On this page we collect and answer frequently asked questions by applicants interested in the programs of the HPI D-School. Here you can find the FAQ on IT studies at the Hasso Plattner Institute.
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”).
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 Workshop (GDTW)?
In addition to the Basic Track and Advanced Track, we offer the Global Design Thinking Workshops (GDTW) twice a year. In this program, participants experience Design Thinking as a life-centered approach and work in different teams on complex innovation problems, supported by international Design Thinking coaches. We combine this work on a concrete innovation project with reflections on a specific focus topic. The GDTW should not be confused with the D-Camp. The Global Design Thinking Workshops take place every year in March and September.
How can I participate in the Advanced Track?
Applications for the Design Thinking Advanced Track are open to graduates of the HPI D-School's Basic Track program and comparable introductory programs at our partner Design Thinking schools in China, Malaysia, South Africa and Sweden, as well as graduates of the HPI Global Team-based Innovation (GTI) program. In addition, HPI students can apply directly for the Advanced Track after completing two Global Design Thinking Workshops at the HPI D-School.
The application phase for the winter semester starts in May and for the summer semester in November. The application is done via an online platform, which you can find on the Advanced Track page during the application period.
What language are we speaking 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. To make sure 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 human-centered approach and our students often need to make observations and conduct interviews with consumers and users. Because many 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
For professionals who are over 35 and have more than one year of professional experience, the fee for participation in the Basic Track is 10,000 euros (plus VAT). There are no additional costs for the subsequent participation in the Advanced Track.
Students, PhDs and employees of HPI are exempt from this rule; for them participation in the Design Thinking programs is free of charge.
What are the requirements to study at the D-School?
Since our program is based on different perspectives, we are looking for students and graduates from all disciplines - from Architecture, Pedagogy, IT systems Engineering or Business to Futurology.
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.
How many students are accepted per semester?
Each semester we offer 60 places in the Basic Track and 30 places in the Advanced Track program. In addition, the Global Design Thinking Workshop (GDTW) takes place two times a year with 40 participants each. We also offer a Leadership Development Program with 20 places. Thus, up to 150 students study at the HPI D-School each semester.
How much time do I need to invest in the program?
Two attendance days per week are required for the Basic and Advanced Track. Depending on the project, additional time may be required, usually in the research phases and shortly before the project is completed. The Basic Track meets every Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m., the Advanced Track every Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m. One semester is approximately 13-15 weeks - from October to February and April to July.
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, up to 60 students are chosen to attend the subsequent Basic Track.
What should I do with the T-Profile?
Looking beyond one's own (academic) horizon is part of the Design Thinking training. Since innovative solutions to complex problems require different disciplines, it is advantageous if problem solvers bring skills that go beyond their own area of expertise. This promotes understanding and a view from different angles. To get a better insight into your professional experience, academic knowledge, personal interests, projects and cross-disciplinary skills, we ask you to design the T-profile.
There is only one rule: The vertical line should be filled with relevant information about your academic background. In the horizontal line you will find competences and activities that are not directly related to your academic education. How and in what form you want to design this - as text, image, diagram or photo - is entirely up to you. What counts is that the most important information about you must fit on one page. So go ahead 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.
In the sample curriculum of the Bachelor's program, "HPI-DTH: Design Thinking" is scheduled for the fourth semester. For Master's students, there are different recommendations for when the Professional Skills modules should be taken, depending on the course of study. Participation in the Global Design Thinking Workshop is rewarded with three credit points. The Basic and Advanced Track are each worth six credit points towards your degree.
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 (Global Design Thinking Workshop, Basic and Advanced Track) as a student you not only get a unique experience, but also credits (ECTS).
Students enrolled at HPI can earn graded course credits for each program. You get 3 credits for your participation in the Global Design Thinking Workshop (ECTS) and Wayfinder program, 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, many students have been able to transfer the ECTS credits for their D-School time (as practical experience) to their respective home university.
The successful completion of the program will be confirmed with a certificate of participation.
Can you help me to find a place to live?
Unfortunately, we cannot organize an accommodation for you in Berlin or Potsdam. However, since both cities are strongly frequented by students, you should have no problem finding temporary accommodation. You can find a wide range of offers at housinganywhere.com and wg-gesucht.de.
How do I get a visa for Germany?
As each country has its own laws, this question cannot be answered in general terms. If you are coming from outside Europe, you should apply for a visa early, as the process usually takes longer. If you need help, you are welcome to contact us. More information about general visa regulations can be found on the homepage of the German Academic Exchange Service. The international broadcaster Deutsche Welle offers a general overview for a study stay in Germany. You can also contact the Academic Welcome Center of the University of Potsdam with specific questions.
Can I apply for educational leave to participate in the Design Thinking programs at the HPI D-School?
Unfortunately, the participation in our academic Design Thinking programs is not recognized by the state of Brandenburg as educational leave.
Is participation possible despite personal restrictions?
We would like to enable all participants with handicaps or chronic diseases to participate on an equal and independent basis. All buildings and rooms are accessible without barriers, there are accessible sanitary rooms available. The connection to the public transport system is also largely barrier-free. We are open to individual concerns that make participation in the program possible. The University of Potsdam offers an overview of counselling opportunities for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
If I am accepted, am I officially enrolled at the HPI D-School as a student?
The HPI D-School's academic programs are additional study courses that are open to students of all universities and disciplines. However, participation in the programs does not grant you student status (unless you have this status from another university) and you are not officially enrolled as a student of the University of Potsdam.