PhD name change?

So this week I had to choose to either go with a new name for my degree or stick with the old one.

Previously the degrees in my department were called “PhD in Design, Housing, and Apparel: Apparel emphasis area” or something like that. A mouthful, but complete.

New degrees will be called “PhD in Design-Apparel Track: emphasis area either History/Culture, Retail, or Product Development.” Also a mouthful, also complete, different nature. The emphasis area won’t appear on your degree but is the line of classes you take.

Those of us who are in the program during the transition get to choose what we want based on the classes we’ve taken and which we prefer linguistically I guess. In one direciton you may have taken too many classes, in the other direction you might not have taken enough clases–doesn’t really matter, it’s basically a choice of phrasing.

So, I went with the new title “PhD in Design”

To me it seems more contemporary, and somehow equally applicable in more directions because the word Design can be broad, yet the zeroing in on the Apparel track and then the History/Culture emphasis (my area) is also more specific and highlights my specialization. As I job hunt there are so many new positions being developed with titles like “design historian”, “design theorist”, “visual culture and design analyst” etc etc that it seems like a PhD in Design vs. PhD in Design, Housing, & Apparel was a decent choice.

I can still change my mind for a few days. Any thoughts?

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  • Joyce Heckman March 21, 2009 09.41 am

    Ugh, I still can’t make up my mind. In one sense, I agree with you that “PhD in Design” sounds more contemporary. On the other hand, “PhD in Design” seems not to describe me. I don’t sew, draw, or really do anything else that I consider to be design. I sort of dealt with that when I graduated from Davis with an M.S. in Textiles. Then people who didn’t know me well thought I studied the “hard science” area of textiles. There are so many ways to look at this. I think I’m going to stick with the old name, though.

  • Monica Sklar March 22, 2009 07.49 pm

    Yeah it was a tough call but I sort of felt the opposite about my scholarship and interests–I’ve done so much curatorial and exhibit work (not to mention personal interests) in all forms of design that I sometimes feel like being labeled strictly “apparel” is limiting.

    Especially since my whole “related area” (the minor at our school) is Visual Culture and so I’ve taken 3 visual culture classes plus Innovation Theory and Aesthetics so I sort of feel like a Design generalist with an apparel focus, more than an Apparel generalist with a design interest.

    But yeah, as you know, I’m a stinker on the sewing machine as well and have a stack of punk silk screened patches that I bought on eBay piling up that I’m waiting for Harlo to sew onto my sweatshirts because I no longer remember how to work the dang machine! I certainly wouldn’t say I’m a “designer” but I would say I’m an expert in “Design.” (Joyce do you love my use of big D little d–sound familiar?)

  • Lauren March 26, 2009 10.34 pm

    Tough call! I’d say it depends on your career plans. Since I’m on the community college track, if it were me, I’d need it to have “apparel” in it since my institution is governed by the state education code which dictates specific degrees/disciplines needed to teach specific disciplines. To teach fashion I have to have a degree in fashion or textiles, but then it doesn’t have to be a doctorate. In my department, we also have Interior Design, so I could see a degree with apparel and housing in the title allowing me to teach basic ID courses.


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