Design Studies

Design Studies Graduate Program

Faculty and students of the Design Studies graduate program investigate a wide range of subject matter and apply a variety of methods, with the common goal of understanding how humans use design (broadly conceived) to solve problems, create change, and affect all aspects of daily life. Within this parameter, the Design Studies graduate program offers following degree options:

MFA

Studio-based design inquiry 3yr program

PhD

Research-based design inquiry 4+yr program

Read more in our graduate degree print piece.

What Makes this Program Unique

Our degree options provide opportunities to pursue topics in depth for students interested in design and design’s relationship with human environments, the human body, textiles and other material objects. It is highly flexible, as each student works closely with their advisor and graduate committee to design a custom-fit curriculum that strives to support each student’s goals after graduation, preparing them for professional design careers, art careers, specialized research, teaching in higher education, museum or archival work, community engagement, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Students typically focus on one of two topic areas.

Interior Environments: Addresses diverse aspects of design inquiry, focusing on design as a complex interrelationship between people and the built environment. There are two primary areas of emphasis: (1) studio-based design inquiry (MFA) emphasizing discovering new insights, processes, and relationships through the creative process and (2) research-based design inquiry (PhD) emphasizing discovering new insights and relationships within the physical, social, and contexts of interior environments through the application of theories and methods drawn from the social sciences and humanities and then translated to the design practice.

Textiles and Clothing Forms: Focuses on the conceptual, technical, and aesthetic possibilities of textiles and clothing. There are two primary areas of emphasis: (1) studio-based design inquiry (MFA) emphasizing discovering new insights, processes and relationships through the creative process, and students formulate a plan of study that may incorporate courses in textile history, textile science, or courses in the Art Department while building on their previous academic and professional expertise and (2) research-based design inquiry (PhD) emphasizing discovering new insights and relationships into the historical and social contexts of textiles and clothing.

Materials and Material Culture: Focuses on the conceptual, technical, and aesthetic possibilities of materials and material culture. There are two primary areas of emphasis: (1) studio-based design inquiry (MFA) emphasizing discovering new insights, processes and relationships through the creative process, and students formulate a plan of study that may incorporate courses in material culture studies, design history, and materials science while building on their previous academic and professional expertise and (2) research-based design inquiry (PhD) emphasizing discovering new insights and relationships into the historical and social contexts of materials and material culture.

The program’s graduate faculty is comprised of interdisciplinary scholars, designers, scientists and artists who mentor and assist graduate students as they build individual programs of study. Due to the centrality of the student/advisor relationship, however, students will only be accepted if there is a close fit with a graduate faculty member who is willing to commit to serve in this mentorship relationship. At the same time, students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty from a broad range of departments across the university, including Art, Art History, Computer Science, Engineering, or Folklore.

Cost and Funding Opportunities

Financial Aid

See general UW–Madison graduate student funding information, or contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, 333 East Campus Mall, 608-262-3060.

Program Contacts

Picture of Kevin Ponto.

Kevin Ponto | Graduate Program Chair | 608-265-3958 | kevin.ponto@wisc.edu

 

 

 

Lauren Feiner headshot

Lauren Feiner | Graduate Program Coordinator | 608-263-5675 | lauren.feiner@wisc.edu