The curriculum, which can be completed full or part-time, focuses on the stylistic, historical, and theoretical contexts of European and American decorative arts and design from the Renaissance to the present. Object-based courses on furniture, interiors, ceramics, costume, glass, graphic design, metalwork, textiles, works on paper, and other media go beyond connoisseurship to address objects as intersections of social meaning and aesthetic theory.
Classes meet in the museum, offering students the opportunity not only to learn directly from the collection but also to work with curators, educators, visiting researchers, and designers in the museum's community of scholars. Students gain hands-on experience in museum practices and procedures; many pursue for-credit internships at Cooper-Hewitt and other museums, galleries, auction house archives, and historic houses around the city.
All incoming students in New York are considered for Master's Curatorial Fellowships at Cooper-Hewitt, which offer partial tuition remission. MA program students can also apply to teach recitation sections of undergraduate lecture classes on design history, design theory, and other subjects. Student teaching assistants conduct their own classes, leading discussions and formulating and grading assignments. The assistantship, a paid position, is an invaluable opportunity for future academics and one that is rarely open to pre-doctoral students.
The MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design will be offered at Parsons Paris in fall 2014. Our New York and Paris campuses have the same application process and curriculum, so students will have the opportunity to begin their study in one city and take a semester or year in the other. Parsons' long-standing relationships with cultural institutions in Paris, including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, will create opportunities for students in the Paris program to engage in a unique learning experience that draws on the many collections, archives, and galleries in this historic city.