Parsons’ Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design program offers an innovative two-year, 60-credit full-time graduate curriculum that prepares students to negotiate the seemingly contradictory forces at play in the growing product design industry. Students explore the way goods can be produced in both localized contexts (a “making in place” approach, which relies on regionalized needs and constraints) and globalized contexts (employing design principles focusing on universal needs). Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments includes graduate students in Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting Design, creating a unique learning community.
This program is part of Parsons' School of Constructed Environments (SCE). Learn about the
SCE community and explore our
blog to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.
New York City boasts the country’s largest number of creative-sector jobs and attracts top design talent. Local industry events and collaborations with commercial and nonprofit partners deepen connections to the field. In the MFA Industrial Design program, students combine advanced making skills with critical inquiry to design for production at all scales, from low volume to high volume, employing methods ranging from desktop manufacturing to systems involving global supply chains. Students develop their knowledge and skills at the university’s state-of-the-art product prototyping and testing facilities.
The MFA Industrial Design curriculum balances competing interests such as economical production and sustainability, consumerism, social and environmental improvement, and global and local production, investigating ways to integrate and reconcile these forces as a whole. In their second semester, MFA students explore limited-run making in New York City, and in the third semester they can investigate large-scale global production through virtual collaborations or study abroad at sites including Parsons Paris. A specialized thesis project offers opportunities to develop designs that advance — or challenge — industrial design theory and practice.
The faculty of design practitioners aims to develop a community of designers committed to improving industry, protecting the environment, and promoting the quality of life. The MFA Industrial Design program attracts motivated, reflective students with experience in product design but also accepts candidates from other design professions and disciplines such as engineering, fine-art, management, and anthropology,. An innovation-focused university with programs in the social sciences, business and management, media studies, and the performing arts, The New School offers complementary courses that enrich design practice.
Students graduate equipped with the ability to integrate the many considerations involved in product design and to lead as socially aware makers, strategists, and industry specialists. Graduates emerge prepared to design innovative products and lead the industries that produce them as well. Career paths include industrial design, product development, manufacturing, furniture design, humanitarian and service design, toy design, design management, and architectural building systems.
The Master of Fine Arts degree is awarded for completion of 60 credits. A maximum of nine 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.
Students engage form giving as a means to strengthen discourse around beauty, desire, context, audience, and function. Thematic assignments build on analytical and prototyping skills developed in Advanced Modeling Methods and Form Analysis. Students will be
challenged to evolve their prototypes into refined, innovative physical forms with strong conceptual underpinnings.
Students develop a critical future-oriented understanding of the history of product and industrial design through many lenses, including socio-technological innovation, economics, business, ethics, gender, scale of production, efficiency, labor, human-centered design,
systems thinking, ecological impact, engineering, science, and cultural expression. Readings and lectures expose students to multiple perspectives and encourage them to challenge historical assumptions.
Students apply testing to create designed outcomes and explore advanced means to communicate ideas to multiple audiences through application of product semantics, distinguishing between self-perception and how others read design artifacts. Principles and analytic
vocabulary are introduced through lectures, weekly readings, discussions, and exercises. Project-based work will challenge students to work individually, as well as collaboratively with external parties.
Students develop approaches that not only improve work product, but the working environment. The course is integrated with Design Studio 1 with various project touch points. Focus is on hands-on full-scale and scaled making. Students explore how varying degrees of
intent, audience, and fidelity influence a project’s timeframe, final finish, and conceptual purpose.
This course investigates opportunities for product design, production, and distribution in localized contexts, with emphasis on low-volume self-production and the use of appropriate making strategies utilizing both CNC technology and manual labor. Using a
satellite location for testing and short-run trial implementation, students complete hands-on project-based work in an iterative process and with a strong engagement with manufacturing.
This course employs user-centered design methods and push-pull participatory practice to optimize creative problem solving. Need-finding exercises challenge students to assess and substantiate compatibility with input from market, community, business, and
manufacturing. Students will conduct advanced usability research, applying testing to create designed outcomes. Heavy emphasis on data visualization and diagramming will complement scenario, simulation, interactive, and interface design.
This course surveys processes commonly used by industrial designers at various scales of production and provides advanced methodologies for developing and constructing more sustainable and long-lasting products. Students are challenged to choose appropriate
manufacturing methods and deploy strategies for creating intentional by-products, co-products, and scenarios of zero waste production.
Students should explore their elective options with their
advisors to create a coherent study plan.
This studio explores extended supply chains and proposes designs that could be implemented across national boundaries and cultures. Students will have access to a case-study international locale either through travel, virtually, or a combination. Projects explore
“universal” product typologies and how industrial design can transcend cultures.
This course builds upon Materials, Manufacturing, and Assembly by developing rudimentary engineering skills and capacities. The course leverages project-based exercises in advanced supply-chain mapping, process tree diagramming, carbon footprint, toxicity, recycling, etc.
Students are introduced to concurrent engineering and integrated product development via digital simulation and testing.
This is the first part of a two-semester thesis project. Students begin research, analysis, and developing design ideas in this semester and then follow through with project closure in their last term. Students work closely with faculty to identify an appropriately
complex and forward-thinking inquiry that may positively expand the field and advance knowledge.
This seminar draws upon various colleges of the university (
Parsons) in navigating seemingly contradictory dichotomous worldviews and the possibility of a more integrated future. The course considers appropriate scale as well as parsing values between market-driven and humanitarian initiatives. The course has a
special emphasis on cooperation, collaboration, and illustrates numerous case studies of corporate as well as nongovernmental organizations driving design-led social change. Guests will include leading practitioners, design historians, theorists and futurists.
This is a self-directed studio in which students synthesize theoretical ideas and conceptual underpinnings developed in Thesis Preparation. Students will work closely with a primary thesis advisor, and select professors and professionals inside and outside the Parsons
faculty will serve as secondary advisors and guest critics. Students will present a specific focus in creating designs that challenge or innovate the field. Reconciling multiple stakeholders and audiences, students must shape their work as a form of social engagement, with a particular focus on
user-centered design and innovation.
This course supports Design Studio 4 and builds upon Thesis Preparation. Students learn to articulate their hypothesis and supporting arguments, while testing it against evidence from their own design-led inquiry and others' research. The paper will focus on students'
own primary source material, as well as secondary sources and precedence. Beyond the thesis paper, the course also acts as a repository for collecting students’ full body of work around their selected project. Students will combine their thesis essay, final project, and supporting body of
work into a compelling media document, such as a digital book.
This course provides an overview of design services and principal structures for product/industrial designers including in-house, consultancy, freelance, and self-production. Fundamentals in business, entrepreneurship, and external funding models will be
covered. Other areas include project planning and interfacing with various stakeholders. Students will be introduced to corporate, public, and nonprofit realms. Emphasis is placed on understanding liability and indemnification as well as intellectual property rights and responsibilities.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the SCE 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 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
email@example.com 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 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 Februrary 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.
Some of your required materials will be submitted through
Students may be invited for an interview in-person or by phone
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:
Rama Chorpash, Program Director