Communication Design (MPS)

  • In an increasingly digital world, designers are often challenged to create technology-driven products and services for a variety of platforms and human needs. Parsons’ Master of Professional Studies in Communication Design (MPS CD), launching in fall 2017, with a focus on digital product design, offers you the cutting-edge conceptual design methods and technical skills you need to meet this growing marketplace demand.

    Owing to SEVP restrictions, students in this program are not yet I-20 eligible; therefore, we are unable to accept applications from non-U.S. citizens for the inaugural fall 2017 class. International students who want to apply to this program should check this page for updates posted throughout the coming year. 

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    Design for the Digital Age

    The program is tailored to practicing designers seeking to enhance their digital skills and leadership potential as well as professionals with relevant design experience who want to enter the field. It encompasses the full product development cycle in communication design — from idea conception to prototyping to feedback-based refinements — and familiarizes you with business strategy.

    In this one-year, 30-credit curriculum, you develop creative problem-solving strategies to relay and translate messages, information, and ideas. Your full-time course of study is built on four components: instruction in advanced core design competencies, practices and methods courses, external partnerships, and the core studio sequence. Parsons faculty — skilled at bringing together design thinking, aesthetics, and technology—guide you to explore innovative composition and visualization methods, interaction design, typography, and industry best practices.

    Creating Collaboratively, from Concept to Product

    The specialized course of study provides coding experience and engages the iterative process and a range of collaboration and teamwork strategies. You work from design conception and pitching through post-launch critical analyses of user experience (UX) and interaction (UI). The New York City location enables you to take advantage of the city’s diverse technology and design resources while learning alongside like-minded designers in the Parsons community. You can supplement core courses with a related university-sponsored public program and an elective offered at Parsons or another school or college of The New School, such as a class in psychology, marketing, data visualization, or another field. This program is offered by Parsons' School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT). You can learn about the AMT community and explore the blog to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.

    Industry Ready

    You graduate from the program with your own unique, forward-looking aesthetic anchored in professional skills acquired throughout the program, which include entrepreneurship, strategic working methodologies, and contemporary prototyping. You are prepared for digital design work settings, with competence in various industry-standard technologies, including front-end development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript), and experience navigating professional partnerships with teams and clients.

    Future Opportunities

    Graduates pursue careers in Interaction Design, User Experience (UX) Design, Digital Product Design, and Product Management.

    This program is awaiting NASAD approval.

  • Curriculum

    The Master of Professional Studies is awarded for completion of 30 credits. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.

    The one-year curriculum requires full-time enrollment.

    One-Year Curriculum

    First Semester
    PGCD 5000 Typography and Interaction 1 Skills Intensive (first week of term)

    In this weeklong intensive we will explore intermediate skills and methods to design visual language, form, and interaction. Students will learn how to critically observe and describe visual aspects of language found in analog and digital media, informed by historic typographic precedents, core typographic principles, and contemporary interaction design fundamentals. Additionally, the intensive introduces students to programming within a design context, using code as a means to express ideas formally. Students will practice and utilize a shared vocabulary to critically address how the visual form of language impacts communication, navigation, and behavior in both analog and screen-based media. This intensive experience will prepare students to successfully participate in the subsequent core program classes.

    Major Studio 1: Digital Product Design

    In this course we will examine the fundamentals of digital product design, including user research techniques, production methods for interactive applications, wireframing, and prototyping. We will investigate the interface, mechanism, controls, and aims of digital platforms. Students will learn how to design and develop complex digital products and mobile applications as they undertake comprehensive research to direct their thinking process from brainstorming to final outcome. Students will utilize tools to conceive, plan, and develop an interactive system, and they will become well versed in their role within the development of interactive media. The course expands on students’ existing understanding of programming languages used for digital prototyping.

    PGCD 5130 Typography and Interaction 1

    In this course we will build upon the Typography and Interaction 1 Skills Intensive. Engaging intermediate and advanced methods in typography and interaction design, our goal is to successfully meet the challenges of dynamic content in print and on the web. These comprehensive methods will support students as they work to complete projects in the core studio courses. Students will learn how to address design problems meaningfully within the context of current design practice and technology frameworks, and how individual processes and methodologies influence a design outcome. Students will use their newly acquired design vocabulary to critically discuss and critique work produced by themselves and others.

