Should you apply to the MFA Lighting Design program at Parsons?

There are a-lot of different really great MFA Design programs you can apply to. We typically think of applying for a graduate degree in Graphic Design, but there are several different types of design programs, including the MFA Lighting Design Program offered at Parsons, which is one of our favorites. Many Ashcan portfolio prep students have successfully applied to the program. 

And here in this video, are some examples from the Art Portfolios they used to apply with.  


Lighting Design MFA

The MFA Lighting Design program at Parsons is the first of its kind in the world, and the program has an interdisciplinary curriculum where the focus is on human experience, sustainability, and the social impact of lighting design. In the program you’ll explore the relationships between theory, technical application, energy conservation, and social and environmental aspects of electric and natural light.

Interior Design and Lighting Design MFA

In 2012, Parsons began offering an MFA double major combining the established Interior Design and Lighting Design MFA programs. This unique curricular track allows students to investigate the design of environments and human inhabitation with a focus on the relationship between light, materials, and interior volumetric space. 

It’s a three-year MFA double major that enables students to develop critical sustainable design thinking and technical skills associated with lighting design and interior design. 

MArch Architecture and MFA Lighting Design

Another option is the unique four-year graduate program that combines Parsons’ MArch in Architecture with an MFA in Lighting Design. Graduates typically open their own architecture or interior design studios, join prominent international design firms, or go to work for engineering or specialty lighting companies and lighting manufacturers.

Art Portfolio

When you apply to any of these three programs Parsons requests that you submit the following two item for your Art Portfolio

  1. A video introduction, maximum of three minutes, where you discuss what you see as the major challenge of your generation? How is it manifested where you live? And, In your opinion, how can lighting design and built environments help to address this challenge?
  2. You also need to prepare a portfolio sequence of 15–25 images that best communicate your visual thinking. The purpose of the portfolio is to show your individual perspective and creative skills. You should include work that best demonstrates your skills from previous educational and/or professional experience. Sketches and conceptual work can also be included.

Parson’s welcomes students from a wide variety of disciplines so even if you don’t have previous training in interior design or other design-related fields, you can demonstrate your aptitude by submitting examples of freehand drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, graphic design, three-dimensional work, furniture, product design, digital media, or work in other forms. Time-based works such as film, video, performance, installation, and sound are also accepted.

Don’t know where to start? We can help!

Career Paths

Some Career Paths you can choose to pursue after graduating from the Light Design Program major include Architectural and Interior Lighting Design, Theatrical Lighting, Exhibition Lighting, and Equipment Design and manufacturing.

The double Interior Design & Lighting Design majors can pursue careers in Lighting Design, Interior Design, Industrial Design, Architecture, Sustainable Design, Historic Preservation and Consulting

The double Architecture & Lighting Design major s can pursue careers in Lighting Design, Engineering, Urban Planning, Landscape Design, Interior Design and Historic Preservation

So if you want to apply to a program that was designed to explore the intellectual, aesthetic, and technical dimensions of light, one of these programs is for you!


Please feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation or to ask us any questions.

We would be very happy to show you everything Ashcan Art has to offer!

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