Design Cultures, M.A.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English (take IELTS)
In todays culture design is a dynamic concept which continues to grow in importance. As a field of academic study, however, design cultures were long neglected by the Arts and Humanities. This, however, has changed. Since September 2010, the Faculty of Arts of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, offers the accredited and internationally-oriented Masters programme Design Cultures.


Design has developed into a vibrant and important cultural and economic sector in recent decades. Product design, graphic design and fashion design are burgeoning as a service industry, as street culture and as art. Design is an integral part of our daily lives. In the Netherlands design has gained international recognition with past and present designers who are active in graphic design, product design, artistic design, environments and fashion.

The MA programme Design Cultures at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers theoretical perspectives on different forms of design in a broad diverse cultural and historical context. The focus is on the designer as author as well as on the complex chain of production, sale, consumption and criticism in which design operates and from which it derives its many different meanings. Design Cultures embeds design as the core object of academic interest within the cultural and material context in which it acquires meaning for present and future challenges in our society. The programme combines a generalist, comparative approach to design with a clear focus on history and theory.

Career prospects

Our graduates are nowadays chiefly active in the fields of editorship, teaching, academic research and brand development. For most students with a practice-based BA, having an academic MA degree has been decisive to get their jobs. Nevertheless, the main skills that students learn at the MA Design Cultures are developing knowledge, learning to do research and improving their writing skills. Therefore, our graduates have careers as projectmanager in online platforms, editors in design and fashion magazines, book authors , lecturers in design history and theory, museum curators and PhD candidates.


Programme Structure

The programme is built around five main courses, a Master Thesis and Electives/Internship:

  • Methods of Design Analysis: The Meanings of Design
  • Design, History and Culture
  • Trending Topics Arts & Culture
  • The Arts and Crafts of Dutch Design
  • Design in Words: Criticism, Writing and Theory
  • Master Thesis
  • Electives/Internships
For more information, please visit the programme website.

            Detailed Programme Facts

            • Full-time duration 12 months
            • Study intensity Full-time
            • Credits
              60 ECTS
            • Languages
              • English
            • Delivery mode
              On Campus

            English Language Requirements

            You only need to take one of these language tests:

            • Minimum required score: 7

              The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

              Take IELTS test
            • Minimum required score: 600

              The TOEFL – or Test OF English as a Foreign Language – offers a paper-based test (PBT). The final, overall PBT score ranges between 310 and 677, and is based on an average taken from the three test components (listening, structure, and reading). The writing part of this test is scored separately on a scale of 0-6. Read more about TOEFL (PBT).

            • Minimum required score: 100

              The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

            Academic Requirements

            The Masters Arts & Culture is designed for students with an academic Bachelors in either design, fashion, art or (visual) cultural studies. You may also be accepted if you have an academic Bachelors in other disciplines of the Humanities (history, journalism, communication studies) or in anthropology or sociology, with a major or specialization in design, fashion, art or visual culture (equal to a minimum of 30 ECTS). Students with a historical and theoretical interest in the broad field of design are particularly welcome.

            Tuition Fee Per Year

            • EUR 14600 International
            • EUR 2060 EU/EEA


            StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.