Design-centric MBA

Hi all

Looking for some suggestions. I am currently finishing my undergrad and strongly looking into graduate programs that belong in the realm of design strategy, design thinking, research, product development.

A program that has caught my attention is the MBA in Design Strategy at CCA. I felt that this MBA program was more “design-centric” than some of the other programs that I have come across. Suggestions very much appreciated!

Do you plan to work for a few years first?

Northwestern and IIT have programs.

No, I was not planning on working after my undergrad studies. What are your experiences with entering graduate school (with or without prior job experience)?

I will be graduating with an economics and interior design double. I have gained a strong interest in that realm of design, but have continually debated whether to gain work experience prior or to go straight ahead with grad school. I do have internship experience, but it certainly does not take place for what is learned on the job.

what kind of internship experience? I don’t recommend (in almost any circumstance) going from undergrad to graduate straight away. Even if you are wanting to be a pure academic. What do you think you will get out of the program? Or what kind of job do you think it will give you afterwards?

I finished an MA in Brand & Design Strategy last fall (Brunel, UK) after working as a product designer for 10 years and would recommend you work at least 1-3 years before going back to get your MA. It will help you frame what the course can offer you and you’ll have real world experience to draw from when you do projects. This helps you get more of your money’s worth out of the course, and prevent you from being completely un-tested in the real world when you get out.

The one downside is that the skill-set in design strategy (and more so, brand strategy) is not necessarily the same as product design. Its less sketching / modeling / cading / engineering / managing and more communicating / writing / reading / illustrating / charting / managing / planning (not that each don’t do the other, but mostly that’s the core tasks from what I’ve seen).

The overlapping parts are at the end of the strategy phase and the beginning of the design phase - you have to know what the designers need to do great work. This is where your ID undergrad makes you valuable, and where actual work experience makes you even more valuable. You can leverage this to get a better first job, setting your career path.

I would not recommend waiting too long though. There’s a sweet spot of 2-5 years out of undergrad, where you can pick up a MA and start at more of an entry level position when you hit the working world. Starting low lets you learn from the guys that have been doing strategy for years.

Plus, if you work in ID, you might just have so much fun you decide not to go down the strategy route!

Northwestern has a fantastic MS in Product Design and Development program, but you won’t get accepted without at least some real work experience (typically 3-7 years but quite a few have only 1 year).

It is a multi disciplinary program combining some engineering, business/marketing, and design classes all geared toward product design.

Also, all the business and marketing classes are the same ones taught at Kellogg by the Kellogg falculty.

Full disclosure, I graduated from this program in June. I immediately got a new, awesome job, that will pay off the tuition in 2 years.

Good luck.

thank you so much! will be considering all of your suggestions.

So do you want to be a designer?