Fashion Design and Society (MFA)

  • The MFA Fashion Design and Society at Parsons School of Design is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States, with a unique interdisciplinary and international approach to fashion. Each year, a small group of students join this academy for advanced studies in fashion design and train to become innovative and progressive world-class designers. Initiated by Parsons alumna Donna Karan, the program has received support from major names in fashion such as Diane von Furstenberg, Swarovski, Uniqlo, LVMH, and Kering.

    Explore the MFA Fashion Design and Society community to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world at This program is part of Parsons' School of Fashion

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    Grounded in Design

    The two-year, 60-credit program combines intensive studio-based projects with research and exploration. In the tradition of critical social research at The New School, the program helps students develop an understanding of the global business, intellectual, and ecological contexts of their work. Supplemental classes in filmmaking, presentation, and photography broaden students’ visual design vocabulary and communication skills, preparing them for success in collaborative professional settings and showing them how to present and position their work within the market.

    Collection Capstone

    At the end of their second year, in May, students present their graduation collections to industry insiders, headhunters, select press, stylists, and buyers in an exhibition format, which often results in employment or other professional opportunities. In addition, students present their collections on the runway during New York Fashion Week in September. 

    Forward-Looking Designers

    Part of Parsons’ renowned School of Fashion, the MFA program offers students opportunities to exhibit their work on an international scale, to build relationships with industry leaders, and to participate in high-profile collaborations. Student work is regularly featured in a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, WWD, Vogue (US, UK),, Elle, Marie Claire (US), ID, Interview, and SO-EN (Japan). Recent graduates have gone on to work as designers at major labels such as Alexander Wang, NIKE, Oscar de la Renta, Under Armour, Kanye West for Adidas, St. John Knitwear, Burberry, Donna Karan International, DKNY, Calvin Klein Collection, CK Jeans, Coach, The Gap, Reed Krakoff, Ralph Lauren Black Label, Narciso Rodriguez, and Opening Ceremony.

    Others have launched their own businesses and gone on to sell at Dover Street Market in New York, London, and Tokyo. Students have won or been finalists in fashion competitions such as Feel the Yarn at Pitti Filati in Florence, the International Fashion Showcase in London, International Talent Support (ITS sponsored by Diesel), H&M Awards, VFiles Made Fashion, New York Fashion Week, and the LVMH Prize.

    Future Opportunities

    Graduates pursue career paths including fashion design, art direction, curating, and teaching.

  • Student Work

    MFA Fashion Design & Society Alumni Website

    MFA Fashion Design & Society Alumni Website
    Showcasing Generation Overview, Runway, Achievements, Biographies and Special Projects

    MFA Fashion Design & Society Instagram

    MFA Fashion Design & Society Instagram
    Showcasing Student Work, Press, Runway, Exhibitions, Events and Archival Material


    The Master of Fine Arts degree is awarded for completion of 60 credits. Transfer credits are not accepted. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner.


    Program Contact

    Full-Time Faculty

      Part-Time Faculty

        See All Program Faculty

        Director's Message

        Message from Shelley Fox, Director

        The development of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society program has been a creative exercise in itself. As a directional and conceptual designer, I have always found that the "personal" is so important in defining identity. If there was ever a time to stake out a personal vision, defy market conventions, and rev up the creative engines, it is now. Innovation and thoughtfulness may be the only route for students, and I can’t think of a more critical time than now for all thinking to become international.

        There is something unique about New York, and I came here specifically to launch a new MFA program, with the intention of facilitating an exchange of ideas between the School of Fashion and the traditional academic disciplines. Design education is in need of reform. If we are to maintain the spotlight on New York as a bright center and a resource for innovative design, we must reprogram that next generation of talent right here. At the end of the day, I am trying to create "idea people" — better thinkers who are aware of the bigger picture.

        I must first thank Parsons alumna Donna Karan, whose foresight and generosity were instrumental in the creation of this program, the first of its kind in the United States. I think the program reflects her innovative design sensibility, her business acumen, her adventurous spirit, and, perhaps most important, her deep interest in humanity.

