Department of Consumer and Design Sciences

Graduate Programs

Built upon a conceptual framework of the Science of Design, our graduate degrees focus on understanding and meeting consumers’ needs and wants relative to their near environment. Graduate study emphasizes the integration of theory and applied knowledge from multiple disciplines including art, business and economics, psychology and sociology, history and anthropology, statistics, engineering, and the sciences.

Scientific and creative approaches are applied and integrated to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families and foster responsible, successful businesses preparing graduates to develop competency and confidence in their chosen area and advance within their chosen profession. This consumer-centered philosophy focused on the Science of Design prepares students for careers in the fields of interior design, apparel design and production management, apparel merchandising, global retailing, global sourcing, consumer research, retail management, higher education, and countless others.

CADS offers master’s and doctoral degrees in Consumer and Design Sciences, as well as an Accelerated BS/MS program. Specialization areas include design of interiors and apparel; product development; marketing and retail management; global sourcing; distribution channels for apparel and related consumer products; analysis and forecasting of demand for fashion-driven soft goods; multi-dimensional perspectives on sustainable products, processes and environments; and consumer behavior in multicultural and global contexts.

The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Consumer and Design Sciences (CADS) at Auburn University are grounded in the Science of Design focusing on the intersection of consumer sciences, technology, and design & creativity through the implementation of:

  • Highly individualized plans of study;
  • Mentoring by the student-centered and highly qualified CADS faculty;
  • Experience gained through teaching, research, and/or outreach graduate assistantships;
  • Opportunities to showcase student work through design competitions, professional meetings, and publications;
  • Networking through industry advisory boards, guest speakers, career fairs, and professional meetings; and
  • Interaction with enthusiastic alumni.

CADS Graduate Program Overview

Auburn University and the Graduate School
All registration for Auburn University will be via the "tiger i menu" that is located on the "tiger i" tab from AU Access. Graduate School and University information and guides to registration can be found at the following site:

Be particularly mindful of schedule adjustment information (changing classes) that is posted on the University’s academic calendar. The rules every term are as follows:

  • Classes dropped prior to the 6th class day incur no drop fee.
  • Classes dropped from the 6th to the 15th class day incur a $100 drop fee. Note that changing sections of a class involved dropping and adding.
  • Classes dropped prior to the 15th class day of fall and spring semesters do not appear on the transcript.
  • Classes may be dropped from the 15th class day until mid-semester. Withdrawal will be noted on the transcript, and there is no tuition refund.

The procedures for a graduate student to add or withdraw from a class after the 15th class day differ from undergraduates. These are:

  • Students must provide Tracie Burton with the course number and credit hours, the student’s MP name, and the student’s Banner number.
  • Tracie will send an e-mail to the appropriate Graduate School counselor, who will initiate the course change process in the online Work Flow program.
  • The student, instructor of record, and MP will each have to approve in Work Flow.

Online courses
There are some graduate courses offered in an online format as one section in a multi-section course (e.g., ERMA courses). Recognize these as ending in a 6 (e.g., 7300 vs. 7306). If you have tuition benefits as a graduate assistant, do not register for the online version unless you are willing to pay separate tuition. The tuition fellowships do not cover online courses.

Graduate credit courses

  • Graduate courses are numbered 6000-8000.
  • 6000 level courses are paired with 5000 level undergraduate courses taken by junior and senior students. In most cases, you will complete the same or nearly the same requirements plus have an assignment specific to graduate students.
  • 7000 and 8000 level courses are graduate students only.

Full-time Status: Nine credit hours are the minimum number needed to be considered a full-time student. International students must be full-time. When taking fewer than nine hours while working on a thesis or dissertation, all students can register for GRAD7@@0 or 8@@0 to be considered full-time.

Taking an undergraduate course If you have a different subject matter background, you may have to take one or two undergraduate prerequisite courses in order to take some specific graduate courses; the professor makes that determination. The Graduate School advises you take any undergraduate course for S-U credit (satisfactory-unsatisfactory). To do that, you will need to complete the following form: Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory Grading Form.

Graduate School Continuous Enrollment, Residency, and Other Registration Policies can be accessed online.

