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Emphasizing collaborative design-led research and a systems-oriented approach to social innovation and service design, Parsons’ Master of Fine Arts in Transdisciplinary Design program serves as an academic laboratory in New York City for graduate students seeking to define the next phase of design practice globally. The Transdisciplinary Design program was created for designers interested in developing ideas, tools, and working methods to address pressing social issues and the complex challenges of a global culture. Students work in cross-disciplinary teams, consider issues from multiple perspectives, learn from industry leaders, and emerge with a portfolio that showcases design as a process for transforming social relations and contemporary life. 

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A New Approach to Design

Graduates leave the program able to work in traditional design consultancies, while many elect to apply their skills in nontraditional design realms, such as restructuring services like health care and public education, initiating microbusinesses, and developing projects for nongovernmental organizations. Recent graduates have gone on to present research at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, open a consultancy with peers from the Transdisciplinary Design program, and take a position with the U.S. government’s first design-led innovation lab. The MFA in Transdisciplinary Design program is housed in Parsons’ School of Design Strategies (SDS), alongside graduate programs in Design and Urban Ecologies, Strategic Design and Management, and Theories of Urban Practice. In its programs and projects, SDS employs innovative approaches to design and business education in relation to cities, services, and ecosystems. Many students explore elective offerings in schools throughout the university, including The New School for Social Research and Schools of Public Engagement.

Flexible Pathways

This two-year, 60-credit program focuses on project-based work in four flexible and overlapping research pathways:

  • Systems explores ways to integrate ecological, economic, technological, and social systems to achieve common ends.
  • Sustainability considers how to build public infrastructure for sustainable practices.
  • The Social investigates the use of design to envision new modalities of social interaction and community.
  • Urban seeks ways to reshape everyday practices within highly networked urban environments.

Future Opportunities

Graduates pursue a variety of careers, including design consulting, teaching and research, business development, international development, service design, in-house design leads within government organizations and other industries, and entrepreneurship. 

You can request more information here


Visit the Transdisciplinary Design (MFA) page on the The New School website for more details!

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