        Since its founding in 1896, Parsons has been a leading innovator in design education. That’s the reason Parsons is the perfect place for the MFA in Fashion Design and Society to live and to develop and advance the study of fashion. It is also important that Parsons is part of The New School, a university founded on the principles of intellectual freedom and civic engagement. Students in this program will find a studio-based learning environment within a larger social and critical context.

        Shelley Fox
        Donna Karan Professor of Fashion
        MFA Fashion Design and Society
        School of Fashion
        Parsons School of Design

        About Shelley Fox

        Since graduating from the MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Shelley Fox has won international recognition for her experimental and innovative approach to womenswear. As a directional and conceptual designer, she is distinguished by her use of materials and manipulation of fabric, particularly her development of an unorthodox pattern-cutting technique. Constantly questioning convention, she has redefined the way clothes are worn from New York to London to Hong Kong.

        Honors Shelley Fox has received include the Jerwood Fashion Prize, Peugeot Design Award for Textiles, Crafts Council Development Award, and Stanley Picker Fellowship for Design. In 2007, she was nominated for the Prince Philip Design Prize by the Arts Council England. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum, Barbican Art Gallery, Modemuseum, Crafts Council, Antwerp Landed 2001, and FIT in New York. Fox’s designs have also been shown in British Council exhibitions in Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and Japan.

        Program Scholarships

        The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship

        The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship provides financial support for a student from Japan who is enrolled in the MFA Fashion Design and Society program. This fellowship is administered by the U.S. Japan Council. The fellowship is possible thanks to the generous support of the U.S. Japan Council, Uniqlo, and Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. 

        The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship is open to applicants from Japan and provides financial support of up to $150,000, to the full cost of attendance for both tuition and living expenses for the two-year program. The amount awarded is based on the student’s financial need.

        In addition, the fellowship recipient has the opportunity to participate in an internship at Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., during the summer after his or her first year in the program.

        Eligibility and Process

        The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo Fellowship seeks candidates who meet the following criteria:

        • Completed the majority of their education in Japan
        • Is a Japanese national
        • Have demonstrated financial need
        • Have demonstrated leadership skill

        To be considered, individuals must apply and be accepted to Parsons’ MFA Fashion Design and Society program. Parsons will review all eligible applications for scholarship consideration and select a recipient on the basis of the criteria listed above. The TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship recipient will be notified at the time of admission.


        There is no separate scholarship application for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship; simply apply to the MFA Fashion Design and Society program by visiting If you would like to address your candidacy for the TOMODACHI-Uniqlo fellowship in your application, please feel free to mention it in your Statement of Interest essay (as part of the online application).

        Additional Information

        Inquiries about the MFA Fashion Design and Society program can be addressed to

        For application-related questions, contact the graduate admission office at

        For information about more scholarships and grants that may be available, visit Student Financial Services.

        tomodachi logo uniqlo logo

        Degree Program Options

        Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion Design and Society

        2 years, 60 credits

        Full-time graduate program

        A highly selective program that combines intensive studio-based projects with research and artistic exploration. Successful candidates typically have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and a substantial portfolio.

        Associate’s Degree (AAS) in Fashion Design

        3-4 semesters, 60 credits

        Can be completed full-time or part-time

        A professionally oriented course of study that provides essential foundation training and technical skills, enabling students to build a competitive portfolio and launch a new career in their chosen industry. Best suited to students who have previous college experience in an unrelated field and want to change careers.

        Explore the AAS degree option

        Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design

        4 years, 120 credits

        Full-time undergraduate major

        A holistic degree program that immerses students in challenging studio courses, art history and critical theory, as well as the wider world of liberal arts. The course of study culminates in a thesis and qualifies alumni for further graduate study. Best suited to first-time college students.

        Explore the BFA degree option

        Admission Requirements

        Application and Financial Aid Deadlines

        Application Deadline

        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

        Merit Scholarships:
        All admitted students are considered for merit scholarship awards determined by the strength of their applications. Scholarship awards are included in applicants’ admission decision letters. International students are eligible only for merit scholarships.

