Industrial Design Schools: Opinions and Questions

The questions of what school should I go to, what schools are the best, can you rank the top 5 schools… seem to come up weekly, so I thought we could start this thread as a place to contain insight on undergraduate and graduate Industrial Design programs around the world.

Please post your questions and opinions in hear so we can keep a running resource going. Keep in ming that the information on the programs, as allways, will be highly biased and is no substitute for visiting the schools and comparing them yourself. It will be good suplemental information I hope.

I’ll kick it off with some opinions of my own:

Best US schools for core product design (electronics, consumer goods, general design firm type stuff) as well as specialties like: Transportation, Toys, Footwear

University of Cincinatti- good price, great co-op program, respected
Art Center College of Design- rigorous program, great reputation, good alumni network
Cleveland Institute of Art- relatively cheap, caring faculty, stresses profesionalism, visiting instructors from Detroit.
College for Creative Studies- highly networked into auto industry.
Columbus College of Art and Design- great value for the money program
Academy of Art College- up and coming program
Pratt- In New York, stresses artistic side of design

Best Schools for Theory based grad programs:

Anybody got more info on programs, or anything to add about schools outside the US? or schools for Furniture? Throw it down

1 Like

I think it’s really cool that you are so involved in the community. I always appreciate your comments. Kudos to you.

If I had to pick a grad school, I would definately choose

Art Center or Pratt. The alumni work coming out of those two programs is just mind blowing. I also like the emersive atmosphere I hear about.

I always appreciate your comments. Kudos to you.

I second that! YO, you definitely Rock! Thanx for all the great stuff!

…uhm, thanks guys. :unamused: us moderators don’t get paid for this gig, so thank you.

so any thoughts or questions on good schools? … or maybe bad schools?

Alright, I’ll chime in. As an alumni of University of Cincinnati, my vote would be for UC. I’ve said it before in other posts, but you really can’t beat their co-op program. Sure, other schools ‘allow’ you to take internships, but UC requires you. At the end of the day, you graduate with 6 quarters (a year and half) of real world experience under your belt. UC has longstanding co-op relationships with some of the worlds top companies: Motorola, Nike, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Fisher Price, P&G, etc.

During my day, I guess it could be said that some of the teaching staff were a bit on the ‘old’ side…still teaching gouche rendering skills, etc. That’s been changing over the past few years, with the addition of a couple new professors. Recently, UC hired Craig Vogel from Carnegie Mellon to head up UC’s new design research department.

It’s really hard to evaluate which school is the ‘best.’ On a dollar for dollar comparasion, though, UC would be hard to beat. And to be honest, just because you’re shelling out big bucks for Art Center, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be designing Ferrari’s in Italy! If you’re talented and passionate about design, you’ll flourish at any one of these schools!

I graduated from RIT and have been following changes made to the program and it is really coming along nicely

RIT’s program stresses functionality and you get plenty of opportunities to learn whatever 3d modeling program you’re into. RIT also has the School of American Crafts, which is highly rated, so if you are into furniture you can couple furniture and woodworking classes with your ID courses. They also offer ceramics, metals, glass blowing, and all that stuff

They’ve also recently started working with the engineers on campus. RIT’s engineering program is HUGE so there is a lot of opportunity there too, not only to learn from another discipline but also to teach the engineers what ID is all about.

I graduated from Pratt’s undergrad, and am going to be undertaking studies at
art center in january. Pratt will blow your mind if you have one, they have a really solid theoretical approach to both process and 3d aesthetics, however not a lot on the analog presentation skills end, they’re way to heavy on the Alias to make up for poor drawing ability. I’m going to AC to blow up my presentation ability and to get a more solid handle on rapid prototyping technologies and advance model-building technique, although I didn’t notice a lot of substantive ideas behind all of the glamour which the school is well known for. Anyway, that’s my take.

perhaps you could cull through and link to some of the more valuable threads you referred to…?

I’d say in general the best place to learn about design is outside of the classroom. Students today need to make sure they invest more time into obsorbing the real world around them, because someday that will be your client.

