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 $18,000 for our one-year course, which runs 480 course hours. Tuition assistance option is available upon acceptance to the program.

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 480 course-hour program that runs from late August through early May.

Applications

Application for 2020-2021 is now open. They are due by Jan 15, 2020. 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). Tuition assistance option is available upon acceptance to the program.

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

Susi Brister

Susi Brister is a professional artist and university educator. Working primarily in photography and installation, her work uses a whimsical approach to discuss themes of human behavior, visual perception, and the slippage between real and imaginary. A native Central Texan, she holds undergraduate degrees from UT in studio art and cultural anthropology and made it through three harsh Montreal winters to obtain an MFA in studio art photography from Concordia University. Susi taught photocommunicat...

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From our blog

An article in Forbes, from a few days back: “The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department… The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments. Let’s get this…

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Through Communications in Design so far this semester, we have been focusing on finding our voice and using it to be compelling storytellers. To exercise these skills we built a design brief around a problem with a conceptual client, and were then tasked with generating research insights and design principles. The task given was distilled…

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