The MA in Design is an individualised, project-based programme. As a full- or part-time student, you will choose between specialisations in Entrepreneurship or Research.

This degree programme:

  • trains you in developing projects, from the initial idea to implementation;
  • shows you how to identify socially relevant design issues.;
  • allows you to develop innovative solutions and acquire new knowledge;
  • opens up new professional opportunities based on your own vision for the future;
  • enables you to formulate business plans and research proposals;
  • is unique in offering small class sizes, free choice of supervisors and an individualised curriculum.


  • Title/Degree Master of Arts (MA)
  • Specialisations Design Entrepreneurship
    Design Research
  • Mode of study Full-time (3 semesters)
    Part-time (5 semesters)
  • Start date 20.9.2021
  • Application deadline 15.3.2021
  • ECTS credits 90 ECTS credits
  • Study language English, German
  • Location Bern
  • Department Bern University of the Arts

Structure + Content

We offer an individualised, project-based degree programme in design and design research with a focus on social relevance in the specialisation areas of Entrepreneurship and Research. Full-time (three semesters) and part-time (five semesters) study options are available.


We frame design as an interdisciplinary activity focused on creating content for other people. We support our students in comprehending and interpreting the complexity of social issues, then developing solutions to address these challenges.

Objectives + Skills

Our objective is to train designers and researchers to tap into new professional spheres, according to their skills and vision.
The skills you gain in your studies will improve your chances of a successful career as a freelance designer, business owner or design researcher.


In the Entrepreneurship specialisation, you will create a business plan for a design-based product or service, which will provide the basis for your subsequent career. You may use your final project to found your own company and apply for design and start-up funding. We encourage students to apply for backing from DEAL, the Designinitiative Bern funding programme for excellent entrepreneurial design projects.

In the Design Research specialisation, you will plan a design research project that you will pursue in your career following graduation. You may use your final project to apply for research funding or admission to doctoral programmes, such as the «Studies in the Arts» (SINTA) a joint doctoral programme of the HKB and the University of Bern.

Mode of study + Duration

Full-time (3 semesters)
Part-time (5 semesters)

Curriculum + Modules

Design with Social Impact (2 × 3 days, 4 ECTS):

This workshop deals with the social influence of design. You sensitize yourself to the work in and with society and focus on the complex relationship between man and object, or man and environment. You will get to know and apply methods that support you in developing a design-based product, a service or a research project and with which the needs of user and population groups can be determined. This is how you specify the "social impact" of your projects.

Design Entrepreneurship (2 × 3 days, 4 ECTS):

As a design entrepreneur, but also when founding and managing a design studio or research project, financial planning, positioning in the environment, marketing, sales, accounting, etc. are everyday tasks. This requires designers to have a basic understanding of business in order to define themselves as entrepreneurs. In this workshop you will get to know current entrepreneurial discourses, methods and attitudes and apply them to your own project.

Design Research (2 × 3 days, 4 ECTS):

Whether for the development of a new product or a new service, for researching a complex order, for advising customers or for formulating your own profile: Design research delivers new knowledge. While research for design informs the development of innovative solutions and research on design provides new basic knowledge, research for design enables creative solutions to complex problems.

Design Processes an Story Frameworks (1 x 3 days, 2 ECTS):

In this workshop you will become familiar with the possibilities of creating products, services, strategies, processes and convincing messages. The focus of this approach is always the user and the needs of the user, without neglecting technological and business aspects.

Further courses (1 x 3 days, 2 ECTS):

You will acquire additional skills in courses such as Organising the Guest Lecture Festival, Design and Power, Design Ethics, Designing Advertising, Fundraising and Writing Applications in Entrepreneurship/Research, Show Your Work, Present your Projects.

Design Research Methods Festival (3 days, 2 ECTS):

In six half-day workshops, led by internal and external experts, you will receive an introduction to design and design research relevant methods and thus further develop an individual methodological framework for your project.

Junior Design Research Conference (1.5 days, 2 ECTS):

The conference serves the annual exchange between all Swiss Master students in Design - across institutional boundaries. They have the opportunity to participate through lectures and workshops.

