MFA v. MA

23 Aug 2010 - 10:38pm
3 years ago
11 replies
1595 reads
Georgette Sulllivan
2009

I am in need of some advice from the experienced mentors in IxDA. I am currently attending the University of Kansas working on my MA in Interaction Design. I am at a fork in by education trying to determine if I should complete my MA this fall or continue on for an additional 22 hrs and complete my MFA in Interaction Design. My work experience is limited to graphic design and marketing so I have no employment based IxD experience.

As potential hiring managers which degree would be more employable? Would it be more advantagous to graduate this fall and find a position in IxD or continue my education for an additional 18 months then seek IxD employment?

Thanks for all your guidance!

georgette

Comments

24 Aug 2010 - 12:05am
dgavales
2010

Hi,

I'm not sure the degree programs in Ix are established enough yet to be meaningfully distinguished just by degree name, so I would ask, What's the delta between them in terms of coursework, skill set preparation, and portfolio projects? If you take the shorter course, will you have a portfolio of projects and technical skills that you feel could land you a good first position and be successful? If not, what's lacking and would staying help you fill the gap? Also, is there a difference in terms of teaching credential? Again, I'm not sure the field is standardized enough that not having an MFA would prevent you from teaching .. although I'm sure others may be more tuned into that than I am. Good luck!

Diana

On Mon, 23 Aug 2010 22:41:19 -0500, Georgette Sulllivan wrote: > I am in need of some advice from the experienced mentors in IxDA. I am
> currently attending the University of Kansas working on my MA in > Interaction
> Design. I am at a fork in by education trying to determine if I should
> complete my MA this fall or continue on for an additional 22 hrs and > complete
> my MFA in Interaction Design. My work experience is limited to graphic > design
> and marketing so I have no employment based IxD experience. > > As potential hiring managers which degree would be more employable? Would > it
> be more advantagous to graduate this fall and find a position in IxD or
> continue my education for an additional 18 months then seek IxD employment? > > Thanks for all your guidance! > > georgette > >

24 Aug 2010 - 12:14am
katey
2010

Hi Georgette!

It depends on what you are looking for in the degree, I think. The MFA will allow you to teach at the college level, while the MA will not - so that may be something to consider. If you are looking for an agency or design-centric firm environment, the MFA will give you an edge as well. On the other hand, 18 months out of the workforce is a large investment of time and money. MFA thesis work is famous for being brutally consuming, although I suppose it depends on the school. I know I spent many, many nights without sleep while doing my MFA work at SCAD, but that rarely happens now that I am earning my MS at an R1. You may want to speak with MFA and MA alumni from your program and see what their experiences have been since graduation.

Just some quick thoughts. I hope they are helpful. :)

-katey

24 Aug 2010 - 1:05am
majid dadgar
2008

MFA is more intense, longer vs MA. You may have to take more courses in MFA. I am studying MFA at the Ohio State University and what they offered to me in the beginning was the way I put it above.
Good luck,Majid

On Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 1:54 AM, katey <katey.deeny@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Georgette!

It depends on what you are looking for in the degree, I think. The MFA will allow you to teach at the college level, while the MA will not - so that may be something to consider. If you are looking for an agency or design-centric firm environment, the MFA will give you an edge as well. On the other hand, 18 months out of the workforce is a large investment of time and money. MFA thesis work is famous for being brutally consuming, although I suppose it depends on the school. I know I spent many, many nights without sleep while doing my MFA work at SCAD, but that rarely happens now that I am earning my MS at an R1. You may want to speak with MFA and MA alumni from your program and see what their experiences have been since graduation.

Just some quick thoughts. I hope they are helpful. :)

-katey

24 Aug 2010 - 12:19am
Adam Korman
2004

I would guess that as a line item on your resume, the MA vs. MFA isn't going to make any difference. Except for people directly familiar with IxD at Univ of Kansas, I doubt that many hiring managers would even know that there are multiple degrees offered, let alone what the difference is between them.

But, if the result of continuing is that you accomplish an additional, significant piece of work that you can show and talk about, that could make a dramatic difference in how your portfolio comes across and interviews go. Also, in terms of timing, it's not unreasonable to think that the economy and job market will probably be better in 18 months than they are today.

I think if I were in your position I'd be asking:

 

  1. Can I afford to be in school for another 18 months?
  2. Will I enjoy the program?
  3. What will I get out of the experience that I couldn't achieve on my own?
Good luck with your decision!
-Adam

 

24 Aug 2010 - 8:24am
Dave Malouf
2005

As Katey said MFA can lead to teaching. It is known in academia as a "terminal" degree b/c part of its requirement is the creation of new knowledge. The reality is that for most hiring managers, they neither know nor care about this significance, so in the end the degree is for you and only for you (unless you want to teach or work in an agency creative environment).

There are differences in curriculum requirements in the 2. It isn't just more work, but the kind of work. But I don't think that is part of this thread.

-- dave

24 Aug 2010 - 10:10am
AWilliamsid
2010

.

