NYSED: 29386   CIP: 50.0799

The 39- to 47-credit, full-time program in Exhibition and Experience Design prepares students for careers in the exhibition design profession. Students can also choose to take courses on a part-time basis, however, the final semester will be full-time. Please contact the program chair for information. The studio-driven curriculum focuses on designing narrative environments with the audience in mind. Students explore exhibition design in multiple areas, including museums and trade and public venues, and develop skills in concept development, environmental design, graphics, lighting, and model making. Working closely with industry partners, the program features actual projects and studio-based competitions with local and international firms, museums, and public facilities. Students can elect to complete an internship at a specially designated site appropriate to their learning needs and career visions. The program culminates with a critical thesis exhibition and experience design project. Curriculum below is for the entering class of fall 2020. 

CHRISTINA LYONS, Associate Chair

Course of Study

Fall – Semester 1
ED 502Experiential Branding Design and Research1.5
ED 571Illuminating the Exhibition Experience3
ED 572Historical Perspective and Theory3
ED 581Introduction to the Exhibition Design Studio1.5
ED 582Exhibition and Planning Design Studio3
Optional Winter Session0-6
Sustainability for Exhibitions
Exhibition Design International Professional Practices Seminar
Spring – Semester 2
ED 523Exhibition Design for the Museum Setting3
ED 531Presentation Techniques3
ED 542Exhibition Design Graphics3
ED 584Exhibition Development and Evaluation3
Summer Session
ED 591Exhibition Design Thesis: Directed Research3
Optional Summer Session0-2
Internship: Graduate Level
Fall – Semester 3
ED 632Advanced Presentation Techniques3
ED 643Exhibition Design Graphics II3
ED 651The Exhibition Model3
ED 691Capstone Project Development & Qualifying Paper3
Total Credits39-47

Optional Non-Credit Seminar 

Existing and incoming students have the opportunity to take optional non-credit seminar EXD 001 MA Exhibition and Experience Design Technical Skills Seminar and/or certification EXD 002 Certification in Professional Practices and Business Development in Exhibition and Experience Design through the Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. 


All degree programs require that students maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 every semester while enrolled in the program. A student is placed on probation if his or her semester GPA is below 3.0. A student is not subject to academic dismissal at the end of his or her first semester in a degree program. A student will be dismissed from the college after two consecutive semesters with a GPA below 3.0. A final GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation.


Eligibility to Attend Commencement Exercises

Candidates for the master’s degree at FIT must have advanced to candidacy before being permitted to attend graduation ceremonies.

Degree Requirements


For admittance to degree candidacy, students must have satisfied all prerequisites and completed a minimum of 39 approved course credits in 16 months of full-time attendance. Students can choose to take courses on a part-time basis, however, the final semester will be full-time, and course credits must be completed within 5 years. Please contact the program chair for information. Student must achieve a final grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, and had their qualifying thesis project approved by their committee. Students must have advanced to degree candidacy before being permitted to attend graduation ceremonies.

Qualifying Thesis Project

The final semester of the program comprises four interdisciplinary courses, through which students conceive and execute a professional-quality, independent thesis design project, subject to department approval. The thesis is comprised of a design hypothesis proven through research and the execution of a comprehensive exhibition design and qualifying academic paper.


Students accepted into the Exhibition and Experience Design program are expected to bring a laptop computer that meets current program specifications. For specific information, please contact the program chair.


ED 501 — Sustainability for Exhibitions

3 credits; 6 lab hours

A series of exercises and design projects assist students in studying the impact of sustainable materials and practices for exhibitions and tradeshow events on society, design, cost and project management.

ED 502 — Experiential Branding Design and Research

1.5 credits; 3 lab hours

This course introduces students to design research methods based on a people-first approach, participatory design relating to building branded experiences; along with learning the fundamentals of typography, color, visual language and crafting the brand voice and messaging for building concepts that deliver concrete solutions to broaden the scope of projects.

