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





(212) 592-2228

Maria Popova Scholarship for Homecoming to Purpose – SVA MA Design Research

Maria Popova Scholarship for Homecoming to Purpose

The Maria Popova Scholarship for Homecoming to Purpose, an award of $5,000, celebrates the courage and clarity of purpose involved in making a major life change—quitting a job, relocating, dropping out of a program in another field—to formally pursue a passion for design writing and criticism.

Maria Popova is a writer, whose site Brain Pickings presents her writings on a wide range of topics, spanning art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, and more.

On founding the scholarship, Maria Popova comments: “There’s hardly anything more heartening than choosing to follow one’s calling, but it can also be profoundly daunting as it requires a leap of faith away from the security of established paths. This scholarship is an assurance, both in spirit and in modest financial practicality, for those who long to pursue design criticism but need to make a major life change in order to do so, whether it’s relocating to New York City or leaving another field of study or completely reconstructing their career trajectory.”

To apply for the scholarship, students describe what it was about their former career, location or discipline that they wanted to change and what they are most excited about going on to achieve through earning an MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism.


Samira Jain, 2016 Scholarship Recipient:

Samira is a design thinker from New Delhi, India. Her interest lies in exploring the applications of design research in non-design scenarios. During her stint as an innovation consultant, she worked on an assortment of interesting design challenges in a myriad of industries. Some of her projects included: redesigning employee experience by understanding the issues of heterogeneous groups working in a pharmaceutical company, remodeling service experience for a laundry service, integrating fun and play to advice low income school kids on nutrition, and devising launch strategy for a local coffee company amongst a largely tea-drinking population. She has extensively worked in the area of financial inclusion and hopes to continue her work in the field. She truly believes that stakeholder-centered approach to problem solving is a key to a lot of challenges faced by humanity today.

Read Samira Jain’s winning essay, Connecting Minds


Mariam Aldhahi, 2015 Scholarship Recipient: 

Mariam is a writer, researcher and designer. Fascinated by the role design plays in shaping urban development, Mariam has dedicated her thesis work to the emergence of the Design District as a manufactured community and its impact upon the economy, politics and diversity of an urban setting. She has worked with Rockwell Group, Travel and Leisure, Princeton Architectural Press, Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the Wolfsonian Museum on strategy and marketing efforts to in-depth design writing. She is also a contributing author to BioArt, a book that examines the intersection of art and biology, published by Thames & Hudson UK in 2015.

Read Mariam Aldhahi’s winning essay, My Alternative


Anne Quito, 2014 Scholarship Recipient: 

Anne Quito is a New York-based design writer, art director, and a design reporter at Quartz. She has spoken about public sector design at TEDGlobal in Oxford, TEDxPhoenix, AIGA DC, and the CDC. Anne was a member of the curatorial team for “Spontaneous Interventions” and organized a celebrated interactive exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design called “Take One/Leave One” that was featured in The Atlantic. Anne’s writing has been featured in Designers and Books, Design Observer, and Core 77. At SVA, she has written about the neon Pepsi sign in Long Island City, a profile on the brand director of the Museum of Sex, and bouts of ontological discomfort at lovely five-star hotels in Bangkok. Her thesis research on the branding of South Sudan reflects interests in graphic design, social anthropology, humor, and national identity, as well as her stamina for politics and long-haul flights.

Read Anne Quito’s winning essay, Breaking Ground