International Programmes 2021/2022

Integrated Design (Master of Arts) Integrated Design (MA)

TH Köln (University of Applied Sciences) • Köln

Master of Arts in Integrated Design
Teaching language
  • English

Courses are held in English (100%).

Programme duration
3 semesters
Summer semester
Application deadline

The application period is open from 1 August to 1 October each year. Incoming students begin their studies in the middle of March the year following acceptance. 

Please check the "How to Apply" section of the individual TH Köln programme websites for current application deadlines.

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The Integrated Design MA programme offers you a specific range of design perspectives in the following four thematic clusters: Material Systems & Lab Culture, Social & Public Innovation, Urban Intensities & Resources, and Visual Cultures & Politics.

KISD aims to overcome traditional design boundaries and combine different approaches, perspectives, and practices in order to deal with problems and questions that cannot be solved within the boundaries of a single design area of expertise. Design is an integral part of every facet of the material and virtual world. It is responsible for and operates through products, environments, systems, and services within political, social, economical, and cultural contexts. We see design not only as a way to interfere in and question these processes. We also see design as the production, acquisition, communication, and documentation of knowledge.

The Integrated Design MA programme encourages students to examine how design can engage with questions of contemporary culture, politics, media, ecology, and urbanity. A key component of the programme is the development of a thesis within the scope of one of the four thematic clusters. Following your research interest, you will connect with different fields of expertise, broaden and deepen your competencies, and focus your research.

We welcome applicants who are looking to engage with, explore, and pursue these cross-cutting clusters and perspectives. They are the gateway to in-depth research. They aim to push, transform, and recalibrate the limits of design, theory, practice, and disciplinary methodologies. As a Master’s student, you will be able to immerse yourself in an integrated, intercultural, and interdisciplinary setting and work with research- and practice-based design processes.

Course organisation

As a KISD Master's student in “Integrated Design,” you will be led through three stages of your studies: Integrated, Interdisciplinary and Elaborated.

Integrated – First Semester
In the first semester, you will be introduced to the KISD educational model, the concept of “Integrated Design”, and will get to know various emerging issues in design. You will start conducting research and develop questions relating to your focus areas – sharing these weekly in the colloquium. Weekly mentoring will help you to continuously reflect on the progress of your development. Coursework includes seminars with KISD professors and the opportunity to work on projects in teams and individually. Additionally, through exposure to visiting external lecturers, you will be encouraged to explore various professional opportunities of designers who also have an "integrated" approach to their work.

Interdisciplinary – Second Semester
In the second semester, you will begin working more intensely on your individual research – developing and designing approaches in your respective area of interest. We encourage you at this stage to use design-specific tools such as sketching, modelling or mapping to relate your area to other disciplines – drawing from the knowledge of other fields. Ultimately, you will be asked to reflect on your topic by taking into account a big-picture view of where design fits into global, social, and cultural contexts. At the beginning of the semester, you will choose two of the twelve KISD areas of expertise as your thesis supervisors. At the end of the semester, you will present a solid research proposal for your MA thesis. Parallel to the interdisciplinary exploration coursework, you will be given the opportunity to choose a Bachelor's course in which you can step into the role of a teaching assistant.

International – Optional Semester
If you are interested in the topic of “Urban Transformations”, you have the opportunity during the third semester, before writing the thesis, to study for one semester abroad in China. Upon successful completion, you will gain a double degree from the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. KISD now also offers a new partnership with National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Further academic partnerships and subjects are in the planning stages and will follow.

Elaborated – Third Semester
The third semester is dedicated to independent elaboration or continuation of your MA thesis. The MA thesis at KISD is both research- and project-based. Your ultimate assignment will be a written documentation of your process and elaborated research on the topic, but you will also be encouraged to conduct hands-on experiments or work with companies to do design work in-line with your research question.

Throughout your studies, you will participate in mentoring and a colloquium allowing for the sharing and discussion of your individual development and objectives with your fellow students. Peer learning is an important aspect of the KISD environment, and these avenues provide a space for personal reflection and an open culture of dialogue and feedback.

