What makes a graduate project a graduate project?

What do you expect from a graduate student’s project or portfolio? What sets it above a undergrad’s standard?


  • more towards concept development, specially originality in logic
  • innovative attitude towards simplicity and sophisticated design strategies
  • independent research on all aspects from ergo to material to automation
  • correlation and uniformity between ideas within the same design or different concepts
  • rigid and strong form development and style philosophy
  • introduction of avantgarde elements and directions in technology forecasting / future
  • close to real presentation of objects and their functions
  • tangible references which serve as guides for better understanding of new performances
  • time effective, cost effective, with minimal waste in resources
  • well integrated, well engineered, and sustainable concepts

I think it depends, the criteria can be as diverse as the profession.
Cranbrook might have very different standards than IIT, for example.
It’s also dependant on the goal of the student, someone headed into teaching would have very different demands compared to someone who used grad school to flesh out a product in hopes of creating a start-up.

I’d hope it’d not be just ‘more and better’ undergrad work, although I realize many individuals use grad school to just change careers. (and that’s all some schools expect them to accomplish)

One professor of mine described it like this: “In grad school you have to do something that contributes to the profession.” the rest is up to you.