DIY Master’s in Futures Thinking

A custom made study plan equivalent to a master’s degree in Futures Thinking

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

In 2015, I was in graduate school studying mechanical engineering (at least on paper). However, in reality, I was not planning on getting a job a in mechanical engineering. Instead, I was teaching myself statistics, applied mathematics, software engineering, databases, and machine learning as I was aspiring to become a data scientist. My plan worked, and in 6 months, I landed my first job as a data science intern at the largest beer company in the world, and then I received multiple offers for full time data science and machine learning jobs. However, by the time I was going to make a decision, my curiosity led me to the broader field of consulting, and I joined Deloitte. Lesson learned: it is not feasible to get a master’s degree whenever I am interested in a topic. 😂

Today, I am facing a similar situation, I am aspiring to become a professional futurist, but this time I will not be enrolled in a full time degree. In this article, I will be sharing with you my study plan to master Futures Thinking. Please note that all courses are subject to change without notice ⚠️

First, what are the core skills to be a futurist?

In a report from the Futurist Imagination Retreat, the skills below were proposed by Scott Barry Kaufman as core skills to develop the capacity to imagine far futures:

  • Logical thinking: a.k.a common sense 💭
  • Psychological flexibility: the ability to think of all possible scenarios including positives and negatives at the same time 🎭
  • Artistic capability and storytelling: the ability to influence 🎨
  • Courage: the courage to challenge conventional ideas 💪
  • Empathy and social intelligence ❤️
  • Curiosity 🔍

DIY Master in Futures Thinking:

Now, let us translate these core skills into courses and add some electives.

Tips: pick classes that fit your budget, ask your employer to pay for your education, apply for scholarships, try a course before committing to a specialization/certificate, do your research and read reviews before paying for major certifications/bootcamps

Foundational Courses:

  1. Futures Thinking 101: IFTF Futures Thinking Specialization on Coursera
  2. In person Bootcamp — Futures Thinking 201: IFTF Foresight Essentials or University of Houston Professional Certificate in Foresight
  3. Design Futures 301: IFTF Design Futures or Parsons Design Futures 101
  4. Scenario Planning 302: IFTF Scenario Building or Parsons Immersive Scenario Planning

Tip: try to pair the courses above with some practical experience by applying your learning at work or help your community

Specializations (400 and 500):

Social Change (pick 2):

Systems Thinking (pick 1):

*: Healthcare track

Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (shortcut — choose the course instead of the specialization)

Human Centered Design, Design Thinking, and Empathy (shortcut — choose the last two courses instead any of the certifications):

*: Healthcare track

**: includes courses on storytelling and creativity

Influencing, Storytelling, and Leadership (pick 1):


MasterClass: you can listen/watch these courses on MasterClass while cooking, traveling, etc.

Happy learning…

By the way, if you want to take the lazy path, I will be summarizing each of these courses/certifications. Here is a running list of what I have completed so far:



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