Industrial Design (MFA)

  • 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.

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    Designed for NYC

    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.

    A Connected Curriculum

    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.


    A Community of Designers

    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.

    Future Opportunities

    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.

  • Curriculum

    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.

    First Year / Fall
    PGIN 5100 Design Studio 1: Form Innovation

    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.

    PGIN 5000 Industrial Design History Lab

    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.

    PGIN 5010 Product Design Semantics

    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.

    PGIN 5020 Advanced Modeling Methods

    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.

    First Year / Spring
    PGIN 5101 Design Studio 2: Local Production

    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.

    PGIN 5030 Problem Framing, Diagramming, and Design Ethnography

    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.

    PGIN 5040 Materials, Manufacturing, and Assembly

    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.

    Second Year / Fall
    PGIN 5200 Design Studio 3: Global Production

    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.

    PGIN 5050 Life Cycle Analysis and Engineering for Product Designers

    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.

    PGIN 5210 Thesis Preparation

    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.

    PGIN 5120 Design Dichotomies: Colloquium

    This seminar draws upon various colleges of the university ( NSSR, SPE, 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.

    Second Year / Spring
    PGIN 5201 Design Studio 4: Thesis

    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.

    PGIN 5211 Thesis Writing

    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.

    PGIN 5250 Professional Practice and Entrepreneurship

    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.


    Students should explore their elective options with their advisors to create a coherent study plan.

    Total Credits 60


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        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 fall term readmission deadline is August 1 (review readmission information below). 

        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 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.)

        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, 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 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 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 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 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. The purpose of the portfolio is to show your individual perspective and creative skills. Prepare a sequence of 15–25 images that best communicate your visual thinking. Include work that best demonstrates your skills from previous educational and/or professional experience. Sketches and conceptual work can also be included.

          We welcome students from a wide variety of disciplines. If you are an applicant without previous training in industrial design or other design-related fields, you can demonstrate your aptitude by submitting examples of freehand drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, graphic design, three-dimensional work, furniture, product design, digital media, or work in other forms. Time-based works such as film, video, performance, installation or sound are also accepted. Do not combine images in a prepared presentation or slideshow of any type (e.g., PowerPoint or Keynote).
        8. Test Scores:
          GRE (optional): Although it is not required, if you took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and general tests (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing), 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.

          The New School does not require TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores for applicants:

          • Whose native 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 (minimum of three years attendance)
          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: Applicants may be invited for an interview in-person or by phone.

        Students may be invited for an interview in-person or by phone

        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.
          • GRE: 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 SchoolA
          • 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