Fashion is evolving in the same way other industries are—it’s operating within a more complex ecosystem and it needs professionals who have higher levels of depth and insight.
A Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree is ideal for career-oriented students because it focuses on practicality rather than theory. It’s also an efficient investment in your education. You’re able to start or continue building your career while getting a master's degree. An MPS student "hits the ground running" in her/her job, whereas other types of degrees focus less on producing a “turnkey” employee.
If you’re considering starting an MPS program, but are unsure about it because of the investment it may involve, I encourage you to keep the following benefits in mind:
1. It lessens your learning curve.
Employers are increasingly looking for employees who require little investment to get up to speed. Part of this is because the industry is changing so fast—employers need to focus on their business and not spin their wheels training new employees. The experiential/practical focus of the MPS is ideal for this, since it ensures a candidate has baseline knowledge of how the industry works and has the ability to be adaptive in complex situations.
2. It broadens and accentuates your strengths.
In the "old days," being a merchant meant knowing your customer, having a sense of what works and what doesn't, and keeping your ear to the ground. That’s still true now, but with advancements in technology and the oversaturation of today’s marketplace, you can't just be a merchant. You have to be a technologist, marketer, production specialist, and experience producer. A master's degree builds on your strengths and helps you develop competence in all these areas.
3. It exposes you to new areas that make you marketable.
My MPS in Global Fashion Management gave me a deeper understanding of areas of the business I had no experience in: supply chain, finance, marketing, etc. At Bergdorf's, it gave me the sophistication I needed to deal with high-profile clients. It also allowed me to work with colleagues from Europe and Asia, which has been a big plus in my retail and teaching careers.
Finally, you should know that it’s only a year or year-and-a-half program, and the time does go quickly!