This prestigious two-year master’s degree program, which Parsons offers in conjunction with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, brings an object-focused, practice-based approach to the study of European and American decorative arts and design dating from the Renaissance to the present. Housed for more than 30 years at Cooper Hewitt — the only U.S. museum devoted exclusively to historical and contemporary design — the program enables students to work directly with the museum’s collections and its curators, conservators, educators, and designers.
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.
The MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies curriculum offers practical and theoretical instruction in researching and displaying interiors and design objects such as furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and works in other media. New courses on curatorial studies and courses exploring the history of design in social and cultural context reflect the program’s broadened scope and relevance.
Students complete the 42 required credits in two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study. At the renovated Cooper Hewitt, graduate students have opportunities to curate exhibitions, create programming for the public, and produce interpretive materials — all of which provide essential hands-on experience in museum and curatorial practices. Access to the Smithsonian’s Design Library, New School library holdings, and the library consortium enriches object-based research.
For-credit internships enable students to explore professions in museums, auction houses, and galleries and on new online platforms. Also available are a limited number of master’s curatorial fellowships at Cooper Hewitt, which provide partial tuition remission. In addition, MA students can apply for paid teaching assistantships. Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT) programs reflect the faculty’s expertise in areas including art and design methodology and philosophy, design criticism, cultural anthropology, sustainability, and material culture and are designed to provide students with opportunities to take related courses within ADHT. Students can take courses and participate in collaborative projects throughout Parsons and The New School, which open up new topics and areas of investigation in curatorial practice and historical research. They can also study abroad or pursue their degree at Parsons Paris, benefiting from our relationship with Musée des Arts Décoratifs, our partner museum.
Students graduate prepared to join alumni who work in some of the world’s most prestigious nonprofit, commercial, cultural, and academic institutions. Graduates obtain specialist and management positions in auction houses, museums, and historic houses; enter fields such as criticism and journalism, consulting and e-commerce, and teaching; and pursue advanced study.
Parsons offers the Master of Arts in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies in collaboration with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The degree is awarded for completion of 42 credits of coursework and a master's examination or a thesis. A maximum of six credits of graduate-level coursework can be transferred from another
institution. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.
PGHI 5903 Independent Study: Thesis 2 or PGHI 5904 Independent Study: Master's Exam
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the ADHT Community
Graduates hold curatorial posts in museums and collections worldwide and specialist positions in auction houses and galleries. They serve in a range of capacities related to interpreting and promoting art and design and educating the public about them.
Curatorial positions in museums:
Specialist positions in auction houses, galleries, and online platforms:
Editorial positions (print and online):
Positions in the interior design industry:
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 received 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 applicants to the New York campus must submit by November 1 to be considered for a merit scholarship. International applicants for spring must apply by October 1 to be considered for a merit scholarship. Spring term admission is not available for the Paris campus.
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 January 1. (The New School’s federal school code is 002780.) You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid; we recommend submitting by our FAFSA priority deadlines:
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.
Sarah A. Lichtman, Program Director
Ethan Robey, Associate Director
Art and Design