Does school accreditation mean a lot?

I am researching Master’s programs and am coming upon some schools (such as Savannah College of Art & Design) which are not accredited. Does anyone have any advice as to whether employers frown upon a non-accredited program? Also, SCAD in particular offers a 1 year Master’s program which is a Master’s in Industrial Design but not a MFA…any thoughts on this path?

Thanks very much for any input anyone has…!

Larger corporations will generally ask for a diploma from an accredited school. 1 Year? I hope you have an undergrad in ID? If not, it would be very challenging to get far within 1 year.

SCAD’s program is fully accredited:

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097; telephone number 404.679.4501) to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The college offers bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts and master of urban design degrees, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates. The five-year professional M.Arch. degree is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. (from the SCAD website)

Agree with yo - I feel that a masters in Industrial Design is most useful when you have some work experience (in a related design field) from which to draw.

he’s right.
The lack of NASAD accreditation really means the school cant have an IDSA student chapter. (IDSA helps set criteria for this credential and wants to encourage its acceptance).
If you look at the list of accredited programs, many are ones you hear of less often than SCAD, if at all.
Students are free to join IDSA individually, and attend but not present at the regional conferences.

Now go out and get yourself some big black frames
With the glass so dark thay won’t even know your name
And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes:
Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses
Oh yeah

ufo – I’ll pretend that I’m quite obtuse and didn’t quite catch the implicit shot at the school I teach at. If you have a specific question about the Industrial Design program at SCAD, I would love the opportunity to answer it.

it wasn’t directed at scad.

i know my quote has broad implications but to be subjective here, it’s my attack on american schools and what happens in US educational system and how they make current students paranoid about their careers in the professional world afterwards.

it’s not just design but focusing on design since it’s your discussion here i find this to be a joke that americans claim to have an advanced higher education when in the end it depends on some accreditation from a tiny organization like IDSA which doesn’t even fill the gap.

aside the %90 frantic designer wannabe crowd who fill the classes in the so called big name schools, in a gold rush move, when they know they have a slim chance of becoming a designer, what does it serve? we have heard many stories here on core about those people who have switched fields and admitted they can’t pull it off as a designer although they finished an accreditted design program.

and let’s say you completed one of the so called best schools in design but you can’t design are you gonna go to IDSA and tell’em “hey aren’t i supposed to be a designer now? so where’s my first project?”

so what was the IDSA’s answer UFO when you asked them that question?

i’m not an idsa designer.

but to quote plato: beauty is truth, truth beauty, and both are virtue

Although your facts are a bit skewed (IDSA doesn’t accredit anything), I think you’ve implicitly raised a rather interesting question - what is the role IDSA should play with regard to design education? By accepting the NASAD standards as the mechanism necessary to determine IDSA standing, IDSA has all but stepped aside and allowed an organization with no formal knowledge of Industrial Design to dictate and determine substance.

I would, personally, like to see IDSA take much more of a formal, intellectual and substantial role in design education. Accreditation is not (and should not be) the focus of this engagement - instead, it should emphasize dialogue and conversation between design educators and members of industry. The yearly meeting of Design Educators is visibly underfunded, underpublicized, and considered second-string to the Big Event (IDSA National Conference); it should not be a seperate event at all, but instead should be tightly wrapped into the main conference.

it does. go to their website and they have listed schools in different regions.

All the schools on this list are, as of May 2005, either in the process of or have been evaluated and accredited using the standards and guidelines adopted by The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) as formalized by the 1984 IDSA/NASAD agreement. An * indicates schools with programs in the process of evaluation. NASAD is located at 11250 Roger Bacon Dr., Suite 21, Reston, VA 20190; Phone 703.437.0700.

btw, saying my facts are skewed won’t give you any critical advantage when we all have read this idsa paragraph.

imo idsa is a cosmetic deal and has no function whatsoever other than confusing student designers. what’s a conference worth? internet has more to offer whether it’s opinion, research, trend, business, materials, or just plain design.

yeah if you miss your old schoolmates/teachers you can hook up and get together for a real live chat and a drink but that’s about it.

Nice quote, I wish I could find some evidence of it here:

The fact remains that you came to the US for your education. Complaining about its shortcomings while doing anything about improving it will do nothing.

