Do You Really Need a Degree to Pursue a Design Career?


Creative professionals typically subscribe to one of two markedly different schools of thought about formal education. Self-taught designers often believe that formal degrees are superfluous, and those who graduated from a college or university tend to argue that an associates or bachelor’s degree in multimedia design is a fundamental building block that cannot be replaced. There are solid arguments on both sides, which can obscure the importance of obtaining a degree. A formal degree represents a large investment of time and money, so it is key for prospective students to understand why they need to earn one.

Self-taught Designers Face Disadvantages

Some designers choose to enter the field with no formal training, and a few of them are able to build successful careers. These self-taught designers are able to start their careers right away, but it can be exceedingly difficult to find a job without a degree and a strong portfolio. Many self-taught designers are forced to take jobs that have nothing to do with design. Graduates of design programs typically have an easier time breaking into the industry for a number of reasons.

A Design Degree Provides a Background in the Fundamentals

The most significant reason to pursue a formal degree is professional instruction. Self-taught designers are forced to learn from online tutorials and other piecemeal sources. Online tutorials can be useful for teaching certain things, but there is no substitute for real instruction. Real coursework provides a deep background in design that is impossible to come by through self-directed learning.
Design schools also provide access to industry professionals and other resources that are not available to self-taught designers. These resources can be tremendously valuable to anyone who wants to craft inherent artistic abilities into marketable skills. Schools often employ successful designers as instructors, which can provide students with a real insight into the way the industry works.

Design Degrees Can Open Doors

Professional instruction also comes with a number of other benefits. Design school students often have the chance to form valuable contacts within the industry, which is a common stumbling block for self-taught designers. These contacts are tremendously useful when it comes time to enter the job market, and many students already have a foot in the door before they even graduate. Students also have the chance to network with each other, which can lead to professional relationships in the future.

Design schools also provide structured environments for creative people to learn and grow as professional artists. By the time a student graduates, he or she will typically have amassed an impressive portfolio that can be shown to potential employers. Many graduates of design programs lack work experience, but a robust portfolio can be immensely helpful in a competitive job market.
Students are also presented with a variety of internship opportunities, which can provide valuable work experience. This type of experience can give a design graduate a real edge in the job market. Unpaid internships often lead to job opportunities, but the experience also looks good next to a design degree on a resume.
The bottom line is that a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia design provides a solid foundation on which to build a career. A formal education in design can provide experiences and industry contacts that are out of reach for self-directed learners. In a competitive industry like multimedia design, that can mean the difference between a talented amateur and a successful professional.


  1. Saffron S.
  2. Ryan
  3. B.Chung