    PGCD 5300 Visual Culture Seminar

    In this seminar we will explore contemporary positions in communication design and discuss its future places in society and industry. The course is an exercise in critical thinking to understand the transformed and expanded nature of globalized visual culture in the 21st century and how design has shifted. Through panel discussions, lectures, and workshops led by industry leaders, researchers, and New School faculty, students will be invited to discuss the cultural landscape of communication design and understand its practices and contemporary working methods. Topics include: counterculture, service design, designer as author, digital craft, social justice and visual narratives, digital storytelling, and digital product design. The diversity of visiting professionals will promote critical interaction with opposing viewpoints as well as provide networking opportunities for students. Students will collaborate in groups to write an essay inflected by one of the lectures or panel discussions that will be published as a microsite.

    Second Semester
    PGCD 5110 Major Studio 2 (concentration-specific)

    In this seminar, we explore contemporary positions in communication design and discuss its future place in society and industry. The course is an exercise in critical thinking in which students come to understand the transformed and expanded nature of globalized visual culture in the 21st century and how design has shifted. Through panel discussions, lectures, and workshops led by industry leaders, researchers, and New School faculty, students are invited to discuss the cultural landscape of communication design and understand its practices and contemporary working methods. Topics covered include counterculture, service design, designer as author, digital craft, social justice and visual narratives, digital storytelling, and digital product design. The diversity of visiting professionals promotes critical interaction with opposing viewpoints and provides networking opportunities for students. Students collaborate in groups to write an essay informed by one of the lectures or panel discussions that will be published as a microsite.

    PGCD 5131 Typography and Interaction 2

    In this course, we build upon knowledge of dynamic content and interactivity by addressing advanced typographic strategies and interactive skills oriented toward publishing and archiving. Sessions focus on methods relevant to digital production, including content management systems, databases, and responsive workflows. Students apply their understanding of typography and interaction principles to design screen-based projects from start to finish. This course culminates in the production of a functional portfolio site critically informed by students’ design practice and developed in tandem with the Methods and Practices class.

    PGCD 5150 Methods and Practices

    In this course we will explore contemporary working methods and models for communication designers with a focus on digital product design. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of practice models via a series of guest lectures, workshops, and presentations from independent small studios to in-house creative teams and large agencies. As the discipline of design expands, this course attempts to chart novel and alternative working contexts within the industry. Students will discuss professional working processes which include but are not limited to: business communication best practices, business plans, marketing and promotion, bidding, ethics, copyright, editing and packaging work for delivery, and networking. 

    PGCD 5200 Elective Collab
    Total Credits 30

    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.

    International Students: 

    We are unable to accept applications from non-US citizens for our inaugural class entering in Fall 2017 as the program is not yet an I-20 eligible program due to SEVP restrictions. International students who are interested in applying to this program should continue to check our website for updates throughout the coming year.

    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. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 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 February 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 may be submitted through SlideRoom:

    1. In addition to submitting the online application, you may submit a portfolio to support your application 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 to receive all required materials 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 $10 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 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 United States) 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 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. Applicants must submit a visual portfolio to support their application in SlideRoom. Your portfolio should contain up to 20 images which best represent your design work and process, and should serve as a visual and narrative reflection of the work listed and described in your résumé and statement of purpose. Your images may include two- and three-dimensional graphic design, sketches, scenarios, research outcomes, photography, video clips, websites, prototypes, or other formats that you feel best convey your work and skills from previous educational and/or professional experience. Where possible, please include descriptions of the projects, explanations of your role in the project (if it is team-based), or a thoughtful description of the context of the project. If you have dynamic media or other time-based work, you can also upload it using SlideRoom.
    8. Personal URL (optional): MPS Communication Design applicants are encouraged to submit a personal URL which contains links to functional prototypes, if applicable. URL submissions should be included with the online application.
    9. 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.Please note that this program cannot accept applications from non-US citizens at this time

      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.
    10. Interview: Finalists being considered for admission to the program may be required to schedule a phone or in-person interview.

    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. Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials:
      Parsons School of Design
      Office of Admission (PS 300)
      79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
      New York, NY 10003