Importance of Masters Degree for IxDProfessionals

20 Jun 2008 - 6:02am
6 years ago
4 replies
463 reads
Ian Fenn
2007

dave malouf wrote:
> If you don't have a degree, and I was looking to hire you, I'd be
> looking for deep understanding of theory, really good craft, and the
> ability to communicate your design process--not your research and
> analysis process.

In my experience, Dave, you're one in a million, if the UK scene is anything to go by. As a freelance, I attend a good number of interviews and more often than not, they do begin with someone asking about my 'process'.

It drives me nuts, I tell you.

All the best,

--
Ian Fenn
Certified Usability Analyst
http://www.chopstixmedia.com/

Comments

20 Jun 2008 - 1:57pm
harvinder
2007

We are a UX recruting firm and work with a lot of Fortune companies as
clients. I have recently seen that in a lot of UX positions companies are
increasingly asking for a Master's degree in design, HCI or related fields.
We recently got some body interviewed at Microsoft who has 8 years of strong
experience in Usability and User Research and the comment that came across
from the hiring manager was if she had a Master's degree it would open up a
lot of doors for her at Microsoft.
I would say it will make sense for senior ixda Professionals to go for a
degree only if it is from a top design school and I see now a trend for more
and more companies looking for a Master's degree when they advertise their
jobs.
Thanks

Harvinder Singh
210-614-4198 O
210-884-1311 C
harvinder at bestica.com
www.bestica.com
Bridging the IT Talent Gap
http://www.linkedin.com/in/harvindersingh

20 Jun 2008 - 2:34pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 20, 2008, at 12:57 PM, Harvinder wrote:

> We are a UX recruting firm and work with a lot of Fortune companies as
> clients. I have recently seen that in a lot of UX positions
> companies are
> increasingly asking for a Master's degree in design, HCI or related
> fields.
> We recently got some body interviewed at Microsoft who has 8 years
> of strong
> experience in Usability and User Research and the comment that came
> across
> from the hiring manager was if she had a Master's degree it would
> open up a
> lot of doors for her at Microsoft.

Any person or company asking for a masters degree in design or HCI to
do work in the software industry at this point in time is making a
huge mistake. Having hired many people out of the best programs in the
country in the past 10 years, and seeing where these programs are at
this stage even today, it is clear people are still graduating without
enough of the proper balance of skills vs theory. There are some that
are exceptions to this rule, but not many.

I'm sure that will change like it does with all design professions as
this particular field matures over time. However, we're simply not
there yet. What people should be looking for is experience and example
of work that prove the person can excel at the job. At this stage,
that is all that matters.

As for needing a degree? Sure. It can certainly help, but like all
things in higher education, what you should be looking for is the
right school for you, and even more important than that, the right
mentors and teachers. The school itself or even the program is not
what matters. It's the person that is teaching you that does.

And for what its worth, I dropped out of college to get into the
software industry. Do I regret it? No. Back in 1990, no one was
teaching what I wanted to learn, so I had to do it myself. I went into
deep immersion mode about all things design and coding related and
haven't looked back since. Times have changed, which is nice, but
there are still a lot of people out there spending a lot of money and
learning the wrong things. If you are you looking at programs, make
sure you do your homework.

My only advice is this: If you are choosing design programs with the
intention of getting into the field of high-technology, desktop
applications, web applications, or pretty much anything in the digital
realm that uses software at its core, make sure the program you pick
is blending practical design skills (art, color, drawing, typography,
layout, etc) with computing skills (coding, scripting, algorithms,
database, etc.) And on the side, you'd do yourself a big favor by
picking up a hobby that requires craft or years of practice to master,
since at its heart, that is what this field is all about even if
people get so immersed into their digital devices they might forget
it. Things like playing a musical instrument, or painting, or building
furniture, or gardening, or any number of hobbies that require you to
use your hands and not a keyboard or mouse.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

20 Jun 2008 - 3:00pm
Angel Marquez
2008

people with degrees CAN be the equivalent of those kids that have really
expensive music equipment but couldn't play anything worth listening too if
their life depended on it.

in my proven work experience the most valuable players never had a a formal
education. the ones that do like to debate more than they like to get things
done. i always get this your should go to school remark and I'm really not
all that impressed...

it's all relative...

