Parsons

Design Studies (MA)

  • 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.

    Read More About the ProgramRead Less

    A New Way of Design Thinking

    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—

       
    • Design as social action and innovation and the creation of alternative design futures
    • Design and social media in the public realm 
    • Design and the social sciences
    • The spatiality of design and the role of design in the urban realm
    • The history, theory, criticism, and curation of design

    A Foundation for a Variety of Outcomes

    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.

    Future Opportunities

    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.

  • Curriculum

    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.

    First Year / Fall
    PGDS 5005 Discourses in Design 3
    PGHT 5600 Design for This Century: Lecture 0
    PGHT 5601 Design for This Century: Recitation 3
    Electives (2)
    6
    12
    First Year / Spring

    PGDS 5006 Research and Methods 3
    Elective: Design Studies
    3
    Elective (2)
    6
    12
    Second Year / Fall
    PGDS 5010 Writing for the Public Realm 3
    PGDS 5200 Capstone 1
    3
    Elective
    3
    9
    Second Year / Spring
    PGDS 5210 Capstone 2 6
    Elective
    3
    9
    Total Credits 42

    Faculty

    See All Program Faculty

    To read more about the faculty, download the Design Studies Faculty Accomplishments

    Student Research and Projects

    Student Career Paths

    The first cohort of students only entered the program in 2012. Thus far we have graduated two classes 2014 and 2015: 2016 will be our third class. However, even in this brief time our students have begun to establish themselves in various areas of work. Here are some stories of our ex-students careers so far. There are ten of them, split across the three cohorts. The stories are oddly inspiring: they show that a creative and critical intelligence can go a long way.

    Download Design Studies Student Career Paths to read them.

    Highlights

    Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
    Explore the Design Studies Community

    Admission Requirements

    Application and Financial Aid Deadlines

    Application Deadline

    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.)

    Application Instructions

    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.

    Required Application Materials

    1. Application Form: Complete the online application. All applicants are required to apply online.
    2. Application Fee: A nonrefundable $50 application fee paid as part of the online application.
    3. Transcripts:
      Unofficial Transcripts: Applicants must upload an unofficial transcript, mark sheet, or academic record for each institution (even if you didn’t receive a degree) in the Educational Background section of the online application.
      • All transcript uploads must be accompanied by a key, a legend, or the back copy of the transcript.
      • Non-English transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation. Records from non-U.S. institutions must have grades or marks and contain a copy of the diploma if the degree has been conferred.
      • Make sure your name appears on the transcript/record. Scans must be clear and legible.
      • Do not mail materials that have been uploaded with the online application or any other materials unless requested by the admission office.
      • If you experience trouble uploading your transcript, email enroll@newschool.edu and give a detailed description of the issue and attach the document in question.
      The New School reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admission process. Any fraudulent activity or discrepancies found between uploaded and official transcripts will result in the immediate revocation of admission and/or dismissal from The New School. Transcripts uploaded with the online application are considered unofficial.

      Official Transcripts: Applicants offered admission will be required to submit official transcripts (as well as official certified translations and evaluations of the transcripts/mark sheets and degree certifications if the degree was earned outside of the United States) to The New School. Admitted applicants must submit all official transcripts pertaining to their entire academic career.

      Your offer of admission will be contingent upon the receipt and verification of these official documents. New students will not be permitted to register for their second semester of study until all official transcripts (including degree-awarding transcripts) have been received by the Office of Graduate Admission. Transcripts uploaded with the online application do not satisfy this requirement.

      By Mail: Official transcripts should have an original signature or a raised university seal, and must be in a sealed envelope that has been signed or stamped by the issuing university’s registrar or records office. Applicants can either send official transcripts with an Application Materials Cover Sheet or request that institutions send transcripts directly to The New School. See “Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials” for our mailing address in the Additional Instructions and Information section below.

      Electronic Transcripts (U.S./Domestic Institutions Only): The New School accepts electronic transcripts only from our approved vendors. The New School’s approved vendors, in order of preference, are
      • Parchment Exchange
      • SCRIP-SAFE International
      • National Student Clearinghouse
      We do not accept electronic transcripts sent directly by a student or school offices. Note: All international academic credentials must be submitted as indicated in the International Academic Credentials sections below.

      International Academic Credentials: All transcripts not written in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation or be evaluated by World Education Services (WES), or by another member of the National Association of Credit Evaluation Services (NACES). A course-by-course evaluation must be prepared for each transcript. In the absence of an evaluation, the Admission Committee will do its best to render a decision. Please note: In some cases, a review cannot be made without an evaluation, and a committee decision will be delayed. The Admission Office reserves the right to request a transcript evaluation if necessary.

      If using WES, visit www.wes.org for instructions and to begin the application process. The “Required Documents” section will explain what to send. If you request your report online, search for “The New School” when selecting our institution. WES will send your completed evaluation directly to The New School.

