The MA in Design Studies program draws on both analytical and practical modes of inquiry, recognizing the increasing importance of design in the 21st century. The curriculum guides students to investigate new theoretical and design-oriented routes through which to acquire a critical understanding of design and its complex intersections with both the present and the future. MA Design Studies enables you to consider design as a fundamentally cross-disciplinary endeavor, drawing on the unique range of fields available throughout Parsons and other colleges within The New School. Together the Design Studies community explores design's capacity to transform everyday experience and examines means of effecting social change through design processes.
This program is part of Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT). Learn about the
ADHT community and explore our
blog to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.
This two-year, 42-credit degree connects MA Design Studies students with peers in related academic and studio programs, including the MA in History of Design and Curatorial Studies and the MFA programs in Transdisciplinary Design and Industrial Design. The program welcomes both designers and those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of design. Students are encouraged to make use of the full array of courses taught at Parsons as well as courses offered throughout the university, such as in the School of Media Studies and at The New School for Social Research.
Program faculty work individually with students to create pathways tailored to their interests (which can be completed full-time or part-time) in areas including—
Students emerge with the concepts and skills they need to become informed design researchers, consultants, advisors, scholars, activists, and strategic and reflective designers. They work with design thinkers, practitioners, and researchers from a range of industries to explore design as a phenomenon whose analysis, insights, and history offer tools for addressing the human-made world.
Graduates are prepared to work in design-led entrepreneurial creative industries, applying their knowledge to support strategic product development; help guide the work of media and consulting firms, think tanks, and technology start-ups; lead new approaches to curating and criticism; and work in policy development for NGOs and foundations. The program also provides a foundation for those who want to pursue doctoral studies and an academic career in design.
The Master of Arts in Design Studies is awarded for completion of 42 credits of coursework, including a master's thesis, oral exam, or capstone project. A maximum of six credits of graduate-level coursework may be transferred from another institution. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements
in a timely manner.
In addition, as the student has completed or is in the process of completing a minimum of 33 credits, the student determines whether to petition to write an academic thesis, write a capstone paper and undertake a project/proposition, or take the MA oral examination. Students should consult the program guidelines provided at
Orientation for specific requirements and a process outline.
To read more about the faculty, download the Design Studies
The first cohort of students entered the program in 2012. Thus far we have graduated four classes, and even in this brief time, our students have begun to establish themselves in various areas of work. Here are some stories of our former students' careers so far. There are ten of them, split across various cohorts. Their stories are inspiring; they show that creative and critical intelligence can go a long way.
Download Design Studies Student Career Paths to read them.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the Design Studies Community
The application deadline is January 1. To be most competitive for admission and merit scholarship consideration, please apply before the deadline. We will continue to review applications submitted after the January 1 priority deadline pending space availability in the program. The Admission Committee will make a decision on your application only after all the required materials have been received. Spring term admission is not offered for this program.
The application deadline for readmission for the fall term is August 1. Review
readmission information below for more details
Financial Aid Deadline
All applicants selected for admission into our program are considered for a merit scholarship award that is determined by the strength of their application. Scholarship award notification is communicated at the same time as the admission decision. International students are eligible only for merit scholarships. If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found on the Web at
www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA is available each year on October 1. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid; we recommend submitting by our FAFSA priority deadline of February 1 for fall applicants. (The New School’s federal school code is 002780.)
All applicants are required to apply online. Save your work frequently and print a copy for your records. You must complete all required fields and uploads prior to submission.
Any additional supporting documents that need to be sent by mail must include an
Application Materials Cover Sheet. All supporting materials must be received before your application can be reviewed.
See below for additional information regarding submission of transcripts and recommendations.
The New School does not require TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores for applicants:
Susan Yelavich, Program Director
Art and Design
Read and download viewbook