Pratt - Master in Design Management

Does anyone know if they’re still running this program? The website is a little lacking. Has anyone gone through the program?

Based on their web site, they are still offering a masters in design management:

I never knew anybody in that program in my 2.5 years there and can’t even tell you where the classes were held. I don’t know if that says anything, but…

Maybe it was more tied to the Architecture program, but I never heard peep about it in the ID building.

The classes are held at the Manhattan campus. Unlike the grad ID program, I believe the Design Management program is geared torwards part-timers with jobs (part-time, jobs, scholorships/fellowships – all no-nos in the MID program).

Because design management deals with new product developement, you would think that some sort of interaction with ID would good for both… but NO, don’t even think of trying to take any of the design management classes, nor should you expect to even hear anything about the program if you are in ID.

I would think it would have been a popular program in recent years, but I’ve never heard much about it.

I was also interested in this course OR MID at Pratt. ViVaVoom, sounds like you´ve had some experience with the latter, can you tell us a bit about it?

The Design Management program at Pratt is not all it’s cracked up to be. That’s why no one has heard of it. I tried it out for a semester. The instructor’s were dried up corporate world people who that think they are all consultants now or something. They don’t know anything about design you don’t get a degree in design or business. It’s pretty much a waste of time. Tech schools that actually give you a design degree or MBA degree would be much better than this program.

I was just accepted to this program. Sounds great from what the head of the department told me over the phone. It meets every other weekend for 2.5 years, and culminates in a “capstone” course, where students work in groups of 4 or 5 and have several options for projects, including using everything they’ve learned to put together a business plan.

Nonetheless, I am a little bit hesitant about it. It’s very expensive (my company isn’t paying for it) and I’m not sure what it will get me in the long run or how potential employers will view it. It is neither a business program nor a design program - falls somewhere in the middle. I am very interested to hear from anyone that has gone through the entire program and how they feel about it.

I’ve been looking at this program from afar for years. Can you tell us how much they are charging nowadays? Do you know how many students are currently going through the program? Can Pratt tell you where recent grads are working? As a Pratt student, are you eligible to take part in any job placement type activities or resources?

I find it weird that I don’t hear any recent press about the program. I also find it odd that other Pratt students and grads haven’t had any exposure to the program or even heard of it. Maybe because it is being held at the Manhattan campus?

I would hate to think that digscrapdesign is my only viewpoint. Anything positive from the Pratt contingent? I’d try to get a hold of some current students and pick their brains.

Clyde -

Pratt graduate tuition is something like $1134 per credit, putting this program at about $45k. It is at the Manhattan campus and it only meets every other weekend. I’m guessing a lot of people at Pratt don’t know much about it because it is not really an art program… much more focused on business. During my phone interview I scribbled down some notes that may or may not be accurate: They get about 3-400 applicants per year. Of those there are about 100 where she wonders why the even applied. From there the accept are 100 students per year, and class sizes are from 13-26 people.

From what I understand it’s made up of professionals from different design disciplines (ID, graphic design, architecture, etc.) that feel “trapped on the deathstar” (direct quote for head of the dep’t) and want to do something more meaningful with their skills and experience. She also said that in modern culture we can’t simply continue with the “business as usual” mentality that has become all too common, and that this program is geared towards creating a sustainable creative advantage through strategic design intelligence… those seem to be two catch phrases that this program is built on.

I personally am interested in learning about how to run a design business with the intention of potentially starting my own agency at some point. I also really want to be in NYC and hope to build some valuable social and business relationships through this program. Either way, I feel like a lot of business people don’t understand what goes on behind the curtain in the design world; to them we are essentially glorified magicians. Conversely, designers often don’t understand (or don’t care about) what goes into making business decisions and how strategies directly impact design decisions. I feel like being somebody that comes from both a design and a business background puts me in a position to bridge that gap, and should at the very least make me more marketable to employers.

