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Master's Programme in Creative Sustainability - Master of Arts

Students learn to adapt knowledge, skills and new approaches to reach collaborative solutions based on ecological, economical and socio-cultural sustainability.
School of Business Creative Sustainability


Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

3.12.2018 - 11.1.2019

Language of instruction:



2 years, full-time


Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design


120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)
Scholarships and Tuition Fees

Study objectives

Multidisciplinary approach: Students learn to adapt knowledge, skills and new approaches to reach collaborative solutions based on ecological, economical and socio-cultural sustainability.

Systems approach: Students learn to use systemic thinking into problem solving and create new holistic understandings of complex situations and critical infrastructures in society. The emphasis is on global awareness within the context of local communities and simultaneous modification of different aspects of sustainability.

Design thinking: Students learn to apply creative problem solving methods and tools in facilitating dialogs, defining problems, generating ideas and obtaining solutions.

Sustainability management: Students learn to develop, support and manage sustainability initiatives for the society at large, for business purposes and for the needs of other organizations. Students also gain understanding of the way that different organizational forms and work practices support the pursuits in sustainability.

Project management: Students learn to manage multidisciplinary teamwork, and to promote sustainability in culturally versatile organizational environments.

After completing the degree in CS in the department of Design students are able to
• practice transparent and responsible design in different political, societal and business contexts
• use design thinking, systems thinking and participatory approaches to analyse sustainability problems and develop creative solutions
• facilitate teamwork across different disciplines and profession
• participate in and lead debates on design and sustainability
• carry out design research to support their practical work

Study language

The language of instruction in the Master’s Programme in Creative Sustainability - Master of Arts is English.

Career opportunities

CS studies prepare the students to work as sustainability experts in organizations that have a strategic view on transformation towards sustainability. These include the private and public sectors as well as a wide range of NGO´s. The student can develop expertise in different professional profiles which vary from research skills to the practical skills of management, leadership and design in different environments.

Design confronts new challenges in innovating for sustainable development. The CS programme teaches skills to meet these challenges through specialization and interdisciplinary work, while students simultaneously fulfill criteria for professional design. Graduates from CS programme are attractive targets for progressive local and international employers as well as prepared for independent entrepreneurial activity.

Content of the studies

The Creative Sustainability programme comprises classroom lessons, group assignments workshops, practical projects and a thesis. Courses deepen the basis for professional skills in sustainable product and service design. Contents of the projects vary from material innovation to enhancement of social sustainability. Courses and projects are carried out within topics of interest for partner organizations that can be e.g. private companies, NGOs or other associations or public organizations.

The two-year major consists of 120 ECTS composed of compulsory studies in the Department of Design, compulsory Creative Sustainability design studies and optional studies. The curriculum is based on personal study plans, in which the students can also include studies completed at other universities or other modules from Aalto University. The pedagogical approach is based on integrating teaching and research, problem-based learning, and strong connection to practical outcomes. You can find more information about course offerings at the programme website.

For further details on the education content, see the study guide for the academic years 2018-2020.

Admission procedure and programme-specific requirements

Students are granted admission to the programme through a two-phase process. In the first phase students are evaluated based on the application as a whole, including portfolio, previous studies, CV and letter of motivation. In the second phase, the most suitable applicants are invited for an interview, from which a smaller subset of applicants is offered a study place.

Applicants accepted to the programme may be required to take supplementary studies.

The applicants are evaluated in two stages on the basis of their CVs, personal study achievements (scientific and/or artistic) and motivation, which are also discussed in the interview.

Stage I: documentation

  1. Letter of motivation
  2. Degree certificate and transcript 
  3. CV
  4. Portfolio

Letter of motivation (in the application form, max. 4000 characters)

The applicant must convey his/her motivation for studying in the Creative Sustainability programme by writing a letter of motivation. The letter should include responses to the following questions:

  • What is your most significant achievement or success in the area of sustainability and design?
  • Why do you want to become a student in the Creative Sustainability programme at Aalto University?
  • What types of projects would you like to do during your studies and as your masters’ thesis?
  • What do you want to do after the master programme?

Degree certificate and transcript / Academic excellence

The applicant’s transcript about studies completed and of which the applicant has provided the appropriate documents by the end of application period will be evaluated.

CV / Professional experience

The applicant’s professional experience will be looked at broadly, and especially with regard to work experience relevant to the Creative Sustainability programme. Professional experience will be evaluated based on the CV. Please upload a single PDF-file to the application system before submitting the application.


A portfolio consisting of the applicant’s own works is mandatory. Please upload a single PDF-file to the application system before submitting the application.

In the portfolio, applicants display work that shows their artistic expression and design skills. The portfolio must contain diverse samples of the applicant’s previous scientific, professional and/or artistic activity. Artwork/project work can be provided as technical drawings, slides or photographs. If you present a work that has been undertaken as a team, please clarify your particular role in, and contribution to, the project. The work contained in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials used, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or published.

Stage II: interview

Selected applicants from Stage I will be invited for interview. The interviews can be conducted over Skype if necessary. The interview is intended to evaluate the applicant’s potential to complete the studies successfully.

Language of the application documents

All the application documents should be submitted in English.

Other programme-specific application instructions

The Master’s Programme in Creative Sustainability (CS) is a multidisciplinary master’s degree programme organised by the following departments and schools of Aalto University:

  • Department of Design; School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Architecture; School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Management Studies; School of Business
  • Department of Built Environment; School of Engineering

An applicant’s eligibility will always be checked according to the criteria of the school through which the applicant is applying to the programme (criteria on e.g. the score of language test, educational background and submission of the required attachments). The administrative eligibility of the applicant is checked by Aalto University Admission Services.

The applicant can apply to the CS programme through more than one school or department. In this case the applicant should deliver the appropriate application package to each school or department. Such an applicant, however, can be selected only through one of the departments. Accepted students will complete the master’s degree of the department to which they were accepted.

*Updated 12 December 2018. For 2019 intake, it is possible to apply to the CS programme via the Department of Design (School of Arts, Design and Architecture) and via School of Business. If an architect applies through the Department of Design and is accepted, the degree completed will be a Master of Arts in Creative Sustainability. In order for an architect-applicant to be accepted, the applicant should show a strong motivation why he/she wants to apply through the Department of Design in particular.

Admission to Master of Arts (2 yrs)

Application period open now

Application period will close on 11.1.2019
Apply now