The Qualifying Project is one option to complete the final thesis graduation requirement. There is no course credit for the Qualifying Project. The Qualifying Project may be produced in conjunction with an Independent Study. Unlike the Qualifying Paper, which is limited to a specific written format, Qualifying Projects may include a range of media and material production techniques in their final execution.

The project must establish a proposition (position, case, project, hypothesis, thesis) and arrive at specific conclusions through multiple formats of representation/media (textual, graphic, spatial, material, etc.) Depending on the program concentration, project topic, and faculty advisor, the specific process and final format of the final project will vary. All Qualifying Projects are presented publicly.


  • Students must secure an advisor by the final add/drop date of the final semester, and submit a Declaration of Advisor form to the MDes Program Coordinator, Liz Thorstenson, at the MDes office or via email. This document outlines terms, expectations, and deliverables.
  • Students must meet with their advisor a minimum of three times during the course of the semester.
  • Students must secure a panel of reviewers, consisting of at least three GSD faculty, and present the project prior to the last day of the semester (January 19, 2018 for Fall semester; May 9, 2018 for Spring semester).
  • Students must submit an electronic document to the MDes program office that summarizes and documents the final thesis project (text, drawings, images, etc.) by the deadline (February 2, 2018 for Fall semester; May 14, 2018 for Spring semester).


Depending on the program concentration, project topic, and faculty advisor, the final format of the project will vary. The final format and submission of the project will include a range of multi-media formats: a video, book, a construction, an installation, an app, a website, etc., and my also include a written component.

Final Submission

The student is responsible for presenting the Qualifying Project by the end of the final semester, as outlined and agreed upon in the Declaration of Advisor. The student must secure a panel of reviewers, consisting of at least three GSD faculty. The student should agree with the advisor and faculty reviewers upon a date for the final presentation in accordance with the department deadlines. MDes program staff can assist in securing the presentation space in Gund Hall. Once the project satisfactorily meets the terms of the Qualifying Project, the student must obtain the faculty member's signature on a standardized cover sheet to fulfill the MDes graduation requirement. A PDF/A of the written thesis, including the signed cover sheet, must be provided to the program office. The file must include the multi-media formats of the Qualifying Project. Other media developed in the course of the project work are expected to accompany this document. Details regarding file creation and templates for the cover sheet can be found in the Information for Current MDes Students section of the MDes website.

Contact Liz Thorstenson, MDes Program Coordinator, with any questions.