, is a unique school intended to help you develop autonomy through design.

Interaction Design

We teach the practice and theory of interaction design—designing products, services, and interactions to change human behavior and improve the world.

Humanitarian Focus

Our emphasis is on addressing humanitarian problems. We focus on problems that matter, and students learn to recontextualize design in the space of large-scale "wicked problems."

Design Experts

Founder Jon Kolko is recognized as a thought-leader in developing and advancing the role of interaction design in product development and social entrepreneurship. Our faculty are all world-class working practitioners.

An Affordable Program

Our program is affordable. Our annual tuition is just $18,000 for our one-year course, which runs 440 course hours. Compare this with other similar graduate programs that cost $60,000, $70,000, or even $80,000.

Small Classes

Our classes sizes are small, providing extensive face-time with professors and the opportunity to form lasting relationships with a growing support network.

A Supportive Community

We've developed a supportive, collaborative community of alumni to help current students succeed and to help one-another drive impact.


Explore our course

Our course offers a comprehensive study in interaction design and social entrepreneurship, and builds autonomy. Take a look at our one-year curriculum or explore student projects to see if AC4D is right for you.

Our value proposition

What you'll gain in our program

In a word, students who complete our program gain autonomy. This is a sense of entrepreneurial freedom—that your choices are not set or constrained, and that you have concrete skills to shape the world around you. These skills include qualitative research, synthesis and interpretation, sketching, the creation of storyboards and wireframes, entrepreneurial business modeling, service design blueprinting, and complex system diagramming. These skills represent the foundation of a career in product management, design strategy, interaction design, and social entrepreneurship.

More importantly, you'll gain an empathetic process and a unique, empathetic way of thinking about culture and technology. This process is broad, and can be used in corporate and consulting contexts, in startups or small businesses, and even in politics and government.

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Our participants

The types of people that join our program

Design is for everyone, and our students have a variety of backgrounds. Some of our students are already designers, but most aren't. Our typical applicants have experience in marketing, engineering, fine arts, finance, or the service industry. Our program teaches design fundamentals in addition to advanced topics, in a rigorous, intense environment. There is no expectation that our students enter the program as designers; we take care of teaching that.

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Details In Brief

What you need to know about Austin Center for Design

Timeframe

AC4D is a 440 course-hour program that runs from late August through early May.

Applications

Application for 2019-2020 will open on Oct 1, 2018. They are due by Jan 15, 2019.Learn more.

Costs

Our one year program costs $18,000. The first payment of $9,000 is due in the summer, prior to classes beginning, and the second payment is in January (at the half-way point).

Difficulty

AC4D is extraordinarily intense, time consuming and difficult. We’ve structured the program to include as much content and rich experience as possible and it requires a strong, formal commitment from students.


Meet our students

Garrett Bonfanti

Garrett Bonfanti is a motivated young man standing at the precipice of his adult life. He began his early career working sales for a large LLC, and progressed to managing a team of on-site technicians. During this time, he was in school studying Philosophy and Literature at Slippery Rock University. During his senior year, he studied the interactions between people and others in the world, as well as the types of relationships people create with other people, objects, and complex ideas. After gr...

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From our blog

I’ve gotten used to the multi-layered explanation of what it is I do, because design, interaction design, and social entrepreneurship usually get blank stares. I’ve found that in business and technology circles, describing my work as design strategy gets a slightly better reaction: while the other person has no idea what I’m talking about, they…

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Over the past month, our group has been engaged with Austin Pets Alive! (APA) in order to use design research (specifically, contextual inquiry) to learn in real-time how employees and volunteers log their activity and communicate to achieve consistent care for the thousands of animals that pass through their programs. APA is a no-kill shelter,…

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