A good Interactive Design Masters Program?
July 7, 2006 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I've been a professional in the Web world for almost a decade, but I'm all self-taught. I'm looking for a Masters program that will solidify and expand on what I already know.

This thread had a lot of great suggestions, but I feel like many Web/Interactive design programs are heavy on the conceptual and light on real-world. Am I wrong?

The majority of my background is in XHTML/CSS development. I have lots of years at well-known design agencies, a layman's knack for graphic design and typography, a bit of Flash, some Javascript... basically a toolkit that has served me well so far, but now I'm considering the idea of taking some time to formalize what I know.

My ideal program would span both sides of what I already know: on the creative side, graphic design, visual communication and problem-solving. On the technical side, DOM scripting, AJAX, databases... Not so concerned with Flash or Actionscript.

Any suggestions?
posted by redshifter to Education (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I was in a very similar spot recently and I checked out the New School in NYC and also Emerson's New Media program (in Boston).They both seemed like good programs.

As for me, I've found myself applying at a Library and Information Science grad school as it really fit with where I see myself going in the future.
posted by jdl at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2006

Carnegie Mellon University has a terrific graduate program in Interaction Design in the School of Design. Their philosophy is to combine "thinking, doing and making" in equal measures. They don't quite pull off that balance sometimes; there is definately some heavy thinking and lots of practice presenting and explaining, but they don't neglect the making by any means.

They don't focus on any one technology. Students can use any tool they need for a particular project. There are the traditional courses in Flash and Actionscript, but there are also courses in Processing (Golan Levin and Ben Fry are teaching there), or After Effects or even a little Java.

What's important to point out about the CMU design program (and I think any graduate level program) is that it isn't about learning the right tools. It's not a trade school. But it is a good combination of theory and practice.
posted by Jeff Howard at 1:12 PM on July 7, 2006

Good luck. Speaking from the perspective of a web developer and programmer (with a bach. degree in computer systems), finding a masters program where its really "applied computing" is difficult. You'll find masters in computer science (algorithms, AI, compilers) and masters in graphic design/the arts, but finding something in between there that is really "applied interactive design" is rare.

Beyond the suggestions above, which look like rare exceptions, I would say stick with being self-taught. Get _Ajax in Action_, get _don't Make me Think_, get _Pragmatic Programmer_. Also get Chad Fowler's book, _My Job Went to India and I All I Got was this Dumb Book_. Read the big name blogs, and find smaller blogs in your areas of interest.

Contribute to open source, write your own blog engine from front to back, attend conferences and user groups. Start a blog and write about what you learn, what you know, and get your name out there and known. Become an expert in something and start speaking on it and writing articles. Soon you'll be getting emails from headhunters and recruiters because of your blog/open source/speaking/whatever.

So don't worry too much about formal degrees, just get busy and do it yourself!
posted by rsanheim at 11:38 PM on July 8, 2006

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