The MA in Design Studies draws on both analytical and practical modes of inquiry, recognizing the increasing importance of design in the 21st century. Design studies courses enable you to consider design as a fundamentally cross-disciplinary endeavor,
drawing on the unique range of fields available throughout Parsons and other colleges within The New School. Together students and faculty explore design's capacity to transform everyday experience and examine means of effecting social change through
design processes. Explore our blog to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.
Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed
to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts,
and social research.
This two-year, 42-credit degree connects MA Design Studies students with peers in related academic and studio programs, including the MA in History of Design and Curatorial Studies and the MFA programs in Transdisciplinary Design and Industrial Design. The program welcomes both designers and those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of design. Students are encouraged to make use of the full array of courses taught at Parsons as well as courses offered throughout the university, such as in the School of Media Studies and at The New School for Social Research.
Program faculty work individually with students to create pathways tailored to their interests (which can be completed full-time or part-time) in areas including—
Students emerge with the concepts and skills they need to become informed design researchers, consultants, advisors, scholars, activists, and strategic and reflective designers. They work with design thinkers, practitioners, and researchers from a range of industries to explore design as a phenomenon whose analysis, insights, and history offer tools for addressing the human-made world.
Graduates are prepared to work in design-led entrepreneurial creative industries, applying their knowledge to support strategic product development; help guide the work of media and consulting firms, think tanks, and technology start-ups; lead new approaches to curating and criticism; and work in policy development for NGOs and foundations. The program also provides a foundation for those who want to pursue doctoral studies and an academic career in design.
The Master of Arts in Design Studies is awarded for completion of 42 credits of coursework, including a master's thesis, oral exam, or capstone project. A maximum of six 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.
In addition, as the student has completed or is in the process of completing a minimum of 33 credits, the student determines whether to petition to write an academic thesis, write a capstone paper and undertake a project/proposition, or take the MA oral examination. Students should consult the program guidelines provided at
Orientation for specific requirements and a process outline.
The first cohort of students entered the program in 2012. Thus far we have graduated four classes, and even in this brief time, our students have begun to establish themselves in various areas of work. Here are some stories of our former students' careers so far. There are ten of them, split across various cohorts. Their stories are inspiring; they show that creative and critical intelligence can go a long way.
Download Design Studies Student Career Paths to read them.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the Design Studies Community
Susan Yelavich, Program Director
Read and download viewbook