The 36-credit Master of Arts in Theories of Urban Practice program offers an innovative path for students interested in the critical study of design practices in the context of cities, urban space, and urban ecosystems. The program focuses on design-driven spatial and ecological innovation in relation to social justice, inclusion, and co-production of urban space.
This research-driven program is part of Parsons' School of Design Strategies (SDS), and shares a 12-credit core curriculum with the 60-credit, studio-based MS Design and Urban Ecologies program. Explore our
blog to learn more about the urban programs at Parsons and to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world.
The MA Theories of Urban Practice program is for students who wish to pursue advanced studies in urbanism or careers as urban researchers, designers, teachers, design critics, policy advisors, and leaders of nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and private design and development firms. Students explore design as a vehicle and a catalyst for bringing together government agencies, community-based groups, civic associations, and the nonprofit and private sectors in co-creating and transforming urban and ecological networks. They devise progressive collaboration techniques to empower communities developing socially and ecologically sustainable urban systems including food production and distribution, housing, green spaces, and educational infrastructure.
Recent master’s theses range from a graphic memoir of a Kuwaiti oil town, created to include populations left out of official histories, to a curriculum that engages secondary students in city revitalization through neighborhood-based experiential learning to an interactive exhibition employing interview-based research to promote broader notions of urban diversity.
The program is housed in Parsons’ School of Design Strategies, an educational environment that fosters innovative thinking about and experimentation with the design of cities, services, and ecosystems. Accordingly, they can take a project-based studio in Parsons’ MS in Design and Urban Ecologies program, and have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary projects offered throughout the university. Parsons is part of The New School, a pioneering university located in the heart of New York City that offers some of the nation’s best-respected programs in design, social sciences, liberal arts, performing arts, and management and policy.
Graduates pursue careers in urban design, city planning, government administration, nonprofit management, collaborative urbanism, teaching, research, and social enterprise. The program also prepares students to pursue doctoral studies at top universities around the world.
The Master of Arts degree is awarded for completion of 36 credits. A maximum of six credits of graduate-level coursework can be transferred from another institution. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.
In their first year, students choose an elective at Parsons that introduces them to the skills involved in the study and practice of urbanism.
In the spring semester of the first year of the program, each student chooses an elective course offered by another college of The New School. Examples include courses at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy; the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs; The New School for Social Research; and the Schools of Public Engagement.
The MA Theories of Urban Practice program seeks students who are critical, creative, and curious. Critical students are willing to challenge the status quo, including fundamental assumptions about how cities are designed and built. Creative students have the capacity to explore a wide range of ideas and experiment with unconventional strategies and practices. Curious students have a genuine desire to open their minds and learn about different ways of thinking and different types of urban practice all over the world.
The application deadline is January 1. To be most competitive for admission and merit scholarship consideration, please apply before the deadline. We will continue to review applications submitted after the January 1 priority deadline pending space availability in the program. The Admission Committee will make a decision on your application only after all the required materials have been received. Spring term admission is not offered for this program.
Financial Aid Deadline
All applicants selected for admission into our program are considered for a merit scholarship award that is determined by the strength of their application. Scholarship award notification is communicated at the same time as the admission decision. International students are eligible only for merit scholarships. If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found on the Web at
www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA is available each year on October 1. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid; we recommend submitting by our FAFSA priority deadline of February 1 for fall applicants. (The New School’s federal school code is 002780.)
All applicants are required to apply online. Save your work frequently and print a copy for your records. You must complete all required fields and uploads prior to submission.
Any additional supporting documents that need to be sent by mail must include an
Application Materials Cover Sheet. All supporting materials must be received before your application can be reviewed.
See below for additional information regarding submission of transcripts and recommendations.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
Explore the Theories of Urban Practice Community
SDS Urban Council
Gabriela Rendon, Co-Chair
Evren Uzer, Co-Chair
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