Careers for Design + MBA

I’m planning to attend graduate school and I’ve been researching a dual degree - MBA and Masters in Design (you can get one at IIT, maybe some others).

From what I understand, this experience opens doors to some different career paths. For instance, I’ve heard of one person who is a portfolio planner. I need to figure out what those career opportunities are in order to know if I want to pursue them.

Can anyone on the boards tell me more about the types of careers available to people who have this dual degree?

Thanks for your help.

different paths yes - more opportunities no.
unless you use the MBA without design.

Using both - Brand Manager is one…

Ever notice hw designers never want to get an MID? Why the heck is that and why don’t MID programs address this.

I think a great MID for ID undergrads with experience would combine some MBA characteristics, some engineers, + philosophy, aesthetics…

I saw a school in NYC for artists started offering a Doctorates in Aesthetics… something we in ID are not very comfortable talking about and defining.

I’m trying to gain the right experience and education to become a leader in design. This means being an expert on design and it’s process as well as understanding the business world and knowing how all of the biz functions work together. To me, that’s what a good design director, VP of design, or CDO understands.

To achieve this, I could study for an MBA, an MID, or both. I don’t have a preference but want to make sure that my education will match my objective. Each degree opens different doors, and I want to know what careers utilize a dual degree.

Yo - with all of your corporate design experience, do you know people with this background? What do they do?

you can have as many letters after you name as you like, but mostly a design director/VP comes from experience. Do you have a BID? Professional experience? If this is the direction you are looking to go in, and you already have a BID, I’d suggest to get out there, put in years years at one or many places, then re-evaluate where you are and if a masters would help.

Experience will make you an expert, not a degree. From the people I all know in such a position, non have a masters, and from the few I’ve known to get a MID, the 2 years haven’t added much in the way of expertise, but more in networking, though of course both are useful. An MBA could for sure be a good thing, though I think not necessarily critical.


I know several VP’s and President level designers. Only one has a MBA, and it was an accelerated one done through the company.

I agree with Richard, being a leader is more than the letter, and it is more than the experience. A lot of it comes down to just being a leader. Creating a plan, getting others to believe in an ultimately execute on that plan (inspiring them) and having that plan result in achieved business goals. In order for you to get to that point you might need a MBA, and MFA, more experience, a combination of the above, or even none of the above.

It goes with out saying that an MBA won’t make someone a leader. It can augment a leader’s skill set. I will say that one of the best business presidents (not a designer) I know doesn’t have an MBA, but he hires them to implement his vision.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t get hung up on a degree. The fact that you are looking to gain the right mix of experience and education shows you have personal drive and ambition. You can make it happen no matter what. If you feel like an MBA becomes the missing factor, than pursue it. If you haven’t felt that, then I would I would keep your attention focused on being the best designer you can be that inspires and motivates the rest of the organization around you. If you do that, you will be a leader.

Thanks for the responses so far. I agree with your feedback that a degree alone won’t make me a leader. It’s important to have both a formal and informal set of experiences to make me a good designer and leader. Working as a professional designer, I’m learning the informal lessons on a daily basis. Graduate school will add the formal knowledge that I still need to acquire.

I think my original question was a little lost. Does anyone know someone with both a design degree and an MBA? What, if any, unique opportunities exist for people with this blend of experience?

Yes. My boss:

hi there,

i was head of the department of admissions, student services etc etc while studying at the Institute of Design a few years ago, I know the individual in question you mention in your post above, the portfolio planner. He was the first dual degree ever, in fact he pioneered it before it was redesigned to accomodate the challenge of completing two fulltime master’s degrees in three years. As for why he chose to do the Master of design and the MBA? the answer is kind of articulated here,

Another student who completed the MDes and the MBA, albeit the tweaked version, is Brandon Schauer, currently at Adaptive Path. Google him to get an idea of the kinds of things he’s doing now.

Some students didn’t complete the full requirements for the MBA but instead picked and chose classes to complement their personal interests and skills - costing and accounting if you’re thinking of designing for manufacture or going into it for yourself, marketing and branding if you’re taking the product management, brand mgt, product development line or even organizational strategy if you’re moving into business models or strategy such as what they do over at Doblin,

Good questions to ask yourself before wondering about the potential for options after the degrees, since much of what you do afterwards is what you make of your time there, include:

what attracts me to the concept of a business degree and a design degree?

why both and not one or the other?

what skills or focus areas am I interested in that I think will be supported or enhanced by this type of education?

am i prepared to never really sketch again if I choose not to start my own studio?

some further thoughts on grad schools adn thinking of them :


The “While You Were Out” article is one of the best articles I’ve read on Core77. Really informative and right on with what’s happening.

and here’s the job with a design degree and MBA

It seems like this topic has been flogged a few times over the last few years.

Here is my two cents…

I have an ID undergrad degree and got an MBA after 10 years out. As several other people have said, it’s the design experience element more than the MBA that have opened doors for me. The MBA helps to seal the deal because it’s helped me speak the management language. Balance sheets, budgets, corporate strategy, etc.

My career trajectory had taken me from ID to Marketing to Product Management. I followed the money. Even after leaving ID I’ve kept a consulting company to stay in the biz. You can’t take design out of a designer.