Design Cultures, M.A.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English (take IELTS)
University rank #101 ,
The MA programme Design Cultures from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is all about the study of product design, graphic design and fashion in a broad diverse cultural context. The focus is on both the designer as ‘author’ and the complex chain of production, sale, consumption and criticism in which design operates and derives its many different meanings.
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


We live in a design culture which continues to grow in importance. However, design was long neglected by the Arts and Humanities as a field of academic study. But this has changed. Since 1 September 2010, the Faculty of Arts of VU Amsterdam, offers the first fully accredited, internationally-oriented Master’s 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. Especially in the Netherlands design has built up an excellent international reputation with past and present talent in graphic design, product design, artistic design and fashion. We can boast many famous names including Piet Zwart, Maarten Baas, Thonik and Irma Boom, Artifort, Hella Jongerius, Jurgen Bey, and Viktor & Rolf and many others.

The Design Cultures course is taught in English. It is an internationally oriented course which has close ties with real-life practice. Besides studying the theoretical and historical background of design, students get a chance to do their graduation project in association with key players in the design world. Students of Design Cultures can look forward to careers in cultural institutions (editor, project manager), museums (researcher, curator), media, (author, critic, producer), government (administrator, advisor), design agencies (researcher, consultant) and educational and research institutes (teacher, researcher).


Accredited by: NVAO in: Netherlands

Programme Structure

Main courses

The first semester consists of two introductory courses on the history and theory of design. In the second semester students get acquainted with "Dutch" Design and learn to write critical appraisals.

  • Design, History and Culture paints a thematic and chronological overview of the history of design. It traces the main international movements and historical debates on the basis of case studies that place past developments in a modern perspective.
  • Methods of Design Analysis: The Meanings of Design considers design from differentmethodological angles – design as a process of production, distribution, representation and consumption – with specific attention to the complexities of meaning and interpretation in an economic, social and technological context.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Full-time duration 12 months
  • Study intensity Full-time
  • Credits
    60 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus
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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 (Grade C): 180

    The CAE test – or the Cambridge Advanced English – is an exam for applicants who wish to get a Certificate in Advanced English. To receive the Advanced certificate, test-takers must score between 142 and 210 on the Cambridge English: Advanced test. Read more about CAE.

    Note: degree programmes and applications may require a more specific minimum score for admission.

  • 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

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation Letter
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcript of records
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing, at least 5 pages plus a list of used literature)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 13400 International
  • EUR 1984 EU/EEA


  • VU Fellowship Programme
    A highly-selective programme for students who have excellent study results and who are strongly motivated.
  • Fulbright scholarship
    For highly motivated students with excellent study results.
  • Direct Loan Programme (US students)
    Study in the Netherlands with a US student loan.
  • Netherlands Fellowship Programme
    Grants intended to enable people who are currently employed in developing countries to obtain a Master's or PhD degree in the Netherlands.
  • STUNED Scholarship Programme
    A programme for professionals from Indonesia who have completed a Bachelor's study (S1).
  • Other scholarship possibilities

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.

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