      If using another NACES provider, follow instructions for that provider. Mailed evaluations and translations should be sent to the mailing address provided for supporting materials. Applicants forwarding these sealed documents should include an Application Materials Cover Sheet.
    4. Résumé: Submit a brief résumé/curriculum vitae summarizing your academic qualifications, relevant work experience, volunteer/community work, travel, exhibitions, public speaking, or any other relevant experiences as they may relate to your field of study, including dates and positions held. Please also note any special language or computer skills that you have.
    5. Statement of Purpose: Please submit a two-part essay in a single Word document. Your submission should not exceed five pages total.

      Part 1: Autobiographical Statement (250–500-word limit). In a short autobiographical statement, tell us about yourself. You can write about your education, your family, your talents and passions, particular intellectual influences, people you have met, work you’ve done that has shaped the person you have become, or significant places or events in your life, especially as they relate to your field of study. In addition, use this portion of the essay to explain any strengths or weaknesses you may have (examples: low GPA, lack of experience, significant interruption in work or studies, unique skills and achievements as they relate to the program, or any other information you want to share). Your writing should be informative and reflect your own voice.

      Part 2: Academic Statement of Interests (500–750-word limit). Please describe the academic and intellectual interests, progress, and achievements that have contributed to your decision to apply for graduate study in this field. You should include a thoughtful description of your tentative plan of study or area of inquiry in the field as you now envision it, the kind of research questions you intend to pursue, your professional goals, and how this graduate program will help you realize those goals. In addition, include a self-assessment of your work as a scholar, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. If you have not enrolled as a student in the past five years, please address anticipated opportunities and challenges in pursuing the degree, and future career expectations upon completion of the program.
    6. Recommendation Letters: You are required to submit two letters of recommendation from faculty or people with whom you have worked professionally. Recommenders can submit recommendations online; instructions are included with the online application. If preferred, the recommendation form can instead be sent by mail in a signed, sealed envelope. To send by mail, download the PDF recommendation form found in the online application, complete the personal information, save the form, and forward it to the recommender for completion and submission. Applicants can also send signed and sealed recommendations to the Office of Admission using an Application Materials Cover Sheet.
    7. Test Scores:
      GRE (optional): Although it is not required, if you took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), scores can be submitted to support your application. GRE scores should be sent electronically. The institution code is 2638.

      TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE: All applicants whose first language is not English must submit valid TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores. The minimum score required for TOEFL (IBT) is 92, for IELTS is 7.0, and for PTE is 63. Our TOEFL institution code is 2638.

      A TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score is not required for applicants
      • Whose primary language is English
      • Who have earned a four-year degree from a U.S. college/university or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction
      Upon review of your application, the Office of Admission reserves the right to request a TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score.

      Arrange for the testing service to send your test scores directly to The New School using the codes listed above. We accept scores from the past two years. If your scores are older, you must retake the test. For more information, visit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE.

      Applicants also have the option of enrolling in The New School's English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Students must pass Level 6 in order to waive the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE requirement. Visit the ESL website for more information.
    8. Interviews: Applicants may be invited for an interview in person or by phone.
    9. Writing Sample (Optional): Although it is not required, if you would like to submit a writing sample that you feel reflects your strengths as a critical thinker and writer for this program, please upload a single document no longer than ten pages in length.

    Additional Information and Instructions

    1. Applying to More Than One Program: In any given term, a student can apply to only one department or program within The New School. Applicants who file more than one application in a given semester will be required to withdraw one of the applications, and application fees will not be refunded.
    2. Application Materials: All materials submitted in association with The New School application become the property of The New School and cannot be returned to you or transmitted to a third party.
    3. Test Score Codes:
      • TOEFL: The institution code is 2638.
    4. Application Status: Applications become complete and ready for review once all required items have been received by the Office of Admission. You can check your application status online at the Admission Hub.

      Allow at least 14 days from the date you submitted your application for items to be matched and shown as received on the Hub. Applicants are responsible for following up with schools and recommenders to confirm that items have been sent.

      The Office of Admission will periodically notify applicants by email if their file is missing any documents and again when their file is complete for review. These notifications are sent to the email address provided in the online application.
    5. Readmission: Application for Readmission (PDF) should be completed by students who wish to return after an absence of four semesters (fall and spring). Students must reapply to the program to which they were originally admitted. Readmission is only available for current New School programs. If you are looking to transfer 24 or more semester-based credits, you should apply for admission as a transfer student according to the instructions outlined above. The following materials are required of applicants seeking readmission:

      • Application for Readmission (PDF)
      • Statement of Purpose
      • One letter of recommendation
      • Interview
      • Transcripts (required if you have attended another college or university since last at The New School)
      • Updated portfolio at the request of faculty
    6. Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials:
      Parsons School of Design
      Office of Admission (PS 300)
      79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
      New York, NY 10003
     
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