FAQ for MFA Prospective Students
My undergraduate degree is not a design-related degree—will I be able to apply to the MFA program?
Applicants with undergraduate backgrounds that are unrelated to interior design or architecture but who have the interest in pursuing graduate interior design study will take one year of preparatory study (two semesters consisting of 24 credits) followed by two years (60 credits). These students complete 84 credits in three years.
My undergraduate degree is a design-related degree; will I be considered for a two-year MFA option?
Applicants with undergraduate backgrounds that are related to interior design or architecture (pre-professional or professional programs) and have the interest to pursue an MFA will gain advanced standing and have the interest to pursue an MFA may qualify for advanced standing and complete 60 credits in two years.
I am interested in teaching, will this MFA program prepare me for that career?
We emphasize placing one’s design work into a larger social, political and intellectual framework, which is an excellent underpinning for teaching. Our MFA degree will prepare students to teach at the college level. We offer a teaching practicum elective course for students interested in teaching.
There are also opportunities to take elective classes in art and design education focusing specifically on college teaching, design theory and history in the Interior Design Department, as well as in the departments of History of Art and Design, Architecture, Industrial Design, and beyond.
I have some professional experience in Interior Design. What are the benefits of going to graduate school for interior design?
As a professional, your ability to thrive long-term in the design world will be greatly enhanced. Having an MFA degree lets both potential employers and potential clients know that you have had a rigorous education in both the technical and creative aspects of the field.
With a master’s degree, one has more of a chance to distinguish oneself in a competitive market. Our program will allow you the time to add to your knowledge and abilities. Pursuing a concentration (explained below) offers an opportunity for greater depth of study, and developing new expertise within the discipline of interior design. Taking an internship during your study also enhances your ability to gain new employment, or to pursue a teaching career.
What does Pratt look for in an Interior Design MFA applicant?
We do not have a preconceived notion of the ideal student. We look for applicants with ambition, curiosity, discipline and intelligence. We currently have a very diverse student body with a rich set of experiences and skill sets that are shared through working together and through the discourse inspired by design studio work and supporting coursework. We recommend that applicants to the MFA program take particular care with their personal statement; showing a clear correlation between what our program offers and the applicant’s own goals and ambitions. In our program, we offer the chance for each student to select an area of concentration to enhance and focus one’s design education. While it would not be necessary to declare a formal commitment to one of the areas of concentration offered, thoughtful consideration of one’s interests may also strengthen an application (see below for information on concentrations).
Why is interior design education centered on the idea of the design studio?
Our design studio sequence is the core of our undergraduate and graduate programs. Students and faculty explore both specific problem-solving strategies and the broad concerns related to the interior design discipline. Projects may be based on a variety of subject matter. For example, they may focus on: flows of people and things, interaction with context, ecologies of images in media and other modes of representation, and ever evolving in its relationship to emerging technologies. Our dedicated educational community encourages deep philosophical and theoretical explorations to produce varied aesthetic expressions, while considering ethical responsibility and practical applications in line with professional standards. Students learn to critically question and analyze many contexts in order to design for a diverse group of people. With a firm commitment to social and environmental responsibility, a studio may also ask students to contribute to the enhancement of the human environment by considering function, health, safety, and welfare. Studio is the place where you have the freedom and the support to develop your individual identity as a designer, to help you find and engage the issues and interests that will sustain you as a student and a practitioner.
What are Concentrations?
Concentrations are areas of specialization, to provide students the opportunity to gain advanced skills and knowledge in a particular aspect of the interior. Concentrations can be formed through courses that include Electives, Interior Options Lab and Interior Design Options Studio.
Concentration areas include:
- Theory + Criticism
- Ecological/Sustainable environments (includes Advanced Technology)
- Emerging Technologies
- Exhibition Design
- Self-Directed (for students exploring across the offered subjects)
Our Interior Design Options Studios allow students to further explore specific design issues aligned with the concentration areas, as well as elective courses and Interior Options Labs offered in an area of specialization. Elective courses may be taken within the department as well as in other academic departments at Pratt.
What is an Options Lab?
An Interior Design Options Lab is an elective course, and at least one is required for the MFA. An Options Lab is similar to studio as students will research, explore and make things in a hands-on manner. The labs focus on different topics and details related to the interior.
Some of the three-credit Options Labs promote interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary coursework with disciplines such as industrial design and communication design.
Is it required to make a concentration of Elective courses/Options Labs and Options studios while I am at Pratt?
It is not required to make a concentration, but choosing this option will enhance your education. You may also choose to select courses and studios that take advantage of more than one area of study.
Rank, Accreditation and NCIDQ Exam
Is Pratt’s MFA program highly regarded?
The 2017 professional survey produced by Design Intelligence, has ranked Pratt’s graduate program in interior design, #1 in the United States. Our undergraduate program was ranked #2. Since 2006, the Design Intelligence has consistently ranked our graduate program in the top three across the country. This year our graduate program was also admired nationally by deans for our quality of teaching, emphasis on design and international student body; and, our undergraduate program was admired for maintaining a balance for between technology, design history, and aesthetic purity.
Is the MFA program CIDA accredited?
The graduate program is not accredited; yet, our undergraduate program is. Both programs are accredited by NASAD and both are registered with New York State Department of Education.
Will I be eligible to take the NCIDQ exam with a graduate degree from Pratt’s MFA program?
Yes; completing the 60 credits of the MFA satisfies the educational requirement of the NCIDQ exam. For more information, visit ncidqexam.org.
Is the GRE required?
The GRE is not required.
I have an associate’s degree in interior design; can I apply to the graduate program?
An associate’s degree does not fulfill the requirements to apply to our graduate program. You must have a bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent) to apply to the master’s program.
Have you received my application materials?
You can check on one’s application status at ApplyWeb at any point to find out what has been received.
What are the department’s requirements?
Requirements can be found online.
I am coming from a non-design background. Should I submit a portfolio of my independent design or art work?
We encourage all applicants to submit a portfolio of their best work, yet a portfolio is not required with your application if you will be taking the preparatory year for 24 credits, followed by 60 credits over the next two years.
If you want to submit a portfolio, show us your strengths and interests as they will give us a view of you in relation to studying interior design. Here are some tips:
- label work clearly
- check for legibility of images reduced for posting on Slideroom (the site we use for online portfolios)
- attribute your contributions to group work
- distinguish between professional and school work
- show your creativity and passion
Application: TOEFL/IELTS Scores
What is the required score for Graduate Interior Design?
Requirements can be found online.
Can I send my score in after the application deadline?
Yes, all documents should be received by January 19. Without the minimum score, your application is considered incomplete. The department will review your completed application once your TOEFL or IELTS score has arrived.
How and when will I find out if I have been accepted?
We send letters to accepted students both by email and regular mail. If your application is successful, a email will arrive from the Chair of the department, and a formal letter will follow in the mail. Information from the Office of Admissions will also come to you. We generally send out acceptance letters in March.
Application: Visiting Campus and/or the Department
May I visit Pratt campus and the department?
It is not required, but applicants are strongly encouraged to visit the school during the academic year, to better understand the department’s philosophy and methodology. An applicant will be able to take a campus tour, and observe students interactions and meet faculty. You may set up a department tour through the department where your will be welcome to sit in and observe a class, an excellent way to get a sense of the program.
To make an appointment to see the Interior Design department facilities and examples of student work, please contact Aston Gibson, Assistant to the Chair, (firstname.lastname@example.org / 718.636.3630 / ).
May I meet with a faculty member to get more information about the program?
The department generally cannot meet with prospective students one-on-one as part of their application process. To meet with Interior Design Faculty as part of your application process, attend a Graduate Information Session
Program: Time frame
Will I be able to complete the program in fewer than the two or three years as described above or on the website?
No. The curriculum is structured by the design studio sequence and these courses must be taken in order. Some courses may be available in the summer, and these may be discussed with an academic advisor.
