After researching where I want to take my education in the graduate spectrum, I have compiled a list of the graduate programs in the United States where you can earn a dual degree in business and design. There are not many – only a handful – but this is where I was the most interested in pursuing to better my personal business Sheetz Design.
If I am to continue to grow, it will require the knowledge of both of these fields in combination to successfully lead and provide innovative projects to clients. Both components are integral. Design: where my heart lies with graphic design, user-interface, photography, and the integration of fine art. Business: the driving force behind what we all strive to do – engage with society, give back, and provide useful services to facilitate economic growth. This leads me to the reason for this post, what schools I have found that offer this joint graduate design/ business program:
- Illinois Institute of Technology (MDes/MBA)
- California College of the Arts (MFA/MBA)
- University of Michigan (MFA/MBA)
I also found a school in Colorado that offers a similar program, as well as a Toronto based program. New York has some impressive MFA/MBA programs for film as well, but is outside the scope of this post.
These 3 top schools provide the curriculum that someone looking to mix their design background with a business mind-frame. I have read while conducting research that the MFA is the new MBA. However, this type of education I would warrant to be the next step altogether; mixing a the two separate fields into one. Gaining the structure from the business school and the creativity from the design school will ultimately open the most doors.
I applied to all three programs in late 2011/ early 2012. This turned out to be quite a task as I was essentially applying to 6 different colleges, each of which had its own requirements for essays, portfolios, standardized tests, recommendations, etc. It forced me to compile a design portfolio, take the GMAT (which was very tough), write numerous essays, and get in touch with professionals and academic leaders in my life to whom I could ask for letters of recommendations. Needless to say, this took a while. And if you are reading this in preparation, I would start doing everything a year before the date the applications open, not a year before the applications are due.
Thankfully, I was offered some good prospects from my hard work in applying to the combined design and business programs. I did not get into UMich – neither the MFA or MBA. They have incredibly competitive design school, and the Ross School of Business is ranked among the top MBA schools in the nation by itself. I did gain acceptance into California College of the Arts (CCA) for the MFA in Design as well as the MBA in Design Strategy, but not jointly. This is something only 4 students per year get accepted into. I felt pretty good that I made it into both programs individually, but was still slightly disheartened by the fact that I did not get into the joint program. Finally, I got accepted in Illinois Institute of Design (IIT). The Institute of Design at IIT and the Stuart School of Business both accepted me and they granted me access to the dual enrollment degree! So this made the decision easy. I had to either choose one of the individual programs at CCA, or enter the joint degree at IIT in August 2012.
If you are interested in learning more about the available Master of Design, MFA in Design, and Master of Business Administration programs in the United States, I would be glad to pass along any and all information I collected in the process of researching and applying. I am just at the beginning of the process myself, but would love to help anyone else in a similar situation.