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Mfa ... The New Mba?

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#1 Chris Campbell

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 05:37 PM

I was out to diner with friends who are in education and we were discussing the value of graduate degrees. When I asked about MFAs their eyes lit up ...


"The MFA is the New MBA! Companies are after them and recruiting heavily. They are looking for creative people who can think outside the box! Not just computer related industries ... everyone wants a creative team and the Arts programs is where you find them."


( Only Muggles would use the phrase 'think outside the box' to define creativity ... sorry B))


So, do you educators and graduates have corporations breathing down your students necks? Are your students looking at working for large companies?



*** sorry, I tried about five times to change the title to MFA & MBA but it wont happen!

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#2 ChenowethArts


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Posted 09 February 2014 - 05:55 PM

Interesting question, Chris.  I had not heard of any MBA vs MFA recruiting competitions, but I have witnessed better recognition of the MFA in the classroom.  In the US, most of the Ph.D.'s in art are Art History doctorates...and many of those include an emphasis in higher education management (think Art Department Dean).  With that in mind, the MFA looks a lot more like a terminal degree (doctorate), and some schools have addressed that in the way they compensate their MFA instructors.


As for the value of an MFA in industry or corporate offices, I'd bet that value depends much more on what an individual can do (or demonstrate that they have already done)  than the piece of paper with the MFA on it.  One area where we are seeing interdisciplinary activity is in the development of mobile apps.  Design programs that include a solid foundation on digital skills are already getting the attention of the corporate world.

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#3 Bob Coyle

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 07:20 PM

Maybe true. I know a couple of kids that got employed right out of school (BFA not MFA) they are both doing advertizing work for corporations. Well at least it's "art" and they are getting paid more than if they were working at COSCO.

#4 Pres


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Posted 09 February 2014 - 11:24 PM

Had a student leave me, get a programming two year-locally, then an animation 2 yr at Full Sail-Florida. Got a nice job with EA Sports.  Others have picked up jobs around Pittsburgh and other areas partly based on their HS portfolio items included in their resumes.  Told the one years ago, to move into position then get ahold of me I would be available. Never heard. :(

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#5 Chris Throws Pots

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 12:05 AM

Daniel Pink addresses this topic directly in his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It's a great read.


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#6 Norm Stuart

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 11:51 PM

I'd like to tell all high school and other teachers that when you run into an extremely gifted art student, particularly those without tuition and board money to pursue their four year degree in Art, Music, or Theater -- to be certain they know to apply to CalArts and their best of the best arts programs.


I sponsored a earnest and talented self-taught musician.  In spite of not being able to read music and having worked as a waiter for five years after high school - he ended up going tuition free with his housing and food and spending money provided as a scholarship.  A tremendous opportunity for the right person.  You have to love your art more than anything else.


It's a quiet and residential campus, near Magic Mountain north of Los Angeles, with state of the art everything and strong ties to entertainment industry firms.




The student's art portfolio and personal interview trumps pretty much everything else, as they understand exceptional artists may not have had the desire to become A students in other subjects.

#7 jgourlay



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Posted 23 February 2014 - 10:38 AM

I am frequently a "hiring manager".  I personally value creativity in my staff to a high degree, and I do hire MBA's on occasion.  I can say without hesitation that there is no competition between MBA's and MFA's, nor any serious view to the value of the MFA in the work world.  Not that I am not in contact with the Sales/Marketing types.  It may be different there.


What I value, need, seek:


1.  Yes, the person is creative.  But they have to be smart, too.  "Creative but smart" means that the person understands "the box" (I too hate that analogy).  The box typically consists of understanding the social norms that cannot be changed in the time frame we are discussing, budgetary realities, etc.  If you're very clever solution is going to require a restructuring of the management ranks, the finance group to issue a free pass on absorption, and a $100k IT project, that's not creative.  That's unicorns and fairy dust.


2.  The ability to work INDEPENDENTLY over long periods.  20 somethings often have this weird disease where they can't get anything worthwhile done over any significant time span unless they are working with 3 other like minded and like-aged peers.  Totally unacceptable.  I need people that can:  take directon, be creative, work collaboratively, and then turtle off and work in a corner for 6 on ONE THING until it's completed.  It's like the idea that 20 somethings are 'tech savvy'.  They are not.  They think because they can find a date on a social networking site, it makes them clever.  Most "tech savvy" 20 somethings can't use excell, powerpoint, word, SAP, Oracle, CRM, Project or P6 at more than a 9 year old level.  You're 'tech savvy' when you can use a computer to do something useful in generating money.


3.  Plays well with others.  The primary value of the MBA is that it 1) explains why the box is the size and shape it is and 2) teaches people to work the system, to work with peers, work with superiors in a way that makes them palapable to and successful in a large, complex, group of people.  My few hires from what we might call "the art world" have utterly failed in this.  Tender bruisables egos, little abitlity to horsetrade on the 'political level'.  LOTS of ability to play the dark side of politics:  lots of dead bodies, burned bridges, with little output.


4.  Keep the candle lit, and keep it under a basket.  The 2 MFA's I hired lost all credibility quickly by insisting on telling everybody about their weird, crazy ideas.  One of them self destructed.  The other put a lid on it and got promoted through the ranks.  6 years later she rose to a position where she was able to and without question should have put her weird, crazy ideas into motion.  She had the power, and influence and the timing was right.  However, by that time she so "in the box" that she wouldn't do it, even when I directed her to get moving on those things.  Sigh.....   MBA' don't suffer this, they'll quietly slow burn on an idea for a decade until they get in the chair, then they leap forward.  The MBA teaches this.

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