Having said that, it’s equally important to employers that students coming out of school have a very strong skills set. You have to be able to communicate your ideas in a clear and compelling manner. Remember, in the real world you usually are presenting to non-designers.

Art Center is one school that definately has the curriculm to get you there, but you have to work hard at it. And the location is ideal because there is so much to do around you, but you have to find time to get out there and experience it. Also the alumni network is the strongest aout there

There are other schools out there that are well respected, CCS, RCA, Strate, Florzhiem, Coventry, Cincinatti and Art Acadamy, etc… I would encourage you to visit as many as possible, take all apects into account and pick the one that most inspires you.

I’ve worked at IDEO and Nike and I’ve learned that if you want to have a great job in design, you have to make the most the of your education, because you don’t want to graduate and wish you had a better portfolio.

heres just a few,

YO makes probably the best overall comments on each of the 6 schools he comments on.

Everyone is going to say “I went to so and so and it is the best”. I truely feel there is only one way to choose.

1st find what academia (and design professionals) think are the best three to five schools. (NOT what are going to be the best, because that means that they are not)

just off the top of my head

CCS, CIA, Art Center, Cincinati. all top notch schools

Visit these schools and talk to the students and see their work. Look at the facilities (not how pretty the building is) but at the resoursessss, who teaches there, what does the faculty do in it’s spare time, where are graduates working (AND every college exagerates it’s claims “everyone gets a job” B.S.)What is the teacher to student ratio, and how many people make it through the program and graduate.

You have to visit the school, and break off from the steralized tour. See what the students really feel because they will be honest with you.

I was told some serious lies by the faculty at a school in Columbus, they actully lied to me and said " oh yea you can do transportation design here we have a pretty good program" I went for a tour and didn’t see too much trans. So I broke off from the group and started talking to students. They set me straight and said that the faculty says that to get students, but the students I spoke with actually recomended other schools to me for trans. But I was so impressed with my initial response to the beautiful modern building I was clouded by the real facts.

I could not be happier that I talked to the students and got the real story, so I passes up this school and visited three others, and made my decission bassed on what I have already stated.

OK enough already I hope this is in the smallest way helpful. Remember this is a very important decission not to be taken lightly. good luk

Scott Digital out…

I am a aulmni from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. I put in a solid plug the school, which has grown rapidly since I have graduated. It is one of the only private ID schools in the Mid-West and is worthy of consideration.

Took a look at the links you listed Yo – turns out I’d already seen a couple of them, but worthwhile to check again, if only to observe how quickly things turn nasty when you ask folks to list The Top 5 Schools in --.

Seems to me that the only thing everyone agrees on is that different schools have different strengths, and which one is the best depends on your own background and what you want to do later in life. What might actually be a much more useful discussion (if anyone else is interested in chiming in) is a specific listing of strengths and weakenesses of various design schools by people who either went there or have worked with graduates from there.

For example. I graduated in May of this year from the Pratt Master of ID program, and can offer this:

Strengths –
Very high fraction of faculty are working designers, and often discuss real world issues in class.
The 3D analysis curriculum is outstanding, and produces designers with strong innate senses of form and proportion.
3D sketch modeling is encouraged at least as much as 2D, leading to very creative forms and solutions not often seen from more “pencil-oriented” schools.
The Masters program requires extensive research and strategy work, pushing designs toward the innovative and away from the purely stylistic.
The broad range of backgrounds in the Masters program means that team projects and studio work benefit from a wide range of insights.
The Brooklyn location puts you in the middle of the largest concentration of creative professionals in North America – chances are good that your neighbor is writer, graphic artist, documentary filmmaker, etc, so there are endless sources of inspiration.
New York holds the offices of dozens of design firms, as well as galleries and events like the ICFF, so opportunities for internships and exhibition are great.

