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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deadline for applying?

The deadline to apply for Fall 2024 is January 15, 2024. Please note that the department continues to accept applications after the deadline as space in the program remains available. Read more about the requirements here.

Is MFA Interaction Design a STEM program?

Yes, MFA Interaction Design is a STEM program. It became a STEM program in spring 2018. Our CIP code is 30.3101 and our listing in SEVIS is Human Computer Interaction.

How long is the program?

The program is two years or four semesters long. It begins in September and ends in May.

Who is the ideal candidate for the Interaction Design program?

The ideal candidate for MFA in Interaction Design has a cross-disciplinary set of interests, comes from a design or design-minded field (broadly speaking), and is a systems thinker. Most candidates will have between two and five years of professional experience, although some students may come directly from an undergraduate degree. Prospective students need not be advanced in design or technology already, but should be curious and imaginative, experimenting with interactions on their own.

What can I expect as an Interaction Design student?

Students and alumni are often asked about their experience. Tom Harman has compiled a number of frequent inquires for your review. Read “Why Did You Study an MFA in Interaction Design at SVA?” And David Mahmarian wrote about his reasons in “Why I Decided to Attend Grad School?

Additionally, students and faculty discussed their activities and coursework during the 2015 Open House. Watch “Interaction Design Open House.”

Can I take electives?

Graduate students may audit one Continuing Education course per semester (including summer), provided there is space remaining and any prerequisites are met. Some classes, however, require permission from the Chair or staff of the program.

Many of the teachers are people I now consider my biggest professional influences, and these weren’t necessarily practitioners I had been aware of before joining.
– Tom Harman, “Why Did You Study an MFA in Interaction Design at SVA?”

What should be included in my portfolio?

You are required to submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates a point of view about interaction design. Interaction design portfolios are likely visual but need not be, as we look for a broad range of references as parallel influences to the field. We recommend you include five or more projects. These projects can be a range of work from design to code to writing to filmmaking to music.

Do I need an undergraduate degree to apply?

Yes. It is a New York State requirement that all students pursuing graduate study submit a copy of their undergraduate transcript with proof of their undergraduate degree to the institution where they will begin their studies. This documentation is required prior to the start of the fall semester. SVA cannot permit a student to attend classes until this documentation is on file.

Can I ask people to mail their letters of recommendation to the Admissions Office directly?

SVA’s policy is that it is in the applicant’s best interest to send one package with all application materials by a trackable means. Unless the student is physically placing the letter in the envelope, he/she never will know if it actually reaches SVA. Oftentimes people promise letters and never mail them or they get lost. The recommender might even neglect to put the applicant’s full name in the letter, so we always have a pile of pieces we are unable to place into any file.
Additionally, electronic submission is available through the online application.

Is there a specific direction you would like to see in the Statement of Purpose as part of the application?

We look for the purpose statement to complement and introduce the work in your portfolio and your resume, but more importantly, to introduce you. Consider we’ll have access to the pieces you include; this statement is an opportunity to demonstrate you, in your way. If that is by metaphor, by narrative, we want to hear it. This essay will distinguish you from others, introduce us to you, give us the first impression about why you’d like to be a part of the interaction design community, specifically at SVA.

What is the size of the program?

Approximately 20 students per year.

What countries are represented in the program?

Students have come from at least 25 different countries since 2009. They include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Ecuador, England, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, United States, Vietnam, and Wales.

Can I maintain a full-time or part-time job while pursuing the degree?

To offer the most flexibility to working professionals, most courses take place in the evenings from 6PM-9PM. Some courses, including short-intensives and workshops that complement courses, will be taking place during the day. Therefore, the amount of work, particularly in the first semester, may be quite daunting for someone working full-time. While we understand that working full-time may be a requirement for some, we discourage full-time jobs whenever possible in the first year, and recommend opting for a more flexible working schedule if you can manage it.
I see this program as an opportunity to spend time researching and experimenting through prototyping to explore how technology can help enable communication. …. I cannot think of a more conducive environment for innovation.
– David Mahmarian, “Why I decided to Attend Grad School”

Is it a full-time program, or can I take courses part-time, remotely?

The program right now is limited to full-time students for a two-year residency. Because of its intensive nature, there are no part-time or remote opportunities. We have weekend workshops and lectures that are open to the public, but these are not for credit and wouldn’t count toward a degree. At some point, we may offer a part-time degree, but at this point, it is strictly for full-time students.

What is the cost of tuition for the program?

Tuition and fee details can be found here.

What are my options for financial aid?

The SVA Office of Financial Aid coordinates the many sources of aid to meet as much of the student’s financial needs as funding permits. Contact the office for more information at 212.592.2030.

Does SVA offer scholarships?

The department distributes partial merit-based scholarships to students entering the fall semester. The receivers of the scholarships are chosen based on the submitted MFA in Interaction Design applications, and no additional forms are necessary. The program also has assistantships available for tuition reimbursement, and internships outside the school available with various companies and design firms.

SVA will match 25% of any outside scholarship, up to $2,500, that a student obtains for enrollment at SVA. This award is available to full-time graduate students.

Does SVA offer internships or assistantships?

SVA does offer teaching assistantships for students who want to teach at the undergraduate level. Students will receive compensation that will be handled through a tuition reimbursement. Internships are available throughout the year both within the department and outside the department at local firms and companies. Summer internships are also available through departmental relationships, locally and nationally, for credit toward the thesis project. Faculty will also be happy to make introductions and recommendations to potential internship possibilities whenever possible.

What jobs do alumni take after graduation?

Alumni have gone on to work as the brightest minds in some of the world’s leading companies. A partial list of companies that have employed alumni in their first job after graduationincludes:

Product/Service companies:

AmazonAppleBloombergEtsyFacebookGoogleIntuitMicrosoftNFLNikeSeamlessSpotifySquareThe New York TimesThumbtackTileTwitterVerizon Open InnovationWeWorkYahoo!Yelp

Design studios/consulting:

frog designHyperaktIDEOIntersectionLocal ProjectsMomentPostlightR/GARockwell Labs

Government services:

18FCode for AmericaNava

Financial services:

American ExpressGoldman SachsSift ScienceWealthfront


Chan Zuckerberg InitiativeMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

What new ventures have come out of the program?

Students have launched their own businesses after graduation, ranging from product companies to design studios.Examples include:

Project: Interaction:Class of 2011

Coastermatic: Class of 2013

Game of Phones:Class of 2015

QNSMADE:Class of 2015