        Federal Student Aid:
        If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found at The FAFSA is available each year on October 1. The New School’s federal school code is 002780. You do not need to wait for an admission decision to apply for federal aid. Submit your FAFSA by our February 1 FAFSA Priority Deadline.

        Application Instructions

        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.

        Some of your required materials will be submitted through SlideRoom:

        1. In addition to submitting the online application, Parsons requires that you submit a portfolio using SlideRoom.
        2. Finalize your portfolio at the time you submit your application. This will help prevent any delays in reviewing your application as we need all required materials to be received before we can place your application under review.
        3. Once you have submitted the required SlideRoom materials, a confirmation number will be emailed to you. Save this for your records and enter it on the online application when requested.

        Required Application Materials

        1. Application Form: Complete the online application. All applicants are required to apply online.
        2. Application Fee: The application fee is $50. The fee is paid through the online application and is non-refundable. There is also a $15 SlideRoom fee.
        3. Transcripts:
          Unofficial Transcripts: Applicants must upload an unofficial transcript, mark sheet, or academic record for each institution (even if you didn’t receive a degree) in the Educational Background section of the online application.
          • All transcript uploads must be accompanied by a key, a legend, or the back copy of the transcript.
          • Non-English transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation. Records from non-U.S. institutions must have grades or marks and contain a copy of diploma if the degree has been conferred.
          • Make sure your name appears on the transcript/record. Scans must be clear and legible.
          • Do not mail materials that have been uploaded with the online application or any other materials unless requested by the admission office.
          • If you experience trouble uploading your transcript, email and give a detailed description of the issue and attach the document in question.
          The New School reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process. Any fraudulent activity or discrepancies found between uploaded and official transcripts will result in the immediate revocation of admission and/or dismissal from The New School. Transcripts uploaded with the online application are considered unofficial.

          Official Transcripts: Applicants offered admission will be required to submit official transcripts (as well as official certified translations and evaluations of the transcripts/mark sheets and degree certifications if the degree was earned outside of the U.S.) to The New School. Admitted applicants must submit all official transcripts pertaining to their entire academic career.

          Your offer of admission will be contingent upon the receipt and verification of these official documents. New students will not be permitted to register for their second semester of study until all official transcripts (including degree awarding transcripts) have been received by the Office of Graduate Admission. Transcripts uploaded with the online application do not satisfy this requirement. 

          Applicants for admission to The New School’s graduate programs must either hold or be in the final year of completing a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or the equivalent degree from an accredited college or university outside the United States.

          By Mail: Official transcripts should have an original signature or a raised university seal, and must be in a sealed envelope that has been signed or stamped by the issuing university’s registrar or records office. Applicants can either send official transcripts with an Application Materials Cover Sheet or request that institutions send transcripts directly to The New School. See “Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials” for our mailing address in the Additional Instructions and Information section below.

          Electronic Transcripts (U.S./Domestic Institutions Only): The New School accepts electronic transcripts only from our approved vendors. The New School’s approved vendors, in order of preference, are
          • Parchment Exchange
          • SCRIP-SAFE International
          • National Student Clearinghouse
          We do not accept electronic transcripts sent directly by a student or school offices. Note: All international academic credentials must be submitted as indicated in the International Academic Credentials sections below.

          International Academic Credentials: All transcripts not written in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation or be evaluated by World Education Services (WES), or by another member of the National Association of Credit Evaluation Services (NACES). A course-by-course evaluation must be prepared for each transcript. In the absence of an evaluation, the Admission Committee will do its best to render a decision. Please note: In some cases, a review cannot be made without an evaluation, and a committee decision will be delayed. The Admission Office reserves the right to request a transcript evaluation if necessary.

          If using WES, visit for instructions and to begin the application process. The “Required Documents” section will explain what to send. If you request your report online, search for “The New School” when selecting our institution. WES will send your completed evaluation directly to The New School.

