MA Design Management


Study level
Part time
1 year+
Faculty of STEM

What makes Arden University special?

Education for everyone, everywhere
Whether you're constrained by location, cost, time, or other life commitments, we're passionate about giving you access to higher education that fits into your busy, modern life.
Where to study
You decide how and where to study
We offer a wide range of flexible undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in both our online and blended study modes.
Full support both online and on-site
We're also proud to offer non-standard entry, meaning your work experience and previous qualifications are taken into account when assessing your application.
Strong focus on employability
You will gain in-depth subject knowledge and transferable skills that employers from a huge range of industries will value. Many of our courses at Arden are also accredited by leading professional bodies in the UK.

Course Overview

Are you passionate about design and interested in advancing into a managerial position? Our accredited MA Design Management programme is tailored to meet the demands of contemporary design thinking and business practices. It equips you with the skills needed for emerging career opportunities across diverse sectors. Upon completion, you'll be eligible to apply for a Level 7 Strategic Leadership and Management certificate from the Chartered Management Institute.

This MA imparts advanced management skills for those currently working in or aspiring to managerial roles within the design industry. Through the programme, you will develop proficiency in design practices and methodologies while gaining a comprehensive understanding of management principles relevant to design.

What you’ll learn

During your studies with us, you'll focus on four main themes: visual design, design thinking and practice, project management, and strategic leadership. We extend unique insights and approaches that go beyond traditional education, equipping you with specialised skills not typically offered in other degree programmes. You'll develop a thorough understanding of the critical aspects involved in successfully developing innovative designs, products, services, brands and businesses. You'll graduate with the confidence and capabilities to drive transformative change in design business culture through innovative design solutions and strategic leadership and management.

Management focussed

This course provides extensive training in managing creative and design projects. You will develop a deep understanding of overseeing creative endeavours, managing teams and workflows within a creative context, and navigating the effects of evolving social norms and emerging technologies like AI. You'll graduate as a proficient problem solver equipped with highly transferable business skills sought after by a wide range of companies spanning various industries.

Chartered Management Institute (CMI) accredited

Upon graduation from this degree programme, you'll be eligible to apply for a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management & Leadership Practice from the CMI. This also grants you the CMI Foundation Chartered Manager Status, allowing you to utilise the fCMgr post-nominals, demonstrating your proficiency in effective management. This distinction sets you apart in the job market and provides a clear path towards obtaining full Chartered Manager status.

Why choose Arden
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Career development resources
You'll have online access to a huge range of career development tools from the day you start studying.
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Professional accreditation
This course is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute, supporting your career and connecting you with likeminded professionals. 

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Course details and modules

Arden University’s expertise as an established provider of online degree education means we have the technology and experience to deliver this course to you fully online, without compromising the quality of your learning journey.


Module structure

The unique and non-traditional quality of this master’s course is reflected in the structure of your syllabus. Course modules in design thinking and practice skills, paired with communication design, will help you better understand and demonstrate the unique aspects of physical, digital, or conceptual design practice. Throughout your studies you’ll be encouraged to consider sustainability and how to reduce environment impact through design, emphasising the concept of ‘social good’ and how this can be promoted through visual design communication. Additionally, the course gives you the opportunity to formulate, plan, and creatively explore a self-initiated industry-linked project in a specific area of design management with which you personally identify.

A unique feature of the course is that, unlike traditional design degrees, your dissertation or ‘Research Report’ module precedes the final Creative Situated Practice module. This means you’ll apply the content, learning, and assessment outcomes from your Research Report directly to your Creative Situated Practice module. This will help you achieve cohesion of learning throughout the all-important final stages of your degree, and gives you the opportunity to research and demonstrate the value that design can bring to a business and apply your findings to your career. 

The MA Design Management is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), with CMI best practice integrated into each module of the curriculum. In particular, the Design Professional Practice and Creative Situated Practice modules each have recognised CMI best practice embedded into their learning outcomes. Having completed these two modules, you’ll be awarded a Level 7 Strategic Leadership and Management certificate from the Chartered Management Institute.


  • Design Thinking and Practice       
  • Design Management Practice        
  • Emerging Communication Design   
  • Collaborative Design I           
  • Collaborative Design II         
  • Design Professional Practice
  • Research Report 
  • Creative Situated Practice  

Authentic assessments. No exams.

Like you, we believe in real-world assessments you can apply to everyday life, not exams. 

Throughout the course you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your progress through a variety of innovative assessment methods which have been designed to help you showcase your flair and talent for design thinking and management. 

The assessments will help you develop your skills in critical analysis and the evaluation of visual design communication, including its impact on organisations. You will develop a series of portfolios throughout the course, demonstrating your acquired skills and knowledge in areas such as collaborative and independent working and understanding the balance between business and design skills. You’ll also create Design and Personal Development reports where you will reflect on your own position as a contemporary practitioner and leader.

