10 Best Design Thinking Certificates and Programs for 2024

Design thinking is not a new concept. Still, programs teaching this innovative way of thinking to solve problems have become more prevalent. The design thinking process is not just a mindset to encourage putting users first. Instead, it is a practical and actionable methodology. It’s routinely used to address real world project challenges across industries and settings. Design thinking programs are available as certifications, graduate programs and summer programs. All of these help students learn and use the design thinking process.

This article focuses on design thinking certification programs. A design thinking certification may set you apart in the job market. That’s because it ensures you have the skills and know-how to problem-solve in innovative ways. This process for innovation includes concept and prototype development. It leads to solutions that can be applied across industries. Check out these best design thinking certification programs to see if one will help meet your career goals. 

Methodology for Reviewing Best Design Thinking Certificate Programs

A search was conducted to develop a list of stand-alone design thinking certificates. The initial pool of design thinking certification programs included 13 certification programs. The programs in this list are varied in completion time and delivery mode. Programs are ranked according to cost. Some programs listed state that their program is graduate level work. Read on to find a design thinking certificate for you. 

Featured Programs

  1. IDEO U
  2. Rochester Institute of Technology
  3. University of Virginia
  4. Emeritis
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. eCornell
  7. Indiana University
  8. Stanford University
  9. Radford University
  10. Johns Hopkins University

10. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Executive Certificate in Innovation and Human-Centered Design (HCD)


Johns Hopkins University - logo

Johns Hopkins University offers several comprehensive certification programs. These programs are available through the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. This includes the Executive Certificate in Innovation and HCD. This design thinking option consists of three 3-day courses. It helps participants learn to inspire change and innovation by taking a creative approach to user feedback and research.

JHU’s Executive Education courses are taught by world-renowned expert faculty. They are intended to provide insight into UX design and teach essential design thinking skills. This helps graduates move to higher levels of leadership, giving them a competitive advantage. If you’re ready to advance your role in leading innovative teams in human-centered problem-solving, check out JHU’s website. Here, you’ll find more information on this robust program.  

Net Price: $20,680

9. Radford University

Radford, VA

Certificate in Design Thinking


Radford University- logo

Radford University’s certificate in design thinking is a self-paced online program. It requires 15 credit hours of graduate-level online courses. These classes feature real-world projects in UX design. This design thinking program equips students with the skills and knowledge to strategize, plan, and solve complex problems.

The program facilitates the development of creative ideas based on user narratives and user interviews. It also encourages mastery of design thinking methods. These skills are developed through testing prototypes, teaming, and brainstorming sessions to find solutions.

Successfully completing this certificate enables students to continue their studies to develop even more new ideas and skills. For example, they can apply credits earned in this program toward the master’s degree in Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Radford University. 

Net Price: $16,835

8. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Innovation and Entrepreneur Certificate


Stanford University - logo

The Stanford Design Thinking option is a robust Innovation and Entrepreneur Certificate Program. This course of study will teach you and other participants the design thinking concepts and structured models to manage customer experience and innovation across industries.

You’ll be learning by doing from some of Stanford’s best instructors in their field. Plus, you’ll receive a final certificate of completion when you’re finished. Stanford design thinking students can expect to gain an understanding of multiple design concepts. These include the tools of innovation, the current research on innovation and entrepreneurship, and insight into the people served.

This is all while receiving personal feedback and advice from faculty. Participants are taught how to keep learning enterprise design thinking skills and developing innovative ideas and potential solutions. They’re also encouraged to lead change through strategic decisions. This certificate in design thinking is intended for professionals and leaders in various industries.

Some of these include marketing, sales, finance, project management, engineering, and entrepreneurship. One continuing education unit is available for each design process course completed. Enrollees should have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Other requirements include five years of work experience, existing knowledge in management, and an innovative spirit. 

Net Price: $14,402

7. Indiana University

Indianapolis, IN

Certificate in Design Thinking 


Indiana University- logo

This 18-credit graduate-level design thinking certificate program includes highly engaging online courses. These classes are offered through Indiana University’s Herron School of Art and Design. Applicants are required to submit a resume, a personal statement, and three examples of professional experience.