Field Trip (4 days, 2 ECTS):

You undertake an excursion abroad with the MA Design. You will visit various hotspots (companies, cultural institutions, universities, etc.), which will be selected according to your project topics.

Guest Lecture Festival (depending on the number of participants, 2 ECTS):

You plan, organize and moderate a guest lecture with discussion of your project. With our support you invite a person who can support you in the development and implementation of your project idea and develop a concept for the event. In this way you establish contacts to gatekeepers and key players in your respective field.

In order to acquire project-specific theories, methods and competencies, you will also attend courses offered by the Faculty of Design and Art, other courses offered by the HKB, the Berne University of Applied Sciences BFH or partner institutions such as the University of Berne.

Introduction Days (4 days, 1 ECTS):

You will sit in on a seclusion with the head of the course of studies, assistant and fellow students in order to get to know us, your fellow students, their projects and the philosophy of MA Design.

Coaching Sessions (3 ECTS):

You develop your project in close cooperation with one or two supervisors. You have a fixed number of working hours at your disposal for this purpose. You can agree these hours individually with the supervisors. The supervisors can be changed at the beginning of the semester.

Colloquia (24 ECTS):

You regularly present the current status of your project to a commission and to your fellow students. Subsequently, we discuss your project idea(s) in the plenum. The commission supports you in the development of your project, the compilation of your individual study plan and defines the formal requirements for your thesis in Colloquium 2.

Assessment Day:

The aim of the Assessment Day is to make it easier for you to get in touch with potential investors and practical partners, to offer an attractive framework for the first exchange and to prepare your professional career early after graduation.

Examination (16 ECTS):

The project development results in the master thesis, which is submitted at the end of your studies. It consists of the following three parts:

  • In the specialisation "Entrepreneurship": a business concept based on a design-based product or service; in the specialisation "Research": a scientific research plan for a design research project;
  • a documentation of the project development in the form of an annotated progress protocol;
  • a defence consisting of a public presentation of the business concept, a handout and subsequent questions from the examination board.

Assessment Day

The aim of the Assessment Day is to make it easier for you to get in touch with potential investors and practical partners, to offer an attractive framework for the first exchange and to prepare your professional career at an early stage after graduation.


Keynotes are public evening events of the HKB / MA Design. At each event we invite entrepreneurs or researchers to present their projects and share their experiences with us. Past and future keynotes can be found in our Facebook events.

Student mobility

As a student from Switzerland, would you like to live, study or work in another country? Or would you like to spend a guest semester at another Swiss university? Or do you come from abroad and want to spend a semester at the Berne University of Applied Sciences? Mobility experiences are always unique and valuable. We enable you to complete exchange semesters and internships at home or abroad during your studies.

Further information

Final theses

View here



The HKB is associated with numerous partner universities in Germany and abroad and cooperates in many projects with international partners. It is also a member of various international networks.

We cooperate with various Swiss players in public and private design promotion as well as study programmes in Switzerland and abroad, e.g:

Berner Designinitiative
The Berner Designinitiative understands entrepreneurship as an interdisciplinary creative approach that should lead to the development of new entrepreneurial ideas. It launches and disseminates entrepreneurship in the capital region of Berne and beyond. With targeted partnerships, relevant actors in the area of action are brought into the efforts of the initiative. The committee consists of the Bern Design Foundation, the Creative Hub, the HKB / MA Design and the Impact Hub Bern.

Junior Research Conference
The Junior Research Conference serves the annual exchange between all Swiss Master's programmes in Design - across institutional boundaries. MA Design students have the opportunity to participate through lectures and workshops.

Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Master of Arts Integriertes Design
The constant changes in social, cultural, social, technological and aesthetic contexts are affecting design more than ever; the boundaries of traditional disciplines are increasingly being overcome. The Master's programme in Integrated Design understands creative research and practice as integrated thinking and acting in interdisciplinary contexts.

Requirements + Admission

Apply with an idea for a product, service or research project.

Conditions for admission

The number of study places is limited (Numerus Clausus). Aptitude for study is assessed by an examination. We require a high level of motivation, endurance, resilience and independence as well as the willingness to actively participate in university projects.

School requirements

The prerequisite for admission to the aptitude test is a Bachelor's degree, an FH diploma or an equivalent degree. This requirement may be waived in the case of exceptional aptitude.

