History of Design and Curatorial Studies


The MA program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies, part of Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory, offers a unique approach to the study of European and American decorative arts and design history. The program, which is hosted jointly by Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, offers an object-focused, practice-based approach as students enjoy numerous opportunities to work directly with objects in the museum’s collection and alongside its curatorial staff.

The MA program’s curriculum incorporates practical and theoretical instruction in studying interior and design objects such as textiles, ceramics, furniture, metalwork, and more. Courses on curatorial studies and design history in social and cultural contexts reflect the program’s broadened scope and relevance.

Furthermore, Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT) programs reflect the faculty’s expertise in areas like design methodology, philosophy and criticism, material culture, sustainability and cultural anthropology, and provide students with opportunities to take related courses within ADHT, thereby opening up new areas of investigation in curatorial practice and historical research.

MA HDCS students take advantage of several opportunities to complement their academic studies with hands-on experience, participating in for-credit internships in outside museums, auction houses, and galleries, taking part in master’s fellowships within Cooper Hewitt’s various curatorial departments, as well as working in paid teaching assistantships at Parsons. Students also have the opportunity to pursue their degree at Parsons Paris, taking advantage of our partnership with Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

HDCS alumni go on to work in some of the world’s most prestigious nonprofit, commercial, cultural, and academic institutions. Graduates can be found across the country and world in specialist and management positions in auction houses, museums, and historic houses; and beyond to fields such as criticism and journalism, consulting and e-commerce, and teaching; and pursue advanced study.

Learn More

Visit the main Parsons site for more information about the MA in History of Design and Curatorial Studies, including Curriculum and Admission Requirements.