          If using another NACES provider, follow instructions for that provider. Mailed evaluations and translations should be sent to the mailing address provided for supporting materials. Applicants forwarding these sealed documents should include an Application Materials Cover Sheet.
        4. Résumé: Submit a brief résumé/curriculum vitae summarizing your academic qualifications, relevant work experience, volunteer/community work, travel, exhibitions, public speaking, or any other relevant experiences as they may relate to your field of study, including dates and positions held. Please also note any special language or computer skills that you have.
        5. Statement of Purpose: Please outline your reasons for applying to this program. In what ways will you contribute to the subject matter of the program? You should include a thoughtful description of your background, tentative plan of study or area of inquiry in the field as you now envision it, your professional goals, and an explanation of how this graduate program will help you realize those goals. If you have not been enrolled as a student in the past five years, please address anticipated opportunities and challenges in pursuing the degree, and future career expectations upon completion of the program. (500–750-word limit)
        6. Recommendation Letters: You are required to submit two letters of recommendation from faculty or people with whom you have worked professionally. Recommenders can submit recommendations online; instructions are included with the online application. If preferred, the recommendation form can instead be sent by mail in a signed, sealed envelope. To send by mail, download the PDF recommendation form found in the online application, complete the personal information, save the form, and forward it to the recommender for completion and submission. Applicants can also send signed and sealed recommendations to the Office of Admission using an Application Materials Cover Sheet.
        7. Portfolio: The portfolio must be completed in SlideRoom only. Submit 25 to 40 images that provide a clear representation of your concepts and skills as a designer. Applicants can submit images of the following: pages from sketchbooks (showing in-depth research and design development work), final illustrations, technical drawings, artwork from various design projects, textile/knitwear work, fabric use, and/or photographs of clothing collections that you have developed. If you would like to submit moving images such as installation, performance, or live fashion show work, please submit them using SlideRoom.
        8. Test Scores:
          TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE: All applicants whose first language is not English must submit valid TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores. The minimum score required for TOEFL (IBT) is 92, for IELTS is 7.0, and for PTE is 63. Our TOEFL institution code is 2638.

          The New School does not require TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores for applicants who have earned a four-year degree from a U.S. college/university or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (minimum of three years attendance). Upon review of your application the Office of Admission may require you to submit an English Language Proficiency test score to further evaluate your candidacy.

          Arrange for the testing service to send your test scores directly to The New School using the codes listed above. We accept scores from the past two years. If your scores are older, you must retake the test. For more information, visit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE.

          Applicants also have the option of enrolling in The New School's English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Students must pass Level 6 in order to waive the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE requirement. Visit the ESL website for more information.
        9. Interview: All finalists for the Fashion Design and Society MFA program must be interviewed by the graduate faculty either in person or by Skype. All selected interviewees are expected to present full portfolios with evidence of process and design development work and examples of their 3D work (i.e., clothing).

        Additional Information and Instructions

        1. Applying to More Than One Program: In any given term, a student can apply to only one department or program within The New School. Applicants who file more than one application in a given semester will be required to withdraw one of the applications, and application fees will not be refunded.
        2. Application Materials: All materials submitted in association with The New School application become the property of The New School and cannot be returned to you or transmitted to a third party.
        3. Application Status: Applications become complete and ready for review once all required items have been received by the Office of Admission. You can check your application status online at the Admission Hub.

          Allow at least 14 days from the date you submitted your application for items to be matched and shown as received on the Hub. Applicants are responsible for following up with schools and recommenders to confirm that items have been sent.

          The Office of Admission will periodically notify applicants by email if their file is missing any documents and again when their file is complete for review. These notifications are sent to the email address provided in the online application.
        4. Readmission:
          The Application for Readmission should be completed by students who wish to return after an absence of four semesters (fall and spring). If you would like to apply for readmission, review the readmission deadlines and requirements in the Readmission section of our How to Apply information.
        5. Mailing Address for Supplemental Materials:
          Parsons School of Design
          Office of Admission (PS 300)
          79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
          New York, NY 10003