Canadian Schools: Choosing between OCAD and Carleton

Hey guys. I got accepted into second year ID at OCAD and first year ID at Carleton and I’m having trouble deciding between the two.

Things I currently know: Carleton is more technical (which im sure I can handle since im switching from engineering), OCAD has a pretty intense workload (dunno about Carleton), and that I like and am familiar with the Toronto campus (have no real clue how Carleton’s is).

  1. I noticed that OCAD offers a Bachelors of Design degree whereas Carleton offers a Bachelors of Industrial Design, yet they are both recognized by the Chartered Association of Industrial Design. Does this make much of a difference?

  2. I would also really like to know the job prospects of an OCAD graduate versus a Carleton graduate. Is one seen as “better” than the other?

Any other helpful advice is greatly appreciated!

The degrees are comparable - the wording is just different.

Both schools have good ID programs - I’m out west and there aren’t any specific rumours around here about one school being better than the other.

the workload at carleton is intense…especially if you need to take the physics and math courses too :wink: on top of the design projects.

check out the “rocket” exhibit to see the 2 schools work side by side…

  1. Another question I had concerns how good the facilities are at each. According to their website, Carleton has some nice facilities “ranked among the best in North America, our facilities include modeling and testing laboratories (wood, plastic, metal), two rapid prototyping machines, a mass-production / mould simulation laboratory and a paint booth.”

On the contrary, very little seems to be said about OCAD’s facilities aside from the fact that I know they have metal/plastic courses.

hope I can help by adding my (biased - Carleton ID grad, 2001) opinion-

  1. In terms of rep, I do think Carleton has a better rep, at least within Canada/US, for a number of reasons. The program has been around a lot longer, esp. at the Bachelor level, which I believe was just recently granted to OCAD. Not sure about the Bachelor of Design thing, but you might want to further investigate. The OCAD program though is gaining in rep, I believe.

  2. The program at Carleton is indeed very intense. As mentioned, there is a very heavy workload of both design and non-design (ie. maths, sciences, etc.) studies, and the expectations are quite high. IMHO, this a good thing, as the program tends to produce very employable designers with a well rounded, practical education.

  3. The education, is indeed more on the practical/engineering side than the art/concept based approach of some schools (I don’t know enough about the OCAD program to fairly compare). A good focus on manufacturing processes, the business of design, and the associated type of studies (ie. psychology, engineering) that you may work with one day in an interdisciplinary team.

  4. The resources and shops are quite good. It’s been a while since I graduated and checked them out, and I’ve heard they’ve even got better since (we didn’t have any RP machines when I was there), but yup, full wood shop, metal/plastics shops and excellent shop techs in both.

  5. The Carleton program also has a very good Co-op program. It’s a 16month co-op between 3rd and 4th year, and there are lots of good placements available from local design consultancies to places like Black&Decker, Nortel (well, maybe not anymore, but used to be a big one), NCC, etc. A great experience and very valuable from a future hiring perspective.

if there’s anything else specific I can help with, lemme know and I’ll do my best to answer.

Best thing I’d suggest is to check out the portfolios of both OCAD and Carleton students on coroflot and judge for yourself in terms of skills, job placement, etc.


That’s really very informative. Thank you very much!

Is the co-op really all that though? Can’t I just work over the summers and still graduate in 4 years with similar experience?

Hey I’ll put Université de Montréal into the mixt :wink: Solid school. It’s french… YAH So :wink:

ID co-op at carleton didn’t work for me at all and i asked for my $$ back… instead i found my own design jobs in the summers…

at carleton however, you must work 4 months in the design field in order to graduate… it really helps!


You can get a lot more in depth in 16months straight than 4 months here and there. In my experience (both working and hiring of interns), it takes at least 4 months just to get someone up to speed with how the office works, skills, etc. so it’s pretty difficult to get the same amount of value out of a 4 month work term as a 16 month one. I’ve done both (did some 4 month work at a small consultancy in the summer) and the 16 month co-op placement, and for sure found the more in-depth longer placement of more value. That being said, of course a lot depends on where you work and what you get out of the experience.


I also had another question: what are the job prospects like for ID graduates… and in particular with either Carleton and OCAD?

the answer is yes. your job prospects involve a lot more than the school you came from, not to mention the job market 5 years from now will likely be different.


Don’t forget about ECIAD…?

I believe OCAD had the first Industrial Design program in Canada. You are correct, though, that Carleton has bee I.D. degree granting for much longer.

As a graduate of OCAD, and having been heavily involved in the Rocket show/competition since it’s inception up until the last couple of years, I have to say … go to Carleton.

That said, no matter what school you go to, if you work your a$$ off, and do as much intern/summer student/volunteer work in the real “I.D.” world as possible, you won’t have a problem.

But my vote goes to Carleton. Nothing against OCAD, but many of the most important lessons I learned as a student I actually learned interning or as a summer student.

i dont know much about ocad but i can talk about carleton. i just finished 1st year… i must say the program is deeply professional . you can feel the years of experience and confidence…first year was a bit harsh tho… but it really teaches a lot. i can say 80percent of projects were really good.

first semester(september-december) was highly based on technical drawing and some figurative line drawings. we also did a cardboard project -which was extremely helpful. we had to build a cardboard furniture from scratch(including instructions for how to make and real technical drawings)… no glue and tape allowed, has to be built by 1 person only, etc… it was a great project…

second semester: it was more about making-building stuff.10 second sculpture challenge, clay projects, etc…again great projects…

but i had times when i got really really tired(sleepless nights,days,nights.,.)it is tiring because the program is *very intense.especially with physics, algebra,econ,etc…

the only downside might be the location,… but ottawa is growing…
toronto for sure the city for this kind of school and ocad gets a plus, but there are opportunities here as well. especially in high tech sector…\

hope the above information might help .
if you decide to come, hope to see you next year…’

Thanks for all the advice guys. I accepted my offer at Carleton and almost certain to go there now.

And thanks for the information fatihy, now I’m looking forward to it even more!
Oh yeah, is the orientation at Carleton any good? I have some family plans this summer and though its doable to go to the orientation it may be a bit of a hassle.

No problem…Its a great program and hope you will enjoy .

As for the orientation , I havent attended any of them… so Im not sure how helpful they are. I think they give information about campus, library, etc… you can check the website for more detail… Orientation - Student Experience Office - Carleton University

I dont think you will regret from your choice… Let me know if you have any question regarding the school or the program…

Welcome to the school of ID!
mehmet f. yuzbasioglu