Weaknesses –
Very expensive.
Absurdly disorganized; if a student doesn’t have the drive and ability to find their own internship, build their own useful curriculum, pursue their own projects, they run the risk of learning next to nothing.
The lack of a foundation year for non-designers entering the MID program means it’s possible to graduate without knowing how to draw or build a finished model.
Poor maintenance of physical resources, though this is improving.
The high fraction of working designers in the faculty means very few full-time teachers, so actual teaching ability varies wildly – many teachers do not perform basic tasks like writing and holding to a syllabus, giving clear assignments, holding constructive critiques, etc.
Very few (if any) projects are developed to a level of finish and produceability that makes for a solid portfolio piece. Recent graduates often find themselves spending 6 months or more fixing work to make it presentable to potential employers.

Anyone else? I for one would love to see something like this for Art Center, UC, RISD, etc.[/quote]

University of Wisconsin - Stout hasn’t had the strongest representation in the past year or two, but since the recent curriculum revision, I’d say that it is a force to be reckoned with. Faculty let students discover what sort of designers they want to be and encourage them to experiment and explore. I’ve noticed a significant increase in the enthusiasm of the students and their student chapter IDSA has had some very interesting activities going on currently.

Other benefits: Low tuition.

Students coming from state universities have a broader education and have the ability to take more classes that can compliment ID, such as marketing and business classes as well as psychology and sociology classes.

In the end, the quality of your education is really up to you. You get what you put into it. If you work hard and are enthusiastic about what you are doing, you will be successful.

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.

Your post cracked me up I couldn’t stop laughing.

I love how you spend three paragraphs telling people not to listen to advice on school, and admoshing those that give it. And then you give 4 paragaphs of advice on schools. good one.

This may have been true maybe ten years ago, but it just isn’t vey common anymore for paople out of school. But, opinions are what this thread ia all about, somtimes confilcting, it is up to the reader to sort it out. Some have their personal top 5 schools and you have your Stamford, good thing IDEO employs some of those grads, not sure where else they go!

I’m glad I have been a source of your entertainment, I know your posts have been mine. My post was an alternative look at what has hardly been mentioned. It’s supposed to insight questions with future students, including my post, instead of a rehash of the same schools repeated for years and years based on the same criteria. By all means question my post, but don’t blow it off by laughing at it.

“Moderate” away to your liking and laugh at opinions you don’t agree with. You own this board and your credentials clearly far exceed mine. Dissention will be laughed at. You get a goldstar today because you’re a winner.

Keep your ears closer to the design world instead of listening to yourself talk and maybe you’d hear of those people who are doing revolutionary designs without a ‘proper’ institutional education.

but if you’re going to laugh, laugh at this:

a bear and a rabbit is taking a sh-t in the forest. The bear says to the rabbit " hey rabbit, do you have problems with sh-t sticking to your fur?" the rabbit answers “no, not really”. So the bear picks up the rabbit and wipes his ass with it.

send me email if you have any questions or comments, I gave this forum a try, but clearly contributing to it is not worth my time or insight.

good bye and good luck with schooling or the unschooling,
Kayto Theo

australian perspective is a little more limited. I am at unisa in adelaide, south australia. we have an awesome workshop and decent access to computers and industry but the lecturers are hot and cold. best lecturers seem to be the ones who are still in the profession and not full time.
Rmit in melbourne has some innovative teaching methods with a new program director. will be interesting to see what comes of that.

cracking me up yet again…
Sorry but they way you type your posts are amusing, like you have a serious frown on with a shot of tequilla next to the monitor, furiously typing away. Sorry, over active imagination.

no need to take your ball and go home though, and you don’t need to qualify your opinion as an “alternative” and rag on other people’s posts, just throw down your point of view. It’s of great value. You made some good points and I hope that you will post again soon.

By all means disagree with me, and others. Prove people wrong, submit new ways of looking at things. But when you spend a few paragraphs poking at people that give advice, and then give advice yourself, don’t expect me not to point out the irony there, this moderator gig is unpaid, and I consider irony highlight a small form of compensation.

michael diTullo.[/b]