Parsons Paris

History of Design and Curatorial Studies (MA)

  • The Parsons Paris campus is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. All related interest and applications should be directed to the main Parsons in New York City, where the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies program, now in its third decade, continues to be based.   

    The MA in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies at  Parsons Paris enables students to investigate, understand, and display the objects and environments that surround us. Through a variety of seminars, workshops, research, and curatorial projects, students develop the skills needed to engage with design objects and material culture. The Centre National des Arts Plastiques, and other leading art and design institutions, this object-focused, practice-based program prepares students for future careers as museum curators, educators, scholars, or cultural entrepreneurs.

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    Perspectives on Design History and Practice

    The MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies curriculum offers practical and theoretical instruction in researching and displaying design objects and projects. Courses on curatorial studies and the history of design in a social and cultural context reflect the program’s broad scope and relevance. This graduate program is also offered at Parsons in New York City in partnership with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

    Hands-On Curatorial Experience

    Students complete the 42 required credits in two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study. Graduate students have opportunities to curate exhibitions, create programming for the public, and produce interpretive materials – all of which provide essential hands-on experience in museum and curatorial practices. 

    Museum Studies in Paris

    Classes meet both on the Parsons Paris campus and in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. This offers students the opportunity not only to learn directly from the collection but also to work with curators, educators, visiting researchers, and designers in the museum's community of scholars. Students are also encouraged to pursue internships in museums, galleries, auction house archives, and historic houses throughout Paris.

    Broad Design Research Horizons

    Access to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs collection and library, to the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art library, and to the vivid cultural programming of both public and private art and design institutions in Paris allows students to enrich their object-based research and to broaden their intellectual and curatorial horizons. Parsons Paris also supports individual and group projects through student travel and research grants. Additionally, the program provides support for research initiatives through its network of advisors and partner institutions in the field of art, design, and material culture. 

    Future Opportunities

    Graduates of the program may go on to obtain specialist and management positions in auction houses, museums, and historic houses; enter fields such as criticism, journalism, consulting, and e-commerce; and pursue advanced study at academic institutions.

  • Student Work

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    The Master of Arts degree is awarded for completion of 42 credits, including a master's thesis. A maximum of six credits of graduate-level coursework may be transferred from another institution. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.

    First Year / Fall
    APHT 5001 Survey of Decorative Arts 1 3 -
    APHT 5000 Proseminar 3 -
    APHT 5126 Elective: Curatorial Project 3 -
    3 -
    Total Credits 12
    First Year / Spring
    APHT 5002 Survey of Decorative Arts 2 - 3
    - 9
    Second Year / Fall
    APHT 5901 Independent Study: Thesis 1 3 -
    6 -
    Or Electives (if taking master’s exam) 9 -
    Second Year / Spring
    APHT 5902 Independent Study: Thesis 2 - 3
    - 6
    Or, APHT 5903 Independent Study: Master’s Exam - 3
    - 6
    Total Credits 42


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