MFA in Design

The MFA Design is being phased out and replaced by four new MA Design options to run from September 2019.

The New MA Design options to run from September 2019 are 

MA Product Design*

MA Communication Design*

MA Service Design*

MA for Body and Envirionment*

*Subject to final validation March 2018


MFA DESIGN  - Please note for 2018/19 there will be no new intake, only year 2 of this programme will run.

A major objective of the masters is to provide an environment that is broad, yet with enough rigour and focus to enable students to engage with the challenges of contemporary creative practice in the design professions. The programme encourages students to integrate research, creative practice and critical theory, leading to a body of professional work that positions the student on an international stage. The programme aims to create a design culture that thrives on new ideas, new ways of doing things and new areas of exploration. We encourage our students to experiment and take risks in order to trace new aesthetic paths and make technical innovations within and beyond their design discipline.

The MFA Design is a two-year taught studio programme across a range of design disciplines with distinct pathways in Product Design, Communication Design, Fashion Design, Textile & Surface Design and Jewellery & Metalwork. In Year 1 students take a number of core taught modules combining critical study and specialist studio practice together with interdisciplinary options before proceeding in Year 2 of the programme to advanced research based study with a choice of a reflective body of writing or business plan culminating in the production of a major studio project for exhibition, commission or industry application. Students develop a personal creative and professional identity and proficiency in design and technique, and learn through a mixture of workshops, lectures, tutorials and, most importantly, through their own creative practice as emerging professionals. 


The MFA Design has extensive industry links and a visiting lecture programme of leading industry and creative practitioners, the programme aims to create a cadre of students with the entrepreneurial skills to become employers as well as employees. Student work is exhibited through work in progress and final shows, all are encouraged to exhibit their work in appropriate gallery and industry contexts. Students have the opportunity to undertake short placements and live projects with cultural and industry partners working with fellow students across the College.

The College offers an excellent range of supports and facilities for realising work. MFA Design students have access to individual work space and workshops as appropriate, students also have access to an experienced team of workshop technicians as well as other College facilities such as the Edward Murphy Library and the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL). Other College facilities includes 3D printing, 3D Scanning, CNC routing, laser cutting, digital print, screen print, transfer print and weaving, computer-aided weaving and multi-head embroidery. 


The two year taught masters programme provides an in depth, professionally informed programme of study and studio practice. As a consequence of the range of skills acquired MFA Design graduates have access to a wide range of local and global opportunities in industry, services, and design consultancy or as creative entrepreneurs, designer makers and educators.
The School of Design actively participates in the EU-funded Erasmus+ programme, which offers recent graduates the opportunity to avail of internships in high profile design companies within the European Union.



The programme is open to graduates with an honours degree award of 2.2 or higher, or an equivalent academic or professional qualification in a related discipline. The College also takes into consideration prior learning and experience.
English language: Students who have not been educated through English must show proof of achieving IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 in the writing section on the Academic Version) or an equivalent score in another accepted test.


View Entry Requirements and Application Procedure


Programme Team

Professor Alex Milton, BA (Hons), PGCert, MA, FIDI, FRSA - MFA Programme Leader 

As an academic leader, designer, researcher and author, Professor Alex Milton has promoted an interdisciplinary approach to the creative arts and industries. Alex is Head of School of Design at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (NCAD), having returned to the institution after undertaking a sabbatical in which as the Programme Director of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), he successfully devised and delivered a government backed programme that exceeded all targets and established a platform for the continued development of design in Ireland. He has written a number of books including ‘Product Design’ (Laurence King, 2011) and ‘Research Methods for Product Design’ (Laurence King, 2013). His most recent book 'Irish Design 2015 - Making Design Matter' was published in December 2016. Throughout his career Alex has advocated for the pivotal role of creative learning – be that through public engagement, cultural interventions, curriculum innovation or policy development.

Derek McGarry, MFA, MA, BA (Hons), MIDI – Head of Innovation and Engagement

Derek is a practicing designer and design researcher. He is a member of the NCAD Research Institute, Past President of the Institute of Designers in Ireland (2010-11) and former elected member of the Board of Directors of the Crafts Council of Ireland (2011-2014). He is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Rediscovery Centre. His work is included in the permanent collection at the National Museum of Ireland and Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in Dublin, as well as in international private collections. Derek has presented his research in peer reviewed international design conferences in Australia, China, Finland, Italy, and the USA and recently his new technology design work was exhibited at the international Inhorgentia jewellery exhibition in Germany.

Sam Russell - Head of Product Design

Sam holds a first degree in Industrial Design and a MA in Design through practice. His research interests relate to the role designers can play in development aid and the design of new learning experiences and spaces. As Head of Product Design his focus is on experiential learning and linking students to industry networks.

John Paul Dowling - Head of Communication Design 

Angela O'Kelly - Head of Design for Body and Environment


Programme Contact

David Bramley, Design School Administrator