Consumer and Design Sciences
"Blanket" number courses

These are courses that involve individual work with professors and/or are not regularly scheduled. Tracie Burton will have to register you, but you must first complete a purple form (available in 308), for the following courses:

CADS 7900 – Directed Studies
CADS 7910 – Supervised Teaching
CADS 7920 – Graduate Internship
CADS 7930 – Advanced Design Projects
CADS 7960 – Special Problems
CADS 7970 – Special Topics in Design
CADS 8970 – Special Topics
CADS 7980, 7990, and 8990 – Graduate Project, Thesis, and Dissertation

The Department purposely blocks registration to the preceding list. There are other graduate courses (especially 6000 ones) that have undergraduate prerequisites built into the registration system. If you are unable to register for a CADS course that you need to take, check with Tracie Burton. She may have to register you and will tell you if you need to check with the professor.

CADS 7910, Supervised Teaching is a one credit hour course that is required for Graduate Teaching Assistants who will have classroom responsibilities (instructor or lab/studio instructor). It should be taken under the direction of the faculty member responsible for the course and during the first term of your teaching responsibilities. It may be repeated in another term only if you are assigned to teaching responsibilities with a different course.

Graduate School policies are accessible online.

Graduate Assistantships
Graduate teaching or research assistantships offered in the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences are subject to availability of funds. All graduate students accepted into the M.S. in Consumer and Design Sciences Program are considered as applicants for available assistantships.

Graduate Assistant (GA) appointments are temporary and may be made for a year or on a term-by-term basis. Appointment and continuation depends on availability of funds, levels of enrollment, and teaching or research needs. Summer term appointments are very limited.

Renewal also depends on a high level of academic performance, excellent performance as a graduate assistant, and satisfactory progress toward the degree. Each GTA/GRA will be evaluated each semester by the faculty member directing his/her assistantship (evaluation form). Assistantships for master’s degree students are generally awarded only for a maximum period of two years; for doctoral students, the normal maximum is three years.

Graduate Tuition Fellowships
CADS graduate assistantship appointments are generally made at the .25, .33, or .50 level. As per Graduate School policy, all GAs at the .25 or higher level have out-of-state tuition remitted. GAs at the .25 level are charged one-half of in-state tuition; those at .33 or higher have the in-state tuition remitted. GAs with fall and spring appointments receive the same benefits for the following summer semester even if they do not have an assistantship appointment in that term. The Tuition Fellowship Program Policy is reviewed by the University every two years.

Graduate Student Contact Address
Share your current residential address, phone number, and email address with Tracie Burton, Administrative Assistant in the Consumer and Design Sciences Department Office (Spidle 308). It is your responsibility to keep this updated.

Also make sure that your name, address, and phone number listing in university records is correct and updated as needed. This can be done on AU Access. Sign up for AU Alert for emergency notifications.

Access to Department and Graduate Student Offices
If you are a GA, you will be assigned to a graduate student office space on first or third floor. Some of these have card-swipe access and others require checking out a key from University Facilities (on W. Samford Ave. between Wire Rd. and Shug Jordan). All GAs should get a key for access the Department Office (308). (A single key can open both your office and 308. You will be accountable for returning the key/s to Facilities when your assistantship is completed.

Use of CADS Office and Supplies
Department purchased supplies housed in 308 are only to be used if needed for completion of graduate assistantship responsibilities and tasks. This includes using the copier/printer. Supplies, printer and copier are NOT for personal use, e.g., course, thesis, or dissertation requirements. You will be given an access code for the copier only if you regularly require its use for your assistantship, e.g., in teaching tasks. Otherwise, your assistantship supervisor may need to allow you to use her code to complete a specific task.

Access to Spidle Hall and Computer Labs
Your Auburn ID card will give you card-swipe access to Spidle Hall when it is locked following business hours except on the week-ends of home football games and during holiday breaks. (Building locks at 5:00 p.m. Friday and does not unlock until noon on Sunday.)

Your card will also give you card-swipe access to the two computer labs in Spidle (110 and 302). These doors are automatically locked in non-business hours. If you have problems with your card working, contact Walter Tolbert (Spidle 266) with CHS IT Help (

Card-swipe cautions: The names associated with all swipes are recorded in the locking system. DO NOT leave any door of the building propped open to let someone else enter sometime after you; doing so will cause your swipe privileges to be removed. DO close the classroom or computer lab doors after you enter in off-hours. If you do not, and someone enters after you, and then you leave, but they do not, and they do not close the door when they leave, then your swipe privileges will be removed.

The CADS manuals for the master’s and doctoral programs present guidelines and regulations required to obtain each degree. CADS guidelines should be used in conjunction with those of the Graduate School. If you have questions about interpreting rules and policies for the University or CADS, consult your Major Professor, Graduate Program Officer (GPO), or Department Head.