This program is designed with the working professional and non-design graduate student in mind. Thus, it features a self-paced course of study and fully online design thinking courses that can be accessed via a mobile device. Students can expect to expand their skills and learn creative problem-solving. This is accomplished through classes that explore core concepts and apply design thinking principles.

The program provides many opportunities to engage in collaborations and get hands-on experience across industries and cultures. This helps solidify new skills and information learned via online courses. Graduates of this design thinking program can expect to make a significant impact as industry leaders who drive innovation in their field. 

Program Fee: $2,400 per semester

6. eCornell 

Certificate in Design Thinking


eCornell - logo

This robust design thinking certificate program is a six-month 100% online course featuring a final project. Enrolled students should expect to spend between 3-5 hours per week working through self-paced cohort courses. This design thinking program guides students to master core skills.

This includes a human-centered approach to designing and improving innovative products, systems, and experiences. Students work with peers and other business leaders to define a challenge to address. They then proceed to gather user insights to help develop human-centered solutions using strategic problem-solving.

Students also engage in thorough idea generation and prototype development followed by testing and analysis of possible solutions. Finally, students learn to refine their rapid prototypes using design thinking methods to generate a viable design solution or create products. 

Program Fee: $2,625 (Flexible payment options available)

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, MA

Mastering Design Thinking Certificate


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This online Mastering Design Thinking Certification course can be completed in just three months. Students who opt to learn online should be prepared to devote between six to eight hours per week to coursework. A certificate of completion is awarded to those who successfully finish the program.

The course is designed for those wanting to learn skills in a proven and systematic approach to new product development. Learning materials include 10 modules, 128 recorded video lectures, three live teaching sessions, three group projects, ten assignments, a real-world project, and seven real-world applications.

Graduates of this online design thinking course of study will have adopted design thinking principles for driving innovation. They will have also demonstrated the skills and knowledge to bring design thinking into their work. This certificate is offered through the MIT Sloan School of Management. It can count towards the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate. 

Program Fee: $2,805

4. Emeritus 

Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation and Design Thinking


Emeritus - logo

Emeritus offers a design thinking postgraduate diploma. This diploma is available via the MIT Management Executive Education program, Columbia Business School, and Dartmouth’s Tuck Executive Education program. This robust online design thinking program can be completed in just nine months of self-paced courses. Students will be required to devote four to six hours of study each week.

The program is designed for working professionals. It welcomes students from the business world to join a global peer network and become good design-thinking leaders. Participants will learn the scope of organizational business strategy and innovation as it applies to the end user.

The learning experience includes a combination of individual and team assignments, toolkit activities, and interactive lectures. Thus, students can expect to graduate with the design thinking fundamentals and design strategies needed for a competitive edge in today’s ever-changing marketplace. 

Program Fee: $1,400

3. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Design Thinking Strategies and Innovation Specialization Certificate


University of Virginia - logo

University of Virginia’s Darden Executive Education Program offers a Design Thinking and Innovation Specialization Certificate. This program is designed to empower top executives to become the creative catalyst when solving problems. No matter your industry, this design thinking course will help you develop core skills.

As a result, you will be able to quickly generate solutions to a multitude of business problems. Four project-based courses (each lasting five weeks) help students develop skills and create prototypes. Students build these prototypes based on user research and a solution-based approach. Concepts include the field of human-centered design and involve the development of user-centered solutions. 

Net Price: $20,401

2. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY

RITx Design Thinking MicroMasters program certificate


Rochester Institute of Technology - logo

RIT offers a Design Thinking MicroMasters certification program. Through this program, students learn to use new skills in the design thinking process for solving problems creatively and empathetically. This design thinking course equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for managing innovation in today’s workplace.

Skills and strategies learned in this program equip students to perform a wide range of tasks. For example, they may collect information and verify business development problems, generate creative and targeted brainstorming solutions, apply feedback from testing models, and enhance collaboration across complex teams to identify UX design solutions.

Students who complete this design thinking certificate gain access to RIT’s Master of Science in Professional Studies. Specifically, the students will have nine credits toward their degree requirements. The four courses and capstone (for a total of five courses) can be completed in about 36 weeks.

