value of business degree after ID

I’m thinking of getting a masters in a business related field after I graduate next spring from ID. Will this benefit me significantly, the knowledge, not the piece of paper, into jumping farther ahead in something ID related? I have a pretty solid resume and some great experience, but I’d like to be a little more well versed in the professional world.

Has anyone done this? Any thoughts are welcome.

Are you considering masters in business versus masters in ID? If so, here’s some simple math:

ID degree + Masters in ID =

  • more respect from your fellow ID community (maybe)
  • better opportunities to sell yourself and your capabilities within ID community (maybe)
  • richer, more nuanced understanding of ID and it’s role within the larger world (maybe)
  • better studio skills (maybe)

ID degree + MBA =

  • more respect from the other people around the table in your next 1000 meetings (probably)
  • better opportunities to sell yourself and your capabilities in a variety of corporate and consulting environments (probably)
  • ability to influence the structure and nature of design opportunities before they even come across a designer’s desk (probably)
  • a fatter wad of cash in your pocket (probably)

One last (very important) thing to consider, and it’s much less quantifiable. What will make you happy?

In spite of all the bitching that goes on, my take is that art/design-centered folk are generally happier than the business folk. Maybe not cruising through the weekends with as much bling, but happier nonetheless.

If your goal is ‘to be a little more well versed in the professional world’…your design education should serve you well (better than most) in listening and learning about ‘the rest of the world’ in the next few years.

This is without mentioning that the value of an MBA varies widely based on the recipient…sort of like ID degrees.

I completed my MBA last year, about 10 years after completing my ID undergrad.
I am often asked the same question you’re posing; is it worth it, will it help my career or make me more money?
Unfortunately, there is no short answer, since it really depends on where your professional strenghts are and what your career path is.

For example; a few months ago I was talking with a very talented designer who was considering going back for an MBA. She wanted more influence with clients to make design decision. My advice to her was invest in developing her professional reputation and involvement with clients. By increasing her credibility she would gain more respect with her clients.
Another example was with an experienced designer who’s had his own office for a while. My advice to him was; he’s already learned much an MBA would have to teach and the time away from business would probably be detrimental.

Personally, I started my graduate program shortly after completing my undergrad. By taking classes in an evening program I was able to focus on my design career concurrently. It took a lot of late nights and weekends filled with homework, but it dovetailed well with my professional development; by the time I finished my MBA, I was managing a large ID studio within an international consultancy.

I now find that the MBA is an advantage when I am looking for a new job. By having it, I find I am considered for most advanced managerial positions I apply for, opening the door to great opportunities I don’t think I would have otherwise had.

I don’t think it has made me more money, the salary ranges for ID managers are limited, but it may have allowed me to climb faster.

I don’t think I get any more respect from clients or from other IDers and it’s hard to tell how having an MBA effects my approach to developing projects.
I will say this; by understanding how design fits with the rest of business functions, I don’t value design very much as part of most business’ success.

Getting any advanced degree is a significant investment in time, money and lifestyle and it won’t always pay off. But if it fits for you, you’ll find it invaluable and rewarding.

Personally I would consider getting a few years of professional design experience under your belt before considering an MBA program. A few reasons:

    • Two to three years of business school course loads will give you NO time to work on your design skills-- you will be rusty and have a dated portfolio.
  • You will graduate with a high level management degree, but you will have zero real-world experience-- I would guess this would make you underqualified for design management positions.

  • It’s amazing what kind of insights and experiences you gain from a few years of the “real” work world.

  • A lot of the best MBA schools in the US require at least 10 years of professional experience… coincidence? I think not.

excellent post ACCDMBA.

Thanks ykh.

I’ve been thinking about this lately too, but perhaps for the wrong reasons, I graduated in early May and I’m struggling with not having a centered goal ahead of me. It was easy to say in college that if nothing comes up for the summer I’ll be back in classes in the fall, but now it’s like “If I don’t find anything by fall I’ll be in trouble for health insurance and repaying loans.”

Are the enterance tests for MBA programs difficult without having prior business experience? Would I find myself lacking in knowledge compared to people with undergrad business degrees? I guess I figure that I would be better off gaining more education then working at Best Buy for a year or two before I found an ID job.

I believe you’re generally required to take the GRE. The GRE is much like the SAT in that it tests you in a number of different areas (math, english, etc.) I was also required to complete an application, provide references and write an essay.

Of course, different schools have different requirements and required scores so check with the college of your choice to get the correct details

As for the question regarding an ID degree being preparation enough for this test is hard to tell. I’d recommend either taking a study course, or just take the test and see how you do, to determine if you need to improve certain areas. Few people I know struggle with the GRE.

probaly a stupid question but - anyway - if you have a i.d degree can you go straight into a bussiness masters - i thought you would have to get a degree in bussiness first?


my research says grad programs vary. schools will outline entry requirements. MBA is probably most general masters. for it, usually need good liberal arts background (automatic for most undergrads; maybe not auto for most ID) and GRE (still need to compete to get in). if not a business undergrad than you can get business basic requirements classes first semester in. IF required. and if program permits. on approval.

postgrad is both more flexible and more stringent than i orig thought. e.g. some MSc programs open to ID, but will need approvals and take extra classes to cover core courses. and more approval. and more approval. ad nauseum.

I completed a full-time program a few years back. You definitely don’t have to have a business degree to go for an MBA, but having some quantitative coursework as part of your undergrad degree helps. You may, however, need a degree from a 4-year university as well, so some art/design schools may not qualify, but I am not positive about that.

Entrance exam for MBA programs is the GMAT. It has a math section, English section (grammar, reading comprehension, etc) and a couple of essays. And it is not easy to do well, a must if you want to get into a good school.

Work experience is preferred, but not required. A few exceptional students go straight from undergrad to MBA. Most people work from 2 to 5 years before going back. Executive MBA programs are available for more experienced professionals.

When trying to reenter the work force, I was surprised to find very few synergies between design and business. This may be because I went full-time and graduated during a downturn in the economy, but I don’t think this explains it all. When looking at design driven industries, people on this business side tended to have a negative perception of designers. I think they based this view on their exposure to “creative” types in their own company, and could not envision those people (and by extension, me) in a business management role.

I was not too interested in going back to design, but I found few opportunities on that side as well. Even the one firm that I found that hired some MBA’s preferred MBA’s with backgrounds in business, not ID. Also, I think a lot of the bosses in the ID world sometimes don’t like the idea of hiring a designer who definitively knows something they don’t, just my opinion.

Ultimately I went in a direction (consumer packaged goods industry) where they generally had never heard of ID, which, in the end, worked out for the best. I am recognized for the business education I worked hard to get, and without any preconceived prejudices.

My suggestion would be to work for a few years, but guide your career to set you up for a run at an MBA and/or business career, if that is what you decide you want. This means working for a corporation (consultancies are for the most part a waste of time) and interacting with and learning from people in business disciplines (marketing, finance, etc). This will help open the option for a career change in the future.

Lastly, when pursuing employment, choose companies based on their reputation in business, not design. Apple may be attractive from a design perspective, but their business record is spotty at best. A less exciting company in terms of design, like P&G, will take you a lot farther in the business world.

Hope this helpful to someone.