ID Grad school worth it?

Although I graduated with a BA in Architecture, I’m in Information Tech at the moment and earning a decent living, with promise of making even more if I stay in the field.

I am in my mid 30s and have begun feeling I need to go back to my first love, the arts and design.

After checking out ID salary surveys and reading quite discouraging comments from forum members, I’m at a dilemma. My question is: Is it any different for a grad student? Will I also be starting off at the roughly 30,000 - 40,000 salary range after grad school?

Personal experiences would help a lot. Thanks.

Unlike Arch, the Masters does not count for anything in ID.

If you could get a job with just 2 years training it’d probably be at the low end of entry. Most ID grad programs will require you to do 3 anyway.
do yourself a favor and concider a 2nd Bachelors, you could possibly be done in 3, not waste time in seminars and writing papers, and have many more schools to choose from. With some choice co-ops you could start well above 40K.

What is your love worth?

Actually, I think a Masters in ID would help you enter the profession at a higher level, especially since your first degree is somewhat related. I graduated from Cranbrook’s 3D Design program a few years ago, having gotten an unrelated BA degree before, and this definitely opened some doors for me and enabled me to start my career on a higher rung of the ladder. It’s definitely worth considering, but keep th cost (and existing debt, if you have any) in mind.

A masters will probably allow you to enter at a slightly higher level, but in my opinion it is all about your own personal skills and talents. I have seen tons of BA kids that are light years better than MID’s. My take is that the masters is a good opportunity to reinvent yourself as a designer, and rebuild a portfolio. Say, for example, you work in footwear for 10 years. You cant just go and do automotive and expect to get a great job, you’ll have to work your way up from the bottom again. This would be a good time to go to grad school and poise yourself to enter the nes design field.

It depends on what type of degree you will complete. As mentioned above, doing a Master’s degree which is fundamentally an undegrad degree compressed in 2 years will probably not catapult you further than a normal BA in design. However if you do a research degree and write a thesis, your Masters can open doors in design research, education, and policy-making.

A research degree wont build up your design portfolio but it will allow you to publish papers, write articles, books, etc…

If you think you have sufficient knowledge and comfort in industrial design, why not consider doing a masters in Interaction Design? That way you will have the knowledge and expertise to design structures, objects, and interactions.

I often think about this even though Im a recent BA grad. I think that eman has it right. Often people get pigeon-holed into one line of work and then it becomes tough to transition. Plus, school is a good place to be noticed and have you own time to work on your own projects. What I want to know is, is it worth doing abroad? Cause I dont want to do it in the states.

do you want to work somewhere particular, or in a particular feild? because connections are the next most important thing to your portfolio…

…i see postings suggesting terminal degrees prefered but those are for vp, director, or manager id jobs, not entry level, so it wouldn’t payback anytime soon…not so sure that you could or even should get into a terminal program without an id degree…life is short and you should follow your bliss…many are called, but few are chosen.

he makes a good point - perhaps a degree in design management would suit you better? University teaching is the only place where the Masters really pays off because it’s required.

Most University grad programs will not admit you without an ID Bachelors and some proffessional experience, Art schools are more forgiving - but go someplace reputable like Pratt.

My opinion, don’t do it. Stick with what your doing now if it’s good money. You can always pick up freelancing as a designer and scrap the idea of an ideal ID company to work for.[/quote]

This is good topic, I think alot of us wonder about this…will it pay off?

A couple of Q’s:

What does MRD mean by “terminal program”?

What is “interaction design” specifically, and where are the best programs NM?

Where does NO SPEC suggest are the best design management programs and what new job opp’s does it give you? I thought that most design managers are simply designers who have progressed beyond “senior designer”, how are they going to give you position like that fresh out of school without years of exp?

…how old is ‘too old’ to make this choice?

Managers and Seniors usually are experienced designers. For ID, experience holds more weight than a masters degree. This may differ in other professions, but being exposed to the design process in a business and manufacturing environment will take you much farther.
Interaction design is another over specialized subdivision of design. The over specialization happens in schools. Human factors and ergonomics are elements that graphic and industrial designers should have learned while earning their degrees. Granted, interaction is a very important part of product design be it graphic or 3D, it does not need to be broken down into an individual curriculum. Designers should be well rounded, we increase our value and enhance the profession by not becoming too limited in the skills and knowledge we have to offer.
I don’t think it is a question of old, rather of knowing yourself. Depending on where you live, most major ID programs offer evening classes to working professionals in your situation. Take one, and if it feels natural to you and makes more sense than anything else, go for it. There is true Industrial Design and Graphic Design, then there are those who went through these curriculums and realized they were more fascinated with strategy and planning. Ultimately, in a business environment, these people would have more success if they had an MBA or focused on Marketing and Advertising. I’m not suggesting that we ID guys don’t have our ideas, and egos, just that there is a core instinct and intuition that differs from what is business education.
But more to the point, your decision should be based on how you can get by. As the suggestion above stated, you could learn to sketch and take a few classes in the necessary 3D programs to put together a portfolio. And you might be able to land a job. Its a struggle from any perspective. ID is a lot like architecture, much to the disdain of young designers like myself, in that it requires years of experience before being ultimately successful. Many schools, like the well known school I attended, tend to inflate students egos to the point that they enter the job market believing the world owes them something. And “the years” become grueling. I was fortunate enough to have a few very special professors who focused on this, and made sure I understood what to expect after hatching.
Design is not just a major to declare, it is an intuition. “The designer” has a natural ability to acknowledge visual language and communicate it to others(business and consumers).
I think dipping your toe in the water will help you decide.