OK, I know that I’m putting myself in the line of fire for posting this but I haven’t found any threads addressing the issue. I’m not looking to be blasted for wasting my time/money and don’t want to hear ‘you only need a masters if you want to teach’ comments (obviously I’ve heard them before;).
That being said, I am a practicing designer and have been accepted to the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Design program. I hold a B.S. of industrial design from Virginia Tech and currently hold a senior industrial designer position at a consultancy. Upon accepting the offer, I would be a part-time student and working fulltime as a designer.
I am encouraged to pursue the masterâ€™s degree for several reasons:
UC’s design school is highly reputable and would give my educational background more clout
It would be a light(er) financial burden because my employer offers a tuition reimbursement program
I would be forced to study those issues in design that we don’t have time to address in the short-term relationships of consultant life
The program offers flexibility to design your curriculum â€“ i.e. electives in business, etc.
Teaching ID would be an optionâ€¦ some day
Though not necessary for practicing, I am convinced it is a winning proposition and could only benefit my career and add value to my design process. My post-graduation plan would involve transitioning to a corporate position focused on innovation/strategy/research â€“ long-term, brand-building principles that only a corporation can address in depth.
My questions for the forum are the following:
Does anyone here have both undergrad and graduate degrees in ID?
If so, how has it changed the way you practice design? How has it enabled your career?
Also, can anyone comment on UCâ€™s Master of Design program from experience?
Sounds like you mind is made up and if education “clout” things is important to you, go for it. The educational “clout” may not be valued by the corporations you are interested in, they tend to value a designer that has been in the system for awhile, knows the corporate culture and how to work with it to get things done. There are several design VP’s here and they are all 10+ years at the company. I would say just go corporate and start doing what you want to do.
Sorry I guess educational ‘clout’ sounds pretty superficial. The added educational value is a big part of it for me personally as well. I was the fifth graduating class from my undergrad program and felt it was ‘light’ in more than a few areas. I am anxious to experience a more established ID program.
That being said, I hope that corporations are looking for more than someone who jives with corporate culture?.. Where are the IIT or RSID grad-students going? I doubt they’re working in consultancies?
I work with quite a few P&G design managers - our main clients. I am really not interested in working there. Consumable goods are extremely limited by expense.
As far as I can tell, their designers are hired primarily for their ability to make decisions that yield profit. They have to be very business-savvy and a little cut-throat â€“ fitting a personality profile is a big part of it.
I really don’t feel P&G would maximize a MDes education… an MBA would go alot futher there.
I totally understand. The truth is that most are kind of light. Design is not taught well in an academic environment. The best place to learn and expand is probably doing what you are doing and trying to push the envelope on the job. real world failure is always the best way to learn. but I know this is not what you are asking about…
It think established brands are looking for people who understand the brand DNA and how to extrapolate it forward. You learn that simply by working for big companies. I’ve never had more job offers than in the last few years, I think because working with a large brand, you just learn so much about many facets of the business you can’t learn in school.
I agree that there are many aspects of design that are best developed on the job… and I TOTALLY agree that pushing the envelope and experimenting in all that we do is the best way to learn.
BUT at the same time, there are topics we’d like to know more about and be able to apply practically as designers that can only be understood through in-depth study. At the least an MDes program would force you to examine these topics at that level. Hopefully the reward would be applying that knowledge to my design practice.
Ok, point taken – it doesn’t matter where you work (consultancy, corporate, etc.) but what you’re doing. I still bet these grads are doing something on the innovation/research front and not your traditional ID practice.
I guess in our developing field a master’s education is plainly ill-defined (with exception of entering ID from a different field). That’s good in regard to designing a program around your needs and bad if you’re looking for structure and ways to rationalize the value of the degree.
You said that your employer offers tuition reimbursement? Then I say go for it. Many of us feel that we could always learn more, both on the job and in an academic situation. Whether or not there’s even a degree attached, it’s not a bad idea to take a class or two in something you’re interested in improving. The reason the tuition reimbursement is there is for you to use it. Companies like their employees to learn something new that they can bring back to work with them.
In addition, taking courses as a graduate student is much different than taking courses as an undergraduate. Your professional experience will enhance what you can take away from an academic course.