ED 523 — Exhibition Design for the Museum Setting

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This studio-based course explores the great diversity of museum exhibitions such as permanent, pop-up, traveling, virtual and collections-based, and the myriad types of museums including art, historic, children’s, science, halls of fame, zoos, botanic gardens, religious, and memorials. This course incorporates multiple applied projects featuring a complete exhibition concept design program for a museum client.

ED 531 — Presentation Techniques

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Introduces the planning and design of professional presentations, including drawings, digital images, and boards. Quick and formal sketch techniques, as well as appropriate materials, are reviewed. This course functions in an interdisciplinary manner with ED 542.

ED 542 — Exhibition Design Graphics

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Explores graphic design communication system, including graphic identity and program development. Imagery and typographic solutions, with an emphasis on two- and three- dimensional design development, are covered. Guest lecturers and site visits included.

ED 571 — Illuminating the Exhibition Experience

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Introduces the role of light in exhibition design in the conversation and interpretation of objects. Topics include illumination of art and text; the relationship between illumination, color, and human response; light as a facilitator of visual communication, merchandising, and education; and light in theatric and thematic exhibition experiences. Illumination methods and the needs of museums, galleries, and trade shows are explored. Assigned reading, demonstrations, guest lectures, and hands-on experience are included.

ED 572 — Historical Perspective and Theory

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

This studio-based course explores the history, theory, and practice of exhibition design. Through presentations, studio design work and visits to design firms, museums, public and corporate venues, students examine key events and issues. Emphasis is placed on exhibitions as arbiters of fact and content authority, and the extraordinary gains being made in design innovation.

ED 573 — Exhibition Design International Professional Practices Seminar

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

Students work directly with international business partners to learn fundamental, state of the art, business practices. Through panel discussions, presentations, industry-led tours, and studio work, they delve into current marketing, management, and vendor relationship issues that impact the world of exhibitions and project management.

ED 581 — Introduction to the Exhibition Design Studio

1.5 credits; 3 lab hours

Addresses the three-dimensional challenges faced by exhibition designers. Topics include space design; conceptual development of a thematic approach; and creation of a presentation system for products, artifacts, or artwork. Guest lecturers include exhibition designers, producers. and historians. Site visits incorpated when possible. All student projects must meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This course functions in an interdisciplinary matter with ED 541.

ED 582 — Exhibition and Planning Design Studio

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Develops an understanding of small- and large-scale projects. Three assignments drawn from such exhibition venues as galleries, museums, trade shows, symposia, and traveling exhibitions are required. Students develop exhibition-design programs that include research, programming, space planning, lighting, graphics, audiovisual components, electronic media, and proposal/presentation development.

ED 584 — Exhibition Development and Evaluation

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This studio-based course introduces students to exhibition design development processes and the variations in practice across different venues. Brainstorming and ideation techniques are exercised and key phases and deliverables explored. The role that exhibition evaluation plays within the exhibition development and design process will be introduced and applied, including Front-End, Formative and Summative.

ED 591 — Exhibition Design Thesis: Directed Research

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

Development of the individual's thesis program, including the development of the design hypothesis, identification of design criteria, and appropriate research methods for data analysis. Critiques and guidance are provided by both faculty and exhibition design professionals.

ED 632 — Advanced Presentation Techniques

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Covers digital enhancement of manual sketches, portfolio development, and the design, style, layout, content, labeling, and material for each individual's thesis project.

ED 643 — Exhibition Design Graphics II

3 credits; 6 lecture hours

Focuses on the development of the interactive components and graphic elements, specifically all collateral and print items, for each individual's thesis project. Covers the graphics requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ED 651 — The Exhibition Model

3 credits; 6 lecture hours

Focuses on the construction of three-dimensional exhibition models, and the role these models play in communicating exhibition design concepts. Students develop projects from initial visits to finished presentation pieces. Includes lectures, industry presentations, and site visits to professional model-making facilities.

ED 691 — Capstone Project Development & Qualifying Paper

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This capstone course is a continuation of ED 591, with co-requisites ED 643, ED 651, and ED 632. Students further develop the foundation of their capstone exhibition design project, and complete a graduate-level thesis qualifying paper.
Prerequisite(s): ED 591.
Co-requisite(s): ED 643, ED 651, and ED 632.