Parsons

Fashion Design and Society (MFA)

  • The MFA Fashion Design and Society at Parsons School of Design is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States, with a unique interdisciplinary and international approach to fashion. Each year, a small group of students join this academy for advanced studies in fashion design and train to become innovative and progressive world-class designers. Initiated by Parsons alumna Donna Karan, the program has received support from major names in fashion such as Diane von Furstenberg, Swarovski, Uniqlo, LVMH, and Kering.

    This program is part of Parsons' School of Fashion. Learn about the Fashion 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

    Grounded in Design

    The two-year, 60-credit program combines intensive studio-based projects with research and exploration. In the tradition of critical social research at The New School, the program helps students develop an understanding of the global business, intellectual, and ecological contexts of their work. Supplemental classes in filmmaking, presentation, and photography broaden students’ visual design vocabulary and communication skills, preparing them for success in collaborative professional settings and showing them how to present and position their work within the market.

    Collection Capstone

    At the end of their second year, in May, students present their graduation collections to industry insiders, headhunters, select press, stylists, and buyers in an exhibition format, which often results in employment or other professional opportunities. In addition, students present their collections on the runway during New York Fashion Week in September. 

    Forward-Looking Designers

    Part of Parsons’ renowned School of Fashion, the MFA program offers students opportunities to exhibit their work at an international scale, to build relationships with industry leaders, and to participate in high-profile collaborations. Student work is regularly featured in a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, WWD, Vogue (US, UK), Vogue.com, Elle, Marie Claire (US), ID, Interview, and SO-EN (Japan). Recent graduates have gone on to work as designers at major labels such as Alexander Wang, NIKE, Oscar de la Renta, Under Armour, Kanye West for Adidas, St. John Knitwear, Burberry, Donna Karan International, DKNY, Calvin Klein Collection, CK Jeans, Coach, The Gap, Reed Krakoff, Ralph Lauren Black Label, Narciso Rodriguez, and Opening Ceremony.

    Others have launched their own businesses and gone on to sell at Dover Street Market in New York, London, and Tokyo. Students have won or been finalists in fashion competitions such as Feel the Yarn at Pitti Filati in Florence, the International Fashion Showcase in London, International Talent Support (ITS sponsored by Diesel), H&M Awards, VFiles Made Fashion, New York Fashion Week, and the LVMH Prize.

    Future Opportunities

    Graduates pursue career paths including fashion design, art direction, curating, and teaching.

  • Curriculum

    The Master of Fine Arts degree is awarded for completion of 60 credits. Transfer credits are not accepted. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.

    Faculty

    Program Contact

    Full Time Faculty

      See All Program Faculty

      Highlights

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

      Director's Message

      Message from Shelley Fox, Director

      The development of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society program has been a creative exercise in itself. As a directional and conceptual designer, I have always found that the "personal" is so important in defining identity. If there was ever a time to stake out a personal vision, defy market conventions, and rev up the creative engines, it is now. Innovation and thoughtfulness may be the only route for students, and I can’t think of a more critical time than now for all thinking to become international.

      There is something unique about New York, and I came here specifically to launch a new MFA program, with the intention of facilitating an exchange of ideas between the School of Fashion and the traditional academic disciplines. Design education is in need of reform. If we are to maintain the spotlight on New York as a bright centre and a resource for innovative design, we must reprogram that next generation of talent right here. At the end of the day, I am trying to create "idea people"—better thinkers who are aware of the bigger picture.

      I must first thank Parsons alumna Donna Karan, whose foresight and generosity were instrumental in the creation of this program, the first of its kind in the United States. I think the program reflects her innovative design sensibility, her business acumen, her adventurous spirit, and, perhaps most important, her deep interest in humanity.

      Since its founding in 1896, Parsons has been a leading innovator in design education. That’s the reason Parsons is the perfect place for the MFA in Fashion Design and Society to live and to develop and advance the study of fashion. It is also important that Parsons is part of The New School, a university founded on the principles of intellectual freedom and civic engagement. Students in this program will find a studio-based learning environment within a larger social and critical context.

      Shelley Fox
      Donna Karan Professor of Fashion
      MFA Fashion Design and Society
      School of Fashion
      Parsons School of Design

      About Shelley Fox

      Since graduating from the MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Shelley Fox has won international recognition for her experimental and innovative approach to womenswear. As a directional and conceptual designer, she is distinguished by her use of materials and manipulation of fabric, particularly her development of an unorthodox pattern-cutting technique. Constantly questioning convention, she has redefined the way clothes are worn from New York to London to Hong Kong.

