Basic Track

The Basic Design Thinking study program is the first part of the one-year Design Thinking education offered at the HPI School of Design Thinking.

The Basic program equips students with the knowledge, skills, and creative confidence to implement the basics of the iterative Design Thinking mindset and methodology. It enables them to develop human-centered solutions for complex problems. The 14-week semester is structured in three main projects, connected through additional workshop formats.

The Basic Design Thinking Program is an official certificate study program of the University of Potsdam.

+++ Here you can find current information about the measures taken by the HPI School of Design Thinking concerning the coronavirus pandemic. +++

In the first semester at the HPI D-School, students experience highly diversified and professionally facilitated teamwork. Student teams are composed according to our fundamental pillars of diversity: Gender identity, cultural background, and disciplinary expertise.

These teams come together in the HPI D-School’s open, flexible, and modular project space. Our working and learning environment encourages each individual participant to unfold their professional potential while fostering their creative confidence.

Our learning-approach builds on team-based, experiential learning and a culture of experimentation. It highlights the importance of iterative, repeated reflection for deeper learning. We implement this as a project-based course, where participants collaborate each semester with a strong portfolio of project partner organizations including NPOs and NGOs, large enterprises, young start-ups, social organizations, as well as research institutes and universities.

Besides the hands-on project work, our program leads, together with our coaching team, host workshops, trainings, and discussion rounds addressing tools, methods or research findings in Design Thinking.

Semester overview:

The 1st project (1 week) makes students familiar with our working space and community. We introduce our Design Thinking methodology specifically to understand how to generate qualitative insights and to frame a problem for a design challenge.

The 2nd project (3 weeks) launches newly composed teams into the generative part of the methodology – the solution space. The second project unlocks new experiences about ideation techniques, methods and principles of prototyping, as well as testing for feedback. All towards the end to design desired, relevant solutions.

The partner project (8 weeks) is the culmination of the Basic track: Teamed up in new constellations once more, participants are now ready to collaborate on eye-level with a partner organization. The project partner brings in a design challenge that is relevant to their internal or external future development. Teams then implement their learnings of the 1st and 2nd projects towards defining the problem space and developing relevant, tested solutions.

Throughout the semester, our team of highly experienced Design Thinking coaches with various professional and academic backgrounds, accompanies the students in their individual team projects.



Application requirements

Applications for the Basic Track program are open twice per year.

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 31st July.

For the summer term, our online application platform opens at the end of November. After registering on the platform, the submission deadline for all required documents is February 15th.

Applications for the Basic Track in the winter semester 2021/22 are currently open. You can apply via our online platform until 31 July 2021.

This  infosheet outlining the application process supports interested applicants in their application.

Applicants who pass the first round of selection will receive an invitation to one of our two-day D-Camp workshops (usally taking place during last week of August for the winter term, last week of February for the summer term). For applicants of the Basic Track in the winter semester 2021/22, the D-Camps will take place in an online format from 23-26 August 2021. After attending the D-Camp workshop, applicants will receive a final admissions decision.

All admitted participants contribute a participation fee of 750 Euro, which helps the organization to offset the expenses of the program. For current HPI students, PhD candidates, and employees of the HPI, the participation in the Basic Design Thinking program is free of charge.

Review all information about the Basic Track application process.

Unfortunately, participation in the Basic Track program is not acknowledged as official educational leave by the state of Brandenburg.


Elisabeth Höpner

HPI School of Design Thinking
Program Coordinator

Phone: +49 -331-5509-507

E-Mail to HPI D-School Office

Further Information