Masters Degree?

Hello!

I'm considering doing a Masters Degree in Graphic Design. I just wondered if anyone had done this that could give me a bit of insight please?

I'm basically wanting to know what to expect from an MA course, so any information you can give me would be great.

Is it mostly written work? Or is there still plenty of actual design work to do; working from briefs, improving skills etc? I expect there's probably disertatations and such like included, but I don't want something that's mostly theory based. I learn much better by doing things, so something written based wouldn't really benefit me.

TIA!
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Honest question... what would you actually gain from having a Masters. Hell I question the benefit of my normal degree half the time because when I look back there isn't much I couldn't have learnt outside my course lol

Last I checked MA are usually 'self instigated' projects which are self funded and then 'judged' by tutors that half the time don't have an MA themselves lol
 
Honest question... what would you actually gain from having a Masters. Hell I question the benefit of my normal degree half the time because when I look back there isn't much I couldn't have learnt outside my course lol

Last I checked MA are usually 'self instigated' projects which are self funded and then 'judged' by tutors that half the time don't have an MA themselves lol
I suppose it's something to add onto my CV, but do Graphic Design employers even care that much about formal qualifications when applying for a job?
If you can provide a good, solid portfolio, would a degree even matter?

It's not something I'm going to go into lightly, I already have student loans to pay off, I don't want to add to them if an MA won't make any difference anyway!
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
I suppose it's something to add onto my CV, but do Graphic Design employers even care that much about formal qualifications when applying for a job?
If you can provide a good, solid portfolio, would a degree even matter?

It's not something I'm going to go into lightly, I already have student loans to pay off, I don't want to add to them if an MA won't make any difference anyway!
Honestly... the people I know who went on to do a masters (not many to be fair) usually did it because they either didn't want to work yet or couldn't get a job type of thing so....
 

Stationery Direct

Administrator
Staff member
For me as an employer the quality of said designers work/portfolio would be most important to me, I couldn't care less if you have a degree.
 

sprout

Active Member
If I could take a year out without buggering my business up, I’d go and do a masters in type design, or one in psychology. I think in terms of advancing your career and earnings potential, I am with the others, I’m not sure of the advantages. However, in terms of academic advancement, I think you can never have too much education.

Personally, I think it is a shame these days that education is often seen as only a means to a career path, rather than as self-betterment and learning for is own sake, in terms of personal development. That all seemed to happen once they started charging silly money for fees.

I remember my ex-wife doing a masters in Romance languages, with a particular emphasis on Dante’s Divina Comedia. Did it further her career as an editor? Probably not that much. Did it improve her personally and enrich her. Without a shadow of a doubt.

If you can afford the time and money to do it, the question, for me, would be, why not? The only thing I would say, is perhaps look at something complementary to your degree, ie if you did graphics for your degree, then perhaps look at something that will widen your knowledge, rather than be more of the same. Then again, a deeper understanding of any subject is not a bad thing.

As for whether a degree matters on a CV, when I was interviewing, it would. Of course the portfolio makes the biggest difference, but with two good portfolios, a degree would edge it for me, in terms of critical thinking, etc. Of course, that’s a massive generalisation. I’ve met great designers without them and many with one who I wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. Ultimately, it can’t do you any harm. A masters in addition, shows a level of commitment, dedication and a desire to learn.

Is it worth the money? (Shame that question even needs asking). That’s for you to decide. Good luck.
 
Honestly... the people I know who went on to do a masters (not many to be fair) usually did it because they either didn't want to work yet or couldn't get a job type of thing so....
Well, I am struggling to find work to be honest, I left my last job because of Covid; it was constantly closing and I was getting no money so I left- I hated it anyway so I didn't care too much. I'm trying to focus on starting a design career, but with most offices closed, there aren't many job advertisements at the mo. So I figured while we're all in confinement, I may as well be doing something beneficial; the course I've seen is an online one for two years.
 
If I could take a year out without buggering my business up, I’d go and do a masters in type design, or one in psychology. I think in terms of advancing your career and earnings potential, I am with the others, I’m not sure of the advantages. However, in terms of academic advancement, I think you can never have too much education.

Personally, I think it is a shame these days that education is often seen as only a means to a career path, rather than as self-betterment and learning for is own sake, in terms of personal development. That all seemed to happen once they started charging silly money for fees.

I remember my ex-wife doing a masters in Romance languages, with a particular emphasis on Dante’s Divina Comedia. Did it further her career as an editor? Probably not that much. Did it improve her personally and enrich her. Without a shadow of a doubt.

If you can afford the time and money to do it, the question, for me, would be, why not? The only thing I would say, is perhaps look at something complementary to your degree, ie if you did graphics for your degree, then perhaps look at something that will widen your knowledge, rather than be more of the same. Then again, a deeper understanding of any subject is not a bad thing.

As for whether a degree matters on a CV, when I was interviewing, it would. Of course the portfolio makes the biggest difference, but with two good portfolios, a degree would edge it for me, in terms of critical thinking, etc. Of course, that’s a massive generalisation. I’ve met great designers without them and many with one who I wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. Ultimately, it can’t do you any harm. A masters in addition, shows a level of commitment, dedication and a desire to learn.

