Should you pursue a Masters in Design?

In this series, Members share insights into the master's programs that they've undertaken.


Vincent Galante RGD


Vincent is a designer and strategist who has been helping a diverse set of organizations succeed online for over 20 years. Being an early designer for the web allowed him to gain experience in information architecture, user experience, usability, user interface development, team management and sales. In 2010, he put that diverse skill set to use when he co-founded The Pixel Shop, a design and development studio in Toronto, which he helped scale and ultimately sell in 2019. Clients know him for being a problem solver who can think big while executing tactically and for creating effective digital solutions that are thoughtful, beautiful and usable.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree? How did you select the school/program?
I’ve always had an interest in education and enjoy being in a learning environment. My decision to enrol in a graduate program was driven by a desire to recommence learning in a structured system that could direct my focus and energies.
In terms of programs, the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCAD University was a great fit because of the diversity of its curriculum and its approach to design thinking and problem solving. The quality of the students and faculty were also great motivators for me.
What was the most valuable skill you learned?
I’d say that the most value has come from learning more about how to define a problem. As a designer, it’s very tempting to be solution-driven. Bringing some rigour to the front end of design is probably the best thing you can do to improve outcomes.
How has your experience informed your work as a designer? 
It depends on what I’m working on, but, for many of my projects, I am able to apply a variety of methods and tools that I might not have been exposed to otherwise. I believe that I have a more nuanced mindset than I previously did and am more open to iteration and emergence.
Is there anything you would change or feel could have improved your experience?
I wish I had made the decision earlier than I did. At the time I was in graduate school, I had two young children and was running a business. I did my best to put the time into the program, but in retrospect, it was a bit much.
Why do you think graduate education is important for designers?
Graduate studies is just one way for designers to continue their growth, so it’s important to consider what you plan to get out of graduate school. It’s a significant investment of both time and money, so you do want to consider what you will do with the experience.
I think the greatest benefits that graduate education can offer designers are a broadening of mindset, exposure to new ideas and techniques and a community of peers and faculty. Those might not be in the right order, as the community aspect can be incredibly enriching and worth the effort alone.
Share a project created during your grad program
The Family Class Sponsorship Challenge was created by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to improve Canada's marital family immigration class program and its client experience. Teams of Strategic Foresight and Innovation Masters Degree students from OCAD University competed to design innovative new ways in which IRCC could improve service to clients without adding significant cost. As a member of the team with the winning pitch, I helped design a series of recommendations to reduce confusion, fear and anger in applicants sparking a cultural pivot to a more client-centred approach within IRCC.
What advice would you give to other designers considering pursuing post-graduate education?
Much of the value in a graduate program comes from the energy you put into it. You need to be involved and commit if you want to maximize your experience. I’d also say that, for many programs, there is no defined “job” at the end of the rainbow. You’ll be prepared to apply some amazing thinking and tools to what you eventually do, but you’re not necessarily training for a particular role, so you’ll want to weigh that when considering your education choices.

Christina Dery Provisional RGD


Christina is a multi-disciplinary designer with over 8 years of experience in both agency and in-house settings. She brings enthusiasm and dedication to everything she does and believes in the power of collaboration and bringing varied perspectives to the table to help She currently leads the creative services department at Mondelēz Canada and is a research assistant at the Health Design Studio at OCAD University.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I chose to pursue the Masters of Design for Health program at OCAD University because I was looking for a way to contribute my skills as a designer and problem solver in a different and meaningful way. I had gone through my own medical experience and saw firsthand some of the issues in the healthcare system that impact patients, healthcare workers, caregivers, etc. I was in awe of the care healthcare workers provide day in and day out, in a system that sometimes makes their jobs more difficult than it needs to be. I wanted to use my skills and passion in some way to help. I had seen the Design for Health program in my searches before, but my medical experience solidified the choice. It really came down to bringing together two areas of passion: Design and Health. The program is fittingly aligned to both.
Can you describe your experience?
So far my experience with grad school has been a challenge that I have embraced wholeheartedly. I’ve been challenged to step out of my comfort zone; it's resulted in strengthening skills that I already had and developing new skills I didn’t know I had. The design for health program in particular is very collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature which has allowed me to learn and grow from and with others and take on different roles across various projects. It’s different from what I expected of grad school but I think that has a lot to do with the uniqueness of the program.
How has your experience informed your work as a designer? 
It has changed just about everything. Most importantly, it has broadened my perspective and how I think about problem solving and the role design can play in helping to build new futures, solve complex problems in our everyday lives and translate research into practice. Learning from a group of multidisciplinary classmates has changed how I collaborate with others and ultimately shifted my mindset to one that is centred on collective action and gaining a deep understanding of people and their contexts.
Why do you think graduate education is important for designers?
I think graduate education can be important for anyone if you want to develop your skills and expertise in ways that you may not have thought of before. For designers, I think it’s especially beneficial to pursue graduate studies that expand your skill set outside of what you may be used to from traditional design education and settings. Design is embedded in every aspect of our lives, so learning about anything more deeply outside the realm of design is beneficial and can inform your design practice tremendously. 
Share a project created during your grad program
The most recent project I worked on as an independent study this summer was an exploration of youth healthcare transitions from paediatric to adult care. The main goal of the study was to gain a broad understanding of the problem space using various research and knowledge translation methods such as literature review, thematic analysis, stakeholder analysis, system mapping and visualizations of the findings to demonstrate the current issues plaguing the system and showcasing future needs to bridge the gap between the paediatric and adult care systems. This study was conducted over 4 months and forms the foundational research for a project in my final year of the program.

The project is in process, to know more contact Christina at

What advice would you give to other designers considering pursuing post-graduate education?
Make sure it’s something you're passionate about and do some research on the structure of the program beforehand so that you are in a learning environment that is suitable to your learning style. Talk to people who are in the program to gain an understanding of what to expect, reach out to program coordinators or directors and see if they have time to chat with you. Get as much information as you can to make sure it’s right for you and your goals. It can be scary to go back to school if you’ve been out for a while, but I think that fear ultimately leads to growth.


Check out Anda Lupascu RGD and Saskia van Kampen RGD's masters experience and advice


Stay tuned for our next instalment where Janice Fung RGD and Nancy Page share insights on their Masters journey. 


Certified and Provisional Members who are interested in contributing content to the RGD website via Resource ListsTop 5s and more are invited to email Rushika Shah at .