International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Integrated study abroad unit(s)
  • Language training provided
  • Training in intercultural skills
  • Study trips
  • Courses are led with foreign partners
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
  • Content-related regional focus
Integrated study abroad unit(s)

One (additional) semester possible

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution

Approx. 290 EUR per semester

Included in the semester fee is the semester ticket for public transport for the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Costs of living

The cost of living for your stay largely depends on your personal needs. When planning your stay, you should calculate monthly costs of approx. 800–1,000 EUR.

Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university

International students are eligible to apply for the "Deutschlandstipendium". The scholarship holders receive approx. 300 EUR per month for the duration of one year.

Academic admission requirements

Academic degree (BA or higher) with three and a half years' study time (210 ECTS), professional experience might be taken into account upon individual request.

We will request the following documents from you:

  • Portfolio: If possible, update and adapt your existing portfolio for this assessment. Choose the projects and experiences that give a good overview both of your fields of interest and your design/design-related experiences and qualifications. Works can come from academic, professional or even free projects.
  • Reference and letters of recommendation: please send us at least one letter of recommendation from either an academic or a professional institution/organisation. The person should also act as a personal referee - in case we require more information about you.
  • Letter of motivation: state clearly why you want to study the graduate programme Integrated Design, why in Germany and why at KISD. We would like to find out how much you know about us and how this meets the expectations you have formulated.
  • Study programme expectations: Please let us know what exactly you expect from your graduate studies at KISD. This may take the form of a precise depiction of an integrated design project you have in mind - or a substantial argumentation of your general interest in the field of Integrated Design.

In any case, please try to be as clear and comprehensive as possible in presenting your expectations and interests. All materials should be designed by you with appropriate means. We give no specific "format" for the presentation of your application - so this is your opportunity to give us an idea of your skills, competencies in presenting your ideas, and specific interests regarding our programme.

Please note that the application procedure is divided into two parts if you are coming from abroad and do not have a German school or university degree: in this case, you FIRST have to apply via uni-assist (
KISD will ask you to take part in an assessment procedure for the MA "Integrated Design". Please check the online platform at for further information.

Language requirements

As the language of instruction is English, applicants should provide proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS or similar proof). For TOEFL, a minimum of 79 (Internet-based version) is required.

Application deadline

The application period is open from 1 August to 1 October each year. Incoming students begin their studies in the middle of March the year following acceptance. 

Please check the "How to Apply" section of the individual TH Köln programme websites for current application deadlines.

Submit application to

If you are a prospective international student, the way to apply is determined by your citizenship, your desired degree programme and your previous academic qualifications.

Further information on how to apply: and

Possibility of finding part-time employment

Taking on a part-time job while studying has lots of benefits. Students can earn some extra money and gain valuable professional experience, and they might even take a first step up on the career ladder. Gaining a first insight into the German corporate world is especially beneficial for international students.
Many students partially fund their studies at TH Köln by taking on a part-time job in or outside the university. TH Köln can assist you in finding a job that suits your profile and interests. Our Career Service and our Part-Time Job Service ("Nebenjobservice") offer comprehensive counselling and specific information events on all aspects related to part-time jobs. Please note that German skills on the B1 level are required for this service.


Being Germany's fourth largest city, Cologne is a highly attractive place to live. The increasing influx of people can make the search for adequate accommodation quite difficult. Dozens of apartment hunters often compete for one single apartment. This is why we strongly recommend that you start looking for a place to live as soon as possible.

Cologne's most convenient and economical housing option is often a student dormitory. A public student services association called "Kölner Studierendenwerk" (KSTW) operates 88 student dorms offering roughly 4,800 rooms. The seemingly large number of dorm rooms is misleading; as the dormitories are open to the roughly 80,000 students enrolled at all Cologne universities, they are in extremely high demand. Please be aware that TH Köln does not allocate the rooms in these dorms. Please apply directly to the KSTW: You do not yet need a letter of admission in order to apply.

The fierce competition on the private housing market has resulted in above-market rents – particularly in proximity of the city centre. We therefore encourage you to be flexible. Try to look for apartments outside the centre or share an apartment – and the cost of rent – with other students.