      Honors Shelley Fox has received include the Jerwood Fashion Prize, Peugeot Design Award for Textiles, Crafts Council Development Award, and Stanley Picker Fellowship for Design. In 2007, she was nominated for the Prince Philip Design Prize by the Arts Council England. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum, Barbican Art Gallery, Modemuseum, Crafts Council, Antwerp Landed 2001, and FIT in New York. Fox’s designs have also been shown in British Council exhibitions in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and Japan. Learn more at www.shelleyfox.com.

      Program Scholarships

      The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship

      The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship provides financial support for a student from Japan who is enrolled in the MFA Fashion Design and Society program. This fellowship is possible due to the generous support of the U.S.-Japan Council and Uniqlo.

      The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship is open to applicants from Japan and provides financial support up to the full cost of attendance (tuition and living expenses) for the two-year program. The amount awarded is based on the student’s financial need.

      In addition, the fellowship recipient has the opportunity to participate in an internship at Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. during the summer after his or her first year in the program.

      Eligibility and Process

      The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship seeks candidates who meet the following criteria:

      • Have been educated mainly in Japan
      • Have lived in Japan for at least one year
      • Have demonstrated financial need
      • Have demonstrated leadership skill
      • Have been affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake

      To be considered, individuals must apply and be accepted to Parsons’ MFA Fashion Design and Society program. Parsons will review all eligible applications for scholarship consideration and select a recipient on the basis of financial need and the criteria listed above. The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship recipient will be notified at the time of admission.

      Application

      There is no separate scholarship application for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship; simply apply to the MFA Fashion Design and Society program by visiting www.newschool.edu/apply. If you would like to address your candidacy for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship in your application, please feel free to mention it in your Statement of Interest essay (as part of the online application).

      Additional Information

      Inquiries about the program can be addressed to Shelley Fox, Donna Karan Professor of Fashion and director of the MFA in Fashion Design and Society, at foxs@newschool.edu.

      For application-related questions, contact the graduate admission office at thinkparsonsgrad@newschool.edu.

      For information about more scholarships and grants that may be available, visit Student Financial Services.

      tomodachi logo uniqlo logo

      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 for this program is closed for 2016. The fall term readmission deadline is August 1 (review readmission information below). If you are interested in applying to a different Parsons graduate program, please email thinkparsonsgrad@newschool.edu to see which programs are still accepting late applications. The 2017 application will be available in early September.

      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. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid; we recommend submitting by our FAFSA priority deadline of March 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.

      Some of your required materials will be submitted through SlideRoom:

      1. In addition to submitting the online application, Parsons requires that you submit a portfolio using SlideRoom.
      2. Finalize your portfolio at the time you submit your application. This will help prevent any delays in reviewing your application as we need all required materials to be received before we can place your application under review.
      3. Once you have submitted the required SlideRoom materials, a confirmation number will be emailed to you. Save this for your records and enter it on the online application when requested.

      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. A $15 SlideRoom fee is also required.
      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 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 admissions 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 U.S.) 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 Interest and Intentions: Please outline your reasons for applying to this program. In what ways will you contribute to the subject matter of the program? You should include a thoughtful description of your background, tentative plan of study or area of inquiry in the field as you now envision it, your professional goals, and an explanation of how this graduate program will help you realize those goals. If you have not been 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. (500–750-word limit)
      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. Portfolio: The portfolio must be completed in SlideRoom only. Submit 25 to 40 images that provide a clear representation of your concepts and skills as a designer. Applicants can submit images of the following: pages from sketchbooks (showing in-depth research and design development work), final illustrations, technical drawings, artwork from various design projects, textile/knitwear work, fabric use, and/or photographs of clothing collections that you have developed. If you would like to submit moving images such as installation, performance, or live fashion show work, please submit them using SlideRoom.
      8. Test Scores:
        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.
      9. Interview: All finalists for the Fashion Design and Society MFA program must be interviewed by the graduate faculty either in person or by Skype. All selected interviewees are expected to bring full portfolios with evidence of process and design development work and examples of their 3D work (i.e., clothing).

      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
      6. The 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
        • Transcripts if you have attended another college or university since last at The New School
        • An updated portfolio upon faculty request
      7. 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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