Design M.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Design and Environmental Analysis

Program Description

The Field of Design and Environmental Analysis brings together some of the world's leading experts in interior design, human factors and ergonomics, facility planning and management, and environmental psychology into a single field and department. Students benefit from a low faculty-to-student ratio and the faculty's integrated approach to the study of the planning, design, and management of the built environment and its effects on those using it.

The M.A. degree is a two-year, post-professional degree program intended for students with an undergraduate degree in interior design, architecture, or product design who want to do advanced study and research program in interior design. The program culminates in a formal research thesis in which students are encouraged to systemically develop and test research based design solutions, theories, and methods.

For more information, check the department web site.

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: 607 255-2168

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



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., M.S., or Ph.D. program must apply to and be accepted by the field of Design and Environmental Analysis. Prospective graduate students will apply for admission to the Field of Design and Environmental Analysis under their desired concentration. All applicants must present scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs), including the writing evaluation now integrated in the GRE. Students holding a master's degree may use previous examination scores to satisfy this requirement. Students whose native language is not English must present scores for the TOEFL English language examination, if they have not studied at least two years or received a degree in a country where English is the native language (see Graduate School English language proficiency requirement for more information). Applications will be reviewed by the members of the graduate field. Only students with outstanding records will be admitted to the program.

Outstanding students with a B.S. or B. A. degree in human factors, psychology, facility planning and management or related areas such as industrial design, interior design or architecture, engineering, or anthropology may be admitted into the Ph.D. program depending on the relevance of their background to the research specialty they will pursue. Since Human Behavior and Design is a highly interdisciplinary field, decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

  • All Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL or IELTS Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE general test
  • Official transcript
  • M.A. only- Portfolio, see portfolio submission guidelines 
  • TOEFL minimum scores on Internet-based test (section minimums: writing: 20, listening: 15, reading 20: speaking: 22); overall minimum: 105
  • Preparation in human factors, environmental psychology, facility planning and design, interior design, architecture, or related areas
  • Evidence of potential for advanced study, which in general means a combined score of approximately 1,200 or above in the verbal and quantitative aptitude tests of the GRE, (~310 in the new scoring system), grade point averages of 3.0 (B) or above, and rank within the top third of the baccalaureate class
  • Bachelor's degree in human factors, psychology, facility planning and management or related areas such as industrial design, interior design or architecture, engineering, or anthropology


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