School of Visual Arts

MFA Design for Social Innovation


209 E 23rd St.

New York City, NY 10010

United States





Program Information

Degrees Offered:

MFA Design for Social Innovation

Format: Campus

Program Description:

The traditional designer is an individual creator – with a singular vision and expertise. But we have reached the point where it is unrealistic to believe that individuals, regardless of how brilliant, have the power to solve the complex problems we face. To make cities vibrant places for all citizens, to help multi-national corporations become a force for good, to create new enterprises built on products and services for a sustainable future requires adapting the traditional skills of experts to the transformation of complex systems at great scale. DSI was founded to identify and prepare the designers and those interested in the design process who will lead this evolution. Students immerse themselves in the complex systems that connect every major issue today, expanding the methodologies of design to large engagements--from the invisible systems of beliefs and mental models that drive behavior to the forms of visual design that engage and inspire participation. They learn to scale the impact of research, mapping, game theory, informal systems and economies, metrics and data visualization. Our faculty, curriculum, networks, and partnerships keep us connected with the best thinking and practice in the world. Faculty members are leaders in sustainability, healthcare, social technology, living systems, communication, product, movement, and game design, big data, cognitive science, and emergent business models. DSI students work with real clients throughout the program, gaining hands-on experience with multinational corporations, non-profits and social entrepreneurs around the globe. Students are designers seeking relevance in the future of design, not the past, and looking for professional work that matters. They are graduates in other disciplines who want to learn to harness the power of design to create positive impact. They are social entrepreneurs who want the skills and knowledge to achieve their mission more quickly and fully, and professionals who have been working in business and want to play a more central, strategic role in your industry. Graduates are prepared to work in business, government, creative services, philanthropy, non-profits and as entrepreneurs. For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website.

Financial aid is only available for those who qualify.


The School of Visual Arts (SVA) been authorized by the New York State Board of Regents to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Professional Studies. Specific programs in which these degrees are offered, and data required by the U.S. Department of Education on "Gainful Employment" for each program, may be found on SVA is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The Interior Design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation; the Art Therapy program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association, Inc.; and the Art Education program is accredited by the New York State Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education (RATE).  

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: Yes

International Financial Aid: Yes

# of Credits Required: 60

Classification: Specialized Institution—School of art, music, or design

Locale: Large City

Size & Settings: 3,000-5,999

Find Schools