Advanced Track

The Advanced Design Thinking Program (Advanced Track) offers 30 participants per semester to continue their learning experience at the HPI School of Design Thinking. In the program, students complete their one-year education as Design Thinking and Human-Centered-Innovation specialists.

Still guided by a diverse and highly experienced team of coaches, each student team makes use of their acquired Design Thinking mindset in the development of a mainly self-directed, 18-week project. Each project team collaborates closely with a partner organization (company, non-profit, governmental organizations, foundations), now tackling complex, often business-related challenges, whilst expanding their theoretical and practical skill set with new offerings.

Students learn to:

- scope a project based on strategic opportunities and scenarios

- structure, guide, and dissect intense teamwork throughout the entire project duration

- use Systems-Mapping as a foundation to understand complexity and deal with ambiguity

- engage experts and a multitude of stakeholders relevant to their challenge with advanced qualitative research & co-creation approaches

- improve the quality and determination of their physical & digital prototypes

- project the strategic and economic value of their project onto strategy roadmaps and implementation plans for the respective partner organization

All Advanced Track students are already equipped with a diverse background of experiences in the application of our Design Thinking approach & mindset, whilst bringing in their own disciplinary and professional expertise into a new partner project.

Each individual student has the opportunity to select their top three preferred project challenges. The HPI D-School program team then assembles the teams, based on our diversity-criteria including gender, disciplinary background and nationality.

The Advanced Track program emphasizes shared leadership, self-directed and experiential learning, community-building, and pro-active participation for mutual inspiration.It offers strong synergies between program leads, coaches, participants, special contributors, influential advisors and our large network of organizational partners. Everyone is encouraged to exchange knowledge in order to generate a unique, hands-on learning environment full of innovation potential reaching far beyond the four walls of the School of Design Thinking.

The project framework allows each team to work exclusively on one design challenge for the duration of 16 weeks. Thus, the Advanced Track enhances each team’s self-directedness and agency to complete a project that is guided by four major milestones:

(1) You enter the partner kick-off meeting prepared with your directed questions, and your visually and interactively prepared materials that represent your understanding of the challenge.

(2) During the first interim presentation at the end of the “Inspiration Phase”, you will present 3-5 strategic fields of opportunity, each illustrated through compelling human stories, and validated through an array of quick, tangible prototypes hinting at different possible directions.

(3) After engaging productively and creatively with several of your stakeholders in the “Co-Creation Phase”, you will gain an even deeper understanding of the most relevant fields of opportunity and develop functional prototypes as suggested solutions, which you will present with your project partners on stage.

(4) As a culmination point after the “Implementation for Impact Phase”, the final presentation will be your stage to present your tested, iterated, high-resolution prototypes and recommendations for the strategic implementation of the solution within the organization.



Design Thinking goes hybrid

We facilitate the Advanced Track in a HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) format: Design Thinking in a hybrid space, combining the virtual format with on-site work in the Design Thinking spaces at HPI D-School.

The virtual program takes place two days per week. It consists of live inputs from our program & coaching team and collaborative teamwork in the digital space, supported by interactive live coaching sessions. We use various digital tools, such as the virtual whiteboard "Miro" and our online learning platform "openHPI".

Our program team also creates an open culture of experimentation in the virtual space, promoting creative self-confidence (concept of psychological safety).

Physical presence in Potsdam is generally not necessary for participation in the Advanced Track in the summer semester of 2023. The format we offer can be conducted from any location. Please note that participants need to be willing to actively participate during daytime hours on the CEST time zone program days.

All participants will have access to our physical Design Thinking spaces, all of which are equipped with appropriate technology to work in a hybrid setting (part of the team on-site, part of the team remote/distributed). This results in an innovative hybrid format that defines the next step towards "new work". We want to allow all participants in our program to experience this new innovative form of collaboration.


Apply now for the Advanced Track

The Application to the Advanced Track is open exclusively to recent graduates of the Design Thinking basic and short programs at the HPI D-School and our partner schools in Malaysia, South Africa, China, and Sweden, as well as graduates of the HPI GTI (ME310/SUGAR) program. In addition, HPI students can apply directly for the Advanced Track after completing two Global Design Thinking Workshops at the HPI D-School.

If you have completed one of the above-mentioned Design Thinking programs, you are eligible to apply for the next Advanced Track.

Applications for the Advanced Track are open twice a year.

For the summer term of 2023, our online application platform opens in the middle of November. After registering on the platform, the submission deadline for all required documents is January 31st, 2023.

For the winter term, our online application platform opens in the middle of May. After registering on the platform, the submission deadline for all required documents is July 31st.

You can also sign up for our application reminder and we will inform you via email once the next application period starts.

On the Hasso Plattner Institute website you can find further information about the course.

The Design Thinking Advanced Track is an official certificate study program of the University of Potsdam.


Elisabeth Höpner

HPI School of Design Thinking

Assistant (Programm Coordination)

Tel.: +49 -331-5509-507

E-Mail to HPI D-School Office