Program Fee: $1,345.50 (Some free courses available)

1. IDEO U 

Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate


IDEO U- logo

IDEO U’s online design thinking course of study is comprehensive. The program is designed to give students a foundational and practical understanding of design thinking skills. It is also intended to help individuals develop an innovative mentality and foster creativity. This online certificate can be completed in two to three months.

Most students take about four hours per week to complete the two cohort courses. Students will learn techniques to better understand their customers; apply methods to turn customer needs into human-centered solutions; use techniques to generate, develop, and test new ideas with prototypes of products and services; and showcase their creative capacity through projects. 

Program Fee: $1,398


What is design thinking? 

Design thinking is a problem-solving process. It starts with understanding user emotions as well as the unmet needs of customers and other key stakeholders. From this understanding emerges the process of innovation.

This includes design research, concept development, and prototyping. The goal of the process is to develop a business model or other solution. When design thinking is applied in business, there is greater success in innovation to solve problems. 

Will getting a certificate in design thinking benefit my career?

A  design thinking certification can benefit careers across industries. This certification will equip one with skills in innovative problem-solving. A design thinking certification can make an employee more valuable in a current role and improve prospects for the future. 

How do I know which program is best for me? 

Check out design thinking programs to compare elements such as time to completion, cost, and location/online to get started. Design thinking programs vary greatly, so thoroughly investigate to find a program that suits you. 

Has design thinking become a sought-after skill by employers? 

Employers value people who are skilled problem solvers. They also look for individuals who are creative, think critically, and have analytical skills.  These skills lead companies into a successful and profitable future. Getting a design thinking certification helps employees develop these sought-after skills. This, of course, makes them more marketable.

Will a certification in design thinking give me a competitive edge in the workplace? 

Our rapidly changing world makes having a competitive edge more important than ever. A design thinking course can help you develop the tools necessary to integrate customer needs with technology, inventive thinking, and impactful strategies. This will enable you to produce goods and services to drive your company into the future. 

I am uncertain if this will benefit me as my own organization has not been exposed to design thinking and is not innovative. Should I still enroll? 

If you are ambitious enough to explore design thinking principles and want to develop innovative solutions and strategies, then yes. You would benefit from a design thinking course of study or certificate program. While your current role and company may not need these skills, the future depends on them. Of course, you’ll want to consider the program fee before investing in this credential.

What kinds of things might I learn in a certificate program in design thinking?

Typical skills might include developing strategies to understand customers and determine business challenges as well as ideation and visualization skills to generate creative solutions to problems. Students will also learn about developing evaluation methods to apply in testing models and prototypes for best solutions. These are just a few of the skills you would possibly learn.  

Are the concepts discussed in these programs easily implemented across industries and businesses? 

Often, courses include steps for implementation. Case studies offer the opportunity to see how companies have been innovative by using design thinking techniques. Tools for idea generation and finding customer needs, experience mapping, and other tools could be applied. These are helpful when tasked with improving a product or service in a multitude of scenarios. 

How was design thinking developed?

Design thinking was developed from techniques and processes used by designers. Design thinking is the application of these processes. It can be used to address non-product problems, innovating new products and services, implementing a procedure change in a company, as well as determining a new direction for a company. 

It is ideal for any of the following occupations: CEO, Creative Manager, Managing Director, Founder, R&D Manager, Product Managers, or UX Designer or Consultant, for example. These roles all benefit from insights gained using a design thinking approach.

Is design thinking a skill to include on my resume?

Yes, it is. Skills listed in recent job postings include innovation, creativity, strategic thinking, ideation techniques, and design thinking. Employers need people with these skills to develop better solutions and help lead companies into a profitable and successful future. 

I work with a team. Are there certification programs to learn design thinking that would be applicable for my team? 

There are some programs that can be taught in a group setting by a design thinking coach or other industry experts. Some certificate programs may even come to your site to teach your team. Check out the program details in this list to find a design thinking certification program for your team.

I am not sure if I should enroll in a design thinking specialization program. How can I decide if I should enroll?  

If you’re uncertain about enrolling in a certification program, search the internet for an introduction course or books on design thinking. This will help you see if it sparks an interest in the subject.  If it does, check out the design thinking certificate programs in this article to find one that fits your needs. A program advisor may also be able to help you select the ideal course of study.

By CVO Staff