I wonder if i set this post in the right section, but whatever. Short question: Does university degree matters or just portfolio says it all, talent outvalues formal degree? What is the view of entrepreneurs?
You need both and, in addition, a few years of experience too. Catch 22.
A university degree typically accompanies a good, well-rounded portfolio.
Talent is what one starts with and is something I’m assuming you already have — otherwise, you likely wouldn’t be pursuing design as a career choice. However, talent isn’t enough. You need to learn how best to use and direct that talent.
When working with a client, the subject of degrees doesn’t typically come up. Instead, it’s a combination of your portfolio, your ability to sell your ideas, and your experience.
However, this doesn’t mean that a university degree isn’t important. Without the study that goes into that degree, your portfolio is less likely to be as impressive or well-rounded as it otherwise would be.
Entry qualifications differ from one part of the world to another, however. I’m in the U.S., and I’m assuming you’re from Western Europe someplace. Despite the differences, one place is similar enough to the other to draw parallels. With that in mind…
When applying for a salaried job, the degree itself is often just as important as the portfolio and previous experience. It depends on where you’re applying, of course, but if your goal is to work at a good agency — either in-house or an ad agency — the chances of getting an interview without a degree are slim (unless your work is absolutely outstanding). If your work goal is somewhere else, the degree itself might not be as necessary, but what you learned during school to get that degree is most definitely significant — as is the experience you earn along the way.
Finally, just a caveat to all this. It is possible to break into the field and land a good job without a degree, but it’s much more difficult. It’s also possible to become a great designer without a degree, but again, it’s considerably more difficult and with many more obstacles to overcome. No degree and no experience working alongside professionals, however, amounts to nothing at all — just unrealized raw talent.
When I was first looking for a job, I was armed with a good degree from a good uni and I remember being slightly annoyed that nobody at any interview ever asked about it, until I realised, that without it, the door to the interview room would never have been opened for me in the first place.
When we sent out announcements regarding open design positions at my past jobs, we typically received around 140–170 applications.
I couldn’t evaluate that many portfolios, so we always instructed our HR people to discard applications without relevant bachelor’s degrees. This might have eliminated a few good applicants, but very few would have made the cut anyway.
University design programs provide well-rounded educations to students, but that’s just part of their value. A degree also sends a signal to employers that the applicant has the talent, ambition, perseverance, and ability to have earned that degree through hard, well-rounded studies, and structured work. A degree provides solid evidence that the applicant has learned, at least, the basics.
I think it depends on what you’d like to do.
If you’re planning to get employed by an agency, I would get the cheapest bare minimum degree possible or even consider going to a community college to get the base level design knowledge. Would be super reluctant to onboard the debt associated with modern design degree’s because it will haunt you financially for the rest of your life and unless you’re a rockstar, you’ll probably still struggle to find a job in the field. However if money is no issue, would go to a highly regarded design school.
You might find this video interesting and a radically different way to think about a design education in the 21st century:
Its worthy mention that i am polish and i moved abroad to netherlands to make money ( simply because the holland is MUCH more richer country than the poland is) and i earned here quite a lot in netherlands at least to compare to my polish standards. So that i can pay 3 years in advance for my bachelor degree.
So money is not issue
Sorry, but, In my experience that is simply not the case. It depends what you want and where you want to be, of course, but every single designer (bar one, who was just naturally brilliant, with an amazing, in-built sixth sense of what worked and what didn’t) I’ve come across swimming in the bigger ponds has had a degree.
I would imagine that is even more pertinent these days, when the proportion of wheat to chaff is even higher. I can’t say this with absolute certainty, as I haven’t been in the London agency world for quite some years now. However, from where I’m sitting, the evidence bears this out.
Some of my college mates back then are now in fairly high positions (I bailed on the rat race in my 30s) and their experiences bear this out. They only want to hire the best. These usually come with the tenacity and dedication that comes with fighting to achieve a degree.
I had 2 years experience as a Screen Printer and a 6 month DTP course under my belt when I went for a Prepress job, not even knowing what it was. It was a junior position. I had just turned 19. I had no idea what I was getting in for. If I could turn back time I would and never go that direction.
I was much happier with Screen Printing, and it was really good money.