DSI Faculty Maggie Breslin and Tina Park Lead #DIGIN Project to Promote Women’s Heart Health

Applications Now Open for Fall 2019

Social Design is the application of design methodologies to solutions for complex human problems. Design for Social Innovation at SVA is the first MFA program in Social Design, with an experience-based curriculum of discipline and rigor. Our graduates are pioneering solutions to the major issues of our time, working in the most enlightened and inspiring organizations.

It is a rapidly growing field with exciting career opportunities. Global corporations use it to ignite creativity and commitment within their cultures, foundations embed it into their efforts to end poverty and improve human health. Governments and NGOs use it to innovate new approaches, erase the boundaries of internal silos and step around archaic bureaucratic processes. Designers use it to create lives for themselves filled with purpose and impact.

It is used in neighborhoods to address crime and homelessness, in America’s Rust Belt cities to revitalize them, in India, to jumpstart economies, across Africa, to connect hundreds of thousands of women to prenatal and infant care, in Kenya, to mitigate violence, and in the U.S. to inspire citizens to stop sending almost as much edible food to landfills as they eat. That is just to name a few examples.

See what DSI alums are doing here.

Download the 2018 Brochure

Here’s What You Need

Applications are a combination of important records and information, as well as opportunities for you to show us who you are. We look for people who are broadly curious, committed and mature enough to take responsibility for their own future.

Please include three letters of recommendation.

In order to be considered official, transcripts must be submitted in a stamped and sealed envelope by the college registrar of the issuing institution. Transcripts must be mailed, delivered, or submitted electronically from a SVA approved e-service. For further information, click here and see the SVA section on Official Transcripts.

This should include your professional experience as well as any research, awards, or exhibitions. Please include whether you have core design skills and mastery of applications, including all programs in Adobe Creative Suite, After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, HTML and Flash.

Your essay should articulate your vision for how you will contribute to the betterment of the world. It should be no more than 500 words and submitted in Word or PDF format via the online application.

You may submit ONE of the following:

Visual Portfolio
Reflecting a wide range of communication, 3D and interactive design, data visualization and system design. A URL should be included with the online application, or a portfolio may be uploaded to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom portal. To access Slideroom and find out more information, click here. Please upload 10-15 still images in .jpg format, not to exceed 5mb each in file size.


Case Study
Reflecting initiatives that you have led, and that demonstrate social innovation. Up to three studies of complete campaigns, with written text explaining the problem, solution and results, if available, including thumbnail photos of any visual elements. Case studies should be no more than 5 pages in Word or PDF format submitted to with subject line: “DSI Case Study” and your name. Graduate Admissions will pair this submission with your online application.

All graduate applicants are required to submit the non-refundable $80 application fee using a credit card.

In addition to the general application requirements, the following must be submitted for all International students:

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): International applicants whose primary/native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English. The TOEFL must be completed with a minimum score of 79 (internet-based) or 213 (computer-based). For more information, click here and see the Demonstration of English Proficiency section.

Foreign Transcripts: All foreign post-secondary (university level) transcripts should be converted into U.S. educational equivalencies. Those records that are not converted into U.S. equivalencies must be evaluated by an external evaluation agency. For more information click here, and see the Transcripts / Academic Records from Foreign Institutions section.

Declaration of Finance: Upon acceptance to DSI, all international students are required to submit original documentation of sufficient financial resources to attend SVA. For more information click here, and see the Verification of Finances section. The downloadable forms can be found in the Student Life-International Students section.


First, complete the application through the SVA Portal. We will contact qualifying candidates for an interview when your information is complete. If you have any questions please contact us at or SVA Graduate Admissions at

Go to the SVA Online Application for Graduate Admissions.

Create an account if you don’t already have one, choose MFA Design for Social Innovation, and follow instructions from there.

These will be conducted via Skype.

Applicants who apply by the first deadline January 15th will be notified by the end of February. All other applicants will be notified one month after completed submissions of application.

How We Evaluate

We’re looking for passionate, committed people who are curious about the world’s diverse cultures and species. We welcome generalists, with breadth of experience, who might find other disciplines too confining –– people who like to act as much as they like to think –– who want to engage with the world and are filled with creativity.

The essay is important –– we want to hear your voice. We’ll be spending a lot of time together, and want to know as much about your hopes and ambitions as we can. Write from your heart as well as your head. Tell us why you want to join DSI, about the life you want to begin here on the day you arrive. And yes, we’re looking for good communicators and visual thinkers.

We don’t expect for you to have solved the world’s challenges already. We’ll get started on that together.

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