Masters in Design in USA is a 1-2 year program offered by some of the top design schools in the US. The course aims at helping students learn the process and techniques involved in particular realms of designing. With a bachelor's degree in design or cognate subjects and a strong portfolio, you can get admissions with any of the universities offering masters in design in the US. Applications of students are assessed on the basis of their portfolios and creative intellect.
Offered as Master of Professional Studies (MPS), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) in Design, and Master of Design (MDes), the course can cost anywhere from 53,000 to 111,000 USD. This for an Indian student can cost up from 39-82 lakhs INR. The cost may seem too high for a student on a budget. In such a case, you can apply for various scholarships available to study in US.
When the investment involved is high, the student expects to earn cushy median salaries. Although the entry-level salary is comparatively low ie. 45,100 USD (33 lakhs INR) per annum, it can increase up to 144,000 USD (1.05 crore INR) per annum with experience.
Top Colleges for Masters in Design in USA
According to QS Art and Design Rankings of 2020, among the top 10 design colleges of the world, five are from the USA. The table below lists the popular universities offering Master of Design in this country:
|QS Ranking 2020||University||Programs Offered||Specializations||Duration||Total Program Fees (in USD)|
|3||Parsons School of Design at The New School||MPS||Communication Design; Fashion Management||1 year||54,300|
|MFA||Design and Technology; Fashion Design and Society; Industrial Design; Interior Design; Lighting Design; Transdisciplinary Design||2 years||108,600|
|MA||History of Design and Cultural Studies||2 years||76,020|
Design and Urban Ecologies;
Strategic Design and Management
|4||Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)||MA||Interior Architecture; Teaching + Learning in Art + Design||1 year||53,820|
|Master of Industrial Design (MID)||Industrial Design||2 years||107,640|
|MDes||Interior Architecture||2 years||107,640|
|MFA||Graphic Design; Furniture Design||2 years||107,640|
|5||School of Art Institute of Chicago||MFA in Studio||Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Architecture; Design for Emerging Technologies; Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design)||2 years||107,880|
|MDes||Designed Objects; Fashion, Body, and Garment||2 years||118,668|
|10||Pratt Institute||MFA||Communications Design; Interior Design||2 years||114,514|
|Master of Industrial Design (MID)||Industrial Design||2 years||110,820|
|MS||Package Design||2 years||88,656|
|12||Art Center College of Design||MFA||Graphic Design; Media Design Practices; Transportation Systems and Design||2 years||96,760|
|MS||Transportation Systems and Design; Industrial Design; Environmental Design||2 years||96,760|
|16||Stanford University||MA||Learning, Design, and Technology||2 years||139,944|
|MS||Design Impact||2 years||149,080|
|17||Carnegie Mellon University||MDes/MA||Design||2 years||84,000|
|20||California Institute of Arts||MFA||Graphic Design; Scene Design; Costume Design||2 years||101,700|
|28||School of Visual Arts||MFA||Design; Design for Social Innovation; Interaction Design; Products of Design; Game Design||2 years||95,440|
|MA||Design Research, Writing, and Criticism||2 years||89,400|
|34||Columbia University||MA||Design and Development of Digital Games||1 year||53,040|
Why Study Masters in Design in USA?
- There are 24 design colleges in the USA that rank among the top 100 art and design institutions in the world, according to the QS Ranking of 2020.
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art and design occupations are projected to grow by 3% between 2018 to 2028 adding about 96,800 new jobs.
- According to Statistica, graphic designers were the most employed professionals in the art and design industry followed by merchandise displayers.
Masters in Design in USA: Curriculum and Specializations
Design colleges in the USA offer multidimensional academic programs allowing students to choose the best option for them. There are a number of options available with different types of degrees. Mentioned below are some of the design specializations and the major courses covered during the coursework while studying in the USA:
|Interior Design||Furniture Designing; Interior landscaping; Art and Craft renovation and innovation; Accessory designing;|
|Graphic Design||Type design; Web design; Typography; Motion graphics; Design theory; Design history|
|Web Design||UX principles; Information Architecture and Web design|
|Industrial Design||NURBS Modelling; Solid and Modeling; Parametric Modeling; Developing Surfaces; Digital Sculpting|
|Art and Design||Survey of Design and Decorative Arts I&II; Curatorial/Museology|
|Game Design||2D Game design; 3D Arts; Game Analysis; Systems Literacy; Publishing Video Games; Art direction for art developers|
Admissions to Masters in Design in USA
Applications to universities in the USA are usually accepted during the spring and fall seasons. International students are required to complete their admission application at least 6-12 months before the start of the program. All admission applications can be completed online through the respective university website.