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Buddy programme
  • Tutors
  • Accompanying programme
  • Cultural and linguistic preparation
  • Visa matters

TH Köln (University of Applied Sciences)

Content Bild
Main building, Südstadt Campus, TH Köln © TH Köln

Technische Hochschule Köln – abbreviated as TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences – sees itself as a university of technology, arts, and sciences. With its disciplinary and cultural diversity and openness, TH Köln's activities are aimed at cultural and technological breakthroughs of high societal relevance. Thus, TH Köln contributes substantially to resolving social challenges. As a community of faculty and students, we see ourselves as a learning organisation forging new paths. For instance, TH Köln is one of the pioneers in the field of development and formation of concepts for higher education didactics.

Our subject range includes the fields of applied natural sciences, architecture and construction, information and communication, computer science, engineering, culture and society, and social sciences as well as business studies. More than 100 degree programmes are offered as full-time programmes or, in some cases, as career-integrated or part-time programmes. As a place where research-based learning and academic education take place, the university nurtures prospective scholars through cooperative dissertations. Annually, about 6,500 students take up their studies at TH Köln. Overall, 27,000 students from about 120 different countries along with 440 professors and 2,000 staff members apply their potential.

Research mainly focuses on future-related issues, including climate change, energy supply, health, and food safety as well as demographic changes. While developing solution strategies for the most important questions of our time, researchers offer their professional expertise in interdisciplinary interaction. At the same time, they collaborate closely with local, national, and international cooperation partners, including 350 international institutions of higher education. The university offers its researchers an attractive sphere of activity. The quality seal "HR Excellence in Research" awarded by the European Commission certifies that TH Köln meets international standards in the field of human resources development.
TH Köln’s campuses are located in Cologne, Gummersbach, and Leverkusen.

27,000 Number of students
4,000 Number of international students

University location

Its metropolitan vibe, diverse student scene and a cityscape abounding with cultural and historical treasures make Cologne one of Europe's prime university cities. Cologne's origins date back to the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago. Today, Cologne is Germany's fourth largest city with a population of just over one million and has evolved as an economic and cultural metropolis at the heart of Europe. The city's characteristic landmark and source of pride for every inhabitant is without a doubt the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, locally known as the "Kölner Dom". Towering over the quaint Old Town of Cologne at 156 metres, this masterpiece of Gothic architecture is the world's third-highest cathedral and attracts around six million visitors a year, making it Germany's most popular tourist attraction. Visitors from all over the world are bound to feel at home immediately, as Cologne is a true melting pot of cultures. Close to one-fifth of its inhabitants have an international background. Cologne's economy is characterised by its amalgamation of different industries and trades. Home to the country's most influential television and radio stations, Cologne is unquestionably Germany's media capital and host to some of the continent's biggest trade fairs. Quite a few of the world's most renowned enterprises call the metropolitan region their home, in particular, corporations operating in the automobile industry, biotechnology and life sciences, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as commerce and banking.

Please note that TH Köln also has two remote campuses outside Cologne, which are located in the towns of Gummersbach and Leverkusen.

Gummersbach is a town with 50,000 inhabitants located 55 km east of Cologne, surrounded by a hilly landscape which is a recreational area for residents from Cologne and other cities nearby. The campus can be reached in a few minutes from Gummersbach train station. A train ride to Cologne, which is the largest city in the region, takes one hour and ten minutes and will be covered by the semester ticket, which is included in the semester fee. Students will be able to find affordable accommodation in Gummersbach and focus on their studies in the great environment of a modern campus.

The Leverkusen campus is located 15 km north of Cologne in the CHEMPARK in Leverkusen, which is one of the largest chemical parks in Europe. Global players from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, such as Bayer and LANXESS, are located there. With 160,000 inhabitants, Leverkusen is a smaller industrial city that has plenty of opportunities for relaxation, thanks to its location in the foothills of the Bergisches Land region. In Leverkusen, you can find urban buzz and village-like tranquillity in close proximity. The campus can also be reached with the TH Köln semester ticket.