Professional Diploma in Service Design

Service designers create solutions for complex systemic and societal challenges, developing experiences that address the needs of a diverse range of stakeholders. The Professional Diploma teaches the application of design methods, tools and thinking to sectors such as healthcare, technology, finance, transportation and education.

Watch the presentation from the Postgrad Futures Week, May 2023

A range of Exit awards have been designed into each offering to reflect diverse learner needs. The programme actively facilitates mobility within the college and across the Creative Futures Academy and provides articulation into a variety of postgraduate programmes and career pathways.

Completion of 5 credits = Exit Award: Professional Certificate – Service Design

Completion of 20 credits = Exit Award: Professional Diploma – Service Design

What to expect?

The programme seeks to empower students from fields such as design, business, sociology, systems thinking, education, banking, technology and the public sector to shape the services of the future through design thinking and doing. The global service economy is growing rapidly and accounts for more than 70% employment in all OECD countries, presenting exciting possibilities for design. Through a series of live projects, students will engage with complex economic, technological, political and social issues, creating new service solutions that revolutionise everyday experiences.

Service Design is increasingly recognised as a vital skillset to help address the challenges of the new experience economy, and the course seeks to meet the new demands of industry and wider society. Projects, activities and workshops will expand on methods and principles from human-centred design and design thinking, applying these to the development and delivery of new consumer and public services, transforming user experiences.

The programme encourages participants to integrate research, creative practice and contemporary methods, theory and contexts.

The modules seek to prepare students with the practical and theoretical means to develop contemporary service design practice and theory within a specialist award, while benefitting from a broader interdisciplinary creative discourse and community of practice.

Successive modules allow participants to develop their specialist practice, their professional, technical and organisational skills and their knowledge and application of critical contexts to:

  • EXPAND creative thinking to support a change of perspective across and beyond the sector.
  • CONNECT with social and cultural change to create impact.
  • BUILD sustainable communities of interest that grow without discipline.
  • INCUBATE agile creative practitioners, businesses and organisations that can change the social, cultural and economic worlds.
  • POSITION change from a communication and content led place.
  • ALIGN learning and teaching to a change-led view of the world, society, economies and sectors in and beyond Ireland.
  • ENGAGE with emerging technology, tools and practices to create continual change in the creative sector.

The programme aims to:

  • provide participants with appropriate skills and knowledge that can be applied to their professional development as a creative practitioner;
  • develop participant’s knowledge and skills to prepare them for further life-long learning;
  • assist participants in developing their own practice in relation to contemporary creative practice and discourse. 

Opportunities to engage

The Professional Diploma provides the opportunity for students to engage in an inter-disciplinary educational experience, working alongside postgraduate students from across the School of Design, including the MSc Medical Device Design and MA Interaction Design.  We encourage our students to explore contemporary themes that connect all the design disciplines.  Building on the knowledge and skills developed at undergraduate level and professional practice, students 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.

Students will have the opportunity to pursue a project of their choice in Trimester 2. 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 negotiation with a mentor/project partner.

Indicative Timetable 

The Professional Diploma in Service Design will be delivered across 2 trimesters (Sept to May), at a rate of 10 credits per trimester.

In Trimester 1 it will require a commitment of 6 x 3 hours sessions plus a one week-long in-person design sprint. 

In Trimester 2 the commitment will be 12 x 3 hour sessions. 

The programme will be 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.

Educational Standard

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

Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements may be considered on the basis of prior work or learning experience (RPEL). 

In such cases, applicants will need to demonstrate equivalent and relevant experience and/or formal learning.

Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed. 

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.

Essential Supporting Documentation

  • 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.   
  • A recent CV
  • Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed
  • Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.
  • Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)*
  • Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)
    • Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference to Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee.

Document Description

When uploading documents please make sure you clearly label them using the Description Box like in the example below 

English Language Requirements

All programmes in NCAD are taught through English. International Applicants are asked to provide proof of their English Language Proficiency.

Full details of acceptable tests and the standard required can be found at the following link English Language Requirement.

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.


The application fee is €55.

The programme is €2,200.

For information on tuition fees please follow this link


Step 1: Click on Apply Now button below | Step 2: Fill in your details

Step 3: Upload your Supporting Documents

  • You can also submit your application even before you upload the necessary documents. 

  • You can not add new documents after you have submitted. 

  • Additional documents can be sent to and we will upload them on your behalf. 

Step 4: Submit your application to NCAD

Programme Team:

Dr Caoimhe Mc Mahon, Programme Director

Admissions Staff

Teaching Staff from NCAD School of Design as well as visiting Lecturers including

  • Hazel White - Open Change 
  • John Lynch - Context Studio 
  • Sinem Lacin - Pfizer
  • Lynsey Duncan - Intercom 
  • David Cooke - Newswhip 
  • Tim Macartur - Novartis 
  • Dhruv Sharma - Scottish Government
  • Anne Dhir - Sparck
  • Filip Szymczak - Optum