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  • Fashion Studies MA

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    Heike Jenss, Program Director

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  • In the groundbreaking Fashion Studies master’s program, you undertake the cultural analysis of fashion as dress, bodily practice, media, and industry. You hone your research and writing skills as you explore the visual and material dimensions of fashion and investigate their personal and political meanings in various contexts. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, you develop a critical understanding of the histories, theories, and knowledge production around fashion and its role in shaping bodies, identities, and social relations. Graduates work in diverse fields including the fashion industry, media, museums, and academia.

    Program Highlights

    • Cultural Analysis of Fashion

      Develop a critical understanding of fashion as a cultural phenomenon and how it affects bodies, identities, social relations, cultural narratives, and local/global environments.

    • Hands-on Fashion Research

      Engage with diverse sources and methods — from archival research to ethnography — to challenge “grand narratives” and uncover alternative histories of fashion.

    • Interdisciplinary Approach

      Draw from material culture studies, media studies, gender studies, and post-colonial studies to examine the complex meanings of fashion in diverse cultural and historical contexts.

    • Specialized Study

      Develop professional skills in fashion curation and fashion journalism to prepare for diverse careers in fashion, from fashion media to museums.

    • Fashion Capital NYC

      Draw on New York City’s museums, exhibitions, and public events and observe firsthand the streets, neighborhoods, and retail environments critical to the fashion system.

    • Access to Industry

      Explore internships at fashion magazines, museums, and fashion companies including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, the Museum at FIT, Ralph Lauren, and Hermès.

    • Degree Master of Arts (MA)
    • Format Full-time, on campus
    • Credits 42
    • Duration 2 years
  • Curriculum

    The curriculum challenges students to explore the interdisciplinary theories and methodologies that have shaped fashion studies and to contribute to the advancement of the field. Core and elective courses open up broad perspectives on fashion as a phenomenon, and its connections with design, production, consumption, mediation, imagination, embodiment, identity, history, and politics. Student-led projects, like the journal BIAS, offer students opportunities to publish work and collaborate with Parsons peers.

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  • Career Paths

    As critical thinkers with strong research and writing skills, graduates go on to pursue PhD degrees or careers at fashion magazines and media companies, including Rizzoli, Meredith, Vogue, W, Nylon, I-D, and InStyle. Some graduates are actively involved in teaching in higher education, while others work in museums, fashion archiving, and curation, or as consultants, researchers, merchandisers, buyers, and PR professionals in major fashion houses and corporations.

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  • Student Work

  • You work with faculty who are recognized as leading scholars in the field, representing a wide range of research expertise in the histories and theories of fashion, including work on fashion, body and identity; fashion media; fashion and everyday life; wardrobe and consumption practices; fashion and sustainability; fashion labor; fashion criticism; fashion curation, and more.

  • Beyond the Classroom

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      Research Labs

      Research is integral to the Parsons learning experience, and students and faculty work together to challenge existing paradigms and advance emerging scholarship and practice. Explore the thematic research laboratories housed at Parsons and throughout The New School.

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      Industry Engagement

      Connect to the organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs driving global creativity and commerce. In classes, internships, and extracurricular projects, you gain marketable problem-solving skills in sectors ranging from government and nonprofits to tech and creative industries.

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      Internships

      New York City’s thriving creative industry and cultural institutions are part of your Parsons education. Our Career Services Office is enmeshed in the art and design industries and can help you advance your career with industry-oriented internships. 

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      Funded Opportunities

      Funds are earmarked for graduate travel, research, and work to support your study. Opportunities include paid teaching assistantships, research fellowships and assistantships (including ones offered throughout The New School), ample student employment, and other grants available to U.S. domestic and international students alike.

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      Making & Academic Resources

      Enjoy access to extensive resources including New School libraries, computer labs, archives, and studios, along with Parsons’ state-of-the-art Making Center, facilities offering a broad array of tools to support your creative and academic growth.

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