Masters in ID

Hey all. I am thinking about pursuing a Masters in ID. But is it worth it? It seems most employers look at the experience you’ve had and depth of your work more than they do education. What jobs are out there that a Masters would help you land?

What are some of the best graduate programs out there? I’d appreciate any feedback you can give. Thanks.

Why are you thinking about getting a masters?

Well my undergraduate degree is in advertising and graphic design. But I’ve always been more intersted in ID.

I got a Masters in Design - Design Strategies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Not specifically ID but related. It gave me the bigger picture I needed.

University adjunct professor. Not sure there are too many others. Maybe creative strategy/ethnography at a large firm, though I can’t speak accurately to that having not worked in such a thing at such a place. Seems like with only a MA or MS and not real-world experience in ID you would be limited to the ‘meta-’ level of talking about what design can do, rather than doing it. I’ve met some Stanford PD grad students who had jobs like that.

With a masters I’d imagine its unlikely you’d get a grounding in the ‘skills’ portion of the undergrad education so wouldn’t be competitive with fresh grads for the same jobs.

Where’s that guy who went back for a masters to CCS? Sick sketching skills guy.

So is your masters degree more to transition industries to practice industrial design as a professional than to advance a current knowledge set?

If IDSA did their job, that would be unnecessary.


I was going to start a new thread on this topic but figured that it would be better to glob on to this one since I have similar questions. I too am considering grad school for ID, though my background is a bit different.

I graduated with a BFA in industrial design and worked as a designer at a start up that fizzled before moving to a POP house near my home town. I am hoping to move out of POP and work in other areas of design that I feel more passionate about. I think going back to grad school will help me focus on catching up on some of the skills I let slip through my fingers during undergrad, help me make some new connections, and get me out of my home town and back into the design world.

My question then is: Would having an MFA help “reboot” my young career? I do hope to teach design some day (though not right away), so I figure I will need to go back to school at some point anyway. Or would I be wasting time and money? Thoughts?

What could the IDSA do to make this unnecessary?

It’s about options.
If a junior design position or paid internship can be landed at a reputable design firm, then this is of course the preferred route to take at that point in time. But that is a lot easier said than done, especially for someone who is coming fresh from a tangent design field and the primary career goal at the moment is not to work within education or research.

If there is no such opening, the masters can be a great thing to do instead for a number of reasons.
First, it surrounds you with peers who will inspire you, motivate you and teach you. Something that you probably will miss if you work on your portfolio on your own.
Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to really focus on an area of design that interests you and gives you the time, resources and freedom to explore. A luxury that one rarely has when working at a design firm.
From my own experience, I can’t emphasize the fact enough that it is paramount to have a clear idea of the direction that you want to take. I don’t think a Masters should be a continuation of a Bachelors, i.e. a skill drill. It is much more a time and opportunity to take learned skills and use them to dig deep into a subject matter of interest, creating new knowledge.

So, I actually might advice that, should there not be a great job on the table already, to consider another Bachelors. If another Bachelors is too much of a financial burden takes too long, Umea in Sweden for example offers a 1 year crash course in ID which quite a few friends of mine have attended and they later used to get into top notch ID master programs.
If you have to pick up basic skills during the masters education, it will distract you from the actual purpose of the masters and leave no time and energy for developing a deeper perspective into design as you would in a Bachelors.

I did a second Bachelor in ID after I had earned one in a another field, but dropped out before senior year and right away enrolled in an ID masters program. Personally, I could not have done it in another way and am very happy with the course I took, as wonky as it may seem.

Bepster - You hit it right on the head.

Hey Bepster-

Sent you a PM for your advice…



don’t think I received a PM from you.
Could you send again?

Okay hopefully it sent this time…

Got it, and answered!

Thanks so much!

I see you’re in San Fran…what do you know about Academy of Art and California College of the Arts??

Practically nothing. I know the schools in NYC and some in Europe. I am on the West Coast just for work.

Ok. Just thought I’d ask. Which ones in Europe? I was interested in DA Eindhoven, Elisava, Designskolen, and Wuppertal but I’m always confused when they say they offer English courses but require language proficiency when applying…