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Sure, we’re called the But we’re not actually one of Stanford’s seven schools, and we don’t grant degrees. Instead, our students are all enrolled in other degree-granting programs on campus—everything from computer science PhDs to education master’s students to MD programs. Absolutely every graduate student enrolled at Stanford is welcome to apply to classes.

If you’re thinking about coming to Stanford and want to spend time at the, take a look through the degrees and programs offered on the Stanford website. The is home to many different types of graduate students, and there’s a place here for everyone. If you’re interested in getting your degree in, say, business, but augmenting that degree with a depth in design thinking, apply to the business school and come to the to take supplementary classes. If you’re interested primarily in medicine but want to get involved in the, apply to the school of medicine and augment your degree program with classes offered at the institute. Don’t worry if you’re applying to a department that you don’t see well-represented at the We’ll be even more eager to have you!

If what you want is a degree in design, that is offered at Stanford. We share our building with the Design Program at Stanford; the program is part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The constantly evolving program is a two-year Master’s degree developing practitioners and leaders of design.

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Projects & Partners

In our classes, labs, and initiatives, we tackle big projects with strong partners that have real outcomes. Great relationships with committed project partners are crucial to depth of our students learning and strength of their confidence in the design process.

Partnerships are cultivated from within our network. We partner with organizations that are serious about and have experience using design thinking. These collaborations give our students a learning platform by exposing them to the partner organization’s most pressing challenges. We also value partnerships that help us to stretch our knowledge of design thinking (How do we gain empathy for a user who lives half a world away from us? How do we prototype a complex business process?). Partners often make a financial contribution to support the

If you are interested in becoming a part of the network, attending our Executive Education Bootcamp is a great first step. Our project partners are often sourced from our network of alumni from our workshops and Executive Education programs. We find that organizations that have had exposure to our methods of teaching are better equipped to be successful project partners. You can find more information about attending an upcoming Executive Education workshop on our website.

Projects & Partners

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“Executives can be students too”

We believe everyone is a student of innovation, and our open-enrollment programs are open to applicants from startups, Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and the public sector. In our workshops, executives engage in hands-on, real-world projects to learn the’s human-centered, prototype-driven approach to innovation.

Creative confidence is built through doing, and executives in our programs roll up their sleeves and get into the field. They develop deep insights about the people they’re serving, and turn them into a powerful engine for innovation. Participants plow through a complete design cycle, leveraging low-resolution prototyping and high-frequency iteration to get to unexpected, big ideas. Embedded faculty coaches guide executives through each stage of the innovation process, and help them adapt the process to their own work.

It is of utmost importance to us that participants implement new behaviors of innovation into their work. In fact we expect that’s why people come to our workshops. The program isn’t about passive knowledge acquisition; it is about actively transforming behavior. During the workshop, each participant will create an action plan to do upon returning to work, to jump start an impactful and lasting innovation practice. Participants are expected to stay engaged post-program and complete these action plans. As direct inspiration and illustration in the workshop, we also highlight impactful post-program work of past participants through examples and in-person discussions.


The offers 4 open-enrollment programs each year, in MarchJuly, September, and November. Individuals and small teams are invited to apply.

Success Stories

Bonny Simi attended several courses in 2006 and 2007. Back at Jet Blue as the director of airport planning, she realized she could use design thinking to help untangle one of its thorniest challenges. JetBlue, which had built a stellar reputation for innovation and excellence in customer service, was under fire. A series of storms had stranded passengers on the tarmac for as long as 11 hours. The incidents quickly became a high-profile media disaster. Consultants were called, reports were made, but the glitches that caused the delays still hadn’t been fixed, even after a year of trying.

Bonny went home from the with an idea for a new approach to the problem, and an inexpensive way to fix it. She gathered pilots, flight attendants, schedulers, baggage handlers and customer service agents who were so eager to dig into the problem that they volunteered on their own time. They used need-finding and low-resolution prototyping techniques to diagnose specific problems within the extremely complex system of scheduling flights, crews and passengers.

“I wouldn’t have had the idea to approach the problem in this way if I hadn’t been to the,” Simi said. “You realize that you aren’t going to solve the problem sitting in an office, you need to get out and talk to the people who are actually dealing with it, whether that’s your customers or your front-line employees.”

The root of the problem was that employees with one function didn’t have enough information about the needs of other groups they interacted with. Bonny’s team of front-line employees identified more than 100 specific pain points in the overall operations flow, and what needed to be changed. Some of these issues required only small changes to make a big difference; for example, two employee groups were using different formatting on the same spreadsheet, which had led to the wrong flights being canceled in a storm.

The results of the project were dramatic. In 2007, before the group began working on streamlining operations, a six-hour snowstorm in New York disrupted Jet-Blue’s operations for over a week. After utilizing the design thinking methodology to overhaul the operation, the airline took only a day to recover from a full 24 hour shut down of the busy JFK airport.

“A lot of the’s techniques sound fairly simple, but they’re incredibly powerful when you apply them,” says Simi, who is now Director of Customer Experience and Analysis. “You just have to start.”

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"I wouldn't have had the idea to approach the problem in this way if I hadn’t been to the You realize that you aren't going to solve the problem sitting in an office, you need to get out and talk to the people who are actually dealing with it, whether that's your customers or your front-line employees." -- Bonny Simi, Jet Blue