Masters in Design in USA: A Detailed Overview for International Students
Masters in Design in USA is a 1-2 year post-graduate program that helps students learn the process and techniques involved in a particular realm of designing. Popular specializations of Masters in Design offered at top universities in USA are graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, interior design, product design, urban design, etc.
- Masters in Design in USA is offered as Master of Professional Studies (MPS), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Design (MDes).
- Average tuition fees charged by design colleges in USA offering masters degree ranges between 53,000 USD to 111,000 USD.
- The median annual wage for arts and design occupations in USA was 48,300 USD in 2019 which is higher than all other occupations having a medium wage of 39,810 USD per annum.
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.
- Graphic designers are considered the most popular profession as a designer.
- The median annual salary is 52,110 USD.
- The employment rate is projected to grow by 3% from 2018 to 2028.
- 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: Top Colleges
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|
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|
Masters in Design in USA: Admissions Process
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.
Masters in Design in USA: Eligibility
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 Masters in 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:
- Academic Transcripts: Evaluated academic transcripts and certificates by NACES/WES or other evaluation agencies must be submitted. International students are required to submit non-English transcripts with their English translations.
- Standardized exams to study in the USA: Applicants are required to submit scores of exams to study in the USA that include:
- GRE scores required by a few universities.
- Proof of English language proficiency
- SOP/Personal Statement: Statement of Purpose must be of 250-500 words that explain why an applicant has chosen the particular field of study.
- Resume/CV: Professional CV./Resume must state research, awards, and exhibitions.
- LORs: 2 or 3 letters of recommendation are needed for an application. Applicants must indicate the full name and department of interest at the beginning of the letter and as well on the outside of the envelope. The envelope must be signed and sealed by the recommender.
- Portfolio: 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.
- Interview: Some universities also conduct an interview before the final decision.
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 range from 25,000 USD to 70,000 USD annually.
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: 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.
Masters in Design in USA: Scope and Salaries
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.