Working alongside New York’s best-respected editors, authors, critics, curators, and historians, SVA MFA Design Criticism students learn how to build an argument, develop a critical stance, and hone a writerly voice. Instructed by such faculty members as MoMA’s senior curator of Design and Architecture Paola Antonelli, urban design critic Karrie Jacobs, and online media maven Elizabeth Spiers, students communicate their unique perspectives through a range of media, including radio podcasts, exhibitions, video essays, events, syllabi, online media, and books.
Featured D-Crit Alumni
He took a background in English and philosophy, mixed with some hardheaded financial website analysis (and a dash of long-form improv comedy bravado) and brought it to his study of the built environment. The result is well-reported, witty missives from design’s front lines. More
A born connector, he is now running events, curating exhibitions, writing for international publications, and generally helping to re-shape the global design conversation. More
The off-Broadway lighting designer who got to work with Paola Antonelli at The Museum of Modern Art via a shooting range in northwestern Wyoming. More
A design time-traveler, she left her pre-D-Crit study of antiquities; now she is defining the future of design and architecture. More
With an ear for language, and a nose for a good story, she used D-Crit to sharpen her design savvy. Now she applies her expertise as manager of a design studio, and writes for top magazines. More
From an orchard in upstate New York to an MFA at D-Crit, he’s on a mission to build repair back into the industrial design process. More
A mover and shaker in NYC’s design and architecture publishing scene, his Indian roots are never far away. More
A book editor with a philosophical turn of mind, he quit San Francisco for NYC and a chance to write thoughtful design commentary, and to inspire emerging designer and critics through his teaching. More
Hailing from Lisbon, she challenged the social design movement to do better and was catapulted to the web editorship of Domus in Milan. More
D-Crit Faculty More
Akiko Busch, author of books on design, culture, and nature • Teaches: “Reading Design”
Ralph Caplan, author and lecturer, former editor-in-chief of I.D. Magazine
Andrea Codrington Lippke, design and culture critic • Teaches: “Thesis Consultation”
Russell Flinchum, archivist at Century Association Archives Foundation • Teaches: “Design History”
Adam Harrison Levy, writer, documentary filmmaker and producer • Teaches: “Art of the Interview” and “Video Essays”
Karen Stein, writer, architectural consultant and former editorial director at Phaidon Press • Teaches: “The Design Book”
About SVA MFA Design Criticism
School of Visual Arts
MFA in Design Criticism
The SVA MFA in Design Criticism is devoted to the study of design, architecture, and urban infrastructure. The innovative two-year graduate program trains students to interrogate and evaluate design and its social and environmental implications, and to experiment with ways to engage design criticism’s publics.
Working alongside New York’s best-respected editors, authors, critics, curators, and historians, D-Crit students learn how to build an argument, develop a critical stance, and hone a writerly voice. Instructed by such faculty members as MoMA’s senior curator of Design and Architecture Paola Antonelli, urban design critic Karrie Jacobs, and online media maven Elizabeth Spiers, students communicate their unique perspectives through a range of media, including radio podcasts, exhibitions, video essays, events, syllabi, online media, and books.
The SVA MFA Design Criticism program seeks to cultivate design criticism as a discipline and contribute to design discourse with new writing and thinking that challenges and inspires. Applicants come to the program with experience in design, architecture, journalism, and from academic backgrounds in art history, English literature, philosophy, and critical studies; alumni of the program go on to work as editors, writers, curators, researchers, bloggers, managers, entrepreneurs, and educators.
Admission to the program is by online application and the submission of one essay written specifically for the application, up to 2,000 words of writing samples, and three letters of recommendation. If you have any questions about your application please contact us. We are happy to arrange for prospective students to tour the department or meet with the department chair, and to attend a class or a Tuesday evening lecture.
School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers, and creative professionals for more than six decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, dynamic curriculum, and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprised of more than 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 31 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit sva.edu.
How to Apply
SVA MFA Design Criticism is still accepting applications for Fall 2013. Applications are considered on a rolling admissions basis, as space remains available.
Admission to the program is by online application, the submission of required documents, and an interview by phone or in person. All applicants will receive an admissions decision in writing.
If you have any questions about your application please do not hesitate to contact the department. We are happy to arrange for prospective students to tour the department, meet with the department chair, and to attend a class or a Tuesday evening lecture. Additionally the department chair is available to discuss your choice of essay topic and any other concerns you may have.
The estimated tuition for the Design Criticism program is $18,065 per semester, with a departmental fee of $250 per semester.
Scholarships, ranging between $5,000 and $25,000, are offered to candidates, based on the merit of their applications. More
- Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
- Official transcripts from each college or university attended. Transcripts from foreign institutions must be officially translated into English and U.S. grading equivalencies.
- Three letters of recommendation from instructors or practicing professionals. Letters should be written on school or company letterhead and returned to the applicant in a sealed envelope with the recommender’s signature across the seal.
- A written statement (250-500 words) of the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study in design criticism.
- A short essay (750 words) critiquing a design object, event, or concept. This should be written specifically for the application.
- A writing sample of published or unpublished writing 1,000–2,000 words). Content is at the discretion of the applicant; however, the piece should demonstrate the applicant’s research and analytical skills and facility with language. The published sample can be from any context, including contributions to academic or commercial publications, books, catalogs or exhibition wall texts.
- Résumé, including professional experience as well as related activities such as research, internships, publications and awards.
- Proof of English proficiency (required of applicants whose primary language is not English).
- Upon acceptance to the program, nonimmigrant alien applicants are required to submit documentation of sufficient financial resources to attend SVA.
Letter from Alice Twemlow, chair and co-founder of SVA MFA Design Criticism
What does design criticism look like today? In this website you’ll find the stories of eleven graduates of the SVA MFA in Design Criticism who have used the program as a catalyst for launching multi-faceted careers in the intersecting realms of design research, curation, and writing.
When I launched D-Crit four years ago, I imagined graduates deploying their critical thinking about the built environment in all manner of media, calling out what is harmful as well as what enriches, and guiding the design conversation toward issues of import, with wit, conviction, and poise. As real, breathing critics began to emerge from the program—and to launch careers as researchers, educators, publishers, writers, curators, and managers—the quality of their work and the breadth of their interests surpassed even my biased expectations. With the release of each year’s flock of graduates, I not only see well-argued, historically informed, and imaginative work being realized, but I also see the priorities and the very definition of design criticism being both expanded and refocused.
This website charts the paths of just some of our graduates. I hope you will be as inspired as I am by what you see. At D-Crit we’re working hard to hone the practice of design criticism as an academic discipline, but these efforts are only relevant in connection to what emerging design critics, like the ones you are about to meet, are actually doing—in the field…