M.A. Design: Creative Work Project Guidelines

For thesis support, consult the Division of Graduate Studies Thesis Guidelines.

1. Creative Work Project Defined

The M.A. Creative Work Project (CWP) completion deliverables typically are in the form of print, digital or tangible artifact(s), and a written document giving evidence to the research and design process of the Creative Work Project. The CWP is considered the Culminating Experience of the M.A. program and is related to the DES 894 course designation, or DES 898 in the case of a written thesis. The majority of students complete a DES 894.

The CWP represents engagement with a set of ideas clearly stated and researched, and the development of original artifacts, research outcomes, prototypes, and examples that coherently express the outcome of the research and design effort. The Creative Work Committee and other guests will be invited to participate in the year- end CWP Final Thesis Presentation, and M.A. students are encouraged to invite other guest who will add to the dialogue about their projects.

2. Creative Work Project Grading

Upon successful delivery and completion of the Creative Work Project Written Document*, Final Thesis Presentation**, and signature/s by student’s graduate committee, student is awarded a CR/NC grade. Assuming all other requirements have been met, the Graduate Student is then eligible to receive their degree.

* The CWP Written Document is submitted at or shortly after the Final Creative Work Presentation (Week 14, spring semester). The Written Document is evaluated by the student’s committee and may also be reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator. Written documents must be received in advance of Graduate Studies’ Final Deadline for receipt of culminating experience materials.

3. Creative Work Committee

The Creative Work Project committee can have up to five members. A minimum of two Tenured/Tenure Track (T/TT) faculty members on their committee is required. Non T/TT faculty can act as additional member/s of the committee if they agree. If a committee member leaves SF State or is unavailable to supervise a student due to leave, etc., then the student is responsible for selecting another committee member.

4. Creative Work Primary Components

* Research leading to and indicating the value of the project

  • Literature Review
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research
  • Problem Definition
  • Design Specification
  • Overall and Detailed Project Schedule
  • Project Ideation (sketches, etc.)
  • Design Research Project
  • Project Prototyping
  • User Testing (if applicable)
  • Final Prototype (tangible, print and or digital components)
  • Written Document recording the project process

The written document recording the Creative Work Project and its outcomes must be delivered in pdf format to your committee members and uploaded to the course management platform (Ilearn) at the time of the final presentation of Creative Works. Printed copies of this document are not required.

5. Creative Work Process

5.1 The Creative Work Proposal is due with the ATC (Advancement to Candidacy) form one semester before enrolling into the Creative Work 894 or 898 Master’s Thesis culminating experience. The proposals and ATC are typically due five weeks after the fall semester begins, toward the middle/end of October. Changes to the Creative Work Proposal are often requested by the faculty committee. Therefore, the student should give their committee a minimum of two weeks to review the Creative Work Proposal prior to submitting it to the Design office. Proposal must be evaluated by committee members and/or graduate coordinator. A PDF of the approved CWP Proposal is submitted to the Graduate Coordinator for department records and may be kept in a student’s academic file.

5.2 Midterm Review Presentation: Midway through the Culminating Experience semester, M.A. students will present their CWP progress before the full CWP Committee and any invited guest/s. The CWP MidTerm Review is held every Spring, usually in mid-March.

5.3 A student who fails to complete the Creative Work Project during their enrolled semester will receive a grade of “RP” (Report in Progress). They will not be required to enroll again during the following semester*; there is a one-semester grace period for students to continues to work on their Culminating Experience. Students who have not completed the Culminating Experience within the two semesters allotted are required to maintain continuous enrollment through the College of Extended Learning (CEL) until the degree is earned. The five year “time to degree” rule will be in effect. The course cost is subject to change per semester. For step- by-by instruction on how to enroll in a Culminating Experience Continuous Enrollment course, visit the Division of Graduate Studies website.

*NOTE: This grace period only extends if the Culminating Experience is the only requirement left to fulfill on the student’s ATC. If student has additional course credit/s to satisfy, student will be required to re-enroll. Students who complete their CWP during a Fall semester grace period are required to return the following Spring to give their CWP Final Project Presentation as final presentations are generally done in Spring only.

