• Transdisciplinary Design MFA

  • Take the Next Step

  • Contact Us

    [email protected] 
    212.229.5150 (U.S. only)

    Program Contacts
    John Bruce, Co-Director
    Hala Abdel Malak, Co-Director
    Eduardo Staszowski, Co-Director

  • Related Links

  • Social

  • The Transdisciplinary Design MFA academic program, offered at our New York City campus, addresses pressing social, economic, political, and environmental issues by uniting the theoretical focus of the social sciences and the transformative possibilities of artistic and design practices.

    Our curriculum brings together research- and action-oriented approaches in the exploration of political and philosophical questions and develops operational capacities aimed at advancing equity and justice. Our students collaboratively consider issues from multiple perspectives and at a range of scales, generating theoretical discourses that radically critique while proposing alternatives through collective fabulations, strategic propositions, and aesthetic exploration.

    Program Highlights

    • Transdisciplinary Social Praxis

      Build a practice in which thinking and action are closely integrated. Here the Latin root trans, meaning “across and beyond,” defines an exploratory praxis capable of enabling change—not merely critique.

    • Transformation-Focused Work

      Participate in the collaborative production of social knowledge through equity-, justice-, and sustainability-focused action. Develop partnerships that foster solidarity, decentralize authorship, challenge privilege, and reform social and power relations.

    • Dynamic Professional Paths

      Prepare to work in emerging areas of artistic- and design-based research, policy, and strategy, contributing to the transformation of healthcare, education, political rights, economic development, sustainable transition, and other fields.

    • Multi-Directional Learning

      Learn with community activists, creative practitioners, industry and government leaders, scholars, and other leaders, gaining practical experience and creating alliances through which to develop new project approaches—ones that challenge outmoded intrusive, exploitative, and rigid client relationships. 

    • Opportunities for Research, Teaching, Action

      Participate in initiatives of The New School’s Consortium for Transdisciplinarity (aligned with Parsons DESIS Lab) and the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought (based at The New School for Social Research).

    • Applicant Profile

      We welcome students from all areas of academic or professional experience, including the humanities and social sciences, fine arts and design, film, creative writing and journalism, management, and public policy. 

    • Degree Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
    • Format Full-time, on campus
    • Credits 60
    • Duration 2 years
    • Other program status STEM-designated
  • Curriculum

    Composed of interconnected seminar and collaborative studio courses, the curriculum fosters creative learning through making and action that build capacities including convening, facilitating, visualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, translating, and proposing. Studios feature an evolving array of thematic areas of inquiry aimed at building relationships and responses that enable social progress. They function as collectives of students, faculty, and external collaborators in which the line between expert, researcher, and participant often blurs. Work engages with speculative narratives and material explorations. 

    Learn more

  • Career Paths

    Graduates pursue a variety of careers, including design consulting; post-secondary teaching and research, organizational development; international development; service design; in-house design leads within government organizations and other industries; and other roles related to transformational strategy. Recent graduates have presented at international conferences, opened consultancies, and taken leadership positions within community innovation labs.

    Learn more

  • Student Work

  • Parsons faculty represent a broad range of expertise and are acknowledged as leading practitioners and scholars in their fields.

  • Beyond the Classroom

    • TNS_Website-011116_Healthy_Materials_Lab_033

      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.

      Learn More
    • TNS_Website-20190909_Swarovski_Class_046.jpg

      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.

      Learn More
    • TNS_Website-06292017_Interns_City_Hall-80


      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. 

      Learn More
    • TNS_Website-20170712_Cuba_IFP_041

      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.

      Learn More
    • TNS_Website-20200302_Kellen_Archives_005

      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.

      Learn More
  • Related Programs

  • Program News

    • Take The Next Step

    Submit your application


    To apply to any of our undergraduate programs (except the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs) complete and submit the Common App online.

    Undergraduate Adult Learners

    To apply to any of our Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.


    To apply to any of our Master's, Doctoral, Professional Studies Diploma, and Graduate Certificate programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.