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FAQs for applicants
On this page we collect and answer frequently asked questions by applicants to the HPI School of Design Thinking.
What is the Basic Track (and the Advanced Track) program?
We offer a consecutive program over the course of two semesters. The program starts every semester with the “Basic Track” in Design Thinking. This training addresses the essential elements and approaches of Design Thinking. Our program closes the gap between different disciplines. While students in their regular studies mostly meet only fellow students from their own disciplines or similar fields, at the HPI D-School work is carried out in multidisciplinary teams. During the semester, students work in different team constellations on different projects (“Design Thinking Challenges”). We start with a small project (one week) and proceed with longer ones (three and six weeks). The “Advanced Track” provides advanced knowledge about Design Thinking, especially in relation to approaches, application areas and methods. We additionally arrange projects with external partners, among them large corporations, public institutions and/or non-profit organizations.
What is the Global Design Thinking Week (GDTW)?
In addition to our Basic- and Advanced Track-Program we offer an Introductory Program in Design Thinking (our so called Global Design Thinking Week or GDTW) twice a year. The GDTW provides a fundamental understanding and experience of the innovation method Design Thinking. We are offering this program together with a partner organization so that participants gain insights into the implementation of design thinking in the real-world. This program should not be confused with the D-Camp (see above). The Global Design Thinking Weeks take place every year in March/April and September/October.
What language is spoken at the HPI D-School?
Because the students who participate in our program come from all over the world, many different languages echo through our hallways. So that everyone knows what’s going on, the entire program is conducted in English. For this reason we don’t require you to be fluent in German to apply to the HPI D-School. You’re also not asked to submit a certificate proving your knowledge of German. However, Design Thinking is a user-centered approach and our students often need to make observations and conduct interviews with consumers and users. Because most of the encounters take place in Potsdam and Berlin, you will often come in contact with non-native English speakers. We therefore advise our foreign participants to attend a German course before or during their study program at the HPI D-School. Further information about courses is available on the pages of the Goethe Institute or the University of Potsdam
What are the fees at the HPI D-School?
We expect that you will contribute your enthusiasm and your time (two days per week for the Basic and Advanced Track) to the HPI D-School.
The contribution towards expenses for the supplementary study program is currently 750€ for all students in the Basic Track. Participation in the First Track (Design Thinking-Week) and Advanced Track is free of charge.
Also, students, PhDs and employees of HPI are exempt from this rule; for them HPI School of Design Thinking is free.
What are the necessary requirements for students at the D-School?
Because our program is based on different perspectives, we are looking for students from all disciplines and fields of study – from adventure and experimental education to “futures studies.” We are looking for students who are close to completion of their degree – or who have just finished it. We mainly focus on (enrolled) MA and MBA students as well as PhD candidates. Bachelor’s students are also welcome to apply if they are in the last year of their studies. In regard to other interested applicants, it is possible that exceptions can be made in certain cases as determined in the selection process.
What personal requirements are expected of HPI D-School students?
We are looking for enthusiastic people who enjoy working in teams, who engage and deal emphatically with both people and tasks. Candidates should be open to new ideas and perspectives. They should be passionate about their own academic field, but also curious about other disciplines and ideas. It is important that candidates be at the end of their studies.
How many students are accepted per semester?
Every semester we offer 40 place in the First Track, 80 places in the Basic Track and 40 places in the Advanced Track programs. Thus, each semester up to 160 students study at the HPI D-School.
How much time do I need to invest in the program?
Two days of attendance are required during the week for the Basic and Advanced Track. Depending on the project, it is possible that more time will be necessary – normally in the research phases as well as shortly before project completion. The Basic Track always meets Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 6 pm, and the Advanced Track meets every Monday and Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm. One semester encompasses approx. 13 - 15 weeks – from October until February and from April to July. You can find the exact dates here.
What is a D-Camp?
The D-Camp workshop takes place before the start of the Basic Track and lasts two days. All applicants who have passed the first online selection hurdle are invited to this workshop. During these two days we offer a glimpse into Design Thinking and the HPI D-School. After the D-Camp, 80 students are chosen to attend the subsequent Basic Track.
What should I do with the T-Profile?
Part of the Design Thinking education is to learn to look outside your own (academic) box. Because complex problems need innovative solutions from different disciplines to be solved, it is an advantage if problem-solvers speak “different languages.” This promotes understanding and looking at things from different perspectives. To get a better view of your professional experience, your academic knowledge, your interface skills, your expertise and your interdisciplinary projects, we request that you fill out your T-profile.
There is only one rule: please fill in the relevant information about your academic career on the vertical line. While on the horizontal line you should enter your competencies and those activities not directly related to your academic training. How and in what form you want to do this – as text, picture, diagram or photo – is completely up to you. What counts is that your most important information needs to fit on one page. So get started and show us your personal T-profile!
When should I participate if I’m enrolled as a student at HPI?
As a student enrolled at HPI you can participate in our Design Thinking-programs during your Bachelor’s or Master’s studies.
In addition you can apply for the Design Thinking-programs also in the year after your completion of your Bachelor's or Master's studies.
The HPI degree regulations recommend Bachelor’s students to complete the module “SSK1: Design Thinking” between their third and sixth semester.
The study regulations for Master’s students do not contain special recommendation for the module “SSK-DT.”
First Track participation is rewarded with three credits. Basic Track participation is rewarded with nine credits. It is possible to receive nine further credits by taking part in the Advanced Track.
How can I register/apply for the Design Thinking-programs as HPI-Student?
If you are enrolled as HPI student you can register for the Global Design Thinking Week through the Admissions Office (Studienreferat) as for all other HPI study offers. There is no separate application necessary at the HPI D-School.
The application for the Basic and Advanced Track takes place via the HPI D-School. The application for the Basic Track in the summer semester is possible from Mid-November until 31st January, for the winter semester from Mid-May until 31st August. The application for the Advanced Track is only possible after the completion of the Basic Track.
How do I receive credits (ECTS) for my participation at the HPI D-School?
If you are participating in our programs (First, Basic and Advanced Track) as a student you get not only a unique experience, but also credits (ECTS).
Student enrolled at HPI can earn graded course credits for each program. You get 3 credits for your participation in the Design Thinking introductory week (ECTS), 9 credits for the Basic Track and 9 credits for the Advanced Track (ECTS).
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee students from other universities that these credits (and grades) will be accepted by their home universities since it depends on the university’s policy. However, a lot of our students have been able to transfer the ECTS-credits for their D-School time (as practical experience) to their respective home university.
Can you help me to find a place to live?
Unfortunately, we are not able to organize housing for you in Berlin or Potsdam. But because both cities are strongly frequented by students it shouldn’t be a problem to find a place to live. You can find a large housing offer at http://www.studenten-wg.de and http://www.wg-gesucht.de, as well as through the relevant groups on Facebook. In particular, groups from previous years are recommended as a good source of assistance.
How do I get a visa for Germany?
Because every country has its own laws, there is no general answer to this question. If you are coming from outside of Europe, we recommend you apply for a visa early because the process is often lengthy. In case you need help, you are welcome to contact us. You can find more information about the general requirements for a visa on the homepage of Deutschen Akademischen Austausch Dienstes. The Deutsche Welle also offers a general overview of studying in Germany. In addition, if you have specific questions please feel free to contact the Academic Welcome Center at University of Potsdam