Design that matters

In the Master of Design, you’ll produce innovative and responsive design work that is thoroughly grounded in design research methodologies and expertly realised, with the option to work with industry leaders at Weta Workshop.

  • Level

  • Postgraduate, NZQF Level 9
  • Campus

  • Wellington
  • Credits

  • 180
  • Duration

  • 1.5 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
  • International

  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Other

  • Selected entry programme

Note: This programme may have an on-campus or in-person requirement and therefore requires that students submit a current My Vaccine Pass on enrolment.

Go in depth with an advanced design research qualification. You’ll have a targeted outcome, often of direct application to industry. We will help you make strong connections with the business, public or non-profit sector.

You’ll have access to individual studio space and our comprehensive technical expertise and facilities. These include:

  • an industry-scale green screen studio
  • Australasia’s first Fab Lab
  • industry-standard workshops
  • digital imaging facilities
  • darkrooms.

Real-world projects

All MDes students complete a thesis project: a supervised programme of focused design research, taking a challenging real-world problem through to a well-resolved solution, like a product prototype.

Find out more about the Wellington School of Design

Our staff are leading design researchers and practitioners. You will be supervised by one primary supervisor with expertise in your field of design. You will be guided by a secondary supervisor with expertise in an aligned field.

Weta Workshop School at Massey University

An exclusive one-year programme.

The specialised one-year, 120-credit Master of Design, focusing on entertainment design in partnership with Weta Workshop, is open to concept designers.

Your research and design project will focus on creating your own imaginary worlds for film, television and game. You will develop skills in the key areas of idea creation, storytelling and concept design. As you progress you’ll expand your technical ability, develop your critical thinking skills and push the boundaries within your own conceptual world.

Visit the Weta Workshop School website to find out more.

Careers and further study


Many graduates start their own businesses and have gone on to win high profile awards and commissions. MDes graduates also work as:

  • web designers, here and overseas
  • directors of health care product manufacturing
  • creative directors in art agencies and museums
  • technical development consultants
  • design interns in fashion and industrial design companies
  • directors or account managers at publishing houses
  • secondary school art and design teachers.

Further study

After completing your Master of Design project you may be able to develop your work and produce new knowledge with a PhD.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.

As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.

Entry requirements

University admission

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Programme admission


This programme is a selected entry programme. This means there are a number of extra requirements you must meet.   

Master of Design 180 credits

You will have been awarded or qualified for a Bachelor of Design or equivalent, having achieved at least a B grade average.

You will also need to:

  • take part in an interview
  • submit a portfolio of design work for assessment.

Master of Design 120 credits

You will have been awarded or qualified for a relevant honours degree with a B grade average in Part 4 or Postgraduate Diploma in Design or equivalent with a B grade average.

You must also submit:

  • a research proposal for your intended thesis project
  • a portfolio of your creative work.

Master of Design – Weta Workshop School

You will have been awarded or qualified for an honours degree or equivalent.

You must also submit:

  • a research proposal for your intended thesis project
  • a portfolio of your creative work.

See the Weta Workshop School website for details of what to submit with your application and how.

You must provide verified copies of all academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University.

Application closing date

If you are a new-to-Massey student, applications for this programme close on 30 November 2021 (for Semester One start), 15 May 2022 (for Semester Two start).

Programme dates

This programme has two intakes:

  • Semester 1 (February start). Applications close 30 November 2021.
  • Semester 2 (July start). Applications close 15 May 2022. 

English language requirements

To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

Prior learning, credit and exemptions

For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:

If you do not have the entry requirements

English language and foundation courses

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and qualifications that may help.

Courses and planning

Credit summary

180 credits

  • Part One compulsory course – 30 credits
  • Part One subject course – 30 credits
  • Part Two thesis – 120 credits

Advanced entry: Those who have already completed specified qualifications in advance of the minimum entry requirements may be able to complete this degree in 120 credits.

This is a parts-based qualification. This means there are regulations around your completion of Part One before progressing to Part Two, etc.

