What is better an undergrad or grad degree in ID?

I am highly interested in becoming an Industrial Designer, but I have a degree in, and am employed in the I.T. field. I was wondering what the best path would be for someone who would like to change career fields. Thanks for any advice in advance. '0006

This topic, grad vs undergrad, was hottly debated some time back (bonus points to anyone who can dig it up, it went on for pages and pages)

What I took away from it is that there is no one way to do this. It is a decision that needs to be made on a individual basis.

I think, as with any decision making process, you can make a few generalizations that might help take you down the path to making the right choice. These MIGHT be a few of those.

Many undergrad programs focuss on core design skills. UC, Art Center, CIA, CCS and so on. If you lack basic modelmaking, sketching, rendering, vis com, color, composition, problem solving methodologies, prototyping, and 3d modeling skills, you may want to consider a second undergrad (you would probably do it in 3-3.5 years)

Many Masters programs focus more on big picture design strategy, methodology, and philosophy issues. They may touch on, or go in depth into design research, anthropology, design in business, marketing and so on. If you have a handle on most of the core skills, or the ability and drive to learn them on your own, you may want to consider going for the masters. If you do not have a design background, some grad programs tack on an additional 1 year or 1.5 years. Note that a masters degree will most likely not get you any or much additional pay, but it will enable you to teach full time (tenured) if you might like to do that down the road.

I hope that helps, I’m sure there will be more input on the subject.

That’s pretty much it.

on a tangent -
I wonder if somehere out there someone is asking “I have a Bachelors in Design but really want to be _____ should I get a 2nd bachelors or a Masters?”

What besides design could fill the blank (MBA’s don’t count) - not any of the Liberal Arts, certainly none of the sciences. What about Designing makes people believe they can skip the foundational education?

I am in the original poster’s same situation. I would like to go into design but have an IT background. I’m at a point in my life where I’m considering going back to school and getting a design degree or an MBA. Which do you think is better? If I get the MBA, could I eventually manage a design firm without getting a BFA?

When I was young, I was considered exceptionally good in art. I loved to sketch cars, guns, and robots. I even won several regional art competitions. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t care too much for my creative abilities and wanted me to focus more on my academic career. They sent me off to a nerd farm and basically threw away all my art stuff/materials and told me art doesn’t pay. Well, I followed my parent’s wishes and ended up with a IT degree and working in the IT industry for several years. Since then I’ve always had this creative itch and found myself always doing something design related: designing my own computer systems, rewiring computer cables so they look nice, and playing around with 3D software. I even had silly hobbies making handmade crafts such as bags, clothing, and toys. I also am attracted to art/design folks. My g/f is a graphic designer, most of my friends are either musicians or designers, and I love watching shows like Monster Garage, Overhaulin, and The Great Biker Build-Off.

I recently found myself sketching guns, cars, and robots again. I’ve decided to stop ignoring this creative itch and do something about it, but I don’t know where to begin.

Any suggestions?

Stop sketching guns

…big diff between designing and studio management…not the same skill set…if you want to design study design…if you want to manage design check out dmi.org

It doesn’t sound like you will scratch that itch by managing. I’d recomend Bellying up to the bar and going back to school.

It is sad to hear that parents could be so discouraging to someone’s natural abilities. There needs to be a whole lot more design education on the mass level.

Here is one old thread in the archive – I just happened on it by accident while searching for something else. There are more recent threads, so look do some searches.


I have actually decided for many reasons to go the undergrad route (I am in my first year). I was beginning to think about applying to the grad program for next year – I am failry advanced compared the undergrads I am in class with and I would like to get through school earlier. Here is what stopped me:

  1. Two of my professors took me asside and said don’t do it. Mostly for the reasons in the linked post. To sum it up: concentrate on skills, take your time – 2 yrs is too little time.

  2. A very successful grad came to speak. On the upside he got a Masters and did not have a undergrad degree, BUT at one point he did mutter something under his breath about hiring grad (for internships, I believe) and them not having enough skills. He said that when he hires, he needs people with skills not people who have all the great ideas (or think they do).

  3. Since I already took liberal arts courses my course load is slightly lighter. I am able to work about 25 hrs a week, and this is how I finance my education (+ loans and grants, of course).

I still question getting a grad degree – believe me, if there was any cheaper or quicker way to get into the profession, I would go for it.

I am sure people can make the grad program work for them even if they do not have a design background. Just understand that in many ways grad programs that allow students who are not from design are programs that are a compressed and truncated version of undergrad programs. Make sure that you can acquire all the skills you need before graduation.

Thanks for the replies. I am lucky enough to have a girlfriend who is willing to teach me the fundamentals of design. She’s a BFA grad now working as a graphic designer for a local PR firm. I’m thinking I can bypass spending 2 years taking those basic fundamental classes and go straight into what I want to do. I was thinking of taking some fine arts classes and having her critique my work. For the past few years, I’ve been giving myself creative projects to do. Once I have enough pieces, I hope to bring em to a portfolio review for evaluation.

I recently came across this opportunity to work at the local art university as a tech support guy for their design department. I met with the directors and I’m sure they’ll let me sit on some of the classes. Hopefully, they’ll let me use their equipment as well. I’m hoping I could learn alot by helping the student with their projects.

So, I might have an opportunity to get the design education by going thru the backdoor by working at a design school as their computer support guy. Hopefully, I can work the gig for a bit to learn enough to land a decent job at a design firm and work my way up from there.

I would eventually love to start a business with my g/f and several of our design friends, so that is why I was also considering the MBA degree.

Does this sound like a reasonable path or am I dreaming?