5.4 The Creative Work Project needs to be completed within the five year SF State University enrollment period.

5.5. Student must meet with their CWP Committee a minimum of three times during the semester in which they are enrolled in the Creative Work (or Thesis) Project. Student is responsible for scheduling.

5.6 It is the student’s responsibility to have their CWP Committee chairperson complete and sign the following forms upon CWP completion:

  • Report of Completion
  • Change of Grade - from an “RP” to “CR” (if applicable).

5.7 Grade for DES 894 (or 898, if applicable) will not be issued until requisite copies of the CWP Written Document (hard and soft copies, (specified above) have been received.

5.8 At the end of the final Creative Work Semester, students will present their work in a public forum called the Creative Work Final Presentation. Students will have approximately 30 minutes to explain in detail their project and design process with illustrations, and to answer questions from the audience. The Creative Work Committee members must be present at the Final Presentation. Students may be asked to invite a non-committee faculty member to their Creative Work Final Presentation.

6. Creative Work Project Examples

The M.A. program explores design as a vehicle for, but not limited to the following: contemporary issues in design; addressing global/sociocultural issues; design history; identity/gender politics; ecological/ sustainability; universal design and accessibility; design education; inclusivity and scales of economy/ economics; and interdisciplinary topics.

6.1 Visual Communication: Creative work projects from former students have included instruction books or manuals; projects about societal and/or environmental concerns; issues around personal identity and history; emerging content areas such as social networking, virtual worlds, user experience; virtual worlds; game design; related arenas such as environment/museum display. Projects have used both traditional print and digital media approaches, sometimes a combination of the two.

6.2 Product Design: Creative work projects from former students have included redesigns of existing products leading to user improvements; product innovation based on new and emerging technologies; socially responsible and/or community design projects; sustainable design projects; innovative uses of materials and manufacturing techniques; universal design approaches; soft goods; design incorporating unique interfaces or visual languages.

6.3 Other

  • Design of educational methods and curriculum developed into an educational tool
  • Project working directly with an industrial partner, executing your original idea(s)

NOTE: CWP that are surveys or reviews are not considered Creative Work Projects. A satisfactory CWP demonstrates the development of an original creative work in an area of design thinking or endeavor

7. Creative Work Project Document Components

The design specs, layout, binding and dimensions are not required to adhere to SF State University Thesis Standards. M.A. students can either follow the University’s Thesis Guidelines, or design a document of their creation—in terms of layout, use of typefaces, dimensions, etc. Other University and proper rules of grammar, annotation, credit, etc. still apply - consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) latest edition, or its website.

7.1 Front Matter:

  • Title page
  • Certification of Approval
  • Acknowledgements [optional]
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables [if needed]
  • Abstract (which summarizes the key ideas throughout your work, approx.. 250 words

7.2 Body of the Work:

  • Introduction to and establishment of the significance of the central problem
  • Statement of Design Problem and Sub Problems
  • Literature Review
  • Documentation of quantitative and qualitative research including charts, summaries, etc.
  • Evidence of design iteration, development prototyping and production process
  • Analysis of insights and conclusions
  • Presentation of your Creative Work on paper
  • Images, Drawings, Etc.

7.3 End Matter:

  • References (alphabetized and annotated with APA)
  • Appendices (leftover data that doesn’t neatly fit into the body of your work) again, annotated with APA)

7.4 The cover should clearly state the Author Name, Project Name and Date. Images may be used but are not necessary.

7.5. Suggested Binderies:

Arnold’s Bookbinding
20 S. Linden Ave, Unit 3A / South San Francisco
(650) 303-8593

Cardoza-James Binding Company
2347 Third Street / San Francisco
(415) 543-2000

Herring & Robinson
100 North Hill Drive, Unit 5 / Brisbane
(415) 468-0440

2181 Bancroft Way / Berkeley
(510) 845-3653

Online Binderies: Blurb