Getting into graduate programs with a business background

Hey guys,

Just looking for some advice on getting into a good design grad program with no prior art/design experience.

I just graduated from the University of Southern California with a 3.9 GPA in business (finance + entrepreneurship). Right now I’m at a top management consulting firm doing business strategy work.

I took a Design 101 class at Parsons this summer but didn’t really build a portfolio.

What design grad schools accept students with no design experience/portfolio and how can I best position myself at these schools? For those schools that do require a portfolio, what do you recommend as ways for me to “catch up”? (e.g. continuing ed)


I’d say IIT or SCAD (got into SCAD’s MA program in Graphic Design with a business degree, but never went for financial reasons). Finding a school is the easy part, but I’m not so sure about getting in without a portfolio. I’d suggest getting some tutoring and building a portfolio of some sort, even if not directly related to ID.

When I was at California College of the Arts’ grad day last month, they mentioned that they tend to let one person per year in without a design background, based mainly on the strength of their personal statement and recommendations, as well as grades from undergrad.

I’m currently taking continuing education classes at Otis, and would encourage you to look at them and at Art Center in pasadena to find some night classes that can help you develop a portfolio as well as make sure your interest in design is something long lasting.

BTW, I’m also a USC alumna, B.Arch '05. Fight On!