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

Program – SVA MA Design Research


The two-semester MA in Design Research, Writing & Criticism provides intensive instruction in techniques for researching, analyzing, and interpreting design and its cultural and environmental implications. The program combines humanities-oriented critical thinking and journalistic tools to produce writing and editorial content intended to inform and engage broad audiences. The rigorous one-year MA with thesis offers a high-impact, targeted program well suited to the circumstances of both established professionals and recent graduates wishing to continue their studies at an advanced level.

The SVA MA in Design Research, Writing & Criticism features an unparalleled core faculty, comprised of celebrated curators, editors, critics, and designers such as: The New York Times senior culture reporter Robin Pogrebin, PIN-UP founder and editor at large Alex de Looz, design educator and author Steven Heller, podcast producer Leital Molad, and urban design critic Karrie Jacobs. With numerous guest lecturers and critics visiting the department every semester—recent visitors have included The New Yorker  “Talk of the Town” editor Lizzie Widdicombe, media critic and author Virginia Heffernan, designer Rob Giampietro, biographer Deborah Solomon, IDEO strategist Alex Gallafent, architecture curator Sean Anderson—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 Google, Metropolis magazine, Vitra Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Rizzoli Publishing, Rhode Island School of Design, Institute of Play, The 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, Writing & Criticism 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 leadership positions in research-driven design practices, journalism and publishing focused on design, or for continued studies in a design-related subject. However, the comprehensive set of 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 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 writing, podcasting, and public speaking. 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.