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Master of Arts
Costume Studies

Application Extended: Still Accepting Applications

MA in Costume Studies

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

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Degree Details

Official Degree Title

Master of Arts in Costume Studies

Full-time or Part-time
Start Date
Application Deadline

Our master's degree focuses on fashion as a significant and vital cultural product. With a core of courses on the history of fashion and textiles, the curriculum emphasizes research and analysis of the fascinating phenomenon of dress. Not limited to the study of garments, Costume Studies extends the term “fashion” to all aspects of appearance as students are encouraged to consider recent developments in the light of what they learn about the past.

Your experience and individual research will be enhanced by access to NYU’s specialist faculty, world-class research facilities and the rich offerings of New York’s museums, galleries, auction houses, and other institutions.

The degree offers courses that emphasize the relation of costume studies to material culture and the fine and decorative arts. The 36-point curriculum includes core courses in the history of dress and textiles, as well as electives in exhibition and museum topics, art theory and criticism, and the decorative arts. 

Our faculty are associated with museums and galleries in New York and teach courses in costume and textile history, decorative arts, and conservation. Field trips and sessions at world-renowned collections of costumes, accessories, and related objects enhance the curriculum. Students conduct original research with 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. Through research and writing, object study, and internships, students in the Costume Studies program gain knowledge in the history and theory of dress and textiles in the broadest aesthetic and cultural context.

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

  • Curators, collection managers, and exhibition consultants
  • Museum administrators
  • Auction house specialists
  • Private dealers and appraisers
  • Archivists and historical researchers
  • Educators, writers, journalists, critics 

In January 2019, students presented Gray Area: Authenticity, Value, and Subversion in Fashion, an exhibition of eight case studies that explored authenticity in fashion. More than a century of complex shifts was examined in the production, consumption, and perceived worth of objects deemed valuable for reasons beyond the cost of their materials. From the smuggling of coveted nineteenth-century French goods to the current feedback loop of brand-endorsed label appropriation exemplified by designers such as Marc Jacobs, Gray Area illuminated the process by which value in the fashion system is assigned, maintained – and subverted.

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The MA in Costume Studies focuses on fashion as an important cultural product in the context of material culture and the fine and decorative arts. It was the first curriculum in the United States to educate specialists in this field.

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