Some of the most common questions from those who are interested in Designation are:
1. What will I gain or miss out on by not going to a post-graduate design program?
2. Which type of program most effectively meets my personal and professional goals?
Let’s keep it real: the answer is complex, and ultimately depends on your own goals.
At Designation, we think the best way to fully understand the right path for your design career is to compare an education model like ours directly to grad programs, which may still be a beneficial choice for the right person.
The areas of comparison we’ll go through below are based on Designation’s differentiators, which we believe strongly in: professional experience, repetition, curriculum, cost, and time spent in the program.
1. Professional experience
A grad program is likely to be more theoretical and based on concepts; the work is, by nature, more academic. The projects offered by most grad programs are mock exercises, and frequently feature well-known brand names and realistic parameters, but they’re not fundamentally “real” projects.
At Designation, a significant part of our curriculum is intentionally designed to develop someone into a professional designer much more quickly, so our Immersion Phase project works with a non-profit or other organization and uses real parameters, then builds to the Client Phase where designers work with live clients. Working with live clients quickly forces Designation’s designers to learn to deal with unpredictability, and come out of the immersive experience sharper and more nimble.
Most grad programs are two to four times longer than Designation’s, which means a lot of repetition of concepts, and a much longer-term commitment.
Repetition is a good thing; it provides a greater chance for facts or concepts to be absorbed when practiced over and over and over. As an immersive program, Designation is actually one of the longest in the industry for this exact reason.
3. Time spent in the program
On the flipside, a shorter length means being able to get into the professional design industry—one that is constantly changing—more quickly.
A few years ago, design for augmented and virtual reality barely existed, design for the “Internet of Things” was just starting, service design was fairly unknown, and the creation of in-house innovation lab teams was just getting off the ground.
One of the biggest cons with a grad program is the change in the industry going on while you're in it. For a predetermined 2-year program, there's a significant amount of change in the industry you have to deal with when you graduate. And the rate of change in professional design has gotten faster and faster. Many times, the curricula of grad programs can’t keep up with the pace of industry change.
At Designation, we realize that change in the industry will never—and should never—stop, which is why we update our curriculum with every single cohort.
A grad program is usually unable to change their curriculum within a school year, because of all the decision-makers involved. School is, by nature, much slower-moving than programs like ours.
When we see a change needed, we implement it and the difference is seen in the next cohort. We take full advantage of that pace to continuously improve the Designation experience. That means when a person signs up for a cohort, their experience will be even better than the one our current cohorts have.
Finally, some logistics: higher education has become remarkably expensive in recent years, and without scholarships, it can be very difficult to afford or pay off.
Designation’s cost is $15,800, which comparably is a much easier financial burden for our designers to take on, and we offer financing plans through partners like Skills Fund and Climb, which were built specifically for participants like ours.
There are many more reasons why we believe Designation is an excellent choice over a grad program, but at the end of the day, we encourage those considering both paths to carefully consider as many pieces of both as possible to make the most informed decision; after all, it’s their career at stake.
For those who decide to take the leap with Designation, we make sure the decision is worth it, in so many ways. We put our curriculum, integrity, and people behind the Designation experience every day to make sure it’s rewarding for each and every cohort.
Apply to one of Designation’s upcoming cohorts here.
Schedule an informational call with Designation’s admissions team.
This post was sponsored by Designation.
Want to learn more about Designation? Check out their courses and read what alumni have to say on SwitchUp.