11 Best Design Thinking Courses and Certifications in 2023

Monica J. WhiteMonica J. White | 15 minute read | October 10, 2022

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Whether you’re looking to launch a career in design or boost your skills for your current role, a design thinking course is a great addition to your resume, as it evinces your ability to think critically about design problems. With these design thinking skills, you can offer value to your team or prospective employees by helping them ideate and develop new products more efficiently and effectively. 

However, finding the right course can be complicated and time-consuming, given that there are a lot of different course providers offering many types of courses. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 11 best design thinking courses and certifications, covering everything from introductory short courses to comprehensive bootcamps with job guarantees. 

How Important Is a Course in Design Thinking?

A course in design thinking can help you transform the way you develop products and can be applied across multiple industries. With structured design thinking methods, you can generate creative ideas and develop products with a human-centered approach to help bring effective products to market quickly.

Best Design Thinking Courses

Below are our 11 best design thinking courses.

UI/UX Design Bootcamp – Springboard

best design thinking course- springboard

Rating

Course Report: 4.64 out of 5 (1289 ratings)

Overview

Springboard is a popular online tech bootcamp provider and specializes in giving students a personalized learning experience with 1:1 tutoring from mentors and career coaches. Their UI/UX Design Bootcamp is an online part-time course that takes an average of nine months for students to complete. 

The course focuses on providing hands-on experience and practical application of skills and includes an industry design project with a real client. By the end of the course, students will have covered everything they need to be job-ready and have a portfolio of work to show potential employers. 

The UI/UX Design Bootcamp uses Springboard’s mentoring and career coaching strategies, assigning students with their own mentor and career coach and scheduling 1:1 discussion time with both. Springboard mentors are industry professionals currently working within the design industry and can provide insight on UI/UX design as a career, or give feedback on projects. Career coaches help prime students for the job hunting they’ll begin upon graduating with career advice, interview prep, and resume coaching. 

Best For

Springboard’s part-time online courses are built for flexibility and allow students to learn at their own pace. There’s no need to quit your job or limit your hours—you can schedule your study to fit your needs. This makes it great for workers who are looking for a career change but aren’t ready to leave their job yet. However, flexible learning also means you can study more than part-time, so it’s also great for students with more free time.

Duration

The course duration is nine months, part-time. 

Price

The full upfront cost of the course is $11,900, but monthly payments and deferred tuition fees are also available. 

Design Thinking for Innovation (University of Virginia on Coursera)

best design thinking course- coursera

Rating

Coursera: 4.7 out of 5 (7,921 ratings)

Overview

The Design Thinking for Innovation course from the University of Virginia is one part of four courses from their Leading the Modern Day Business Coursera program. The course takes approximately seven hours to complete, which is generally spread over the course of five weeks, with an assignment to complete in the fifth week. 

Coursera courses are fully online and feature flexible deadlines that allow you to hand in your assignments at a time that works with your schedule. The course covers the basics of design thinking and idea generation, helping students to get into the mindset of being a designer. 

Best For

The short format of this course makes it perfect for those newly interested in a career in design and who want to try out an introductory course before enrolling in something longer.

Duration

This short course takes approximately 6-7 hours to complete over the course of five weeks. 

Price

The course is part of the Coursera subscription.

Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate – IDEO U

best design thinking course- ideo u

Rating

Indeed: 4.9 out of 5 (7 ratings)

Overview

Ideo U’s Foundation in Design Thinking Certificate is an online course typically taken over 2-3 months with four hours of study per week. There are no deadlines for finishing the course, so you can study at your own pace if you prefer. 

This foundation course is taught in cohorts, and communication and collaboration with your peers are essential parts of passing and making the most out of your study. Hands-on projects are also used to give students opportunities to put their new skills into practice and consolidate their understanding. 

Best For

This can be a great introduction to the design industry, and perfect for a beginner to take before enrolling in a career bootcamp to get a UI/UX design job. To get started before enrolling, you can also sign up for an introductory email series for free. 

Duration

The certification consists of two five-week cohort courses. However, study time is flexible and there are no deadlines for completion.

Price

The total cost of the course is $2796.

Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide – Interaction Design Foundation

best design thinking course- interaction design foundation

Rating

Course Report: 4.61 out of 5 (75 ratings)

Overview

The Interaction Design Foundation offers a large number of courses focused on design, including this Ultimate Guide in Design Thinking. The course is aimed at beginners and has no requirements for enrolment. 

The course is fully online but does offer optional meet-ups in various cities for those who want to network with their peers. The course has no deadlines but is typically taken over seven weeks, and even after completion, students will retain access to all the resources from the course. 

Topics covered include an introduction to design thinking and why this human-centered approach is so popular and effective in design and business. Hands-on activities will help students develop their understanding of the design thinking process and come up with innovative solutions to real-world projects. 

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Best For

The Interaction Design Foundation offers a wealth of courses that you’ll have equal access to by enrolling, so this course is particularly valuable for those who plan on studying and earning multiple certificates. This course, in particular, is part of 10 learning paths, including:

Duration

The course takes approximately 28 hours to complete, with new lessons becoming available each week for seven weeks.

Price

The course is paid for by becoming a member of the Interaction Design Foundation. Membership starts at €15 a month, or €180 per month with a personal tutor assigned. 

Enterprise Design Thinking – IBM

best design thinking course- IBM

Rating

Not available

Overview

IBM is a Fortune 100 company and is famous for being one of the world’s largest employers, with 345,000 employees in 2021. Their unique take on design thinking is titled Enterprise Design Thinking, and they offer a number of courses for students, professionals, and businesses. 

Their beginner course is called the Practitioner Badge and covers the foundations of Enterprise Design Thinking skills, such as collaboration, synthesis, design research, prototyping, and storytelling. In practice, the IBM approach aims to improve team efficiency, return on investment, and time to market, which are all great skills for junior UX designers and product designers to learn and offer to prospective employers. 

Best For

Due to IBM’s status as one of the biggest companies in the world, their position on design thinking is valuable for just about anyone interested in building UX design skills or design skills in general. This is especially true at the time of writing, as IBM is currently offering all of its Enterprise Design Thinking courses and Toolkit activities free of charge. 

Duration

Completing all four courses on Enterprise Design Thinking would take approximately seven weeks.

Price 

IBM is currently offering its courses for free, as a reaction to current world issues such as the pandemic and remote working. 

Design Thinking Bootcamp – Stanford d.School

Rating

Not available

Overview

The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers an in-person Design Thinking Bootcamp at their campus in California that lasts 3.5 days. The course requires prospective students to submit a full application, including a personal statement, and typically accepts business professionals. 

Over the three days, participants will receive a crash course in Stanford’s design thinking principles, and work together on a real-world project. The intense nature of the bootcamp intends to coach students in the science of ideating, and show how quickly innovative ideas can be developed. 

Best For

Some knowledge of the business industry and basic design processes is recommended for this course, and early applications are encouraged. The next bootcamp will be held in Spring 2023, so while this course is limited to those who can make the journey to California, there is a lot of time for planning. 

Duration

The bootcamp is held over the course of three days, with one five-hour session and two 11-hour sessions. 

Price

The full price for the Bootcamp is $14,000 per person, not including accommodation. 

Design Thinking Certification – BrainStation

Rating

Course Report: 4.7 out of 5 (1182 ratings)

Overview

The Design Thinking course from BrainStation is aimed at individuals interested in learning about design principles and has no entry requirements. The course covers everything from ideating and empathizing with users, to prototyping and testing your innovative solutions. Students will also get the chance to put their skills into practice with a real-world project where they take a potential product through the entire design thinking process. 

The course is delivered in a state-of-the-art online classroom environment, with live instructor-led classes and interactive learning. Students will have access to BrainStation’s slack server, where communication and collaboration are possible throughout the course, no matter where you are. 

Best For

The online course is flexible but does include live classes, which require students to be online and available at a set time. This means it’s better suited for those whose work schedules are easily changed and flexible, to make sure you’re completing your work and studying comfortably. 

Duration

The course takes 5-10 weeks to complete.

Price

Brainstation offers monthly payments or an upfront payment of $2450. There are also scholarships available for specific groups of people. 

Design Thinking MicroMasters® Program – RIT on edX

Design Thinking MicroMasters® Program – RIT on edX

Rating

Trustpilot: 3.4 out of 5 (1263 ratings)

Overview

The MicroMasters Program in Design Thinking on edX is composed of five separate courses which can be taken individually, or all together. Each course takes around 6 weeks to complete when putting in 8-12 hours per week, so it takes about 8 months to complete altogether. 

