Austin Center for Design

Gain autonomy through design: make products & services that change the world!

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What is AC4D?

Austin Center for Design, an educational program in Austin, Texas, is a unique school intended to help you develop autonomy through design.

Interaction Design

We teach the practice and theory of interaction design—designing products, services, and interactions to change human behavior and improve the world.

Humanitarian Focus

Our emphasis is on addressing humanitarian problems. We focus on problems that matter, and students learn to recontextualize design in the space of large-scale "wicked problems."

Design Experts

Founder Jon Kolko is recognized as a thought-leader in developing and advancing the role of interaction design in product development and social entrepreneurship. Our faculty are all world-class working practitioners.

An Affordable Program

Our program is affordable. Our annual tuition is $18,000 for our one-year course, which runs 480 course hours. Tuition assistance option is available upon acceptance to the program.

Small Classes

Our classes sizes are small, providing extensive face-time with professors and the opportunity to form lasting relationships with a growing support network.

A Supportive Community

We've developed a supportive, collaborative community of alumni to help current students succeed and to help one-another drive impact.


Explore our course

Our course offers a comprehensive study in interaction design and social entrepreneurship, and builds autonomy. Take a look at our one-year curriculum or explore student projects to see if AC4D is right for you.

Our value proposition

What you'll gain in our program

In a word, students who complete our program gain autonomy. This is a sense of entrepreneurial freedom—that your choices are not set or constrained, and that you have concrete skills to shape the world around you. These skills include qualitative research, synthesis and interpretation, sketching, the creation of storyboards and wireframes, entrepreneurial business modeling, service design blueprinting, and complex system diagramming. These skills represent the foundation of a career in product management, design strategy, interaction design, and social entrepreneurship.

More importantly, you'll gain an empathetic process and a unique, empathetic way of thinking about culture and technology. This process is broad, and can be used in corporate and consulting contexts, in startups or small businesses, and even in politics and government.

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Our participants

The types of people that join our program

Design is for everyone, and our students have a variety of backgrounds. Some of our students are already designers, but most aren't. Our typical applicants have experience in marketing, engineering, fine arts, finance, or the service industry. Our program teaches design fundamentals in addition to advanced topics, in a rigorous, intense environment. There is no expectation that our students enter the program as designers; we take care of teaching that.

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Details In Brief

What you need to know about Austin Center for Design

Timeframe

AC4D is a 480 course-hour program that runs from late August through early May.

Applications

Application for 2020-2021 is now open. They are due by Jan 15, 2020. Learn more.

Costs

Our one year program costs $18,000. The first payment of $9,000 is due in the summer, prior to classes beginning, and the second payment is in January (at the half-way point). Tuition assistance option is available upon acceptance to the program.

Difficulty

AC4D is extraordinarily intense, time consuming and difficult. We’ve structured the program to include as much content and rich experience as possible and it requires a strong, formal commitment from students.


Meet our students

Alex Pappas

I’m a hungry bike riding doodler, who loves complex problem solving. I’ve lived in the US, Europe, and Asia, and love traveling light and getting lost. I enjoy making new things and talking about them, then making them better. At heart, however, I’m into old things, worn in things, things that have stories that can be told. I like those objects because they’re often attached to people who lead interesting lives, and those are the people I like to surround myself with. I’m also trying t...

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From our blog

Most professionals will, at some point, find themselves in positions of selling: of persuading a skeptical audience that their vision of the future is a good one, and is worth pursuing. Most professionals do this poorly, attempting to use words to appeal to logic, as if the best argument is the most rational. Whether that…

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Q2 has quickly put into relief that make faster can be at the expense of think deeply. Or it can certainly feel that way. It’s pushing me to make and think and make and think faster than I feel capable of. In the last two weeks, our conversation and readings in Design Ethics have revolved…

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