I'd like to get into design research, any resources, firms?

I’m a recent grad with some experience and I’m finding that most of the jobs I am qualified for with my minimal experience end up being restyling, etc with very little “down and dirty problem solving” or research.

I want to get back to people-centered design, look at what we need, why we do what we do, etc.

I have a BFA in ID and an Assoc. in Anthropology

would it be worth getting a masters in Antropology? Or can I get into design research through experience with the right firm?

Any thoughts or personal experiences with this situation are greatly appreciated.

It’s a new field. You’ve got people doing this work nowadays with a large variety of backgrounds. IMHO, Portfolio is more important than Educational Background.

For those that look to anthropologists solely, I think a Masters degree wouldn’t be sufficient.

I’m not talking about what you learn in those programs, more about what that degree “qualifies” you for in the mind of those that might hire.

Strictly my own limited opinion here, of course.

If you are looking for a masters program to get you into design research there are several out there. IIT-ID (Illinois Institute of Tech.-Institute of Design) is probably one of the best known, most established and most respected user centered design programs. But, there are several programs out there such as Carnegie Mellon, Arizona State, Ohio State, and Cincinnati to name a few. Some are up and coming and some have several years under their belts.

Here is the question you have to ask yourself;

Do you want to do the research or do you want to implement it?

Yes, as a designer at a firm where user centered design plays an integral role you will be participating in the research. However, your design skills coupled w/ personality and enthusiasm for research will get you that job, not a master’s degree. Most of the grads I have seen coming from the programs mentioned above do not design products. They design the strategies and processes for extracting insights from users. These insights will be applied to products, environments, experiences, etc. but not necessarily by the researcher. The development process is typically broken up into specialties (research, design, CAD, engineering) where people work together and the lines do blur, but there is still segmentation. Many people have backgrounds in several areas, but they tend to excel at only one (maybe two), so it makes business sense for firms and corporations to have them repeatedly do the one they are good at.