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 three tracks:  Apparel Studies, Graphic Design, 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. 


We support collaborations across the campus.  There are opportunities to take courses in related disciplines, work on research teams and take classes with graduate students from across campus.  We have a strong commitment to partnering with the community and industry to advance knowledge and well-being.


Information on Funding and Tuition:  Financial support in the form of graduate assistantships is available based on the expertise of the student and the needs of the department. Assistantship offers are made after the student has been accepted into the program.  The majority of our graduate students receive funding.  Funding is also available to support thesis or dissertation research, and to attend conferences to present scholarship. More information.


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


Dress, History, and Culture, focuses on 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 (e.g., the Human Dimensioning Lab, Wearable Techology Lab).



Retail 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.


Applications for the Housing Studies Track graduate study and certificate are no longer being accepted.


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. A prior degree in interior design or architecture is required for admission to study interior design at the graduate level.


The Product Design Track is a creative, interdisciplinary program that blends elements of industrial design, engineering, business, and humanities. Combining these disciplines gives students the tools and methods to design products and services (both physical and digital) that are functional, marketable, and human-centered. The product design track has two program plans that students may follow, Plan A: Thesis-Based and Plan C: Course-Based.

Plan A is geared towards design professionals and academics who want to deepen their theoretical and practical knowledge of the discipline.  Plan C is geared towards individuals who want to gain hands-on advanced product design experiences to augment their backgrounds.

Application & Info

Design Graduate Program

Design, Housing, and Apparel

Email:  dhagrad@umn.edu





Current Students


New Students


Program Statistics



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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


Advanced Wearable Products Certificate


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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