Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Graphic Design?

Strictly speaking, you don’t really need to get a master’s degree in graphic design. Before those who are staunch advocates of higher education lash out at this statement, let us first qualify this answer with the following explanation. The field of graphic design is not like that of medicine where the science is exact. An aspiring doctor needs to be trained to spot the signs and symptoms of a particular ailment so that he can prescribe the correct medication that will heal a patient. He also has to know how much dosage to give based on factors like the patient’s weight and existing health condition so that overdosing is prevented. All that boils down to an exact science.

Graphic design, on the other hand, is different. Of course, the aspiring artist needs to know how to draw and learn the fundamentals of operating software that will enable him to make drawings using the computer. He also needs to get the basics of designing down pat and ways to layout a design to make it look presentable. However, conceptualizing an idea, developing the image and putting it all together in one cohesive campaign to convey a particular message are all part and parcel of the creative process of each and every graphic designer. The vision of an artist is his own. While knowledge of the underlying principles will influence the graphic designer in a general sense, it won’t prevent him from experimenting and coming up with an entirely new yet highly effective project that deviates from the norm.

In graphic design, what matters to prospective employers are your skills. This is evidenced by your portfolio or collection of projects which you have undertaken through the years. A bachelor’s degree program in graphic design gives you ample opportunity to do projects which will help you form a decent portfolio which you can present to potential employers. Your manual drawing skills and your comfort level with a particular piece of software will matter more in this profession than if you have attained postgraduate studies.

With the ready availability of resources on the Internet today and the access to a lot of resource materials in libraries and bookstores, many artists have even taught themselves the craft without any formal training. However, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design serves to focus your knowledge on this particular area and shows your dedication and commitment to a career in the field. Since a bachelor’s degree program will teach you what you need to know to get into the field and continued self-education will equip you with new skills in this rapidly evolving area, a master’s degree is not really necessary.

That being said, there is one case where postgraduate education will be an advantage. If you want to teach graphic design in colleges or universities to future graphic designers, a master in fine arts degree with a concentration in graphic design will be a requirement for entry. However, if you don’t have plans to go into the academe and wish to focus on doing actual design work instead then postgraduate education will not be necessary.

Career Spotlight: Graphic Designer

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