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This prestigious two-year master’s degree program, which Parsons offers in conjunction with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, brings an object-focused, practice-based approach to the study of European and American decorative arts and design dating from the Renaissance to the present. Housed for more than 30 years at Cooper Hewitt — the only U.S. museum devoted exclusively to historical and contemporary design — the program enables students to work directly with the museum’s collections and its curators, conservators, educators, and designers.

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Perspectives on History and Practice

The MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies curriculum offers practical and theoretical instruction in researching and displaying interiors and design objects such as furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and works in other media. New courses on curatorial studies and courses exploring the history of design in social and cultural context reflect the program’s broadened scope and relevance. They can also study abroad or pursue their degree at Parsons Paris, benefiting from our relationship with Musée des Arts Décoratifs, our partner museum.

Hands-On Experience

Students complete the 42 required credits in two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study. At the renovated Cooper Hewitt, graduate students have opportunities to curate exhibitions, create programming for the public, and produce interpretive materials — all of which provide essential hands-on experience in museum and curatorial practices. Access to the Smithsonian’s Design Library, New School library holdings, and the library consortium enriches object-based research.

Support for Broad Research Horizons

For-credit internships enable students to explore professions in museums, auction houses, and galleries and on new online platforms. Also available are a limited number of master’s curatorial fellowships at Cooper Hewitt, which provide partial tuition remission, as well as tuition support from the Lee B. Anderson Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to support programs that advance the understanding of and appreciation for the decorative arts. In addition, MA students can apply for paid teaching assistantships. Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT) programs reflect the faculty’s expertise in areas including art and design methodology and philosophy, design criticism, cultural anthropology, sustainability, and material culture and are designed to provide students with opportunities to take related courses within ADHT. Students can take courses and participate in collaborative projects throughout Parsons and The New School, which open up new topics and areas of investigation in curatorial practice and historical research.

Future Opportunities

Students graduate prepared to join alumni who work in some of the world’s most prestigious nonprofit, commercial, cultural, and academic institutions. Graduates obtain specialist and management positions in auction houses, museums, and historic houses; enter fields such as criticism and journalism, consulting and e-commerce, and teaching; and pursue advanced study.

You can request more information here


Visit the History of Design and Curatorial Studies page on the The New School website for more details!

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