The M.A. in Design at Cornell centers on a concern for the individual. Both the faculty and the students believe strongly in the power of design to nurture the human spirit and support health and well-being. Design is art in the service of humankind: a profession of innovation as well as accountability. Designers have a social responsibility to the people for whom they create and, with each design decision, must strive to ensure the ethical, sustainable, and informed role of design in society.
The M.A. program in Design has four concentrations.
Design for Interaction focuses on how people experience the designed environment, with particular focus on interior spaces and the people and things they envelope.
Emerging Technology for Design explores the development and application of various technologies – from virtual and augmented reality to architectural robotics – to foster the creation of beautiful environments that support and enhance human activity and well-being.
Design + Health focuses on the many ways that designed environments affect human physical and mental health, and health-related behaviors. These explorations span various settings, from home and community, to schools, workplaces, and healthcare settings.
Sustainable Design Studies examines the development of a new worldview founded on a skeptical, critical approach to reasoning, a deep sensitivity for things living, and a broad understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the human/nature relationship.
The program brings together faculty and students with expertise in the fields of interior design, industrial design, interaction design, graphic design, architecture, art, design history, planning, building technology, environmental psychology, human factors and ergonomics, geography, engineering, and facility planning and management to work on problems related to the interior environment.
The M.A. in Design rests on the following basic premises:
Development of the knowledge base guiding the design of physical settings requires systematic, empirical research.
Individual and organizational behaviors are affected by the form of the environment.
The users of environments are diverse and have different needs. Individual characteristics such as gender, stage in life cycle, family structure, role or task affect our environmental needs. In addition, organizational characteristics such as organizational culture, goals, and structure help shape building form and use.
Design should be based on enhancing the human condition. Issues of central importance include how the qualities of the environment (i.e., interior design, building systems, lighting, furnishings, equipment and finishes) affect human behavior, comfort, and well-being.
How the goals and ideals of both the individual and the organization are translated into physical form; and what the designer's responsibility is to society.
Please click below to view the curriculum requirements for each of the four concentrations within the M.A. in Design.
The M.A. degree is a two-year, post-professional degree program intended for students with an undergraduate studio based degree in design (e.g. interior design, architecture, product design, etc.) who want to do advanced study and research in design. The program culminates in a formal research thesis in which students are encouraged to systematically develop and test research-based design solutions, theories, and methods.
M.A. candidates must also select a minor from fields throughout the University. Students should identify their minor committee members early in the program to ensure they have time to take the minor's required courses, typically 1-2 courses total.
In addition to the online application via the Graduate School website, the following required documents must be submitted online:
Academic Statement of Purpose (within 500 words)
Three letters of recommendation
Portfolio (see guidelines below)
GRE general test (The desired combined score should be greater than or equal to 310—for the new scoring system effective November 2011—or, a combined score of 1200 for the old scoring system.) In recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, GRE scores are optional for the Fall 2021 admission cycle. Applicants who are not able to provide GRE scores, will need to provide a brief explanation on the application.
English Language Proficiency Requirement, As an international applicant, you must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by taking a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam. (See exceptions)
TOEFL - test for International students (DEA overall minimum: 105, plus Graduate School minimums must be met for each section: writing: 20; listening: 15; reading: 20; speaking: 22)
OR IELTS - The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS
Application Deadline: December 1. Applications are accepted for Fall Admission only.