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  • History of Design and Curatorial Studies MA

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    Sarah Lichtman, Program Director

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  • This prestigious master’s degree program, which Parsons offers in conjunction with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, brings an object-focused, practice-based approach to the study of curatorial practice and decorative arts and design dating from the Renaissance to the present. Housed for more than 30 years at Cooper Hewitt — the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historical and contemporary design — the program enables you to work directly with the museum’s collections, curators, conservators, and educators.

    Program Highlights

    • History and Practice

      Gain practical and theoretical instruction in researching and displaying interiors and design objects such as furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and works in other media. 

    • Hands-On Experience

      Develop essential skills in museum and curatorial practices at Cooper Hewitt by curating exhibitions, creating public programming, and producing interpretive materials.

    • Interdisciplinary Research

      Take courses and participate in collaborative projects throughout Parsons and The New School, opening up new avenues in curatorial practice and historical research.

    • Research Facilities

      Access the Smithsonian’s Design Library, The New School's library holdings, and a library consortium including other major NYC universities to enrich your object-based research.

    • Professional Exploration

      Pursue for-credit internships that enable you to explore professions in museums, auction houses, and galleries and on new online platforms.

    • Degree Master of Arts (MA)
    • Format Full-time or part-time, on campus
    • Credits 42
    • Duration 2-4 years
  • Curriculum

    The rigorous curriculum features new courses on curatorial studies and the history of design in social and cultural context, reflecting the program’s broad scope and relevance. Electives allow you to draw on the resources of additional Parsons programs and the other colleges of The New School, including renowned graduate programs in historical studies, philosophy, and media studies.

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  • Career Paths

    Graduates of the program work in some of the world’s most prestigious nonprofit, commercial, cultural, and academic institutions. Alumni hold specialist and management positions in auction houses, museums, and historic houses; enter fields such as criticism and journalism, consulting and e-commerce, and post-secondary teaching; and pursue advanced study.

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  • Student Work

  • Parsons faculty represent a broad range of expertise in areas including art and design methodology and philosophy, design criticism, cultural anthropology, sustainability, and material culture.

  • 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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  • Fellowships

    History of Design and Curatorial Studies MA students have access to a limited number of master’s curatorial fellowships at Cooper Hewitt, which provide partial tuition remission, as well as tuition support from the Lee B. Anderson Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to support programs that advance the understanding of and appreciation for the decorative arts. In addition, MA students can apply for paid teaching assistantships.

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