The final two modules of your degree, the Research Report and Creative Situated Practice module, have been designed to inform each other and will culminate with a final portfolio assessment. 

Study options

This course is currently available to students as a fully online programme, which gives you the convenience of being able to study from anywhere worldwide. 

Dorottya Kitchingman

I really feel like Arden University has already helped me with my career, not just because of the design/marketing knowledge I gained here but because studying here gave me a lot of confidence. I used some of my freshly gained knowledge in a recent interview in a marketing and promotions role, and it felt really good to be able to get ‘real life’ achievements due to my studies this early on.


Dorottya Kitchingman
BA (Hons) Graphic Design

Part-time online learning

How does it work?

Studying the MA Design Management online gives you the ultimate in convenience. You can enrol with Arden from anywhere in the world and study your degree from the comfort of home, without the requirement to attend classes in a physical location. 

Our online students study their degree through ilearn, Arden’s university campus in the cloud. ilearn provides everything you need to study at University. As well as receiving regular feedback and guidance from your course tutor, you’ll be studying with likeminded students who you can meet with through our Unitu community, and you’ll have access to community message boards to discuss your course and the topics being raised within it. You’ll also have access to our Library Portal. The portal includes an extensive digital library including thousands of journal titles, eBooks, and academic and industry databases which you can use to research your assignments and projects. All of these materials are provided to you free of charge, and contain all the research information you’ll need to complete your degree with us.

Online learning students resident in the UK can apply for a Maintenance Loan for living costs if they cannot attend their course in person because of a disability. Please find more information on our fees and funding page. If you're a student from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you can find information on Living Cost Loans from your student finance body

Learn more about online learning

Introducing your Digital Backpack

Once you’ve enrolled on your degree with Arden you’ll get access to your Digital Backpack, a toolkit of digital resources we’ve put together to help you succeed during your time studying with us.

Here are some of the digital resources you’ll have available throughout your course:

  • Office 365 subscription
  • Integrated zoom video conferencing
  • Careers support available through Arden Futures, your careers platform, to help you throughout your career journey whether you are a Career Starter, Changer or Developer
  • Free online access to our Library Portal, which includes thousands of eBooks and journals, as well as industry databases which we’ve carefully hand-picked to support your studies – all yours for free while you study with us.
  • Subscription to Togetherall for an abundance of mental health support
  • CMI resources and support

Entry requirements

At Arden University we consider applications on a case by case basis. If you have significant work experience, have qualifications you have gained elsewhere, or a degree or qualification that isn't a clear pathway to this degree - we are more than happy to discuss your application.


Standard Entry

Standard entry onto the course takes place through a combination of portfolio assessment and evidence of a completed bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree at level 2:2 in a relevant discipline, such as: graphic design, multimedia and interactive design, visual communication, advertising and marketing, marketing and design, or IT. This list is not exhaustive, and previous academic qualifications are considered on a case by case basis. 

Non-standard entry

Candidates who lack formal qualifications but possess significant, relevant experience will be considered on the basis of at least five years relevant work experience and a portfolio of work. The portfolio must consist of a minimum of 5-10 complete design projects that display design process and use of the full design cycle, with evidence of planning and research. 

Students who wish to apply and who have not previously studies a related discipline will be considered if they undertake one of the pre-requisite modules from Arden’s BA (Hons) Graphic Design course. A minimum of 20 credits must be obtained in order to join the MA Design Management course. 

English proficiency

  • IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element); or TOEFL iBT 90; or equivalent
  • Alternatively, evidence you have previously studied in English, such as a letter to show that the Medium of Instruction was in English, can be accepted

We also offer an internal English test for applicants who are unable to provide the above evidence of English proficiency. More information can be found here.

Before you start studying

Whilst you can read your study materials on your smart phone or tablet, to make the most of your learning experience, you will need access to a laptop or computer (we recommend one running the latest version of Windows), and a good stable internet connection.

Course fees and funding

Funding and Scholarships

The Arden University Postgraduate Merit Scholarship offers UK Online Learning students with a 2.1 undergraduate degree or higher £1,000 off our postgraduate tuition fees. You can also apply for up to £12,167 funding from Student Finance England fund your studies. 

If you’re an international student, we have a number of Regional Offers that can help you save money on your tuition fees.

Refer a Friend

When you help a friend or family member to study with Arden through our Refer a Friend programme, both you and the person you refer will receive a £500 Amazon e-voucher or £500 tuition fee credit.

Find your country

Use the dropdown above to find course fees and funding information for your country. If you can’t find information for your country in the dropdown, visit our International support page.

