PhD in Interaction, Industrial, or Information Design


I think if anyone is going to be able to competitive in the future (with design blowing up in Asia) you had better start bringing more to the table than just a BFA.

I fail to see why companies or firms wouldn’t want a few people in their offices with higher education and experience in human factors, usability, etc.

Their loss.

As for a PhD that might be excessive. Especially without work experience. I am amazed at the number of people who got PhDs in their late twenties and early thirties at the school I graduated from.


I totally agree. That is why US design firms need to change the perception of industrial design. We need to offer the services and consultation that will raise us to a strategic planning level. Not the current tactical level that most firms are offering…design as a commodity. AKA product styling.

Problem with this is that there are to many companies out there who are simply to happy playing catch-up to the leaders. I could buy a house if I had a dollar for every client that has approached this firm asking for us to copy a market leader so they can ride the coat tails…"but we need it done cheaply, we want to under price them…ok. I politely show them the door they can go to china for all I care.

BTW I ran across an article about “the true cost of Chinese Manufacturing” I will ask my engineer for the information to post later. Showed multiple cases were Chinese manufacturing was more $ then domestic, and on large quantities too. Mainly when quality and tolerances were vary specific and tight.

Sorry off topic—back to topic.

Master in ID with experience yes defiantly an advantage to any design team. PHD-why, unless experienced you can not really claim more pay from an employer. This is a creative field you have to have the credentials/products behind you to demand the increased pay. PHD in sociology, human factors, human performance, market research/trend forecasting, or marketing would be great. Even better a Masters or PHD in polymers, then you could design the materials to suit the specific needs of each product you design. Maximum form and function…not to good on the budget though.

Design MA’s are more important than ever.

However, the most talented designers I’ve ever met tend to have BFA’s, even if the smartest had MFA’s.

It’s generally recognized that a 4 year BFA/BS isn’t really long enough to learn design. Of course, if you’re good enough after those first 4 years, your next 4 should provide you with an equivalent education with the added benefit of working on real-world projects on salary. Some of the better design MA’s are also teaching new disciplines that might be hard to find in the field (Strategic Design Planning comes to mind.)

But to me, having a PhD in design says “I like being a doctoral student because I have a personal design-agenda that no corporation will pay me to fulfill” or “I couldn’t hack design, but I like it too much to give up… Maybe I’ll write a book or be a professional critic.”

Put another way: PhD’s are Astronomers, BFA’s are Astronauts.

elegantly put cg…

I’m not sure I understand why a degree (presence or abscence) has anything to do with talent. I think we all acknowledge that there are excellent thinkers, artists, and designers without even a BFA; why can’t the reverse be true as well - a designer who is good, and who has a PhD?

I continually hear “Oh, a PhD in Industrial Design is ridiculous; however, a PhD in Ergonomics / Interaction / Engineering is a great idea”. Why? What makes the distinction? Simply saying “I’ve never heard of it” or "everyone I’ve talked to … " does not adequately support an argument in favor or against an extended degree.

Could it be, possibly, that those who continue to get advanced degrees do it because they LIKE LEARNING NEW THINGS?

Why pay to learn when you can be paid to learn…Your career and real world experience will teach you more than any academic course.

what did u do with it???

You rarely, if ever, pay to get a PhD.

You rarely, if ever, pay to get a PhD

Oh really? Depends on the degree. Areas like design or social service don’t always get a free ride. Maybe some money but not a free ride in the US.

I am amazed at all the negative feedback here regarding advanced education. [/quote]

You consider PHD in Industrial Design advanced education? You are a designer. You create the shape of an object ie an automobile. That’s it. You are not involved in the construction of the mechanical parts, the computer chips, circuits, etc . These people have advanced education. Not you. Why do you have to make it so complicated. You are an artist, a shaper with acreative mind. Not a fucking scientist!!!

You are an artist, a shaper with acreative mind.

If you feel that is all design is then I suggest you go back to school. Yes at one time that was true but design has changed. As an industrial designer the more you know about:

behavioral science
user experience

the better decisions you will make about your design. Design isn’t just about styling anymore. The design consultancies that just offer that service are going out of business… as the design who can do only styling skills will become unemployable.

Dude, would you buy a stylish Ferrari or an ergonomically right BMW? which would catch your eye- stylish Mac or IBM? People have money nowadays. There are 5 biilion people in this world. Just lay your true design out there and people will buy.

You don’t know what you are talking about. Style is everything in th edesign world. Design=Style=unique=people will come and buy=profit=more hype about the designer=more profit=early retirement=considered one of the greats.

All the skills you listed- you might as well go to business school. Or if you
wish to work for a design firm and kiss your boss’ ass for the rest of your life.

Most great designers start their own business. Designers or artists do not create to please people. They please themselves. When people think they are great designs, they will buy them. Are you going to please people for the rest of your life?

^^^ Another success story hanging on the Core bored.^^^

So there’s a lot of flaming going on in here, but can anyone answer this poster’s question without degrading someone elses’s opinion?

I think the lack of genuine answers might confirm some of the opinions of PHD’s in designs fields not being in high demand. Torch me if you want.

Dude, would you buy a stylish Ferrari or an ergonomically right BMW? which would catch your eye- stylish Mac or IBM? People have money nowadays. There are 5 biilion people in this world. Just lay your true design out there and people will buy.

Dude? How do you know I’m not a dudette?

Oh yeah they will buy if it looks great but they won’t come back if it doesn’t work correctly/ poor quality, etc… You think people bought the Aeron chair just because it was stylish? If it was uncomforable that product would have been off the market years ago. Now Aeron has brand identity because of it great design… and I don’t mean just style.

Style is everything in th edesign world.

Right that’s why all theses sites with custome evaluations of how the product works are online.

All the skills you listed- you might as well go to business school.

more than just marketing… That’s my point. You need to be a jack of all trades. Not an expert in all those fields but be able to understand these disaplines in order to design or work with others in a team of experts.

Take your blinders off and start looking around instead of a straight line.

BTW Yo, you are corrent. There isn’t a high demand for PhD’s but that doesn’t mean someone won’t hire you if you have one. Also, no one said you have to list this on your resume.

Bittersweet, have you heard of Craetive Director or Design Manager? That is what you are aiming for. Managing people and their problems. Face it you are not cut out to be a designer.

There are lot of stylish products with great qualities. I would rather buy a product that is stylish with good quality than a boring product with a good quality. The reason why Nissan, Apple, Sony, Samsung, Audi, etc are selling like pancakes is because they have stylish pruducts that differentiated themselves to the competition. Style sells like sex sells bonehead!


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