Courses for this programme

Part One (60 credits)

Compulsory course

30 credits
197701 Creative Research Practices I 30

Subject courses

30 credits
197702 Creative Research Practices II 30
197703 Creative Research Special Topic A 30
197704 Creative Research Special Topic B 15
197705 Independent Study 15
197706 Advanced Digital Fabrication for Creative Res 1 15
197707 Advanced Digital Fabrication for Creative Res 2 15

Any 400-level or 700-level elective course listed in Schedule C for the Degree of Bachelor of Design with Honours

Part Two

120 credits
197800 Design Thesis 120
197802 Design Thesis 120 Credit Part 1 60
197803 Design Thesis 120 Credit Part 2 60

Planning your programme

Planning overview

If you don’t have a relevant honours degree, you’ll do the eighteen-month, 180-credit MDes, completing Parts One and Two. You must complete the first part before moving on to the second.

If you have a relevant honours degree already, you’ll do the twelve-month, 120-credit MDes, starting at Part Two.

Part One: taught courses

The first part of this qualification will build your research and technical skill through our creative research practices course. You will end by developing your thesis project proposal.

Other taught courses include a digital fabrication path through Fab Lab Wellington. This will set you up to use open design and digital fabrication approaches in your thesis project.

We also have an Independent Study option and other electives.

Part Two: thesis

For progression to Part Two, you must have a grade average of at least B in Part One.

Join the MDes 120 credit students for 12 months, to focus on mastering your research proposal and thesis project. Those who are most successful generally start the year with a clearly identified problem, or project brief, and develop strong relationships with their external ‘client’ from early on.

External connections are important in MDes thesis projects. We expect you to keep in regular contact with your external partners or community of interest.

Get the full picture 

Maximum time limits for completion

There are maximum time limits to complete postgraduate qualifications.  If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the programme if you wish to continue your studies.

Time limits for Honours, Distinction and Merit

Where your qualification is completed within the stated time limit and to a high standard, you may be able to graduate with a class of Honours, Distinction or Merit. 

Fees and scholarships

Fees and finance

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

A good fit if you:

  • love design and what it can do
  • are constantly horizon-scanning
  • enjoy the challenge of an externally-connected project, whether for commercial, government, cultural or community-based clients.

Accreditations and rankings

Art & Design QS Ranking

Massey University's College of Creative Arts is ranked as one of the Top 100 art and design schools in the world by QS (Quacquarelli Symonds).

red dot design ranking

The Wellington School of Design is ranked Number 3 in Asia–Pacific for design concept by Red Dot—the only Australasian university in the top ten.

Key information for students

Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.


Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements. These regulations should be read in conjunction with all other Statutes and Regulations of the University including the below.

Postgraduate regulations

General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate Certificates.

Regulations for this programme

Applying and enrolling

Applying for the programme

Check you are ready

If you are ready to apply, have a look at our application checklist. It will help you get prepared with what you need. Please also check the entry requirements carefully before you apply.

Choose your programme and click on Apply now

You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You’ll also choose your specialisation (major, subject or endorsement) if applicable.

Some programmes have additional requirements such as the submission of a portfolio or CV. Click on Apply now and you will be able to submit those documents as part of the application process.

Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place

You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can enrol in your courses. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.

Enrolling in courses

You’ll then get access to your own student homepage (also known as the student portal). This is where you can enrol in courses. Any updates on your application or enrolments will also be on your student homepage. Make sure you check this regularly.

When you choose courses, ensure you check for any requirements that apply including:

  • prerequisites (courses you have to do before the one you are enrolling in)
  • corequisites (courses you have to do at the same time as the one you are enrolling in)
  • restrictions (courses that you cannot enrol in if you are completing or have completed another identified similar course)
  • location – for instance some distance-based courses still have an on-campus element, so double check that the way the course is taught is suitable for your situation.

Each of our courses has its own webpage where you can find this information. You can use our course search to find course pages.

More information on courses is in the ‘Courses for this programme’ section on this page.

You can find information on application due dates and semester dates on the key dates page.

We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!

If you have any questions, contact us through the Enquire button on this page.

What are courses and credits?

What are courses and credits?

Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).

You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.

Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.

There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.

  • See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
  • Courses search

Understanding course numbers

The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.

The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:

  • sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
  • undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
  • as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study.
1 6 2 . 3   0 1
Subject area   Level   Course ID number

Workload and time management

Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.

Estimate workload

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.

Scholarships and awards

Scholarships related to this programme

There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.

Find and apply for scholarships