Eligibility for Masters in Design in USA
To be eligible for admission in a graduate design program, applicants must have:
- Bachelor's degree in a design or related field of study from a recognized university.
- Strong excellence in the design field
- Professional experience in the related fields (varies with the university)
- Proof of English language proficiency through one of the standardized exams such as IELTS, TOEFL, etc.
The table below denotes the requirements for the top colleges in the USA offering Master of Design:
|Universities/Colleges||TOEFL (iBT) Scores||IELTS Scores||Additional Requirements|
|Parsons School of Design at The New School||92||7.0||Resume; SOP; LORs; Portfolio|
|Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)||93||6.5||Portfolio; SOP; LORS; Writing sample|
|Institute of Chicago School of Art||85||6.5||SOP(500-700); LORs; Resume/CV; E-Portfolio|
|Pratt Institute||88||6.5||2 LORs; SOP(500); Additional Writing samples; Resume|
|Art Center College of Design||100||7.0||Portfolio (Sketchbooks); Written essays (2000 words); Resume|
|Stanford University||100||--||Portfolio or book with 12-24; DVD works in the show|
|Carnegie Mellon University||102||7.5||Statement of Intent; Letters of Recommendation; GRE test scores; Link to the Portfolio; 2 years professional or teaching experience|
|California Institute of Arts||100||7.5||Resume/CV; 2 LORs; Portfolio; Personal Essay|
|School of Visual Arts||68||5.5||Narrative Statement; LORs; Creative Portfolio|
|Columbia University||100||7.5||GRE scores; Statement of Intent (500 words); Resume; 3LORs|
Documents Required for Masters in Design in USA Admission
International applicants are required to submit the following documents while applying for a masters in design in USA:
- Evaluated academic transcripts and certificates by NACES/WES or other evaluation agencies
- Submission of non-English transcripts with their English translations.
- Proof of standardized test scores required to study in USA
- Statement of Purpose of 250-500 words
- Professional CV./Resume
- 2 or 3 letters of recommendation
- Portfolio is a mandatory part of the admission application while applying for a graphic design or any other design program.
- It can be submitted in the form of a comic book or DVD with 15-25 images denoting the work in the field.
- Some universities ask for the SlideRoom portfolio or list Vimeo links.
Student Visa to USA
An F-1 visa is required for studying in USA. It also allows international students to stay back in the country for a period of 12 months under Optional Practical Training (OPT). Requirements for visa application are as follows:
- Passport with validity of 6 months
- Form I-20
- Application fee payment receipt
- Original mark sheet of previous academic studies
- Proof of sufficient funds for studying and living in USA at least for a year.
Masters in Design in USA: Cost of Study
Studying abroad can be pretty costly for the pocket. Therefore, international students must estimate their budget in the USA beforehand and arrange for the costs. The section below caters to these estimated expenses while studying masters in design.
The pre-arrival costs include one-time expenses such as fees for a student visa to the USA, application fees, IELTS/TOEFL fees, and GRE fees, etc. The following table denotes the usual pre-arrival expenses:
|Categories||Cost (in USD)|
|Visa registration fee||160|
|Airfare (one way)||700|
Tuition Fees for Masters in Design in USA
The tuition fees for studying a Masters in Design in USA from top universities range from 38,010 USD to 70,000 USD annually. Parsons School of Design which ranks at 1st in the country among design schools has the lowest tuition fees among them. The tuition fees for masters in design in USA for Indian students are:
|University||Total Program Fees (in INR)|
|Parsons School of Design at The New School||40-80 lakhs|
|Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)||40-80 lakhs|
|School of Art Institute of Chicago||80-88 Lakhs|
|Pratt Institute||66-85 lakhs|
|Art Center College of Design||72 lakhs|
|Stanford University||~1 Cr.|
|Carnegie Mellon University||62 lakhs|
|California Institute of Arts||75 lakhs|
|School of Visual Arts||66-71 lakhs|
|Columbia University||39 lakhs|
Cost of Living in USA
The living costs vary greatly with the city, type of student housing in the USA, the standard of living, etc. The average monthly cost of living for a single person in New York is USD 1,100 whereas San Francisco is 1,114.