Is it worth the money? (Shame that question even needs asking). That’s for you to decide. Good luck.
I think I have a case of imposter syndrome! I have a HND Level 5 in Graphic Design, but the course I did was such a wash out; unorganised classes, unapproachable course leader, no Graphic Design teacher for almost 5 months, doing assignments the art class was doing that wasn't at all relevant to Graphic Design, and so on. I actually resent being in debt for it because it was such a disappointment. I don't feel like I was able to show my full potential (I hope that doesn't sound big headed lol). Most of the stuff I'm able to do now is self taught. I guess I thought doing this masters degree would prove to myself I am capable and it would be nice to have an actual profession asses my work and tell me what I'm doing right and what I need to work on. And obviously, being able to put an MA on my CV is a bonus!

As for the money and finance it would cost, the course I want to do is distance learning, so it's a fraction of the cost as other Uni's. I need to weight up the pros and cons, I won't go charging into anything just yet.
 

sprout

Active Member
As for the money and finance it would cost, the course I want to do is distance learning, so it's a fraction of the cost as other Uni's. I need to weight up the pros and cons, I won't go charging into anything just yet.
In that case, if part of the reason to do it is for the credibility on your CV, then I fear, a distance learning course may well not achieve what you want. You may end up out of the frying pan into the fire – but with even more debt.

Half of the problem these days with the industry being over-saturated with eager graduates is that many have paid for sub-standard degrees from dubious online ‘universities’. They are left with a mountain of debt and can’t work out why they are not progressing in their careers. Those of us who are old enough to have been around the block a few times can spot them a mile off. The difference between their portfolios and those of full-time grads from reputable universities is chalk and cheese.

To my mind, if what you want is not for genuine educative reasons of delving even deeper into a given subject, I think I’d save my pennies and find another way. Depending on where you are based (just seen; South Yorkshire), you could try and strike up a conversation with a good local design company (and there’s one particularly notable one from Sheffield I can think of!) and see if they will do a portfolio review for you. Not directly with a view to a job (though you never know where these things lead). If you are completely honest with them and tell them what you’ve said here and that you are just looking to improve your skills and knowledge, you may just find someone interested in fostering local creatives. I know I’d be open to it here if someone contacted me for those reasons. Worth a try.

You’ll need to find someone who will be brutally honest with you (and you’ll need a thick skin). Obviously right now is not the time, but once things open up again, a face-to-face meeting would be ideal. Even in the meantime, you can start to make contacts.
 
In that case, if part of the reason to do it is for the credibility on your CV, then I fear, a distance learning course may well not achieve what you want. You may end up out of the frying pan into the fire – but with even more debt.

Half of the problem these days with the industry being over-saturated with eager graduates is that many have paid for sub-standard degrees from dubious online ‘universities’. They are left with a mountain of debt and can’t work out why they are not progressing in their careers. Those of us who are old enough to have been around the block a few times can spot them a mile off. The difference between their portfolios and those of full-time grads from reputable universities is chalk and cheese.

To my mind, if what you want is not for genuine educative reasons of delving even deeper into a given subject, I think I’d save my pennies and find another way. Depending on where you are based (just seen; South Yorkshire), you could try and strike up a conversation with a good local design company (and there’s one particularly notable one from Sheffield I can think of!) and see if they will do a portfolio review for you. Not directly with a view to a job (though you never know where these things lead). If you are completely honest with them and tell them what you’ve said here and that you are just looking to improve your skills and knowledge, you may just find someone interested in fostering local creatives. I know I’d be open to it here if someone contacted me for those reasons. Worth a try.

You’ll need to find someone who will be brutally honest with you (and you’ll need a thick skin). Obviously right now is not the time, but once things open up again, a face-to-face meeting would be ideal. Even in the meantime, you can start to make contacts.
I don't want to do it just for the credibility, that would just be an added bonus. I want to be able to expand my knowledge and learn as much as I can! I like the idea of asking a professional to review my portfolio, good idea.

As for the course I was looking at, it is distance learning, but there are opportunities to visit the building itself and participate in actual classes. (Of there would be if not for Covid) You can also go in and have meetings with your tutor, and speak with their student services etc.

I think I'll look into a portfolio review first. There's no real rush to do the MA, especially as people have said it probably won't help to get a job any faster.

Thanks for all the advice!
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
I think it's totally up to you but I would consider if cost + time + work = the reward.

I'm old and experienced enough not be that impressed with Uni qualifications which would also pale in comparison to a decent portfolio and skills.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
I wouldn't base hiring someone on qualifications either, in all honesty I probably wouldn't hire someone (not that I'm looking) if they had a masters, hell when I was at uni we were told that 2:1 was more favourable than 1:1 in finding a job (don't necessarily believe that though), purely because I'd find it weird being the 'boss' of someone who is supposedly better qualified than me and I'd expect there would be 'issues' later down the line....
 

sprout

Active Member
I wouldn't base hiring someone on qualifications either, in all honesty I probably wouldn't hire someone (not that I'm looking) if they had a masters, hell when I was at uni we were told that 2:1 was more favourable than 1:1 in finding a job (don't necessarily believe that though), purely because I'd find it weird being the 'boss' of someone who is supposedly better qualified than me and I'd expect there would be 'issues' later down the line....
For sure, great work and a track record count for more, but in my experience, often a degree opens doors that might not have been opened without one.
 

Naheed

Member
Well, a Master's degree in graphic designing can only help you if you want it to help you.
If you have a degree but you don't expand your knowledge and expertise in the subject,
then it is of no use to you. So, make sure to learn and excel in the skills to flourish.
 
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