So in the end I think the program sounds good, and I am 90% sure about going, especially if they offer me some money. I just want to talk to some people that have gone through the program before I commit… tracking them down has proven more challenging that I thought it would…

As far as what the Department Chair tells you about the Pratt program…

It’s definitely not a reliable source. During my time there she said a lot of things. She practically owns the Design Management program at Pratt. So she will tell you everything you want to hear. Her background is in Psychology and Branding if that gives you any indication where she is coming from. I think she uses the DM program at Pratt to boost her own ego, but I could be wrong.

The program it’s self is ok. it’s definitely not worth the $45,000 dollars you are about to spend on it. Your Degree will be a M.P.S. (Masters of Professional Studies). Whatever that means I’m still not sure? I hope you are really good at communication because it’s going to take a lot of that in order to describe what your degree is about and what you are capable of doing with it.

For $45,000 I would expect the degree to do the talking. Especially in today’s economic climate. Forget about Pratt’s program and look into a MBA. Pratt’s DM program is trying to Brand itself as a MBA program but you still end up with an MPS


It’s kind of sad that the only value you derive from graduate level education is a set of letters. If that’s the case I don’t think you’ll go very far: Bloomberg - Are you a robot?

Yes MBA education is not the sole reason for the current state of the economy but it has contributed to the problem in some regard. I’d like to think that with any education undergraduate or graduate you make what you put into your education.

So if you’re looking for a program that takes a different view of doing business, i.e. the context of a design background I don’t see how that variable is so detrimental. As a senior level design practitioner, I’d be very intrigued by someone with this degree. It’s not something I’d dismiss quickly and I’d definitely wish to engage that person for at least a conversation to see what value they could bring to my design practice.

Also you state that all the faculty members are “consultants or something”. I don’t see how that’s an unreasonable thing. Most of your profs at an MBA probably have done some level of management consulting. So until you can offer some more concrete evidence that the program isn’t great I’m not entirely sure your opinion is that credible.

@ achong

You’re absolutely right, I agree that it does very much depend on what you do with your degree. But I also stated, you have to be a very good communicator in order to describe or sell someone an M.P.S. I also agree with you on the fact that professors should be good consultants in order to teach at a graduate level.

What it all really depends on, is what your plans are in the future. If you plan on working with designers who are typically more patient and open minded. Head designers will more likely sit down and listen to what you have to offer as an Design Management graduate.

If you are in fact more interested in breaking into the business environment positioning yourself as head designer and integrating your design experience within a business, it would be more to your advantage to have a degree that is recognized by those you will be dealing with.

This site gives you a list of schools recognized as D-Schools and also all the Business Partnerships.

To name a few…

IIT offers a joint degree in design and business established as a M.B.A.

California College of the Arts is a design masters with a focus for sustainable development. They partner with IDEO which a very reputable corporate design group.

Carnegie Melon has a variety of design focuses that will increase your chances in getting into a career that you are looking for. Including Communication Planning & Information Design, Interaction Design, and Master of Product Development.

Check out the discussion on SCAD’s Design Management discussion, here on Core 77. It puts a lot into perspective. SCAD M.A. Design Management

I have been through part of Pratt’s program and was disappointed. I’m not saying other programs are better at this point, because I haven’t attended another program yet. But in hindsight, Pratt’s Design Management program is neither a design degree nor a business degree and they do not partner with any other businesses or corporations. I wish I would of spent the time and money in a program that was a little more substantial.

Well that makes more sense. I wasn’t sure where you were coming from. It seems you aren’t oppose to integrating design thinking with traditional business thinking. You just seem to dislike the Pratt program specifically. Seeing how I’ve never participated in the program you’re opinion is completely valid but it just seems to me that the program would be on parity content and education wise with any of those other programs.

To each there own ? :slight_smile:

I still don’t buy the selling MPS argument though. MA, MBA, MSC those things don’t get you jobs or if they do you get fired shortly after if you don’t have the acumen to back it up.

And the SCAD link you posted I completely agree with the sentiment. Nobody should go to these type of Master degrees without some level of experience. Without the experience you’re not going to have the appropriate context to engage at the right level. Going to “Design Management” is not a panacea for having no specialized design skill. Nobody in their right mind would hire that person. They wouldn’t be able to command the baseline respect from those who look to them for insight and innovation.

