Department of Art and Art Professions

Master of Arts in Visual Culture: Costume Studies

Master of Arts in Visual Culture: Costume Studies

The field of costume studies is one of the most exciting areas of current visual arts research. Since 1979, the MA program in Visual Culture: Costume Studies has focused on the history of costume and textiles in its broadest aesthetic and cultural context. It was the first curriculum in the United States to educate specialists in this field.

MA in Visual Culture: Costume Studies
The program offers courses that emphasize the relation of costume studies to material culture and the fine and decorative arts. The 42-point curriculum includes core courses as well as electives in exhibition and museum topics, art theory and criticism, and the decorative arts. Faculty in the program associated with museums and galleries in New York teach courses in costume and textile history, decorative arts, and conservation. Students benefit from collections of costumes, accessories, and related objects at leading institutions, including the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; Museum of the City of New York, and the New-York Historical Society. The internship component of the program enables students to gain firsthand work experience and make valuable professional contacts. 

Career Opportunities
There are many options available for those who graduate with an MA in this rapidly expanding field, such as:


Mission Statement

Through research, object study, and internships, students in the Costume Studies program will gain knowledge in the history and theory of dress and textiles in its broadest aesthetic and cultural context.

Student Learning Objectives

1. Students will learn to conduct research and produce original scholarship on the history and theory of dress and textile by identifying and using appropriate research sources and methods.

2. Students will analyze the relationships between dress and textiles and various fields of studies, such as politics, economics, social history, technology as well as the visual, applied and performing arts.

3. Students will apply research and analytical skills in professional settings, such as exhibition praxis and internship placement.The program requires 42 points for completion, on a full- or part-time basis. Students in the program must complete a substantial, well-researched master’s thesis. Research focuses on a particular interest or issue in the field of costume studies. Students work with their program adviser to develop a research topic and complete the final phase of the thesis during their last semester.

New Dual Degree Opportunity: MA Costume Studies/MS Library Science

In addition to an MA in Visual Culture: Costume Studies, students can earn a master of science in Library and Information Science. In partnership with Long Island University's Palmer School of Library and Information Science, this dual-degree program combines the rigorous study of costume studies with professional qualification to give graduates a competitive edge in the evolving fields of information science, digital humanities, curatorial studies, and data archiving.

Learn more about the 61-point dual-degree program in Costume Studies and Library Science.