Part Time MA in Service Design

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1 day per week (blended: online and in-person)


90 (Level 9 NFQ)


€4,500 per year



What is this course about?

Looking to advance your skills in service design and make a meaningful impact in sectors such as healthcare, technology, finance, transportation and education? Look no further than the award-winning MA Service Design programme, offered as a 24-month, part-time taught masters CFA programme.


Our programme is designed to teach students the application of service design methods, tools, and thinking in real-world contexts. Through a series of live design projects, students will engage with complex economic, technological, political, and social issues, creating new service solutions that revolutionise everyday experiences.


One of the key strengths of our programme is the opportunity for students to learn from and be mentored by industry experts from across the public and private sectors. Our guest lecturers include designers from leading companies such as Snook, BNP Paribas, Verizon Connect, Fjord, Optum, Pfizer, Scottish Government, Novartis and many more.


You will develop a deep understanding of the service design process, from research and ideation to prototyping and implementation. You will learn how to apply design thinking to identify and solve complex problems, and how to communicate your solutions effectively to stakeholders.


Our graduates go on to work in a variety of industries and sectors, from healthcare and finance to transportation and education. They are equipped with the skills and knowledge to make a real impact in their chosen fields and to drive positive change through service design.


If you are passionate about service design and want to take your skills to the next level, then look no further! We look forward to welcoming you to our community of talented and motivated designers.

Who is it for?

The MA in Service Design provides a scholarly framework for students who wish to develop their expertise as a Service Designer.


The modules seek to prepare students, from the broadest range of undergraduate backgrounds, with the practical and theoretical means to develop contemporary service design practice and theory, while also benefiting from a broader design discourse and student cohort through interdisciplinary projects.


Target groups include learners with background or an interest in: 

  • Banking 
  • TV and film 
  • Customer Service
  • Product Design 
  • Animation 
  • Graphic Design 
  • Urban planning 
  • Procurement 
  • Textile Design 
  • Tech 
  • Photography 
  • Public Sector 
  • IT


The MA is designed to provide a solid foundation in service design theory and practice and to equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a variety of industries and sectors.

It is delivered in a blended format to allow for the convenience of online learning, and the opportunity to also connect and collaborate together in-person. It requires one day a week contact (one in-person day in NCAD per month, the other sessions are on-line). Trimester 1 Year 2 will contain one week-long in-person design sprint.


What will I study?

There will be no examinations or thesis required for the MA Service Design. Work is continuously assessed through project-based submissions and presentations. For the Major Project (MA) students will produce a Design Rationale document as a companion to their service design studio practice.


Work related project-based learning
MA students will have the opportunity to pursue a project of their choice for the Major Project in Trimester 6. This project could be related to a service design opportunity in a student’s current place of work, a personal interest, or as a response to a brief negotiated with a mentor/project partner.

Indicative Timetable

The MA is delivered in a blended format – this is to afford the student cohort the convenience of online learning, and the opportunity to also connect and collaborate together in-person.
The 24 month PT MA will require one day a week contact (one in-person day in NCAD per month, the other sessions are on-line). Trimester 1 Year 2 will contain one week-long in-person design sprint.
Diagram 1 illustrates the overall modular structure of the MA.


Diagram 2 outlines a sample timetable for Trimester 1 (this is for general information only and may be subject to change).

Future Careers

The part-time MA provides the opportunity for learners to engage in an inter-disciplinary educational experience, working alongside postgraduate students from across the School of Design.  We encourage our learners to explore contemporary themes that connect all the design disciplines.  Building on the knowledge and skills developed at undergraduate level and professional practice, learners encounter new contexts in which to develop their skillsets and deepen their knowledge of design through a range of interdisciplinary projects, before undertaking a major project within their chosen design discipline.
Previous project partners have included: 


Rediscovery Centre 

The Mater Hospital 



We encourage our students to experiment and take risks in order to carve new understandings of design and make technical innovations within, and across Service Design. Graduates have gone on to secure positions in the fields of Service Design, UX, Experience Design, CX and Strategic Design.


In challenging the purpose, methods and ambitions of contemporary service design practice and research, students will identify opportunities and develop their own creative careers.


It is intended that some graduates will choose to remain at NCAD progressing to PhD level.  


The programme aims to contribute to the development of the research culture of the College by expanding the scope of expertise in design and by providing a pathway into further research specialisation in the field of design.  By supporting the academic development of students there is scope for the development of a research cluster, which will explore a wide range of topics in the field through both theoretical and practice-based research.

Entry Requirements

Educational Standard

All applicants are expected to present an approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours (2.2)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)  – Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements for admission may be considered on the basis of a recognition of previous  learning  whether based on prior relevant experience or other relevant credited or non credited or learning (RPL). In such cases each applicant will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on a review of the applicant’s CV and other supporting documentation.
Please contact for further information.
Qualifying Examination –  In certain cases the academic team may choose to set a qualifying assignment in order to assess an applicant’s suitability for admission.


You may apply for the programme if you are currently completing your Undergraduate Degree. NCAD will review the rest of your application If necessary, we can make you a Conditional Offer. When your degree is completed and you send us final transcripts we will upgrade this to a Full Offer. 


Applicants who have not been educated through English must show proof of achieving IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 in the writing section on the Academic Version) or an equivalent score in another accepted test.


Graduates from the Professional Diploma in Service Design will be accepted onto the programme, and receive dispensation for the 4 modules (20 credits in total) they will have already successfully completed. 


As part of your application, you will be asked to upload the following supporting documentation:

  1. A Statement of Interest – 500 words framing your reasons for applying to the programme. Please indicate a subject/discipline area that you believe can best advance your practice.
  2. A recent CV
  3. Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed
  4. Certified copies of degree / certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.
  5. Reference 1 (Academic – Head of School/Department preferred)
  6. Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)
  7. English Language Proficiency certificate 
    • This is only required if English is not your first language. 
    • You can see the full list of the English Language Qualifications NCAD recognises at this link
  8. Portfolio / Evidence of previous work:
  • Applications must be supported by documentation that best represents your practice. Applicants are requested to upload a document via the online application with access to your portfolio. This document can include a link to an on-line portfolio or a link to a folder on Google Drive.
  • We do require evidence of previous work undertaken, even if your background is not Design related. This will depend on the experience and background of the candidate making the application. Feel free to submit any material you feel showcases an aspect of your skill-set that is relevant to the programme you are applying for.
  • We are open to reviewing written work or documentation of a project that might be more theoretical or technical in nature. Some candidates chose to describe projects they have been involved with in a “case study” format, eg. for the MA in Service Design if they have been involved in improving an aspect of customer service in a business, they describe the process they engaged with to do so. 
  • There is no set requirement on the number of pages or projects – this is up to each individual applicant.

Fees and how to apply


Fees for this course are €4,500 per year


Apply via NCAD HERE


CFA and Kilkenny Arts Office Bursaries:

Kilkenny Arts Office has joined forces with CFA to offer bursaries this Autumn to artists seeking to gain new qualifications and skills to expand their practice. The bursaries range from €500 to a maximum of €2,000. Find out more HERE


Contact the course leaders:
Dr Caoimhe McMahon,


Contact NCAD Admissions


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