24 Aug 2010 - 10:05am
David Meyers
2010

Malouf is right on the money.
The main difference is in regards to academia and future teaching aspirations.
If you decide to teach full-time later, you will need a terminal degree - the MFA.
The work load, kind of work, time investment and costs are all important and factual as well, but your future plans for teaching are most likely the main factor.
I will add a philosophical POV based on my experience. Most students, when they are young - are anxious to tackle the world and work in the industry. Which I feel is the appropriate approach. But over time, the industry "can" become a grinder. All depending on your company or employer of course. But this is true more times than not. Having said that, many people, as they mature and have many years of experience under their belt, find teaching more desirable for many reasons: quality of life, freedom to pursue self-initiated projects or freelance, time becomes more important than money, etc.
And as stated, the "general" rule is that INDUSTRY wants quality of talent first, quality of degree second. ACADEMIA wants quality of degree first, quality of talent second.
Good luck...
David Edwin Meyers


On Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM, Georgette Sulllivan <georgette@georgettesullivan.com> wrote:

I am in need of some advice from the experienced mentors in IxDA. I am currently attending the University of Kansas working on my MA in Interaction Design. I am at a fork in by education trying to determine if I should complete my MA this fall or continue on for an additional 22 hrs and complete my MFA in Interaction Design. My work experience is limited to graphic design and marketing so I have no employment based IxD experience.

As potential hiring managers which degree would be more employable? Would it be more advantagous to graduate this fall and find a position in IxD or continue my education for an additional 18 months then seek IxD employment?

Thanks for all your guidance!

georgette

24 Aug 2010 - 11:02am
Georgette Sulllivan
2009

Wow! All of the input so far has been tremendously insightful.

My teaching aspirations are limited to the community college level. I have had a great deal of exposure to negatives of academic politics and pressures. I also enjoy engaging the exceptional and unusual group in community colleges. So, my motivations for an MFA are not academic. KU's program is very self determined especially the thesis project portion. The thesis project I have proposed is rather large and will generate new knowledge so it would fit with either degree.

I do love learning and anticipate that if I decided to complete my MA this December I would likely continue to take courses and probably work on another advanced degree. The main question in my mind is employability in today’s market conditions with an MA verses an MFA in 18 months. 

Again, thanks for everyone's insights that are extremely helpful!

georgette

24 Aug 2010 - 4:05pm
Benjamin Barnett
2009

Georgette , maybe these points from the thread will help! A.This is about your interest in Teaching in the future. As an MFA
myself, I received an MFA with that in mind 17 years ago! If you do not care to teach, skip to #2: B. Is their added value in today's job market with an MFA? Yes.
Today's self-employed workforce is agile, knowledge, and skill
driven. If your MFA degree in some way demonstratably enables you to
provide a higher level of critical I/O of what it is your partner or
employer needs (at an affordable rate,) you're providing mission
critical services. You come ready to deliver knowledge.

Knowledge (can be) Power

:)

Also, are we using the correct term when we say Terminal? When I think
of Terminal I think of "Termination" or "It's over."

I have used "Pinnacle" as in the pinnacle of your field. Meaning, I
can't get a PhD in Advertising design. Can I?

I hope this helps.

Benjamin Barnett MFA

On Aug 24, 2010, at 1:27 PM, Georgette Sulllivan wrote:

> Wow! All of the input so far has been tremendously insightful. > > My teaching aspirations are limited to the community college level. I > have had a great deal of exposure to negatives of academic politics
> and > pressures. I also enjoy engaging the exceptional and unusual group in > community > colleges. So, my motivations for an MFA are not academic. KU's program > is very self determined especially the thesis project portion. The > thesis project I have proposed is rather large and will generate new > knowledge so it would fit with either degree. > > I do love learning and anticipate that if I decided to complete my
> MA this > December I would likely continue to take courses and probably work
> on another > advanced degree. The main question in my mind is employability in
> today’s > market conditions with an MA verses an MFA in 18 months. > > Again, thanks for everyone's insights that are extremely helpful! > > georgette > > ((

27 Aug 2010 - 6:31am
Dave Malouf
2005

Just as a point of clarification around the term "terminal". This is academy speak for a degree required to teach the topic. I don't think it is meant to mean something semantic other than "station" (as in bus terminal or airport terminal). Whether there is more to study is not the point of the term. If you said, "I have a pinnacle degree in X" to a Dean or Provost, they would think you are from Mars. -- dave

27 Aug 2010 - 3:05pm
Benjamin Barnett
2009

Thanks Dave!

On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 8:09 AM, Dave Malouf wrote: > Just as a point of clarification around the term "terminal". This is academy > speak for a degree required to teach the topic. I don't think it is meant to > mean something semantic other than "station" (as in bus terminal or airport > terminal). Whether there is more to study is not the point of the term. If > you said, "I have a pinnacle degree in X" to a Dean or Provost, they would > think you are from Mars. -- dave > >

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