Certificate in Design Thinking

The Certificate in Design Thinking is a 3-month online course designed to help you develop a new mindset and toolbox for addressing organizational and societal challenges.

As leaders, one of the most important things we do is gather teams to solve problems. But how much time do we really spend gaining an understanding of the challenge and the people impacted by it? That's where design thinking comes in -- a human-centered, problem-solving process that leads to better products, processes, and services. Unlike most problem-solving processes that start with assumptions and move quickly toward a solution, design thinking is based on empathy - seeking to deeply understand how a challenge affects people, and what they most need from a potential solution. It rests on the concept of 'learning early to succeed sooner' through experimentation and testing, thus refining potential solutions until the end-users' needs are met.

With significant experience teaching and implementing design thinking in organizations, Gonzaga University's School of  Leadership Studies has designed the Certificate in Design Thinking to help leaders develop a new mindset and toolbox for solving organizational and societal challenges. In this 14-week, online course, you'll apply design thinking principles to actual, real-time organizational challenges. Discover why design thinking is a sought-after skill in a wide variety of fields and industries, and be prepared for a transformative shift in the way you look at problems! 


Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand how design thinking addresses gaps and limitations in current brainstorming and problem-solving practice
  • Learn how to shift the mindset of problem-solving from solution-focused to problem-focused, with attention to the user experience.
  • Learn how to gather data and interpret insights about users to focus a challenge at hand.
  • Develop the mindset, skills and tools for more productive brainstorming, prototyping and testing that can be applied to real-life challenges.
'I had not done an online class before, but this exceeded my expectations.  Fun, intense and massive amounts of knowledge.' - Anonymous, Fall 2020 Graduate


The course is fully virtual with live interactive Zoom classes weekly on Mondays from 4:00 to  5:30 PM PDT.  Students should plan to spend 3 - 5 hours per week on class-time, independent work, and a group project. The structured curriculum is a balance between independent assignments that you can complete on your own schedule and practical challenges that you’ll complete in a group.


    Fall 2021 course dates: 
    Spring 2022 course dates:

  • Course opens September 13th and closes December 17th, 2021
  • Live interactive Zoom classes weekly on Mondays from 4:00 - 5:30 PM PDT
  • First live Zoom class is September 13th.
  • Course opens Tuesday, January 18th, 2022 and closes on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
  • Live interactive Zoom classes weekly on Mondays from 4:00 - 5:30 PM PDT
  • First live Zoom class is Monday, January 24th.

Fall 2021 Instructor: 

Cari Warren

Class size:

Approx. 20 students per cohort

How to enroll:

No application required, and no payment required at time of enrollment. Students must have five (5) years of work experience or an undergraduate degree. Students admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis, subject to meeting aforementioned criteria. 

Cost: $3,200

  • No payment is required at the time of enrollment. Students will receive payment information after their registration is confirmed and prior to the start of the course.
  • A 30%-off scholarship is automatically granted to anyone employed by a 501c3 non-profit or government/public sector agency.
  • Scholarships are also available on a case-by-case basis. To inquire, please email Rachelle Strawther at strawther@gonzaga.edu.
  • Please note: Federal aid is not available for this program. Gonzaga employee tuition waiver does not apply.


  • Upon completion, students receive a Certificate from Gonzaga University and eight (8) Continuing Education credits on a Gonzaga University transcript.
  • Students who successfully complete a School of Leadership Studies certificate program have the option applying a maximum of three (3) credits towards completion of a Masters in Organizational Leadership or Masters in Communication and Leadership at Gonzaga, contingent upon admission.     

Student Testimonials:

  • "I liked everything about the class. It was so fun, intense, and massive amounts of knowledge." -Anonymous comment, student evaluation
  • "I liked how engaging the exercises were. The course flew by!" -Anonymous comment, student evaluation

Want to learn more?

Email Rachelle Strawther, Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, with questions at strawther@gonzaga.edu