You’ve bolded the wrong part (see red). IDSA doesn’t accredit anything. NASAD consulted with IDSA for guidelines to include in the Industrial Design portion of their accreditation documentation. Accreditation is issued by NASAD.

Don’t take my word for it: If you want to confirm it, just call them up and ask.

Here, as everywhere, there are a small number of argumenative individuals who enjoy getting into pissing contests. It’s best to ignore them.

yet another design association was introduced (on a different thread: ) promising to raise standards and provide credentials…

The problem is: by the time you achieve a measurable level of proffesianalsm, you don’t need the stamp of approval. People most in need of letters after their name on a business card are the ones who haven’t proven themselves, students and the obscure unemployed.

I agree that the IDSA should include the education conference in the larger annual conference. The fact that regional IDSA conferences are held at NASAD accredited schools is not enough to guarantee that minimum educational needs are being met (as mentioned earlier).

Unless a governmental beurocracy requires a test+certificate to design, or personal legal/financial liability for damages is assumed by designers there will never be any standard except for a college degree.

I agree, it seems like it is an impossible task, that even if it was implemented, would be done so by a bureaucracy that new little to nothing about design in the trenches. But is it even necessary? The college diploma is worthless without a portfolio. Our industry benefits from having a demonstrable skill set. Can you do it or not? There is no dodging… not for long.

Agreed - a good portfolio that shows process and outcome is, really, the only necessary tool to judge capabilities.

Because this comes up often and relates back to the original post, how many of your grad school applicants are carrer-changers interested in a 1yr Masters?
How do you deal with any career changer, getting them up to at least an undergrad skill level, before letting them have a Masters?
Aren’t in fact, the bulk of grads from non-ID and, isn’t this the area most overlooked in terms of standardization vis. IDSA/NASAD?

I’ve been curious about that myself. Good questions. It would be great to get a feel from several programs how that breaks up…

I think close to 90% of our candidates for grad school have an undergraduate degree in a liberal art field, not in a design field. In many ways, these are the ideal candidates for design management or for the more intellectual side of design: they have a strong base of worldly knowledge on which to draw, and they can read, write, and think in businessey ways. Unfortunately, a great deal of this comes at the expense of “core” ID skills (ie, sketching and form development).

If these candidates are accepted in the MA or MFA program, they are given between 0 and 12 required pre-requisite undergraduate design courses; they literally go through boot camp to learn – as quickly as they can – the main design skills and the process of design. This extends the length of time it would take to get a masters degree by as much as two years, and works as you would expect: some “get it”, while others really, really don’t. Frequently, I recommend that students simply enroll in our BFA program instead, although this doesn’t help if they intend to teach (and require the terminal degree).

I do strongly believe that anyone can learn to be a designer, and that there is nothing “innate” about it. However, this learning is easy and fluid for some and painful and uphill for others. Many of our graduate students end up focusing on the forms of design that don’t involve a dramatic amount of hand generated form creation: design management, interaction design, strategy, trend analysis and user research. This is in line with the general notion of the Industrial Design program at SCAD – that students are learning a process of design, and the outcome of that process doesn’t have to be (and increasingly isn’t) a physical object.

you touch on a few critical points.

Most of these applicants are coming from areas (Arch, ME, etc…)where the Masters has clear advantages, and are pre-disposed to seek one.

The ID Masters is widely required to teach, but not of great value elsewhere. Given the vocational nature of the field, even Teachers and Managers must have a minimum skill level and have something of their own on the market. Meaning, having started an entry level job before moving up.

  1. How do you prevent the Master’s program from being a variant of undergraduate education with additional courses (eg. seminars)?
    2.How do you convince applicants a BFA is a valid, even preferable choice?
  2. Wouldn’t everyone be best served if graduate programs were geard towards either management or academia, with expanded undergraduate specialization for career changers and ID’ers seeking to shift?

The variety of Mdes, MA, MID, MFA degrees, and the fact they mostly serve as a first professional degree leads me to think there is a need for a closer examination of what a Masters should stand for.

(even the 1yr methodology degrees at CMU and IIT are vocational in nature and should be non-graduate level)