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 university 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 MA programme Design Cultures from VU University 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. Design Cultures restores design as the core object of academic interest without detracting from the cultural and material context in which it operates. The programme combines a generalist, comparative approach to design with a clear focus on history and theory.
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).
Deadline applies if you do not have the same nationality as the university.)
Deadline applies if your country of nationality is in the EEA (European Economic Area))
Dates reflect the university's timezone.
Tuition fee for the international students.)
European Economic Area tuition fee is applicable to the students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.)
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.
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.
Specific admission requirements for the Master’s programme Arts & Culture, specialization in Design Cultures The Master’s Arts & Culture is designed for students with an academic Bachelor’s in either design, fashion, art or (visual) cultural studies. You may also be accepted if you have an academic Bachelor’s 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.
You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English.
Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.
International students should consider taking a Pre-Master to gain access to universities in Netherlands when:
Accredited by: NVAO in: Netherlands
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Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned university located in the vibrant city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Amsterdam is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, boasting 179 different nationalities and English is widely spoken. At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam78 nationalities work and study closely together, creating an international and dynamic academic community.