Professional requirements

You have experience in your profession, in teaching or in research, at least in the form of an internship.

Knowledge + Skills

Among other things:

  • Ability to recognize and formulate a socially relevant problem,
  • Ability to think and act conceptually, creatively and relationally (design/analysis/reflection),
  • Motivation to work entrepreneurially ("Entpreneurship") or scientifically ("Research").

Language skills

You are fluent in spoken and written German or English and have basic knowledge of the other language.

Foreign applicants

Foreign nationals require a valid travel document recognised by Switzerland, often a visa is also required. In addition, international students must apply for a residence permit immediately after acceptance of their place of study and be able to produce a financial guarantee. In addition, they must take out health insurance before beginning their studies. Please find out more about your specific entry requirements.



1. Contact us

We are happy to answer your questions about applying or advise you in developing a project idea. Contact us via email to schedule a consultation, whether in person, on the phone or via Skype.

2. Apply

Please prepare the following PDF files ready for your online application (max. 1 MB per file, passport picture: JPG):

  • Identification card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • University entrance certificate (e.g. baccalaureate, vocational baccalaureate, specialised baccalaureate, Abitur certificate)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Statement of purpose (which area of specialisation – Entrepreneurship or Research – would you like to study in the MA in Design at HKB, and why? Max. 500 words)

If you are not a Swiss citizen:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you were enrolled at a different university:

  • Confirmation of exmatriculation
  • Transcript of records: diploma and/or academic transcript of prior learning achievements

Apply online

There is a CHF 100 application fee. There is an additional CHF 150 aptitude assessment fee. Each fee will be charged when appropriate. There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications.


3. Submit your portfolio

Please send us your digital or analogue portfolio.
Based on your portfolio, we will decide whether to invite you for an admissions interview.
Your portfolio may include the following components:

  • select projects (results and documentation) from your bachelor’s studies
  • select commissioned projects (results and documentation) created as a freelancer or employee
  • select research projects (results and documentation)
  • information on development of these projects
  • comments on the projects

Digital portfolio:
Please send your portfolio as a PDF or link to the administration of the Design and Fine Arts division.

Analogue portfolio:
Please label your portfolio with your name and ‘MA Design’ and post it to the following address:

Hochschule der Künste Bern HKB
Sekretariat Fachbereich Gestaltung und Kunst
MA Design
Fellerstrasse 11
3027 Bern

You may also deliver your portfolio directly to the administration of the Design and Fine Arts division. Our office is located on the 1st floor. Our business hours are:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:30 am–12:00 midday
Tuesday, Thursday: 8:30 am–12:00 midday, 1:00 pm–4:00 pm


4. Present your project idea

If you are selected for an admissions interview, we will notify you by letter and include the appointment details.
You will have 20 minutes to present your project idea to our aptitude assessment committee. We will then question you about your project for 10 minutes.
The aptitude assessment committee includes the Head of Degree Programme (chair), at least two instructors and an assistant.
Please note that admissions interviews may not be repeated for any reason. However, you may apply to the programme twice.

5. Have a little patience

We will inform you of our admissions decision by May.
In addition to direct admission, we also compile a waiting list. If you are on the waiting list, we will inform you of our admissions decision by June.
We look forward to reviewing your application and wish you the best of luck.


We cannot enter into correspondence or provide information over the phone regarding the aptitude assessment. Bern University of the Arts assumes no liability for submitted portfolios.

Transferring from another university

If you are currently enrolled at another university and wish to transfer to our master’s degree programme in design, please contact us. In your online application, please make a note under ‘Comments’ that you wish to transfer universities, potentially starting at HKB in a more advanced semester.

ERASMUS and visiting students

If you are currently enrolled at another university and wish to complete part of your studies in our MA Design programme, please contact us.

Qualification + Career prospects

Design with social impact: You will learn to employ creative and scientific methods to recognise the social context underlying a business idea or scientific inquiry. You will then develop innovative solutions and communicate the social impact of your discoveries.

Title + degree

Master of Arts (MA) in "Design"

The diploma also names the completed specialisation ("Entrepreneurship" or "Research").

