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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Become an Interior Design Educator: UNT MFA Program in Interior Design

Practitioner to Professor
If you’ve been practicing interior design or architectural design more than 2 years, think about a new career, one that brings you to higher education. Graduate programs across North America cannot begin to turn out the sufficient number of new faculty that will be needed to fill the open positions as Baby Boomer educators retire. Most interior design first-professional degree programs are at the bachelor’s level which is not sufficient qualification for a faculty position in interior design. Therefore, few interior design professionals are qualified to be hired for these positions. You need a MFA degree for entering a career in design education.

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Design with concentration of Interior Design in the College of Visual Arts & design (CVAD) at the University of North Texas (UNT) is a terminal degree in this field that qualifies you for an academic career. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks the UNT MFA program among the best in the nation.

The UNT MFA program in Interior Design is a “post-professional” program and is for individuals primarily interested in a career in teaching at the university level. Accordingly, the MFA program focuses on a pedagogy sequence and research methods while also formulating your research agenda. Faculty members provide mentoring to ensure your success in becoming an independent teacher and researcher.

Admission requirements and more information regarding the UNT MFA program in Interior Design can be found in the UNT CVAD website at http://art.unt.edu/interior-design.html#MFA-Des-ID. If you have additional questions, please contact Phillip Park, Ph.D., the Graduate Program Coordinator, at phillip.park@unt.edu or call the Design Department office at 940-565-3621.

For those who are not familiar with an academic career path, the following information outlines the basic requirements and positive benefits of a career in design education:

Degree Requirements for Entering Design Education
Most public and private university-level institutions generally require a minimum of a master’s degree for a faculty position in design education, but not all master’s degrees are accepted as follows:

Least accepted: MS (Master of Science)
Sometimes accepted: MA (Master of Arts)
Generally accepted: MFA (Master of Fine Arts), M.Arch (Master of Architecture)
Always accepted: Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

The MFA is a terminal degree available at the graduate level in both fine arts and design and is very different from the MA or MS degree. Typically a MA or MS degree requires 30 credits (considered a 2 year program) but a MFA is generally a “post-professional” program and requires more credits for graduation. The UNT MFA program in Interior Design requires 60 credits for completion and takes 3 years as minimum to meet the requirement.

Most research universities hire faculty under a tenure and promotion system. Within this system faculty are given rank and promoted accordingly. Junior faculty members generally have 6 years to prove their contribution to the program, the institution, and community in terms of research, teaching, and service.  

Why Design Education?
You can strengthen the interior design profession by giving back your expertise to students, the next generation of design practitioners.
You can make a significant change in students’ lives by influencing their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
You can build positive relationships between academia and the profession by generating new knowledge for design solutions.

How Can I Obtain a Graduate Degree to Become Qualified to Teach, Yet Still Continue to Practice?
A part-time student is an option.
Academic institutions provide scholarships, grants, teaching assistantships, and research or project assistant programs.
You may ask your corporate organization if they offer any financial support such as tuition reimbursement for employees seeking further education.
Professional associations may have scholarship funds.