As a student currently in the program…here are a few notes:

  • Classes are held at the Manhattan campus primarily on weekends (the reason most at Pratt don’t know anything about the program)
  • Roughly 30 students a year in the program
  • Diverse class: professionally and culturally
  • Collaborative focus
  • Professors with both business and design backgrounds (variety of outside professionals speaking as well)

If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing in DM, check it out for yourself…here’s a new blog the students just launched: Catalyst Blog

As well as the Catalyst Strategic Design Review publication recently produced to highlight topics related to design management: Catalyst Strategic Design Review

If you would really like to learn more about the program in regards to applying, I would suggest attending an information session, which are offered a few times a year. They will give you the opportunity to ask all the questions you want.

Am I learning the Design Management skills I had hoped coming in? Yes, and having fun doing it
Is it a lot of work? Yes, it’s a challenge at times (working full time like many of the students) and, as with all programs, you get what you put in
Am I meeting a lot of great people and building my professional network? Definitely, there are a lot of connections to be made

Well I hope this will shed some light on the mystery that is Pratt Design Management.


I’ve decided to defer for a year, but I’m moving to Brooklyn in 2 months so I will sit in on a class or two. Also going to try and find a job in NYC that will help pay for it!

Wanted to revisit this discussion. I’ve successfully moved to NYC and actually managed to land a pretty nice job at a well-respected ad agency. I’m still very interested in attending Pratt’s DM program in the fall, but I’ve already had a number of negative interactions that are giving me cold feet:

  1. When I wanted to defer, I couldn’t get a straight answer out of anyone on how to do so. First they said to just email the head of the dep’t. No forms? No deposit? Oh wait… there is a deposit. $500. It seemed like they were just making it up as they went along.

  2. Now that I’m settled I’ve been trying to sit in on a few classes. I emailed and called people repeatedly, and never received a response. Then I get an email:

We are in the process of reviewing applications for the Fall 2010 term. Are you still interested in the program and would you like for us to consider your application? Please respond within 48 hours.

um… what? considered? I was already accepted and put down a $500 deposit. I decide that perhaps it’s just worded poorly, so I respond and reiterate that I want to sit in on a few (specific) classes and would that be possible. Again, no response. So I look up the professors directly on the Pratt website and start emailing them. One responds…

  1. I arranged to sit in on a class a 9am on a Sunday. I woke up early and got on the train, only to find the the class has been rescheduled for the afternoon, and the professor apparently didn’t think that was worth mentioning to me. I tried to sit in on another class while I was there but somebody from the administration by the elevator told me that was not possible.

  2. Just received another email from admissions:

Just so you know, we’re in the process of short listing applicants for 2010. Please let us know for sure whether you’ll be joining us for this fall. If we don’t hear from you within 72 hours, we’ll be unable to hold your place.

Thank you for your interest in the program.

72 hours?! Why wouldn’t they email me in January and tell me I had a month?! So I have 3 days to make a decision, thought I would send one more email about how I’d really like to sit on a class before making a decision. I get an immediate response from the dep’t chair:

We do not make a practice of class visits. We also do not keep defers open for more than a year. Please let us know if you plan to attend.

WHAT?! This is absurd. Would I buy a new car without test driving it? The program seems good but the consistent lack of respect and competence that I have experienced so far is making me SERIOUSLY second guess the validity of this program. Anyone had similar experiences? Is this kind of behavior typical art school elitism or a red flag?

Wow they weren’t kidding. I sent them an email explaining that I needed more time because I hadn’t heard back about my financing yet and wouldn’t be able to get that info on 3 days notice. They just wrote back (it’s been 3 days) saying I’m dropped. WTF. The program may be good but the administration/admissions people are some of the most unprofessional people I’ve ever dealt with. I guess all in all I’d suggest looking at other programs if you’re interested in something like this.

I’ve heard from numerous Pratt alum that while the programs are top notch, the administration is horrible. A few of them were still waiting for Pratt to distribute their student loans half way through the semester.

Congrats on the job btw.