What you can learn from the world’s first and longest-running branding program

We all engage with various levels of branding every day, whether as a creator or a consumer, but very few of us have the in-depth knowledge on the subject that this degree offers.

1 July 2024


In 2010, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City forever changed the way students could study the discipline of branding. Founded by American designer, writer and educator Debbie Millman, a new graduate program arrived onto the scene with lofty ambitions: to rigorously delve into the intersection of design and business as they pertain to branding. Given the connection between these subjects, you would assume that studying them in this capacity would be commonplace, however as Millman herself attests to: “Rarely are design, branding and strategy discussed in terms of a synergistic relationship in academia.”

Formally known as The Master’s of Professional Studies in Branding, this degree program was the first of its kind 14 years ago, and still remains one of the premier courses for studying branding around the world. Bringing students into contact with some of the most accomplished brand experts working in the industry, the program offers unprecedented insights into the role brand strategy plays in business, behaviour, marketing and culture. At a time when branding has infiltrated almost every aspect of daily life, informing the way we consume, the way we behave, and even the way we see the world, the curriculum offers the perfect opportunity to cultivate a deep understanding of the phenomenon that is branding.


The School of Visual Arts: Masters in Branding (Copyright © SVA, 2024)

“Everything we consume – even the most basic commodities like water and salt – are brands,” explains Millman. “Experiences are brands. People want to be brands. Brands are so persuasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected or unaltered. Any knowledge of culture is impossible now without an understanding of the implications of ‘brand’.”

For anyone looking to move into this world, the above surely sounds like a daunting prospect. Indeed, grappling with the far-reaching impact of branding is no mean feat, and requires a rigorous yet accessible entry point to begin the journey to mastery. This is where the Masters in Branding program comes in. Composed of in-class lectures, real-world client projects, unique and progressive workshops, the examination of classic business school case studies, individual one-on-one professional mentorship, along with group and personal projects, this master’s course covers every possible base. The mission is to not simply study branding from an exclusively aesthetic or practical standpoint, but rather to examine every facet of the subject, providing students with a comprehensive awareness of the industry, the culture, and, of course, of branding itself.


The School of Visual Arts: Masters in Branding (Copyright © SVA, 2024)

During a single, fast-paced 10 months, students enrolled in the program will develop an understanding of diverse brand and business strategies. They will also have the chance to participate in micro-courses on a huge range of topics, including market research techniques, brand development life cycles, semiotics and visual communication, business-to-business and business-to-consumer brand frameworks, CPG history, cultural anthropology, trend forecasting, economics, statistics, behavioural psychology, communication, persuasion, brand management and design. No stone is left unturned, and students will be guided through this vast array of courses by world-class educators who have extensive experience in the field.

It will certainly be a jam-packed school year, but those who graduate from the esteemed program will leave with an invaluable competitive edge. Given the growing influence of branding not only in the creative sector, but society at large, the lessons learnt and the knowledge gained at the Masters in Branding program will ideally position students to pivot into a wide range of careers. From here, they can become thinkers, creators, strategists, consultants or even the next generation of educators. Graduates will understand, and know how to wield, one of the most dynamic forces at play in the world today.

The world’s first-ever master’s degree in branding is the only program in the world that offers a unique opportunity to pioneer the examination of the relationship between design and strategy as well as the power of brand thinking as a way to combine creative skills with the problem-solving and decision-making processes of both design and business,” notes Millman. “The SVA MPS Branding program provides a radical, innovative look at the relationship between strategy, design, anthropology, psychology and market research. And it focuses on how students can leverage this learning to innovate, sustain and reinvent the purpose, place and power of brands in our culture.”

GalleryThe School of Visual Arts: Masters in Branding (Copyright © SVA, 2024)

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School of Visual Arts

The School of Visual Arts' Masters in Branding program offers an innovative, comprehensive education focused on the strategic and creative aspects of branding, preparing students to excel in brand management, strategy, and design within various industries.

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The School of Visual Arts: Masters in Branding (Copyright © SVA, 2024)

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