Design M.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Design and Environmental Analysis

Program Description

The M.A. in Design at Cornell University is a two-year program centering 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 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.

For more information, visit the M.A. in Design website.

Research opportunities:
Much of the research occurs in the field. The department also has a computer-aided design and facility management lab; human factors and ergonomics research labs; an art and environmental design gallery; and a wood workshop.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-2809

Graduate Programs
1411 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • design + health
  • design for interaction
  • emerging technology for design
  • sustainable design studies


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall: Dec 1; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

A student who wishes to enroll in either the M.A. program in Design must apply to and be accepted by the field of Design and Environmental Analysis. Prospective graduate students will complete and submit an online application under their desired concentration with the required documents outlined below. The M.A. program is intended for students with an undergraduate degree in interior design, architecture, or product design 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.

A prior undergraduate studio-based degree in design (e.g. interior design, architecture, product design, etc.) is preferred. For the Sustainable Design Studies concentration, a prior degree in a design-related field is preferred, but not required. Applications will be reviewed by the members of the graduate field.

The following documents are required to apply to the M.A. program in Design

Learning Outcomes

Make a contribution to the scholarship of the field

Learn advanced research skills

  • Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and other sources of relevant information and critically analyzing and evaluating one's own findings and those of others.
  • Apply existing research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills.
  • Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline

Demonstrate advanced understanding of design process and methods

  • Understand the symbiotic relationship between design process and product.
  • Understand the contextual implications related to design process including culture and whole systems impact.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of a range of design methods.

Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship

  • Keep abreast of current advances within one’s field (e.g., environmental psychology, design research, facility planning and management, ergonomics, etc.) and related areas
  • Show commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies (such as but not limited to the International Interior Design Association, American Society of Interior Designers, Industrial Design Association, American Institute of Architects), publication, and other knowledge transfer modes.
  • Participate as an active contributor to the field through conference presentations, attendance at professional meetings, etc.

Demonstrate professional skills

  • Adhere to ethical standards in the discipline
  • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively