Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

MA, Costume Studies

First Year

Fall - 12 points

ARCS-GE 2012 Literature & Methodology of Costume Studies (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2061 History of Costume I: Prehistory to 1800 (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2077 History of Textiles I: The Material of Fashion (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2911 History of Fashion Photography (3 points)

Spring – 12 points

ARCS-GE 2062 History of Costume II: The 19th Century (3 points)
3 electives chosen from among:
ARCS-GE 2078 History of Textiles II: The Modern Era (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2913 Dress in World Cultures (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2069 Costume Conservation and Display (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2064 History of Costume IV: Contemporary Dress (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2912 Contemporary Design Culture (3 points)
Or other electives from across NYU 

Second Year

Fall – 11 points

ARCS-GE 2063 History of Costume III: The 20th Century (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2022 Research in Costume Studies (Thesis part 1) (2 points)
2 electives chosen from among:
ARCS-GE 2910 Graduate Projects: Exhibition Praxis (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2102 Design and Culture: The 20th Century
Or other electives from across NYU

Spring – 1 point

ARCS-GE 2301 Final Project (Thesis part 2) (1 point)

Additional Degree Requirement

ARCS-GE 2302 Internship in Costume Studies (0 points) - 

Completed during any semester in the program, can be repeated for 

multiple internship opportunities. 



Literature and Methodology of Costume Studies (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2012

An introduction to foundation literature and research methodologies in costume studies. Includes sessions on academic writing, interpretation of material culture, the use of visual and literary sources, theories of fashion, and the role of museum and gallery exhibitions in furthering scholarship in this field. The course requires written work in diverse formats as well as presentations that prepare students for subsequent coursework.


History of Costume I: Prehistory to 1800 (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2061

Traces the evolution of dress from early body practices to the rise of consumer culture during the 18th century through topics including clothing as signifier of status and morality; the mechanics of the clothing trades and the impact of technology; trends and personalities; the politicization of dress during the French Revolution. The class considers the materiality of clothing and accessories and the relationship between dress and the body. Through lectures, discussions, and projects students are encouraged to seek their individual concentration in the field.


History of Costume II: The 19th Century (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2062

Beginning with the establishment of the Consulate of 1799 and ending with the 1900 Paris Exposition, the course examines the striking political, economic, and social change of the 19th century. Topics include luxury dress as part of Napoleon's imperial agenda, the dandy in England and France, the rise of the middle class and the proliferation of fashion periodicals and etiquette manuals, the establishment of the couture and the department store, dress reform and aesthetic dress in England and America.


History of Costume III: The 20th Century
ARCS-GE 2063

Examines the evolution of fashionable dress and practices from 1900 through the 1990s, investigating high style as well as mainstream fashion, changing materials and silhouette, and the interplay between fashion and the arts. Original research via primary materials including museum objects, periodicals, designer archives, and film is emphasized, as the class explores the dynamics of dress in the international culture of the 20th century through lectures, readings and discussions.


History of Costume IV: Contemporary Dress (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2064

Begins with a consideration of fashion at the end of the 20th century and its importance in contemporary society. Explores diverse issues including the fashion designer and the cult of celebrity, globalism in production and consumption, the emergence of global fashion centers, the changing relationship of fashion and subculture, sustainability and anti-fashion. Economic, artistic and cultural aspects are analyzed through media, apparel objects, film, and the fine arts.


History of Textiles I: The Ancient World through 1800 (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2077

Tracks evolutions in style, technology, function, and historic developments of textiles from antiquity through the 18th century. Includes close study of important fiber and fabric typologies, including pattern-woven silks, tapestry, embroidery, lace, and printed/painted fabrics. Topics include textiles as indicators of status and wealth, design affinities to other arts, and the impact of cultural exchange among Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.


History of Textiles II: The Modern Era (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2078

Investigates textiles in terms of design, creation, marketing, and use from the 19th century to present. With particular attention to the rapid technological advances of the past two centuries, visual and structural analysis of objects is combined with consideration of historical developments to situate textiles in the context of the surrounding culture. Includes object examination sessions at the Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum as well as other New York collections.


Dress and Textiles in World Culture (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2913

Examines dress and textiles as signifiers of cultural identity and expression, transmitters of design and tradition, and their centrality to the social and economic structure of a selection of cultures worldwide. Addresses the impact on dress of factors including religious/symbolic beliefs, ideas of gender, trade, and technology, with emphasis on the traditions of Asia, the Americas, and Africa and their global intersections.


Costume Conservation and Display (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2069

With a focus on preparing students for professional experience. Costume Conservation offers a consideration of the place of costume in the museum environment. Special attention is devoted to the handling and display of costume, textile and related objects. The course provides an introduction to the materials and methods of conservation, storage, and interpretation, and addresses appropriate actions in the museum context.


History of Fashion Photography (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2911

Traces the development of fashion photography in relation to contemporary fashion, aesthetic influence, photographic styles and techniques, cultural customs and commercial needs. Fashion photography is more than a medium dedicated to commerce: it is a record of artistic movements, ideals of beauty, and social trends. The course begins in the early 20th century with the growth of periodicals devoted to fashion and continues through the work of the present day.


Design and Culture:  The 20th Century (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2102

Examines the material culture of the 20th century with special emphasis on design, architecture and the decorative arts. Addresses how design is shaped by politics, nationalism, idealism, and commercial needs. The course explores the machine and technology as defining forces, and addresses such issues as the quest for the 'total work of art', the influence of tastemakers, and the changing nature of patronage. The course concentrates on American, European, Russian and Scandinavian design while exploring international influences.


Contemporary Design Culture (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2912

From furniture to digital devices, virtually everything that exists is designed. Why and how does design play such an important role in society? This seminar examines its expanding impact beginning with the post-World War II era, with an emphasis on how design shapes consumer culture and how consumer culture conversely influences design. The course analyzes contemporary design in the context of architecture, interiors and the decorative arts, products, graphics, fashion, and interactive media.


Graduate Projects in Costume Studies: Exhibition Praxis (3 points)
ARCS-GE 2910

This project-based course explores contemporary curatorial practice and its application to the display and interpretation of fashion. Through the development of an original and timely topic, students co-curate an exhibition, participating in all aspects of mounting and staging the exhibition along with producing the related research, text, and supporting programming.


Research in Costume Studies (2 points)
ARCS-GE 2022

This course provides guidance on process and methodology in preparation for the thesis. Students define the subject of their thesis research, share their work in progress, and participate in discussions, working sessions, and critiques. By the end of the semester, students will have completed several crucial steps in the thesis process including bibliography, proposal, and outline.


Final Project (1 point)

ARCS-GE 2301

The second course in the thesis sequence (following ARCS-GE 2022), this class is conducted through a series of individual meetings. Beginning with a review of structural requirements, research plans and scheduling, students complete their required thesis papers.


Internship (0 points)
ARCS-GE 2302

Internships can take place in a variety of settings including museums, galleries, publishers, foundations, fashion houses, libraries, archives and other institutions. Students work closely with the internship coordinator to assess their progress and define goals. Internships should be arranged during the term before interning.