In general, in order to get clearance for graduation each student must have taken the following steps:

  • Submit a final (revised if necessary) approved POS to the Graduate School by the last day of the semester before graduation;
  • finish the course work and fulfill all entries in the POS;
  • finish the research and thesis/dissertation or project work, and have the thesis/project/dissertation approved by the your MP, GAC, and the outside reader (for a dissertation);
  • request a graduation check from Graduate School in the semester preceding the graduation semester and notify the Graduate School of the intention to graduate prior to the beginning of the graduation semester;
  • register for the semester of graduation;
  • clear incomplete grades by the deadline indicated on the Graduate School academic calendar;
  • meet the due dates on the GS calendar.

The separate academic progress checklists for M.S. and Ph.D. students can also be consulted for information.

If, as you approach your final semester, you find that you cannot not meet the deadlines posted for submission of thesis/dissertation or completion of non-thesis requirements, but you can completely finish and have your work approved by your GAC by the end of the semester, email Clint Lovelace in the Graduate School and ask him what the absolute deadline is for submitting your final approval paperwork at the end of the term. If you meet the deadline for that, you will have to pay a “clearing for graduation fee” the next semester and officially graduate then, but you will not have to enroll and pay tuition. If you wish to do that and participate (early) in the graduation ceremony of the current term, the deadline will be at least three weeks prior to the end of the term, but he can tell you that.

Graduate School
The Graduate School events calendar provides dates of varied activities for graduate students.

Graduate Student Council (GSC)
CADS has two senators to the University-wide Graduate Student Council, which meets on a regular basis to discuss issues related to graduate students. The GSC also sponsors graduate student events. We strive to have one M.S. and one Ph.D. student as the two senators, and they typically serve for a full year.

Consumer and Design Sciences

Conference Presentations
Graduate students are encouraged to submit papers for presentation or entries in design competitions at conferences such as at the Auburn University’s Research Forum, the Southeastern Graduate Student Consortium, International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA), Interior Design Educator’s Council (IDEC), American Collegiate Retail Association (ACRA), and other conferences. The professional organizations have websites with needed information.
When departmental budget resources allow, the department may provide some support for graduate students presenting papers. Students who have papers accepted for presentation or designs accepted for exhibition should check with the Department Head for availability of partial travel support. These students should also apply for Graduate Travel Awards through the Graduate School. Interior Design graduate students also may inquire into travel funding from IDEC.

Southeastern Graduate Student Consortium
Graduate students in the textile, and apparel, and consumer-related graduate programs at Auburn University, University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina, and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro are invited to participate in a Graduate Student Consortium each Spring Semester. The purpose of the consortium is to allow students from participating universities a forum for networking and for the professional presentation of graduate research.

CADS Special Events
You will periodically be informed, usually by email, of special events, such as special guest lectures, Interior Design or Apparel Advisory Boards interaction opportunities, and other CADS-sponsored events. CADS faculty’s expectation is that as graduate students, you will take advantage of these opportunities and attend or participate as much as possible. Regularly scheduled events are listed below.

Grisham/Trentham Lecture: CADS annually invites a significant design professional to share his/her experiences, expertise, and insights from some aspect of apparel or interiors with students and faculty.

Executive in Residence: Every year or two, the Department invites a CEO to visit for a day and give a lecture open to the public. There typically are opportunities for graduate students to interact with the executive.

CADS-AMDA Fashion Event: The Department and the Apparel Merchandising and Design (student) Association co-sponsor this student developed and managed mounted and runway show in the Auburn Arena during Spring Semester.

Women’s Philanthropy Board (WPB): The WPB, an arm of the College of Human Sciences, regularly schedules panels and speakers during both semesters. These are free to attend, except for lunch speakers, and you may be invited at some point by Dr. Warfield to be her guest.

Study Abroad Opportunities
The College of Human Sciences sponsors a range of study abroad opportunities scattered around the world. The oldest and endowed program is the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program, which is scheduled for each semester and is 12 weeks in length. Graduate students may apply to be a GTA for the program, typically at least one to two terms in advance. Announcements seeking application are made by email.

Professional Organizations with Graduate Student Memberships
International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA)
American Collegiate Retail Association (ACRA)
Association for Consumer Research (ACR)
American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC)
Costume Society of America (CSA)
Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC)

Additional Resources

Graduate Degrees

Go beyond the undergraduate degree.

For More Information Contact:

Dr. Wi-Suk Kwon
Graduate Program Officer