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 solving real-life challenges.

As leaders, one of the most creative things we can do is gather teams to solve problems. But when our solutions fail to  work as expected, it's often because we have failed to clearly understand the needs and desires of the people who will be using the  solution. That's where design thinking comes in -- a human-centered, problem-solving process that leads to better products,  processes, and services. Unlike most design processes that start with assumptions and move quickly toward a solution, design  thinking engages designers in activities to understand and empathize with the mindset of users. It rests on the concept of "learning  early to succeed sooner" through experiments, tests, and basic prototypes, thus refining potential solutions until the 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. Be prepared for a transformative shift in the way you look at everyday 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.


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:

  • September 13th - December 17th, 2021
  • Live interactive Zoom classes weekly on Mondays from 4:00 - 5:30 PM PDT
  • January 19th - April 22nd, 2022
  • Live interactive Zoom classes weekly on Mondays from 4:00 - 5:30 PM PDT

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 bills after their registration is confirmed and prior to the start of the course.
  • No federal or institutional financial aid is available for this program.
  • Gonzaga employee tuition waiver does not apply.
  • 30% off scholarship given 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.


  • 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
"I had not done an online course before, but this exceeded my expectations." -Anonymous
"I liked how engaging the exercises were. The course flew by!" -Anonymous