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 1:34 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk <
andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:

> On Jun 20, 2008, at 12:57 PM, Harvinder wrote:
>
> We are a UX recruting firm and work with a lot of Fortune companies as
>> clients. I have recently seen that in a lot of UX positions companies are
>> increasingly asking for a Master's degree in design, HCI or related
>> fields.
>> We recently got some body interviewed at Microsoft who has 8 years of
>> strong
>> experience in Usability and User Research and the comment that came across
>> from the hiring manager was if she had a Master's degree it would open up
>> a
>> lot of doors for her at Microsoft.
>>
>
> Any person or company asking for a masters degree in design or HCI to do
> work in the software industry at this point in time is making a huge
> mistake. Having hired many people out of the best programs in the country in
> the past 10 years, and seeing where these programs are at this stage even
> today, it is clear people are still graduating without enough of the proper
> balance of skills vs theory. There are some that are exceptions to this
> rule, but not many.
>
> I'm sure that will change like it does with all design professions as this
> particular field matures over time. However, we're simply not there yet.
> What people should be looking for is experience and example of work that
> prove the person can excel at the job. At this stage, that is all that
> matters.
>
> As for needing a degree? Sure. It can certainly help, but like all things
> in higher education, what you should be looking for is the right school for
> you, and even more important than that, the right mentors and teachers. The
> school itself or even the program is not what matters. It's the person that
> is teaching you that does.
>
> And for what its worth, I dropped out of college to get into the software
> industry. Do I regret it? No. Back in 1990, no one was teaching what I
> wanted to learn, so I had to do it myself. I went into deep immersion mode
> about all things design and coding related and haven't looked back since.
> Times have changed, which is nice, but there are still a lot of people out
> there spending a lot of money and learning the wrong things. If you are you
> looking at programs, make sure you do your homework.
>
> My only advice is this: If you are choosing design programs with the
> intention of getting into the field of high-technology, desktop
> applications, web applications, or pretty much anything in the digital realm
> that uses software at its core, make sure the program you pick is blending
> practical design skills (art, color, drawing, typography, layout, etc) with
> computing skills (coding, scripting, algorithms, database, etc.) And on the
> side, you'd do yourself a big favor by picking up a hobby that requires
> craft or years of practice to master, since at its heart, that is what this
> field is all about even if people get so immersed into their digital devices
> they might forget it. Things like playing a musical instrument, or painting,
> or building furniture, or gardening, or any number of hobbies that require
> you to use your hands and not a keyboard or mouse.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
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20 Jun 2008 - 5:23pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 20, 2008, at 3:57 PM, Harvinder wrote:

> I would say it will make sense for senior ixda Professionals to go
> for a degree only if it is from a top design school and I see now a
> trend for more and more companies looking for a Master's degree when
> they advertise their jobs.

Just one more reason I own my own company. I have an undergrad in Cog
Sci and English. I did 2.5 years towards a PhD at Cornell, but left to
continue/go back to consulting work. This has not affected my ability
to get work, or my company's ability.

However, I sense a change in the air. If I were hiring, I'd be more
likely to look for someone who has a degree in a related field. I
won't say I'd rule you out, but it would be preferred. When I was in
school, these degrees and programs really didn't exist. Nowadays,
they're more common, so it can be expected.

I think we're going to see a time, not long away, where a Masters is
just as expected as common place for our field as a Bachelors is
today. Today, a Bachelors is required and Masters is preferred. I
don't think it will be long that a Masters will pretty much be
required. I'd bet we're only about 5 years away from this.

If you're in now, or w/in the next 5 years, I don't think it will be a
big issue. Five years from now, I think it's going to be an issue.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
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Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
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