The MFA Fashion Design and Society at Parsons School of Design is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States, with a unique interdisciplinary and international approach to fashion. Each year, a small group of students join this academy for advanced studies in fashion design and train to become innovative and progressive world-class designers. Initiated by Parsons alumna Donna Karan, the program has received support from major names in fashion such as Diane von Furstenberg, Swarovski, Uniqlo, LVMH, and Kering.
This program is part of Parsons'
School of Fashion. To learn more about the MFA Fashion Design and Society program at Parsons, visit
The two-year, 60-credit program combines intensive studio-based projects with research and exploration. In the tradition of critical social research at The New School, the program helps students develop an understanding of the global business, intellectual, and ecological contexts of their work. Supplemental classes in filmmaking, presentation, and photography broaden students’ visual design vocabulary and communication skills, preparing them for success in collaborative professional settings and showing them how to present and position their work within the market.
At the end of their second year, in May, students present their graduation collections to industry insiders, headhunters, select press, stylists, and buyers in an exhibition format, which often results in employment or other professional opportunities. In addition, students present their collections on the runway during New York Fashion Week in September.
Part of Parsons’ renowned School of Fashion, the MFA program offers students opportunities to exhibit their work on an international scale, to build relationships with industry leaders, and to participate in high-profile collaborations. Student work is regularly featured in a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, WWD, Vogue (US, UK), Vogue.com, Elle, Marie Claire (US), ID, Interview, and SO-EN (Japan). Recent graduates have gone on to work as designers at major labels such as Alexander Wang, NIKE, Oscar de la Renta, Under Armour, Kanye West for Adidas, St. John Knitwear, Burberry, Donna Karan International, DKNY, Calvin Klein Collection, CK Jeans, Coach, The Gap, Reed Krakoff, Ralph Lauren Black Label, Narciso Rodriguez, and Opening Ceremony.
Others have launched their own businesses and gone on to sell at Dover Street Market in New York, London, and Tokyo. Students have won or been finalists in fashion competitions such as Feel the Yarn at Pitti Filati in Florence, the International Fashion Showcase in London, International Talent Support (ITS sponsored by Diesel), H&M Awards, VFiles Made Fashion, New York Fashion Week, and the LVMH Prize.
Graduates pursue career paths including fashion design, art direction, curating, and teaching.
The Master of Fine Arts degree is awarded for completion of 60 credits. Transfer credits are not accepted. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.
The development of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society program has been a creative exercise in itself. As a directional and conceptual designer, I have always found that the "personal" is so important in defining identity. If there was ever a time to stake out a personal
vision, defy market conventions, and rev up the creative engines, it is now. Innovation and thoughtfulness may be the only route for students, and I can’t think of a more critical time than now for all thinking to become international.
There is something unique about New York, and I came here specifically to launch a new MFA program, with the intention of facilitating an exchange of ideas between the School of Fashion and the traditional academic disciplines. Design education is in need of reform. If we are to maintain the spotlight on
New York as a bright centre and a resource for innovative design, we must reprogram that next generation of talent right here. At the end of the day, I am trying to create "idea people"—better thinkers who are aware of the bigger picture.
I must first thank Parsons alumna Donna Karan, whose foresight and generosity were instrumental in the creation of this program, the first of its kind in the United States. I think the program reflects her innovative design sensibility, her business acumen, her adventurous spirit, and, perhaps most
important, her deep interest in humanity.
Since its founding in 1896, Parsons has been a leading innovator in design education. That’s the reason Parsons is the perfect place for the MFA in Fashion Design and Society to live and to develop and advance the study of fashion. It is also important that Parsons is part of
The New School, a university founded on the principles of intellectual freedom and civic engagement. Students in this program will find a studio-based learning environment within a larger social and critical context.
Donna Karan Professor of Fashion
MFA Fashion Design and Society
School of Fashion
Parsons School of Design
Since graduating from the MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Shelley Fox has won international recognition for her experimental and innovative approach to womenswear. As a directional and conceptual designer, she is distinguished by her use of
materials and manipulation of fabric, particularly her development of an unorthodox pattern-cutting technique. Constantly questioning convention, she has redefined the way clothes are worn from New York to London to Hong Kong.
Honors Shelley Fox has received include the Jerwood Fashion Prize, Peugeot Design Award for Textiles, Crafts Council Development Award, and Stanley Picker Fellowship for Design. In 2007, she was nominated for the Prince Philip Design Prize by the Arts Council England. Her work has been featured in exhibitions
at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum, Barbican Art Gallery, Modemuseum, Crafts Council, Antwerp Landed 2001, and FIT in New York. Fox’s designs have also been shown in British Council exhibitions in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and Japan. Learn more at
The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship provides financial support for a student from Japan who is enrolled in the MFA Fashion Design and Society program. This fellowship is possible due to the generous support of the U.S.-Japan Council and Uniqlo.
The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship is open to applicants from Japan and provides financial support up to the full cost of attendance (tuition and living expenses) for the two-year program. The amount awarded is based on the student’s financial need.
In addition, the fellowship recipient has the opportunity to participate in an internship at Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. during the summer after his or her first year in the program.
The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship seeks candidates who meet the following criteria:
To be considered, individuals must apply and be accepted to Parsons’ MFA Fashion Design and Society program. Parsons will review all eligible applications for scholarship consideration and select a recipient on the basis of financial need and the criteria listed above. The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship recipient will be notified at the time of admission.
There is no separate scholarship application for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship; simply apply to the MFA Fashion Design and Society program by visiting
www.newschool.edu/apply. If you would like to address your candidacy for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship in your application, please feel free to mention it in your Statement of Interest essay (as part of the online application).
Inquiries about the program can be addressed to Shelley Fox, Donna Karan Professor of Fashion and director of the MFA in Fashion Design and Society, at
For application-related questions, contact the graduate admission office at
For information about more scholarships and grants that may be available, visit
Student Financial Services.
2 years, 60 credits
Full-time graduate program
A highly selective program that combines intensive studio-based projects with research and artistic exploration. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and a substantial portfolio.
1-2 years, 65 credits
Can be completed full-time or part-time
A professionally oriented course of study that provides essential foundation training and technical skills, enabling students to build a competitive portfolio and launch a new career in their chosen industry. Best suited to students who have previous college experience in an unrelated field and want to change careers.
Explore the AAS degree option
4 years, 120 credits
Full-time undergraduate major
A holistic degree program that immerses students in challenging studio courses, art history and critical theory, as well as the wider world of liberal arts. The course of study culminates in a thesis and qualifies alumni for further graduate study. Best suited to first-time college students.
Explore the BFA degree option
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.
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
www.fafsa.gov. 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.)
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
Shelley Fox, Program Director
Joffrey Moolhuizen, Associate Program Director
School of Fashion
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