What are some things I can do to prepare for graduate study, coming from a non-design background?
We recommend taking free-hand drawing courses, drafting courses, or other courses in art, construction, sculpture, or similar. . Immerse yourself in art and architectural history through books and museums. Teaching yourself or taking a class in the Adobe software suite (especially Photoshop) is also helpful.
Accepted Incoming Students
I have been accepted to the program and plan to attend, what are the first steps?
This is a good place to start for initial questions.
The Interior Design Department can answer your academic questions: about the program, specific classes, requirements, etc. We send out information about the program, graduate assistantships, and registration for fall classes by early summer.
I have been accepted, when may I register for classes?
All students who have paid a deposit will receivean email with their Pratt email address and password. One cannot complete any part of the registration process without your email and password. All registration activities and important Pratt information will be sent to your Pratt email address ONLY. If you need help determining your login name or password or have trouble accessing a particular system, contact Pratt's Help Desk at email@example.com or 718.636.3765.
The Interior Design Department will send out a registration package in early summer. For incoming students, we require an advisement session during Orientation Week. This consists of a short meeting with your academic advisor who will review your registration.
Is there a deadline to register for classes?
Because graduate students pay per credit (not per semester), one will most likely register before August 1st so that your bill will reflect the accurate amount for tuition. if you register after the date that your semester tuition bill is due, your bill will be adjusted. Beyond those conditions, you must register before you attend class. Registering early is a good idea, as classes do fill up. You will be able to register or make changes to your academic plans until the first day of school with no penalty.
May I take more than the recommended classes in a semester?
We do not recommend taking more credits in any given semester than the published curriculum summary schedule.
When may I begin to take electives?
Each student will have opportunities to select elective credits as part of the program, but a general rule is to take required classes first. This will avoid delays due to scheduling conflicts and ensure one has the knowledge needed.
How much does it cost to attend Pratt?
Estimates for cost of attendance are online.
For what sort of financial aid am I eligible?
The department considers all accepted students for merit-based scholarships. If one is received, it will be indicated in the acceptance letter. In addition, the department has some endowed scholarship funds to award to students in good academic standing. We also offer graduate assistantships, which may be applied for in the beginning of the first semester. . Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents should submit the FAFSA (www.fafsa.ed.gov) in order to apply for loans up to the full cost of attendance.
Outside Scholarships: The following organizations sponsor scholarships specifically for interior design students:
- International Furnishings and Design Association IFDA
A non-profit with the mission “to foster educational and philanthropic activities to enhance the furnishings and design industries.”
- American Society of Interior Designers ASID
- International Interior Design Association
New York Chapter
- The IIDA Foundation
I have a full time 9–5 job; may I work and attend school at the same time?
This program is full-time only; we do not offer a part-time program. Most of our classes run during the day, so it is very difficult and not suggested to maintain a full-time job while pursuing a graduate degree here.
Working is not recommended for the first semester, especially for three-year students.
Does Pratt help place graduates for work?
Pratt does help place graduates as well as help establish ties to the design world through contact with instructors (many of them are also practitioners), lecturers, and jurors. Take a look at Pratt’s Center for Career and Professional Development to see a robust job-search resource for Pratt students and alumni.
I am coming from a non-design background. May I take classes ahead of time?
We are only able to grant advanced standing for a few classes, so it is not recommended.
Is there a required reading list before I arrive?
The following is a small list of anthology sources of essays that are not required, but may interest you related to design theory and thinking:
Preston, Julieanna, and Mark Taylor, editors. Intimus: Interior Design Theory Reader, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2006.
Lois Wenthal, editor. Toward a New Interior: An Anthology of Interior Design Theory, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011.
May I borrow these, or other books from the Pratt Library?
You must first register for fall classes, then get an ID in order to take materials out of the Library. To get your ID you’ll need a print-out of your schedule (available through the same pages on my.pratt.edu that you use to register) and your ID number. The office that issues ID’s is in the ARC building.