|Types of Expenditures||Annual Costs (in USD)|
|Hostels or room rent||5,000-7,000|
|Cost of food||2,500|
Masters in Design in USA with Scholarships
To help with the expenses, students are provided with various international scholarships to study in the USA. These are awarded by the respective universities, government, and even some private organizations and agencies.
The following table states the eligibility and award of design-specific scholarships.
|Scholarship||Eligibility||Awards (in USD)|
|Print and Graphics Scholarships Foundation||Academic records; Recommendations; Biographical records||1,000-5,000|
|CFDA Design Scholar Award||MFA/MA first-year student in fashion design;||25,000|
|Two Ten Footwear Design Scholarship||Enrolled in a US university;3 design drawings from a portfolio.||3,000|
|National Costumers Association Creative Event Scholarship||PG degree with 2.5 GPA; Must be 17 years or more||1,000|
|Mary Abdoo Fashion Memorial Scholarship||UG/ PG degree enrolled in fashion designing||1,000|
|VCUarts Talent Scholarships||Academic merit; artistic talent||5,000-12,000|
For other scholarships to study in the USA, Click Here.
Scope of Masters in Design in USA
There are a number of job opportunities in the USA for design graduates. Graphic Design graduates can work as architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, and interior designers. Fashion Design is also a popular vocational course. Almost 28% of fashion designers work as apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers.
Industrial Designers work as Designers, Business Directors, Project Manager, Senior Designer, and Lecturers. As of 2018, there were 43,900 jobs in this sector. Interior Designers work as Corporate designers, Healthcare designers, Kitchen and bath designers, Sustainable designers, and Universal designers. Game Designers can work as software developers.
The table below shows the median annual salary of art and design professionals in the USA, according to BLS:
|Occupation||Annual Median Salary (in USD)|
|Craft and Fine Artists||48,760|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||75,270|
Design and its specializations is a popular field of study. Interior designing is expected to see a projected growth of a minimum of 4% by 2028. The skills acquired by a master in design graduate in the USA can get the applicant employed in industries such as media, marketing, films, theatres, etc.
Ques. What are some of the top design schools in the USA?
Ans. Some of the top design schools of the USA are Parsons School of Design at The New School, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), School of Art Institute of Chicago, Pratt Institute, and Art Center College of Design.
Ques. How much does it cost to study Masters in Design in the USA?
Ans. Tuition fees of top universities offering Master of Design in USA range between 53,000 USD to 111,000 USD. The cost of living is approximately 1,000 USD per month.
Ques. What is the eligibility required for admission in Masters in Design in the USA?
Ans. A bachelors degree in design or related field and some experience in this field is required to apply for a Masters in Design in USA. A portfolio plays a very important role in admission decisions.
Ques. What is the scope of Masters in Design in the USA?
Ans. You can work as Graphic Designer, Interior Designer, Industrial Designer, Art Director, etc after completing Masters in Design in USA. The median salary offered is 48,300 USD per annum.
Ques. How can I become a graphic designer in the USA?
Ans. You have to pursue a certificate, diploma, or degree course in graphic designing to become a graphic designer in the USA or any other country. Some of the top colleges offering degrees in this program are California Institute of Arts, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Art Center College of Design.
Ques. Is it worth pursuing masters in design?
Ans. Pursuing masters in design does not go in vain, however, students are often seen pursuing shorter and cheaper courses like certificate and diploma programs. Though your masters degree can help you connect with industry players, certificate and diploma courses will allow you to learn the skill at a lower cost and in shorter duration.