PARSONS MFA FASHION, DESIGN & SOCIETY

The MFA program is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States. Both interdisciplinary and international in scope, this academy for advanced studies in fashion design trains a small cadre of world-class designers to have a global understanding of fashion. Innovative and progressive, the Fashion Design and Society program offers students the opportunity to make substantive contributions—both professional and conceptual—to the field of fashion design. Aiming to bridge the gap between industry and education, the MFA Fashion Design and Society program reframes fashion design education within the context of the global world. Students learn to consider design, production, and distribution cycles as well as social, critical, ecological and communication dimensions of fashion in self-directed projects supported by the fashion industry. Central to the pedagogy of the program is the engagement of visiting professional practitioners such as photographers, art directors, artists, curators, choreographers and business consultants, who bring their own expertise and experience highlighting the collaborative strength of the program. The program was initiated with the support of Parsons alumna and designer Donna Karan, whose own career reflects a broad view of fashion that has transformed the field.

The program is highly competitive with an approximate 7.5% acceptance rate. We receive over 250 applications for only 18 places. The applications have increased year on year without an increase in acceptance rate, which serves to protect the high-quality delivery of education that we deliver as Directors and allows the program to remain boutique in size. This in turn allows the students to receive the highest level of professional teaching contact hours with a one-on-one mentorship. Mentorship often continues after graduation with some of our graduates, enabling them to navigate the real-life challenges in terms of production, retail, and choices that they face going forward.

THE PROGRAM

The two-year, 60-credit program combines intensive studio-based projects with research and exploration. In the tradition of critical social research at The New School, the program helps students develop an understanding of the global, ecological, and business contexts of their work. Supplemental classes in filmmaking, presentation, choreography / movement and photography broaden students’ visual design vocabulary and communication skills, preparing them for success in collaborative professional settings, as well as an understanding of how to present and position their work within the market. 

The MFA Fashion Design & Society program offers students opportunities to exhibit their work internationally, building relationships with industry leaders and participates in high-profile collaborations. Upon graduation the MFA students present their collections on the runway during New York Fashion Week in September to international press, buyers, stylists, and key industry professionals, in addition to an exhibition / showroom format which results in employment, future collaborations and opportunities.