Should I go to grad school?

28 Jun 2010 - 4:44pm
6 years ago
6 replies
1388 reads

I just got accepted to the Interactive Design program at SCAD ( and I'm having a little trouble deciding whether this is something I should do or not.

I finished my undergrad last year at a prestigious tech school with a degree in Computer Science, but that's not at all what I want to do. I'm currently a designer at a software company and I love my job, but I have no education in the arts at all, which is why I decided to apply in the first place.

I would be doing the e-learning program so I'd still be working full-time, and I have a scholarship and some tuition reimbursement so it wouldn't be a financial issue.

So my question is: will having an MA in Interactive Design be worth the time/effort/money?


28 Jun 2010 - 9:05pm

Totally worth it. Talent plus experience plus credentials is a winning combination. its completely possible to be successful without credentials, but it will pave the way, make you more desirable, and your compensation higher. Assuming you have talent, of course.

29 Jun 2010 - 10:31am

Hi all,

I actually have a couple of follow on questions to the original post.  I've been formally trained and am currently working as a usability engineer. However, as my career path has led me further and further down the path of IA and Design,  I've picked up a good deal of skills based from OJT, however: 

1) My background is more in research - what programs out there teach IA and design specifically?  Which are the good ones? Is this something that must be learned in person, or would an online experience be sufficient? 

1) Is it worth getting another advanced degree to hone these skills?   Isn't this something I can just learn from research online/forums?  Or are there concrete skills that must be learned only from the Jedi Masters in universities?

I ask, as I am currently in the role of UX/IA/Designer. However, the diploma will not really impress anyone at work, I'm not considering a job or carreer change, and it will be a boatload of work.




29 Jun 2010 - 12:11pm

In this field, its all about the portfolio and the projects you have worked on! 

Whether you build your portfolio from school projects or freelance, that doesn't really matter. It comes down to this: are you going to freelance to build your portfolio or would you rather have the structure of the school room?

I personally think a Masters degree in this field is definately worth it.

29 Jun 2010 - 8:29pm


A structured academic program is worth the time, money and effort especially with professions related to design.

1. It offers a sound theoretical framework for thought process. You are given adequate time to iterate and devise a process appropriate to the brief. Your designs/projects are judged based on methods and (hopefully) not on bias or personal preferences. All this adds substance to the output.

2. Colleagues & advisers. You can not compare the nature of interaction with a colleague or adviser in the hallway about your work to a project related call at a work setting. Connections you make at school can also influence your path later.

3. Understanding research. Masters takes you a step ahead from undergrad. Courses are usually oriented towards in-depth studies of select subjects and encourage self driven research. This is a good precursor to any research related job or further studies/teaching.

4. Vocabulary & tools.  You have way more time/chances to experiement with new tools (software, methods etc..) I've found that a masters program also improves your writing skills and vocabulary :)

MA in design would be very different from a applied coputer science degree. You might wish to talk to recent grads about their experience and professors about the structure before deciding. In my opinion, a well structured masters in design is essential especially if you do not come from a design related background.

@smitty777 You are already in a job that you'd like to be in future so Masters isn't going to help much in that regard ie.. getting job or promotion. However, I think if you have the inclination to enhance your understanding of ID/IA/UX, a masters will provide you with a reason to make the effort. A lot is just self study, but having advisers, profs to critique is invaluable. I'd say consider subjecting yourself to it!

30 Jun 2010 - 11:05am

Thanks for all your comments! I'm pretty sure I'm going to go through with it :)

3 Jul 2010 - 11:28am
Dave Malouf

Rani, email me offline dave(dot)ixd(at)gmail(dot)com

But an open question ... has your thought of leaving your job changed since you found out that Google bought your company? I know it would give me pause as a designer in the web.

-- dave

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