The MicroMasters course is delivered by RITx, the Rochester Institute of Technology, a certified tech university. The program is designed to equip students with quantifiable skills they can show to employers, but also as a pathway into higher education. If a student completes the MicroMasters in Design Thinking, they will be able to both apply to a master’s degree at RITx and have the MicroMasters count towards their full masters. 

Best For

The course is fully online and part-time but does recommend 8-12 hours per week of study, which would be difficult for a full-time worker to manage comfortably. For this reason, this course might be better suited to part-time workers or full-time students. 

Duration

If you put in 8 – 12 hours per week, the full program will take 8 months on average to complete.

Price

The 8-month-long course costs $1495 upfront. 

Mastering Design Thinking – MIT Sloan Executive Education

best design thinking course- MIT executive education

Rating

Career Karma: 4.6 out of 5 (60 ratings)

Overview

The MIT Sloan program for Design Thinking is a three-month course aimed at business professionals, teams, and individuals. The curriculum focuses on teaching students a proven, systematic approach to product development that can both impress in an interview, and improve team productivity. 

Students will go through the entire product design process during the course, from empathizing and learning the importance of human-centered design, to building a prototype and presenting final ideas. 

The program experience includes three live teaching sessions, 128 video lectures, three group projects, 10 assignments, one capstone project, and seven real-world applications over the course of 10 modules. 

Best For

The recommended study time is 6-8 hours per week for three months, which makes this course perfect for part-time workers, or full-time workers willing to study on a weekend. The program is also aimed at project managers, designers, executives, and growth consultants already working in the industry and looking to level up their skills. 

Duration

The course lasts three months with 6-8 hours of study recommended per week. 

Price

The full program fee is $3300, but there is a discount if you enroll early. 

Design Thinking – The Open University

best design thinking course- the open university

Rating

OpenLearn: 4.6 out of 5 (25 ratings)

Overview

The Open University is an accredited university that provides bachelor’s degrees in a variety of subjects that are taught completely online. The purpose of the Open University is to make higher education accessible for those without the traditional entry qualifications and makes courses easy for working adults to complete in their own time. Aside from their paid degrees, the university also hosts OpenLearn free courses such as the Design thinking course. Aimed at beginners, this introductory course is a great resource for those at the beginning of their studying journey. 

Best For

This free course grants enrollees access to the 10 hours of online resources that comprise the curriculum. It can be completed at any pace, and you receive a statement of completion when you finish all the content. Because this is a free resource, anyone can try it out quickly and easily to see if it presents value to them and their learning goals. 

Duration

The course is 10 ten hours long and completed online as self-study.

Price

This course is part of a free learning platform, so there is no price. 

Design Thinking and Innovation – Harvard Business School Online

best design thinking course- harvard business school

Rating

Indeed: 4.8 out of 5 (97 ratings)

Overview

The Harvard Business School Online course in Design Thinking and Innovation teaches students how to approach ideating creative solutions with structured methods and practice human-centered design through empathy and user research. The curriculum aims to help teams in all industries generate creative ideas and innovative products as efficiently and effectively as possible, and students will have access to a world-class faculty to help them achieve their learning goals. 

The course lasts seven weeks and includes two project weeks where students will use their new understanding of design thinking to create potential solutions to user experience problems. 

Best For

The course has some flexibility since it is fully online, but in order to pass, you must meet certain deadlines. If you’re thinking of taking this course, you need to make sure you have the time and ability to prioritize studying when there’s an upcoming deadline. The course runs every few months, so unlike some online courses, you won’t be able to start it as soon as you want.

Duration

The course lasts seven weeks and includes 30-45 hours of content. 

Price

The full price of the course is $1750.

How Do You Choose a Design Thinking Course?

best design thinking course- how to choose a design course

If you’ve tried to research design thinking courses before, you’ll know that there are a lot to choose from. Some are better than others, and unfortunately, some are not very valuable at all. Here are some things to consider when picking the course that’s right for you: 

Curriculum

Online design thinking courses and UX design courses have a lot of content they can cover, from the principles of design thinking to strategies like user interviews, and ideation techniques. A good thing to look out for is a comprehensive course that takes students through the entire product development process, beginning with an introduction to design thinking techniques and continuing with product ideation, prototyping, and pitching final ideas. 

