Adapt & Adopt for a Better Future

By: Heather Bradbury and Crystal Shamblee

Keeping pace in a rapidly changing professional environment requires the acquisition of new market-driven competencies. MICA’s Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) programs are designed to prepare graduates to accelerate their careers with specific skills that can be immediately leveraged to enhance their capacity within an existing job or to pivot to a new career. Designed for working professionals, our M.P.S. programs are offered online in the evening and are taught by industry experts.

Interest in these intensive online degrees is on the rise. MICA’s three M.P.S. graduate programs — the Business of Art and Design, Information Visualization and U.X. Design — are a response to growing demand for short-term, highly specialized and accessible content that is transdisciplinary and seeks to integrate the principles of art and design making and thinking with other disciplines.

Although conducted largely online, a unique part of our M.P.S. programs is short on-campus residencies where students delve deep into critical learning experiences. Each residency is crafted to connect students with each other as well as with faculty and industry professionals to begin developing a network of trusted colleagues and advisors. Students report that it is the residencies that give MICA’s M.P.S. programs a professional edge. Interactions nurtured on campus bloom into mentorships, partnerships and business confidants. After graduating, alumni have gone on to excel in their fields, break into new industries, hire or refer each other, develop businesses together and rely on the network for advice and guidance.

The backgrounds and experiences of our M.P.S. students are varied, but a common thread is a desire for broad meanings and connection to content, knowledge, skills and people. Or, as authors Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin define students such as these in “The Neo-Generalist,” they are “restless multidisciplinarians who are forever learning.” They intend to disrupt the norm, regardless of industry, and forge new creative career paths.

Today, tremendous possibilities meet at the crossroads of design, technology and commerce, but they require new ways of learning, thinking, adapting and acting. These times need the type of 21st-century professionals that MICA’s M.P.S. programs is graduating; experts who, again in the words of Mikkelsen and Martin, “bring together diverse people, synthesizing ideas and practice, addressing the big issues that confront us in order to shape a better future.”

MICA’s Open Studies unit began offering Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) degrees in 2011. Heather Bradbury directs the M.P.S. programs in the Business of Art and Design and Information Visualization while Crystal Shamblee directs the M.P.S. program in UX Design.