dha College of Design
Design, Housing, and Apparel

Design Graduate Program


The Design Graduate Program focuses on the study of relationships between humans and their designed environments. The program addresses theory, research, and application, using a shared disciplinary base from the arts and social and behavioral sciences.  The goal of the program is for students to analyze, evaluate, and integrate theoretical frameworks related to humans and their designed environments.


Students may choose one of four tracks:  Apparel Studies, Graphic Design, Housing Studies, and Interior Design.  Degree objectives include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Fine Arts (MFA, Graphic Design only), and Doctor of Philosophy.  In addition, a post-graduate Housing Studies Certificate is also offered.


Information on Funding and Tuition:  Financial support in the form of graduate assistantships is available on a limited basis and is based upon the expertise of the student and the needs of the department. Assistantship offers will not be made until after the student has been accepted into the program.  Assistantship availability is not guaranteed.   More information.


Students following the Apparel Studies Track choose one of three concentrations:


Dress, History, and Culture, which focuses upon understanding and conducting research on material culture, historic trends, and psychological and social behaviors related to dress.  Students explore the ways in which historical context, socio-psychological, and cultural factors influence material culture.  Students may select a minor, such as Museum Studies, Anthropology, Art History, or American Studies.  As a result of their study, students learn to analyze products of our time and interpret them through human response.


Product Development focuses upon theories and processes used in developing wearable soft goods products.  An in-depth understanding of user psychological, physical, and social needs provides the foundation for analyzing, implementing, and finalizing design solutions.  Students have the opportunity to work on industry-sponsored, applied, research-based projects through the Wearable Product Design Center.


Retail Merchandising and Consumer Studies emphasizes understanding and conducting research on individuals, groups, organizations, and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of apparel products.  Students explore the ways in which environmental, socio-psychological, and cultural factors influence consumption at all stages.  The result of their study is the ability to inform decisions concerning retailing and marketing strategies, as well as the ability to effect socially desirable behavior in a changing, globalized world.


The Graphic Design Track focuses on design theory, process, and methods related to design practice and research. Potential areas of study include multicultural communication, visual representation of information, human interaction with designed objects, social and cultural implications of design, color systems and perception, design history, and design education. Students and faculty collaboratively develop designed objects and information resources that will enhance people’s lives. The program integrates theory with practice in the application of emergent and established technologies to digital design solutions. Students complete a creative thesis.


In the Housing Studies Track, graduate study advances both theoretical and practical knowledge in the field.  Course offerings emphasize human needs and behavior, policy and community development, analysis of designed environments, and housing for special populations.  Students are prepared to assist people in their shelter-related problems through research.  A graduate degree in Housing Studies will expand your knowledge of housing-related issues. This multidisciplinary program draws from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Students are trained in a variety of research methodologies. Coursework and research experiences combine to further your understanding of the innovative approaches to the development of housing and related programs.  Upon completion of the graduate degree, students seek housing careers in state and federal agencies, nonprofit community organizations, housing regulation, and higher education.


Graduate study in the Interior Design Track emphasizes the theory, research, and specialized practice components of design as applied to people’s health, safety, and welfare in the interior environment, including culture, sustainability, and issues facing design education. Advances in theoretical knowledge and study of the interactions of humans in interior environments prepare students for teaching and research positions as well as design specializations within the profession. An undergraduate degree in interior design is required prior to applying to the program.


Application & Info

Design Graduate Program

Design, Housing, and Apparel

Email:  dhagrad@umn.edu





Current Students


New Students


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Design Resources


Goldstein Museum of Design


Wearable Product Design Center 


Human Dimensioning© Lab


Wearable Technology Lab


Fabrication Shops


Imaging Lab




Other Degrees/Minors

Related to Design


Human Factors & Ergonomics


Product Design Graduate Minor


Museum Studies Graduate Minor



Contact Information

College of Design

Saint Paul Offices

32 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-1922

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Minneapolis Offices

101 Rapson Hall, 89 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-7525

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