Corcoran Launches New Interaction Design Program

Develop new interfaces and innovative applications while using design thinking to create social impact. Study how to shape the interactions between people, systems and their environments.

students examining their interaction design project
Students from Assistant Professor Kevin Patton's Interaction Design class examining their project "HeartArt", which visualizes a user's heartbeat in real-time. Students designed & implemented a custom application, running on a microcomputer.
January 08, 2018


The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University launched its first-ever program in Interaction Design in December. With classes beginning in fall 2018, the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Masters of Arts degrees in Interaction Design invite students to design solutions to complex human challenges—from designing smart devices to reimagining educational environments.

“Interaction designers reimagine the products and interfaces that shape our world, often making them more useful and more fun. An interaction designer might shape a cell phone application for Apple or a grocery delivery system for a startup,”

- Assistant Professor Kevin Patton, Undergraduate & Graduate advisor for Interaction Design


“What we’re looking for are students who might have come from an engineering, design, or humanities background,” says Patton.“As long as they want to build compelling relationships between people and the systems around them and have demonstrated imagination and drive, we have a customized course of study where they can incubate their ideas and prototype their concepts to shape people’s interactions with the everyday world.”

The school will offer two degree options for customized study on the undergraduate level. On the master’s level, which is completed over two years, the curriculum educates emerging designers to research, analyze and prototype concepts that influence people’s interactions and behaviors.

The master’s program places a particular focus on the delivery of services and the role of interaction design in public policy, a crucial and under-recognized site of interaction, preparing students to become innovators who can make a difference in nonprofit, government, and business sectors.

The Corcoran will also offer an Engagement Lab, an incubator for design-based problem solving with a focus on design for multi-layered social, cultural and environmental contexts. During each semester in the program, students have the opportunity to collaboratively develop their design practice in a real-world context by working with community-based and nonprofit organizations.

The degree launches in tandem with the Wernick-Richman Lecture Series on Professional Practices. New for the 2018–19 academic year, the series provides an opportunity for internationally recognized artists, curators, critics, and design professionals from around the world to engage with students through the lens of professional practice.

Graduates will be well positioned to pursue careers with the many companies looking for artists and designers with Interaction Design backgrounds, including Apple, Google, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, NBC, 3M, Disney and financial institutions.

“Consultancies and nonprofit organizations seek designers with Interaction Design experience to innovate around civic and equitable design. Students from our inaugural class will have incredible opportunities to shape the world,” says Patton.