Going back to school, in design, au Québec?


So I’ve taking a long road and find myself applying to various (ok, all) Industrial Design schools in my hometown of Montreal.

-Université de Montreal - Design Industriel

-Université de Québec à Montréal - Design de l’Environment
-Cégep du Vieux Montreal - Design Industriel
-Dawson College - Industrial Design

-Université de Laval - Design de Produits (actually in Quebec City, not Montreal)

Now, I was taking a practical approach to do this because I don’t have a stellar transcript from my previous studies: pick the one I’m accepted to and make the best if it! The problem, and a good one, is that so far I’ve been accepted into 3 of 5, and am still waiting for replies from 2. :open_mouth:

The list was in my original order of preference.
I would rather a bachelor degree over a college degree, but 4 years vs 3 years is a factor.
UQaM is a bachelor of only 3 years, but it’s more of a general design degree and I don’t see how I can make that “work” for me withou being an obvious stepping stone.
I’m still waiting on a reply from my first all around choice, UdeM.

I was accepted at both colleges, Dawson and Vieux Montreal… My original pick between the two was Vieux Montreal because it would have been a more unfamiliar experience for me. However, of the two, Dawson was the only one to require a portfolio and test students in some way, and I made their cut.

There are no right or wrong, or clear cut answers here.
But if anyone cares to share any experiences they had with the above schools, or from people they have met from these schools and their work, I’d appreciate it all! Feel free to PM.


You mention doing some previous studies, what did you study?

As you’ll notice in a lot of school choice threads, the school choice may not matter that much for your career, a kickass portfolio is what will get you a job. The school will help round you out and give you the frame to learn the skills. You’ll often notice it looking at portfolios from graduating classes: the top rated schools have a few outstanding portfolios, lots of good stuff and a few below average. It seems the teachers and the peers work well at pushing everyone forward. In lower rated schools, you’ll see one or two awesome portfolio and a lot of meh stuff. This shows that if you’re ready to give yourself a decent kick in the pants you can shine no matter where you’re studying.

As for college (really a vocational school in US parlance) vs University, it really depends what you’re looking for. I’ve seen the vocational school graduates being pushed towards the busy work/CAD jockey side of things… Not to mention, on top of being only 3 years, about 1/3 of your classes will be general study which it sounds like you’ve already completed.

This is the first time I hear of UQaM’s design bachelor program. I know UQaM has a few programs that top or equal the private schools in the province such as their communication’s department. Though this program doesn’t really seem to be in that category lol. I doesn’t seem to have a clear focus which seems quite detrimental.

Université Laval seems to have its first graduating cohort this year, I’d be curious to see what was their experience. Though I’d be weary of such a young program. Not to mention there may not be that many opportunities to network in Québec city which might make it difficult for internships.

I think your best bet would be to attend the graduating shows, see the quality of the work, talk to the students, talk to the profs and get a feel for the different schools. Here’s a link to all the shows that are coming right up. ADIQ | Actualités | Vernissages + Jurys = Finissants D.I. / 2017 It does appear you’ve missed Concordia’s show.

Is there a reason why you didn’t include Concordia in your list as well? My impression is that a lot of the French schools are extremely Québec focused and may give you the false impression that the US, Europe and the rest of Canada is beyond your scope for transferring, student exchanges, internships…

Hi Louis!

Thank you for sharing the ADIQ vernissage list! I had missed a few of the general school open house events earlier in the year and hadn’t thought about the their end of year presentations. Which of course now seems like pretty blatantly obvious step. Thank you very much as well for the insight on how to effectively read between the lines when looking at graduates portfolios to evaluate the place and program!

To answer your question about my studies, roughly 15 years ago I started in Mechanical Engineering at Concordia. 2 years later I switched to Building engineering, mostly for academic reasons and mistakenly in hindsight. Six years later I finally left Concordia without any degree. For the last 6 years I’ve been working in a civil engineering firm. It’s been an interesting slow dance to find myself here today.

I honestly enjoyed most of my time at Concordia, but have no desire to find myself there again. When I was researching industrial design schools I was surprised to see their mechanical engineering program on the list, yet no other university mech eng. programs. Perhaps it’s related to CIADI?

In any case, I’m seriously committed to putting a few years in going back to school. I want a new environment to work in. You underlined the main hesitation I had with going to a french schools and their possible over emphasis on the Quebec market, especially in the college vocational level. However, that may create a potential for a more competitive pool of students which would be beneficial to me. At the end of the program, no matter where I go, it will the be the skills I develop, the quality of work I do, and my ability to adapt, communicate, and schmooze that will take me further.

My obvious personal preference is still the UdeM Industrial design program. Dawson/Vieux Montreal were somewhat of a plan B, being shorter and, because starting out as a busy work CAD jockey is still the most obvious and viable way to pay the bills. If I can’t do that, I won’t be getting very far at all. I am still quite agog that I’ve been, so far, accepted in the majority of the places I applied to.

Dawson was initially my third choice. Despite never having had to make a portfolio before, taking a week to collect and go over decades worth of seemingly simple random things I’ve done, condensing them, presenting them, and then being selected out of their entire pool of applicants, was definitely a boost towards going there, a big boost to myself, and a very big boost towards reassuring myself that I’m taking the right initiative forward.

Thank you for your input Louis!

No problem Kevin. You might want to get in contact with Mr-914 on the forum he’s in the Montreal region as well.

I’m in Montreal, but my knowledge of the schools here is limited as I went to Arizona State for Uni.

Kevin: You mention working in a civil engineering firm. Are you doing CAD work now? My impression is that cegep are a little more technical oriented, therefore if you already have great CAD skills, you might find cegep redundant.

From the UdeM grads that I’ve met and shows that I’ve seen, it does seem more focused on theory and concept. That would definitely challenge you.

UQAM does seem unfocused, although some of their grads have gone on to do great things. If you have a good idea of where you want to be after graduating, it might not be a problem.

For Laval, it’s like Louis said, who knows. I hadn’t even heard they had a program :confused:

I hope you keep us posted once you have made your decision. Best of luck!

Hey there!

I just graduated myself from UdeM’s bachelor in ID. We had a few students in class who joined us straight into our second year from their 3-yr technical degree. Like mentioned, they are a lot more technical in that they’re great sketchers and have a great mastery of CAD software but they are obviously lacking in methodology and research which is what the university courses provide (in 2nd year actually! :stuck_out_tongue:). You also get to take many interesting theoretical classes in regards to sustainability, innovation/prospective-focused design thinking, material cultural & its impact, etc. In 3rd year, you get to pick a “specialization” for the semesters’ 2 studio classes: furniture, transport, packaging, lighting, interaction, etc. And again during the 4th year, for your PFE (projet de fin d’études/final term project), although you are then given a lot more latitude depending on the initial problematic you’re solving for.

Here’s the site showcasing our cohort’s work.

I personally worked on a platform meant to replace the need for ID cards for the identification of self; which has nothing to do with “traditional” industrial design as I’m vastly more interested in solving for complex problems through digital means. That’s also an aspect of design that you would not actually get to explore in a 3-yr CEGEP degree.

I also got to go on an exchange abroad during my 3rd year which has been the most amazing experience of my life so far. From the little I know of UQaM’s program, a lot of students I’ve talked to eventually gravitate towards a Masters in architecture (as you get to “specialize” during your last year). I have not seen much I was actually impressed by in regards to straight industrial design. Like you hinted at, I don’t really know how much of a need there is for generalists either.

If you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

Good luck :slight_smile:.