Closeup of three, gray, felt pinwheel lamps in the Dorothy O'Brien Innovation Lab.

AcademicsGraduate Programs

Design Studies, MFA, PhD

The focus of the MFA degree is on creative performance in design. Its goals are to promote strong and creative conceptual thinking, exploration, interpretation, innovation, and overall excellence in design execution.

The PhD program is the highest degree in the field of design research and scholarship, and is grounded in the production of original and rigorous research. Graduates of the program have demonstrated their leadership in the field of design practice and education in the U.S. and internationally.

Students are mentored and guided by a graduate faculty comprised of interdisciplinary scholars, designers, scientists, and artists and are encouraged to collaborate with faculty from across campus, including Art, Art History, Computer Science, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, and Folklore, as well as other departments in Human Ecology, such as Human Development and Family Studies, Consumer Science, Civil Society and Community Studies.

The PhD program

The PhD program currently offers three areas of concentration, Interior Environments, Textiles and Clothing Forms, Materials and Material Culture. Within each area, students are expected to build a self-directed but highly coherent curriculum in close consultation with a major faculty advisor.

Graduates of the program are well positioned for careers in higher education, government, industry and more:

Joy Huntington, PhD 2020

Hyo Jeong Kang, PhD 2019

Hasti Mirikia, PhD 2018

To learn more about this program please visit the Graduate School Human Ecology: Design Studies PhD

The MFA degree

Students generally focus their work in one of two general areas: Textile and Fashion Design, or Interior Architecture. Students focusing in Interior Architecture typically concentrate on the innovative application of aesthetic, conceptual and expressive design strategies in interior environments. Textile and Fashion Design students focus on the conceptual, technical and aesthetic possibilities of textiles and clothing. There are many students who may work across these areas or have an even more idiosyncratic integrative focus. In every case, students formulate a plan of study to suit their individual needs.

The course of study requires the completion of a minimum of 60 credits and includes a substantial studio work component. The curriculum seeks to create a foundation with flexibility to fit student needs.

Alumni of the MFA program work in a range of fields including higher education, product design, textile design, and science communication:

Liz Anna Kozik: Textiles, MFA 2017

Mali Winfield Mrozinski: Textiles, MFA 2016

Lucy Bea Jost: Design Studies, MFA 2014

Gao Xia: Textile Art and Design, MFA 2006

Design Studies Faculty

Design Studies Graduate Students

Design Studies Degree Requirements and Program Contacts

We recommend that you regularly consult with your faculty mentor and/or advising team to ensure that you are on the right track.

SoHE Knowledgebase Policies and Forms

Visit the UW–Madison Guide for complete admissions and degree requirements.

Portrait of Kevin Ponto in Nancy Nicholas Hall.Program Contact

Kevin Ponto
Associate Professor

School of Human Ecology Graduate Program