Meet the faculty

Prof. Marcus Leaning

Professor Marcus Leaning is Head of the School of Design and Creativity. Marcus joined Arden University in 2023 and has worked in universities for over 25 years. He has taught in the UK, Thailand, Japan and Costa Rica, is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. He is the author or editor of eight books, numerous journal articles and has given over 80 conference papers and keynotes in over 30 countries. Marcus is particularly interested in assisting neurodiverse students achieve their potential. Outside of academia, Marcus is a practicing ceramicist / potter and specialises in medieval-influenced pitchers and other historical forms.

Prof. Marcus Leaning
Head of School of Design and Creativity

Career prospects

What will I gain from this degree?

The MA Design Management gives you the opportunity to bring your creative talent to the foreground, while learning vital modern disciplines in the business side of the industry. The course will help you fully appreciate the contemporary design landscape from the perspective of visual communication, user experience (UX), and design studio management. Key learning outcomes embedded into the course include:

  • Developing an appreciation of the management of projects in an evolving digital environment, including an evaluation of digital technologies relevant for design practice management. 
  • Critically analysing managerial responsibilities such as decision making, controlling processes, containing cost, maximising profit, and other key management functions. 
  • Examining your role within the society you serve as a design practitioner. 
  • Understanding how to work collaboratively within interdisciplinary teams and the design thinking framework to complete multiple projects on relevant global topics. 
  • Understanding how to develop as a strategic leader through strategic personal and professional development and the ability to provide world-class solutions to real problems in design strategy and leadership.

What can I do after Arden University?

Career Prospects:

Successful graduates of this course will possess the skills and knowledge required to explore career opportunities in the following areas and more: 

  • Design manager (with particular skills in developing human-centred approaches and processes and applying design thinking methodologies) 
  • Senior designer 
  • Strategic design manager
  • Innovation designer 
  • Design and brand consultancy 
  • Design communication management
  • In-house design and marketing roles
  • UX/UI Lead Designer or Human Centred Design Specialist

You’ll also have the opportunity to take the skills you’ve learned in design thinking and business management into a broad range of other sectors outside the creative industry such as, but not limited to:

  • Research and Development
  • Customer Experience Researcher 
  • Innovation Consultant
  • Experience Lead
  • Change Transformation Designer 
  • Service and Experience Design Lead

Industry skills

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

This course provides the opportunity to apply for a CMI Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management & Leadership Practice and offers CMI Foundation Chartered Manager Status *

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) promotes excellence in UK management and leadership. As the CMI possesses a Royal Charter, they are the only organisation in the UK that can award Chartered Manager status to their members – the gold standard in management. With 140,000 members, the institute aims to boost career development across the management sector and connect like-minded professionals.

As an Arden student, you’ll have free CMI Membership throughout your studies, giving you access to a range of additional resources including a mentoring service and invitations to networking events both online and offline. 

Upon completion of this CMI-accredited course, you will be eligible to apply for a CMI Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management & Leadership Practice and gain CMI Foundation Chartered Manager Status. This recognises you have the skills needed to be an effective manager, helping you stand out from the competition and start your management career journey - with a CMI qualification and a clear pathway to full Chartered Manager status.

*Upon completion of your course, the CMI award and level of chartered status awarded will depend on your level and length of study, whether you entered your course with Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) or if any compensation is applied on your modules throughout the duration of study. If this criteria applies to you, you may receive one of the 2 different levels; an Award or Certificate. 

Career Development Resources

Career development resources

Once you’ve enrolled with Arden, our careers centre is easily accessible directly from inside our online platform, ilearn. The careers centre is here to help you discover the areas of your academic and professional life that you find most meaningful and rewarding, and then apply this to your career pathway. 
Just a few of the career tools you’ll find in the careers centre include:

  • CV360, which analyses your CV and provides instant feedback for improvement
  • Interview360, helping you practise your interview technique in a stress-free environment and tackle some of the most common interview questions - as many times as you need to
  • Aptitude tests to help your improve your critical thinking, numeric, and logical reasoning skills
  • 100s of interactive courses focused on giving you the skills and confidence you need to excel in your professional life. 
  • My Jobs, where you can search employment vacancies, browse employer profiles by location and, or connect with other employees on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Learning

All Arden students will have free access to LinkedIn Learning through the Library Portal. LinkedIn Learning is a video-based online learning platform offering over 16,500 expert-led courses across a wide range of subjects including business, technology, and creative skills.

With LinkedIn Learning, you can:

  • Pursue curated learning pathways aligned with our curriculum and your career goals.
  • Add value to your LinkedIn profile by showcasing your newly acquired skills.
  • Personalise content based on skills relevant to your chosen career path, interests and prior learning.