EE - Design Thinking and Innovation Specialization

Design Thinking and Innovation Specialization

Break through your messiest business problems. Find valuable insights hidden in plain sight. Set new standards for your teams and lead your organization and career to new heights. Darden’s Design Thinking and Innovation Specialization program empowers you to become a creative catalyst with a practical approach for generating new ideas and driving innovation. Whether you work in business, healthcare, education or a nonprofit, this hands-on training in the core principles of design thinking and leadership will help you solve your business challenges.

Upcoming Course Dates

7 JUNE–1 AUGUST 2021 (Design Thinking Workshop only)




4 APRIL–8 MAY 2022

Specialization Program Pricing: $2,000

Program Overview

  • Adopt a lean-thinking, human-centered design mindset
  • Position yourself and act as a forward-thinking leader in your organization
  • Conserve resources and generate better outcomes using a research-based approach to problem-solving
  • Break mental models to discover opportunities that already exist within your organization
  • Build the self and employee management skills that allow innovation to flourish
  • Surface, define and refine viable ideas quickly so that you spend less time and brainpower on stalled ideas
  • Share cross-departmental insights that break down silos, trigger collaboration and increase organizational momentum
  • Use a step-by-step process for solving your most pressing challenges, whether they be increased visibility for new products, improved resource allocation or honing your ability to inspire and help the customer you most want to serve

“Everything you need to know about Design Thinking is included in this well-planned online program, which introduces the collaborative learning technique. If you have a problem to solve — small or big — design thinking offers a solution.”


Smitha Rao, Talent Acquisition

Program Format

Taught by Darden faculty members who are veteran practitioners of design thinking, the Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation program includes four 5-week project-based online courses: 

  • Design Thinking Part I: Insights to Inspiration - Identify a human-centered challenge to solve, focus on the needs of your target audience and determine the insights and tools necessary to come up with an ideal solution.
  • Design Thinking Part II: Ideas to Action - Learn how to take the ideas you developed in Part I, test them for viability and bring them to market.
  • Discovery Tools - Learn to use tools from the field of human-centered design to discover how to connect with your customers on a human level, to get beyond what they say and observe what they do.
  • Creating the Innovative Workplace - Learn techniques for aligning key players and projects, managing conflict, balancing top-level objectives with mid-level knowledge and moving forward as a collective.
  • Design Thinking Workshop - Offered only between June-August, this 8-week course combines Design Thinking Parts I & II and may be taken in place of both courses.

Courses can be taken in any order, though Design Thinking Part I must be completed before taking Design Thinking Part II.

In addition to the online classroom experience—videos, readings and assignments—mentors facilitate conversations and classmates give and receive feedback through online discussions. Review our policies and procedures for participating in online courses, and find answers to frequently asked questions.

Specialization Program Pricing 

Pricing for the 4-course specialization is $2,000. Payment is required in advance of the program and is not refundable or transferable after the start of each course. Please note specific rules and policies for this specialization:

  • Registration is required for all four courses at once for the special pricing to apply
  • No refunds, including any online courses previously taken
  • You must complete Design Thinking Part I before taking Design Thinking Part II
  • All four courses must be completed to earn a Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation

Policies & Procedure

Registration: You can register for any of the online courses by completing a registration form directly from the course page on our website. Payment is due upon registration. We accept payment online from American Express, MasterCard and Visa. You'll receive a confirmation email after we receive your registration. Registration for each course closes on the course start date. We offer a 10% tuition reduction for groups of 10 or more.  Email us for approval and pricing.

Cancellations & Transfers: If you must cancel your enrollment, you must do so within seven (7) calendar days of the course start date. Please email us with the name of the course, followed by “cancellation” in the subject line. If you cancel or withdraw within seven (7) days of the start date, you will be refunded 100% of your tuition. No refunds will be permitted after the first seven (7) days of the course.

If you prefer, you may transfer to one subsequent course offered within one year, if available. Email us with the name of the course, followed by “transfer” in the subject line. This request must be made within seven (7) calendar days after the original course start date. 

Access to Course Materials: Each of the four courses is designed to run for five (5) weeks. We leave each course open for a full ten (10) weeks. Once a course is closed, you will not be able to access our lectures and course materials, information pages or assignments (including peer feedback). You may continue to access your network, submissions, discussions, conversations and team workspace in archive mode (no new posts or comments) for up to six (6) months. 

Darden Executive Education is provided by the University of Virginia
Darden School Foundation.