SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011


[email protected]




(212) 592-2228

Program – SVA MA Design Research


Priority application deadline is January 16, 2018. Applications started by this date will receive first consideration for scholarship funding. Following January 16, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis as space allows. Click here to begin the application process.


This rigorous one-year MA 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 timeframe, the SVA MA in Design Research provides intensive instruction in the tools and techniques for researching, analyzing, and interpreting design, and its cultural and environmental implications.

The SVA MA in Design Research features an unparalleled core faculty, comprised of celebrated curators, editors, critics, and designers such as: MoMA Senior Curator of Design and Architecture Paola Antonelli; design consultant and curator Murray Moss; The New York Times culture reporter Robin Pogrebin; and urban design critic Karrie Jacobs. With more than thirty guest lecturers and critics visiting the department per semester—including The New York Times senior critic Michael Kimmelman, author and Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen, New Journalism progenitor Gay Talese, biographer Deborah Solomon, architecture curator Pedro Gadanho, urban planning designers Interboro Partners, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, and British design critic Rick Poynor—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.

Alumni of the program have gone on to work at companies and institutions such as Facebook, Metropolis, Vitra Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt, Rizzoli, RISD, Institute of Play, Museum of Modern Art, The Glass House, Rutgers University, Project Projects, Ziba, Surface Magazine, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Here in the SVA Department of Design Research we study design in all its manifestations, with a pronounced interest in its contexts and consequences. This means we don’t just focus on designed products or buildings, but also on 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.

To arrange a visit to the department, or an appointment with the program chair Molly Heintz, please do not hesitate to contact us.

SVA MA Design Research
136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10011

What Students Go on to Do

The MA in Design Research 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. The program is geared toward providing graduates with a comprehensive set of research tools and methods one can apply to any foreseeable career path.

Our graduates have had remarkable success so far, going on to work at museums and institutions like MoMA, 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 schools such as RISD, Pratt, NYU, Rutgers, University of Lisbon, and California Institute of the Arts; to pursue post-graduate research at V&A Museum and Harvard University; to publish books with Thames & Hudson, MoMA, 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 department has its own floor in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Each student has 24-hour access to a desk space within an open-plan, light-filled workspace. The program takes advantage of its New York location with frequent visits to the city’s design collections, archives, libraries, design and architecture studios, SVA design departments, and behind-the-scenes access to exhibitions-in-the-making, new buildings, and urban planning developments.

Department facilities and resources include:

  • Well-stocked book, journal and magazine library (contains all books necessary for each course)
  • First-rate computer hardware and software, scanners, copiers, printers, internet and wifi connections, file-sharing server
  • Professional recording equipment, Final Cut Pro equipment, and a Recording Room for the Radio Podcast workshop
  • Professional film making equipment for the Video workshop
  • Kitchen and dining area equipped with appliances, and cabinets for student storage

The department is supported by a full-time program coordinator, and the offices available to all students or departments within SVA such as Academic Affairs, Admissions, Career Development, Computer Services (CAVA), Financial Aid, Health and Counseling Services, Registrar, Residence Life, Security, Student Accounts, Student Galleries, SVA Theatre, Visual Arts Library and the Milton Glaser Design Archives, and Writing Resource Center. Online, each student is given an Gmail account with 30 gigabytes of storage, plus access to, an online portal for school-wide news and communication.


Through workshops, seminars, lectures, and site-visits, students examine the issues and policies that shape the designed environment; learn research methods, reporting techniques, and theoretical models; and experiment with a range of media vehicles for communicating their research, including online writing, podcasting, video, exhibitions, and events. Each student will identify an individual research territory to explore during the year, culminating in a thesis portfolio of written and applied media projects. Degree candidates must successfully complete 30 credits, including all required courses, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. A residency of two academic semesters is required.