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Effective Fall 2014, we adapted the two-year, 64-credit MFA into a one-year, 30-credit MA in Design Research, Writing & Criticism.

Please note that full instructions on applying, as well as details about the program and its curriculum, can be found at designresearch.sva.edu. We are offering significant scholarships to all accepted applicants.

This rigorous one-year program equips students with tools for researching, chronicling, and interpreting all aspects of design. Each student is asked to identify an individual research territory to explore during the year. Through workshops, seminars, lectures, and site-visits, students learn about the issues and policies that shape the man-made environment. They will deploy research methods, reporting techniques, and theoretical models while experimenting with media—such as writing, podcasting, video, exhibitions, and events—to communicate their research.

Application Requirements

Application Requirements:

1. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

2. Official transcripts from each college or university attended. Transcripts from foreign institutions must be officially translated into English and U.S. grading equivalencies.

3. Three letters of recommendation from instructors or practicing professionals. Letters should be written on school or company letterhead and returned to the applicant in a sealed envelope with the recommender’s signature across the seal.

4. A written statement (250-500 words) of the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study in design criticism.

5. A short essay (750 words) critiquing a design object, event, or concept. This should be written specifically for the application.

6. A writing sample of published or unpublished writing (1,000–2,000 words). Content is at the discretion of the applicant; however, the piece should demonstrate the applicant’s research and analytical skills and facility with language. The published sample can be from any context, including contributions to academic or commercial publications, books, catalogs or exhibition wall texts.

7. Résumé, including professional experience as well as related activities such as research, internships, publications and awards.

8. Proof of English proficiency (required of applicants whose primary language is not English).

9. Upon acceptance to the program, nonimmigrant alien applicants are required to submit documentation of sufficient financial resources to attend SVA.

SVA Scholarships and Awards

Offered to Design Criticism MFA students.

Henry Wolf Scholarships

Partial-tuition awards will be granted to select incoming students. These annual gifts honor Henry Wolf (1925–2005), the graphic designer, photographer and seminal art director of EsquireHarper’s Bazaar and Show magazines in the 1950s and ’60s. The receivers of this award are chosen based on their submitted D-Crit application, and no application form is necessary.

Silas H. Rhodes Scholarships

Partial-tuition awards—totaling $50,000 annually—will be distributed to students entering their second year who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement during the course of their first year of study.

SVA Alumni Scholarship Awards

This interdepartmental award offers support for the direct costs of completing a final thesis project. The grant ranges from $500 to $2,000 based upon academic and artistic merit as determined by a review panel, and financial need as demonstrated by your project budget. The average award is expected to be $1,000. Students may request amounts in increments of $500 (i.e. $500, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000). An annual total of $40,000 in scholarships has been awarded each year since 2008. Applications are available each October. Details here.

SVA Matching Outside Scholarships

SVA will match 25% of any outside scholarship, up to $2500, that a student obtains for enrollment at SVA. This award is available to full time graduate students.

Who Should Apply

We welcome students from a range of academic backgrounds whose diverse perspectives and experiences enrich the debate. The program is equally well suited to designers, who want to hone their skills in writing and critical thinking, as it is to journalists and writers, who wish to deepen their understanding of design. Particularly appropriate undergraduate backgrounds include: Design, Architecture, Journalism, Art History, English and Literary Studies, Film Studies, Urban Studies, Philosophy and Anthropology. Some students have significant work experience, while a few will be accepted straight from school.

Employment after Graduation

2011 and 2010 D-Crit graduates have landed positions as U.S. editor at DomusWeb, researcher at Bjarke Ingels Group, blogger at Metropolis, managing editor at Architect’s Newspaper, head of international PR at Experimenta Design: The Lisbon Design Biennial, and fellows at the Philip Johnson Glass House and Eric Fischl’s Art in America. They have won prizes including the Winterhouse Design Writing Student Award and the $25,000 AOL Grant Program “25 for 25” groundbreaking thinkers. Graduates are also developing books based on their thesis research, such as William Myers’ Bio-Design to be published in Fall 2012 by Thames & Hudson. Read more ›


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