Arguing about the top schools for design is decieving and as professionals we should not be promoting the “best”, I’m sorry but there is no best, there is no Top Five, Ten graduate or undergraduate, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they have a pretty narrow understanding and scope of design.
You’re not going to be studying engineering, computer science, or business, which to some extent can be qualitatively measured and packaged neatly for US News top college issue. You are going to be in an art field. There’s different philosophies, ideas, and things will be stressed and not stressed in these educational institutions. They won’t, can’t, shouldn’t agree on what “design” is. All that gets talked about on Core is just the promotion of ONE, maybe two dimensions of design when looking for a school. There’s more.
you wanna be a render, CAD, sketch monkey?
you wanna make beautiful objects?
Monkey’s are not bad, in fact they’re cute. If you go to certain schools (you know which ones by now) You’ll be really fukcing good at what ‘design’ is most commonly known as. The aesthetic component of design. It’s how the public, most students, and most people getting into design view design. Your relatives will ‘get’ what you do, you tell them “hey I make things look goooood”. oh. But you won’t learn about the other components of design if you go to schools with too much emphasis on creating beautiful objects. In fact, they’ll teach you that all the other stuff is crap. Research - crap. Design for humanity (users)- crap. Environmental concerns, manufacturing methods, material science, crap!crap!crap! Make it beautiful damn it! But for some people that’s what they want to do, and that’s totally fine. Just know that there is other dimensions in this field - much much more.
I’ve seen some suggestions to go talk to students when visiting. I got a suggestion and you can take it or leave it.
When you talk to the students ask them this:
Do you know who Marc Newson is? How about Victor Papanek? or William McDonough? Ron Arad or James Dyson? Bucky or Isamu? This will give you a basis on what they teach you. They might teach you how to hold a pen, or they might teach you who these other people are (both if you’re lucky). If they do teach you who these other people are, which ones do they teach you about? That’ll say quite a bit about what kind of school it is. If you’re really lucky your school might bring some of them in as speakers (some actually teach too). And if you look these people up before you go to school, you’ll be ten steps ahead of the class.
But how do you pick which students to talk to? Well the schools mentioned by the other posts are a start, but most of the ‘top schools’ that have been mentioned are mostly art schools. But wait, IDEO is bursting at the seems with Stanford graduates. The head of IDEO is an advisor there. Stanford is barely mentioned on these discussions about so-called top schools. What about Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern? Both great schools academically and both participate in multiple interdisciplinary/collaborative project based courses which can only be had in Universities (although I heard at RISD you can take classes at Brown?).
…I wrote all this but in the end, it doesn’t matter what school you go to. I know a ton of successful designers, and the other professionals on here do as well, from schools that no one’s heard of nationally or internationally. So don’t believe these top school nonsense. It’s drive and determination in the end that’s going to make you a good designer. Pick the one that’s going to give you what you want, but make sure you go out there and learn about what you want. Design is much more than just pretty pictures.
Pssst, and by the way you don’t even have to study industrial design to become a designer. There are just as many famous architects and engineers who are known as designers, and that is because they have a broad understanding of design and applied what they have learned from their respective field. Apple made a mark with design yeah? I believe the visionary for the group, Jonathan Ive, studied engineering.