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We study design in all its manifestations, with a focus on its implications.
Molly Heintz
Chair

Do you care about design and its impact on the individual, society and the environment? Are you interested in honing your research skills and developing your unique point of view? Whether your background is in design, journalism, science, history or something else entirely, the SVA MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism might just be the next step in your career trajectory. If you’re interested in improving your current practice, or in changing direction completely, feel free to email, call or drop by the department for a visit. We’re always happy to talk about our exciting curriculum, show you our lovely studio, and introduce you to faculty, alumni and students. We study design in all its manifestations, with a focus on its implications.


This means we don’t just consider designed products or buildings, but also the infrastructure that connects them, and the policy that shapes them. We try to look at what happens after a designed product is launched. We go beyond the glossy images supplied by the manufacturer to discover how things actually get used and discarded, and how they impinge upon our daily reality.

Our graduates have gone on to work at museums and institutions such as MoMA, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Vitra Design Museum, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Public Policy Lab, the Glass House and Institute of Play; at publications including Metropolis, Domus, Curbed, Arch Daily, Surface, PIN-UP and Architizer; at companies such as Real Art and Facebook; and design firms like Ziba Design, Steven Holl Architects and Project Projects.

Additionally, our graduates have gone on to teach at RISD, Pratt, NYU, Rutgers, University of Lisbon and California Institute of the Arts among others; to pursue post-graduate research at the V&A Museum and Harvard University; to publish books with Thames & Hudson, MoMA, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and Princeton Architectural Press; to launch their own enterprises such as CLOG and Superscript; and to contribute to publications including Design Observer, Dezeen, New York magazine, Works that Work, Core77, Designers & Books, Disegno, Los Angeles Review of Books, Print, Abitare, Domus, The Architect’s Newspaper, Design + Culture and Wallpaper. They have also won writing awards and grants from Core 77, Design Observer, Design History Society, Frieze and AOL.


The MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism plans to expand this list still further by preparing students for future-facing careers in research, publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice and entrepreneurship, or for continued studies in a design-related subject. In fact, the program is geared toward providing graduates with a comprehensive set of research tools and methods they can apply to any foreseeable career path.


All successful candidates will be offered a significant scholarship, bringing the tuition cost below market rate. We believe that this, plus the fact that the program runs for just nine months, makes our MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism a very appealing and viable proposition to mid-career professionals as well as recent graduates who want to deepen their knowledge of design and its consequences.

Why We Stand Out:
  • Prepare for careers in design research, publishing, curating, education and management

  • Contribute to the public discourse on design, architecture and cities

  • Enrich your multi-dimensional practice with research, writing and critical tools

  • Learn how to create compelling narratives about images, objects and spaces

More About the Department

The SVA MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism offers a high-impact, targeted program, well-suited to the circumstances of established professionals, in addition to graduates wishing to continue their studies at an advanced level. With a two-semester time frame, the MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism provides intensive instruction in the tools and techniques for researching, analyzing and interpreting design, and its cultural and environmental implications.

This rigorous, one-year MA program features an unparalleled core faculty, comprised of celebrated curators, editors, critics and designers such as: The New York Times culture reporter Robin Pogrebin; author and SVA MFA Design co-chair Steven Heller; architect, writer and media consultant Pierre Alexandre de Looz; BBC producer and filmmaker Adam Harrison Levy; and urban design critic Karrie Jacobs.

With more than 30 guest lecturers and critics visiting the department per year—including humorist and author Sloane Crosley; design historian and archivist Russell Flinchum; StoryCorps executive producer Michael Garofalo; MoMA design director Rob Giampietro, director of NEW INC, the New Museum’s technology and design incubator, Julia Kaganskiy; MOSS design gallery founder Murray Moss; executive director of American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) Benjamin Prosky; Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic; critic and curator Mimi Zeiger; Gawker founding editor Elizabeth Spiers; and IBM Watson researcher Caroline Sinders—the program takes particular care to connect students to inspirational mentors and help them to forge relationships with potential employers, mentors and colleagues.


The program’s curriculum charts the cutting edge of design practice and is responsive to exciting 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 providing the tools for constructing compelling narratives about design in multiple formats, the program amply prepares students for future-facing careers in research, publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, and entrepreneurship, or for continued studies in a design-related subject.


What do you think? We look forward to discussing your individual goals for graduate study in design research.

MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism
136 West 21st Street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10011
Contact: Eric Schwartau
136 West 21st Street