grad id programs for the uninitiated non-designer

I’m a 28 year old non-designer seriously considering getting a Master’s in design, specifically furniture. I have a trillion unanswered questions regarding how I’m going to go about dilineating this difficult path, but my key obstacle at the moment is narrowing down the number of available programs.

Some background: BSc & MSc in computer engineering w/ public policy studies. 5 years of quantitative environmental economics policy analysis and computer (data) modeling. 5 years of furniture design in my head and sketchbooks. My background is, I believe, sufficiently technical to handle the knowledge of process, form, materials, management, and so on, while my weaknesses are clearly in the more subjective arts of sketching, CAD, hands on modeling, building, etc.

So what I’m looking for, then, are top-notch programs that (1) will accept and/or embrace someone with my non-design background (given a convincing portfolio, granted), (2) have an ID program with weight in furniture design (or that teaches product design skills applicable to furniture design), (3) will teach me hands-on skills but is also strong on theory and concept, (4) has good connections to internships and job placement or exists in a city/location with lots of companies creating furniture, and (5) will not crush me financially (expensive is ok if assistantships are available). I am open to international schools and alternative suggestions, especially if you think I’m off-base in what I should be looking for.

So far, Pratt seems to stand out, but I plead a large degree of ignorance.


I found myself in a similar situation some years back, and have been very pleased with the Master’s Program in ID at NC State (and the program continues to improve before my very eyes). If you would like to discuss in-depth with me (or other resources here at State) please contact me directly.

Good luck,


Ps. From a cost perspective, alone, I doubt you find a better deal than NC State (something like $2500 / semester for in-state, which is something they let you get after a year in NC with the proper documentation).

might be worth looking at the program in Calgary (canada) as well.


i graduated with a bachelor’s in mech. engineering; headed to Pratt in August for their MID program.

the masters program is essentially like the undergrad program, except compressed into 2 years and with a master’s thesis.

i chose this program over others because i think it will give me more of the hands on design training that i’m looking for. [which it seems you’re also looking for.]