MFA in Design

The MFA in Design provides an interdisciplinary scholarly framework for students who wish to master their design discipline in a studio setting.

A major objective of the MFA in Design 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 creates 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.

What to Expect

The MFA Design is a two-year taught postgraduate 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..

Opportunities to Engage

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 include 3D printing, 3D scanning, CNC routing, laser cutting, digital print, screen print, transfer print and weaving, computer-aided weaving and multi-head embroidery.

After Your Degree

The 2-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.

Programme Team

Dr Helen McAllister, PhD - MFA Programme Leader (interim)

Helen is a textile practitioner.  Her work brings together the work of the specialist textile practitioner, design thinking and conceptual engagement in the making process. Her work has been widely exhibited throughout Ireland and Europe, she has a number of peer-reviewed papers and presentations addressing practice-based methods of research, design, craft, Venetian design and material culture.

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, MA - Head of Product Design (acting)

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 acting Head of Industrial Design his focus is on experiential learning and linking students to industry networks.

Conor Clarke, MA – Head of Communication Design (acting)

Conor holds a First Class Honours Degree and MA in Visual Communication from NCAD. As acting Head of Visual Communication, Conor is leading change and development within the Visual Communication Department, moving the programme towards a more research-based, human-centred design approach. He is a Director of Design Factory, one of Ireland’s longest established and respected graphic design practices. His work has been featured in a number of international design publications and in exhibitions in Dublin, London, Maastricht, Milan, New York and Havana.


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 Contact

David Bramley, Design School Administrator