Mapping US Grad Programs in ID

Hi Core,

I am sharing my “map” of grad programs in ID with you.

It’s a diagram that I created to understand the characteristics of each school by positioning them in regards to 2 axes:

  1. industry driven vs. artistic
  2. thinking vs. making

I was researching programs to apply to last fall, and I found it helpful to organize them this way.
I hope this may help anyone who is looking to apply to grad programs in ID.
Also, I would love to hear your opinion on this.
I especially want to know where you might disagree.

Please note:

  1. This map applies ONLY to graduate programs. Some schools (like RISD) have undergrad programs with very different focuses from their grad programs, and this map disregards those. It is about grad programs alone.
  2. I didn’t spend much time on researching schools that I wasn’t interested in applying to. So most of these schools are in the northeast.


SCAD and Georgia Tech should be there as well.
Next to the axes you may want to add a few keywords saying what the unique benefits of each school are, for a more specific first impression.
The school I went to in the Netherlands would be placed right in the middle of this map, leaves me wondering is there no school which has a more balanced approach in the US?

A radar plot may also be a suitable and beautiful way where you show to what extent the schools focus on different aspects of design:
technology, business, art, user interaction, research, process, manufacturing, team-based, socio-cultural awareness etc.

I didn’t look into these schools as much as the others, so my understanding is less-informed, but I would place Georgia Tech in top right quadrant (industry-driven and object-oriented) and SCAD in bottom right (artistic and object-oriented). Does this match your understanding of these programs? If your alma mater that you mentioned is Eindhoven, I would place it in the top left (technology-driven and thinking-oriented).

As for the balanced approach, this chart purposefully exaggerates their characteristics to illustrate their “market positions.” I think all of these US programs are well-balanced for what they seek to achieve. In fact, most of the chairs of these programs would probably claim their programs are right in the middle.

I really like the idea of either the mapping or the radar chart! It would be a nice resource to maybe even have it officially run and to be able to be polled to get a variety of opinions on any school. Although bias could play a part

I think this could be useful – but only if it mapped all of the Grad programs. So many schools missing. Good start.

Does anyone think these two axes (i.e. mapping the grad school landscape in terms of thinking v. making and industry v. artistic) are fundamentally flawed? How would you, then, make sense of this mess of a world of graduate programs in ID where programs that traditionally would have called themselves something else (like MBA, communication design, research or engineering) are now considered to be ID programs?
I’ve already made my decision on which school to attend in the fall, so it’s is just an intellectual exercise at this point. I’m just curious. Can there be a different compass? If you were to humor me for a few minutes and go along with the map, where would you place the other schools?