Career prospects

They set up start-ups, start an academic career on the basis of their master's thesis or work as designers in higher positions in companies, NGOs and NPOs.

Practicalities + Application

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for overseas students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* The application fee can be paid by credit card or by deposit slip / paper invoice (+ CHF 10.– processing fee). There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications. The application is processed after payment has been received.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** ‘Overseas students’ refers to all citizens of foreign countries who were not official residents of Switzerland or Liechtenstein at the time they were admitted to the university programme.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course. There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.).

HKB scholarship fund

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. The HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support in such cases. To apply for support, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Fill out the online application form in full and print it out
  2. Send the application online
  3. Submit the printed form to the secretariat for your degree programme

The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).

Towards the application form (link open as from November 15th 2020)

Other grants

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents. Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Other grants

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator)

The websites ausbildungsbeiträ, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

Your contact persons for questions about scholarships and loans

The Berne University of Applied Sciences BFH promotes the compatibility of studies, professional activity and care of relatives.

The BFH offers its members a limited number of day care places. Interested students and staff can find the documents on the BFH Intranet. Prices depend on income and are based on the cantonal tariffs in accordance with the Ordinance on Social Integration Services (ASIV) of the Canton of Berne. Registration for a place in a day-care centre is via the web form on the BFH Intranet. Prospective students and staff without Intranet access should contact Ms Corinne Badertscher (Tel. +41 31 848 33 01, There is no legal entitlement to a daycare place.

For more information on how to co-ordinate your studies and your compulsory service, please phone HKB Student Administration on +41 31 848 49 49.

Start introduction for freshmen: September 2021 (tbd)
Start of studies: 20.9.2021
Registration deadline: 15.3.2021

Would you like to take a course at Bern University of the Arts? Then apply now. By applying online, you’ll be kept up-to-date at every stage of the process.

Online Application

You should have the following documents available in electronic form (passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB. 

  • ID card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • Bachelor's diploma or equivalent university degree
  • Transcript of records of current and/or terminated studies
  • A diploma qualifying you for university studies (such as A-Levels, Matura from a Gymnasium, "Berufsmaturität", "Fachmaturität", Abitur)
  • A CV in tabular form
  • A personal statement about your motivation for these studies and for your professional aspirations
  • A confirmation of your exmatriculation (If you were already matriculated at another university)
  • Scores for accompanying musicians should be submitted together with your application.

For foreigners, in addition:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section.


An open mind and a familiar atmosphere await you at the Bern University of the Arts HKB. Come and visit us.

We are happy to answer your questions about registration or advise you on the development of your project idea. Contact us by e-mail and arrange a consultation – in person, by phone or via Skype.

Locations + Facilities


The workshop promotes the sensitisation of the perception of materials and their processing according to creative-artistic aspects. The team conducts lectures and accompanies projects by students and lecturers. Assistance and support in the realisation of works and ideas as well as advice on the purchase of materials are offered. A professional and generous infrastructure in the fields of wood, metal, plastics, ceramics and textiles is available. The range is supplemented by the material pool, an extensive collection of samples of various materials and processing methods, which is part of the Material-Archive network.


The MediaLab is the competence centre of the HKB for audiovisual design and photography. Its staff hold courses, offer photography and AV training and advise students and lecturers at the BUA on content and technical issues. The workplaces and studios are equipped with an extensive production infrastructure and are available around the clock. Students at the BUA have the opportunity to use equipment outside the MediaLab for the implementation and presentation of audiovisual and photographic projects.

Printing studio

In the printing studio you will find the HKB expertise for manual printing techniques. Its employees not only offer various courses in screen printing, gravure printing and letterpress printing, but also support students in their projects if required. After attending an introductory course and after consultation with the responsible lecturers, students can also work independently in the printing studio outside opening hours - around the clock, if desired!

Media library

The Media Library is the library of the departments of Design and Art, Conservation and Restoration, the Y Institute (Institute for Transdisciplinarity) and Research. It is open to members of the HKB and external users. 35,000 media are directly available in the open access library, including about 300 periodicals. As a member of the NEBIS network (Network of Libraries and Information Centres in Switzerland), it provides access to more than seven million titles in more than 300 libraries. These titles can be searched online.