October 4, 2021

MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

Courtesy School of Visual Arts (SVA).

Register for an info session to meet with the Chair, faculty, department staff, current students and alumni.

Info session one: October 12
Info session two: November 16

“You have to articulate the world you want to live in first.” –Ocean Vuong, writer and educator

Compelling writing, critical thinking, and careful research are essential tools that can help make sense of an increasingly complex world. No matter what life has in store for you (or what you have in store for life), the Master's in Design Research, Writing & Criticism equips you with lifelong skills that will only grow in value. And with continued scholarship funding available, we’re thrilled to announce that our application portal for fall 2022 is now open!

The two-semester MA in Design Research, Writing & Criticism provides intensive instruction in techniques for researching, analyzing, and writing about design and its cultural and environmental implications. Combining humanities-oriented critical thinking with journalistic tools, the program focuses on producing editorial content intended to inform and engage broad audiences.

The program's curriculum charts the cutting edge of design practice and is responsive to the latest developments in the media landscape. It aims to generate provocative new thinking about design and to help shape the ways in which design is engendered, presented, and evaluated.

In addition to graduate coursework in a seminar format, each student develops a written thesis on the design topic of their choice that synthesizes investigative research with critical analysis, supported over the course of the year by faculty advisors and group workshops. Read excerpts of thesis projects and more on our website or Medium channel.

By providing the tools for constructing compelling narratives about design, the program prepares students for leadership positions in research-driven design practices, journalism, and publishing, or for PhD research in a design-related subject. However, the research tools, writing skills, and critical thinking that students gain through the program can apply to a variety of career paths and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Our graduates have gone on to hold top staff positions at publications including Metropolis, Domus, Dwell, Curbed, Quartz, ArchDaily, Surface, PIN-UP, and The Architect’s Newspaper; at museums and institutions like MoMA, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Vitra Design Museum, Parsons, RISD, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Public Policy Lab, The Glass House, and Chamber Gallery; at tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Squarespace; at design consultancies like IDEO, SYPartners, and Ziba Design; at research-driven design firms, like 2x4, Steven Holl Architects, and Project Projects; and have founded their own start-up consultancies and publications, such as Superscript, Original Copy, and CLOG.

The MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism features an unparalleled core faculty including design writer and critic Karrie Jacobs; PIN-UP co-founder Pierre Alexandre de Looz; The New York Times senior culture reporter Robin Pogrebin; prolific author and graphic designer Steven Heller; Pushkin Industries VP of Content Development Leital Molad; Oculus editor-in-chief Molly Heintz; arts writer and essayist Jennifer Kabat; Interview columnist Eric Schwartau; writer and documentarian Adam Harrison Levy; artist and designer Jon Key; architect and researcher Alicia Ajayi. With numerous guest lecturers and critics visiting the department per semester—such as TED design curator Chee Pearlman, 2x4 Partner Susan Sellers, The New York Times senior critic Michael Kimmelman, New Journalism progenitor Gay Talese, MoMA Director of Design Rob Giampietro, 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial US curator Mimi Zeiger, technology ethnographer Tricia Wang, art critic and biographer Deborah Solomon, IDEO strategist Alex Gallafent—the program connects students to inspirational mentors and help them to forge relationships with potential employers and colleagues.

Our priority deadline for online application is January 15, 2022 for those wishing to be considered for first-round scholarship funding. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis thereafter, as space allows. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information or to schedule a virtual visit. Apply here.

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