The MA in Design Studies shapes a new generation of design thinkers who will critically examine theoretical, historical, philosophical, and social issues related to design practice, products, and discourses. This 42-credit graduate program, which can be completed full or part-time, offers a new academic pathway for students who want to pursue careers in fields related to design research, writing, curating, and criticism. This innovative master of arts degree is also for those who wish to incorporate design research into their design practice or who want to go on to advanced graduate study (PhD).
Housed in Parsons' School of Art and Design History and Theory, the program draws on the wide range of skills and academic expertise of its faculty, most notably in design theory, methodology, and philosophy; design history; design criticism and writing; material culture studies; fashion studies; architecture theory, urban studies, and spatial studies; and sustainability. Students will be challenged to reframe current thinking about design from both contemporary and historical perspectives.
The curriculum consists of required courses and provides students with the opportunity to devise cross-disciplinary paths of study tailored to their specific interests. Although students take most of their classes within the School of Art and Design History and Theory, they also have access to graduate electives offered across Parsons and coursework in other subjects—such as history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and politics—offered at The New School. Students can take up to six credits of studio coursework.
The program draws on the vast cultural resources of New York City to provide opportunities for civic engagement through design internships (for which students can earn three credits toward their MA degree), production of exhibitions and publications, and projects and grant writing. Students can apply for positions as teaching assistants and research assistants within the university. They can also study in complementary programs overseas.