Apparel Design Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Fiber Science and Apparel Design

Program Description

The common focus of the field is the study of fibrous materials and their use as apparel, as engineering structures (such as composite materials), in biomedical applications, and in home furnishings. The Field of Fiber Science and Apparel Design is applied and multidisciplinary, with faculty members drawn from the Colleges of Human Ecology and Engineering.

Students are expected to develop strength in their base discipline as well as gain appropriate breadth to support the area of specialization. Active research programs exist in high-performance fibers and fiber-reinforced composites; Green composites; detergency and surface chemistry; perfume treated fabrics; textile materials in biomedical and geotechnical applications; polymers for electronics; liquid-crystal polymers; textile-dye chemistry; crystal morphology of fibers; electrospin of fibers; cellulose; apparel and fashion design, design ethnography; sizing and fit of apparel; functional apparel; cultural and historic studies of clothing and textiles; mass customization and technology; and technology management in the apparel industry.

For Ph.D. students, a minimum of four committee members are required: one faculty member representing the major, one for each of the two minor areas, and a fourth member appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies to act for the field. The oral and written Admission to Candidacy examination and the final oral examination are required for the Ph.D. degree. The field does not require a foreign language.

Outstanding facilities for research and study are available in the College of Human Ecology and the College of Engineering. Textile and polymer science laboratories are equipped with modern instrumentation for chemical, physical, and mechanical analysis and with a controlled temperature and humidity room. Apparel design studios are equipped with industrial sewing equipment. Video image-capture and photography equipment is available in a visual analysis lab. The functional apparel lab houses a variety of human-factors testing equipment, including a full-body scanner.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-3151

208 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • apparel design



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 15

Requirements Summary:


  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam* or IELTS Academic Exam for non-native English applicants
  • two recommendations and recommendation forms
  • GRE general test
  • GRE writing assessment
  • pre-application for Ph.D. applicants; request form from field via e-mail
  • portfolio for Apparel Design applicants

Admission is based on evidence of potential for advanced study. All applicants are required to submit GRE general test scores, including written assessment. The written assessment will be evaluated on an individual basis. Pre-applications are required for M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. programs; forms are available from the address above. Applicants to the Ph.D. program in fiber science should have an M.S. degree in textile chemistry, textile science, polymer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, applied mathematics, or a similar discipline. Applicants who do not have an appropriate M.S. degree should apply to the M.S./Ph.D. program. Applicants who want to pursue studies in apparel design may be required to submit a portfolio to the Director of Graduate Studies, if their research interests involve a design component.

*The Field's minimum TOEFL requirement is higher than the Graduate School's. Applicants must achieve a total score of at least 100, with a Speaking subscore of at least 26.

Learning Outcomes

Establish general expertise in Apparel Design including:

  • Anthropology of the Fashioned Body
  • Understanding Functional Aspects of Clothing and Design
  • Human Factors: Anthropometrics and Apparel
  • Fashion Theory
  • Fashion, Media and Technology
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Functional Aspects of Clothing and Design

Make an original and substantial contribution to an area of Apparel Design:

  • Think originally and independently to develop concepts and methodologies
  • Identify new research opportunities within the field of Apparel Design
  • Incorporate approaches, techniques, skills or knowledge connecting Apparel Design with other disciplines

Demonstrate advanced research skills:

  • Synthesize existing knowledge via coursework and literature review
  • Master application of research techniques, technical skills and analysis
  • Present research motivation, methods and results in written and oral formats