Expert Instructors

Most people that are interested in earning a certificate in design thinking want to use it to boost their career and start using their knowledge for practical applications straight away. To achieve these goals, expert instructors with ample and up-to-date experience in the industry are needed to give students both theoretical and practical skills and knowledge. Most courses will showcase their instructors on the course website, so it can be a good idea to take a look at their credentials. 

Career Goals

Course websites also generally provide information on who they aim their course at and who they think it would benefit the most. This can help you identify whether the course fits your career goals and the reason you want to study. If you’re unsure about your career goals at this stage, there will be introductory courses that are aimed at you as well. 

Reviews and Rating

It’s important to check as many reviews and ratings of a product as possible before you spend your time and money. Reading about other people’s experiences can help you verify the information advertised by the course, and see if people found value in the content. For longer courses that aim to get graduates straight into a job, you can also read success stories and see what kinds of careers are available to graduates. 

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, design thinking programs are varied. Even on this list, we have courses that are free, under $2000, and over $10,000 in price. In a lot of cases, the price corresponds to the length of the course and the depth of its curriculum, with 8-month long courses with job guarantees costing more, and introductory courses costing less. 

The important thing as a buyer is to make sure the price matches the curriculum and offers an amount of value that you consider appropriate for the price.  

Schedule

When considering courses, it’s good to pay attention to how the curriculum is delivered and how much time per week is expected. There are completely self-paced courses on offer that allow students to work without deadlines or live classes, and take as long to finish the course as they need. These tend to focus more on self-study, as groups aren’t meeting at set times to collaborate, although online forums and Slack communities can help to provide some social element. 

Most longer courses, however, aim to be as flexible as possible while still holding some live classes and planned study time so that you can collaborate with your peer network on various projects. Making sure that the study schedule is flexible enough for you to keep up with will help make sure you get the most out of your course. 

Projects and Practical Experience

As we mentioned before, design thinking courses are used to gain practical skills and help change careers, so many students are interested in a practical education rather than a theoretical one. A clear way to understand the goals and methods of a course is to see whether they include real-world projects in their curriculum. 

Making the Most Out of Your Design Thinking Course

Here are some questions to think about when considering courses in design thinking. 

How Will the Course Work?

There are a lot of different methods course providers use to deliver their content, from in-person bootcamps, to live virtual classes and self-study. Different students have different learning preferences, and varying amounts of time they can commit to the course, so it’s good to think about which delivery method would suit you best.

What Should You Expect To Learn During a Design Thinking Course?

There are many things that can be covered in a design thinking course, but here are some of the most common topics:

best design thinking course- design thinking course
Source: NN Group

What Will Your Schedule Look Like?

Depending on the kind of course you choose, your schedule can look very different. Part-time courses with live classes tend to have one or two classes a week at a set time in the evening or on a weekend, with other study hours completed as self-study. Completely self-paced courses usually allow students to create their own schedule entirely and offer negotiable deadlines as well.

FAQs About Design Thinking Courses

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Is Design Thinking a Good Skill To Have?

Yes. Design thinking is a very broad skill that can be applied in various industries and roles. You can often see courses advertising to product managers, executives, and entrepreneurs, as well as designers. 

Are There Any Prerequisites for a Design Thinking Course?

Most design thinking courses aim to give beginner-level students a solid foundation in design thinking concepts or take them from beginner to job-ready, so they don’t have any prerequisite qualifications. However, some courses will give students a test in creative thinking and user empathy to assess what level of education they need.

How Do I Start a Career in Design Thinking?

Getting into a career in design thinking starts with the right education, so a course or bootcamp like the ones on our list is a great place to begin.

With Springboard’s UI/UX course, for example, you can also plan your career goals and get expert advice from the career coach to help you land your first design job.

Since you’re here…
If you’re looking to move into design, having strong UX and UI skills is a major edge. Our UI/UX Design Bootcamp has earned graduates jobs with the most competitive organizations on earth, and 99.5% of our students are fully employed within 12 months of graduation. Check out our student reviews for good feels, and If you’re totally new to the field, try our free intro course.

Monica J. White

About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.