Need help with MFA GD choices...

I just got into SVA and RISD for an MFA in Graphic Design and I’m having a hard time deciding between the two. I’m interested in both schools respective strengths (commercial vs. academic), but does one outweigh the other? I’ve been living in NYC for some time now so location isn’t necessarily the biggest factor for me. Any insight would be great!

Checked out your portfolio, some really beautiful stuff. I’m not sure what you are looking to learn in grad school? Maybe determining that will help you decide what program…if any?

apart from a couple of classes I took at an aas program, I’m pretty much self taught. i think what i’m really looking for in an mfa program is to get more context/background to the stuff i do and really get some focus to the work i do.

Makes sense. RISD is great when it comes to stuff like that. I have some friends that went through the undergrad program in graphics. It is a very rigorous program that teaches you how to do things old school, by hand, and then lets you apply that to digital mediums. I think the graphics program there produces designers that are extremely thoughtful in their treatment of form and information. At least that is the way it was when I was there.

I’m not too familiar with SVA.

You want more context/background and focus.
Doesn’t sound like you need to write a thesis to reach your goals, in fact it may divert attention -unless you plan your research carefully. Grad school is not just more undergrad classes, be certain of what your responsibilities are, like how many credit hours will you be expected to teach…


I´m also having a tough time deciding between SVA and RISD for GD. Actually, I also got into parsons and pratt, but heard that sva is better. I live in Brazil, in Rio, so the NY experience is something that I am really looking forward. The cultural scenario definetely means a great deal to me. I´m researching a lot on these two colleges and RISD really seems to stand out. Its more selective and most students are extremely please it. It seems to be in the another level. Perhaps if you already live in NY, RISD might just be the thing for you. However, providence is an extremely small city compared to NY…
well, if you could give me some feedback about NY and SVA I would really be grateful.

hmmm, if you are used to Rio, NYC might be more your speed. I think coming from outside the US it would be a great experience to be in NY few a few years. Providence is very quaint and provincial, but super nice.

I can’t tell you which programs are best between SVA and RISD. However, I can give you the US News and World Report rankings for MFA in graphic design:

2. Yale
3. Cranbrook
4. VCU
5. CMU, I think

I can’t remember the order of the other top schools but RIT,SVA,Pratt were in the mix.

I finally decided on RISD. There were a couple of factors:

-They can actually provide some financial assistance. SVA could only offer up work study options.

-I talked to a couple of SVA alums. They all seemed to like it, but the feeling was that it was very “idea” driven and that you’re not going to get a lot of help or time to develop visually through your classes. Individually you’re allowed to audit other classes to work on those skills. That was important to me seeing that I’m self-taught.

I also checked out Pratt, but the program didn’t seem all that great. They have just under 300 MFA GD students which seems like way too many. SVA and RISD are both around 40 I think. The space felt more like a high school than graduate program as they didn’t offer any personal studio space and most students didn’t seem to spend much time in the building apart from class. You basically got a locker and there was a first-come, first-serve computer lab.

Ultimately I picked RISD because I knew exactly what I was getting. SVA seemed really promising, but it wasn’t for me. I think its a great program if you want to by in NYC, get great contacts (through the locale and faculty) and if you’re looking to hone your thought process and business skills.

If you’re really confused I would check out student portfolios at both SVA and RISD. That also helped me decide which school to pick. You can see the types of projects you’ll be working on.

I think NY would be better for me…
But is RISD really so much better?
And for undergaduate graphic design in NY, which is better? SVA, PRATT or PARSONS? I´m having a very tough time to decide because I haven´t got any concrete feedback. I´m more of an artistic person, so I think that a school that would help me blend my artistic side with graphic design would indeed be the perfect match!

I hvae checked out the portfolios, and they are all great…SVA does seem less technical though

I have heard the same thing about sva…you´ll get to work concepts a lot, but you´re ultimately loose without so much guidance. However, if you are disciplined enough and determined, you´lle be able to get some help

Are you going to be an undergrad? I’d go with RISD if that’s the case. Providence also seems like a really fun city for someone young. It seems like the kinda place you can really be a college kid and get away with murder. I can’t say the same about New York.

I’ve got some friends who go to film school at SVA (undergrad) and they’re not so hot on the school as a whole. If you’re looking for a sense of community, I’m not sure you’re gonna find it. Pratt might be a good option too. They have a really fun campus in Brooklyn.


I have never gone to Providence, and have gone to NY and absolutely loved it. I think that a small city can be really cool, but I don´t think this is what I want at the moment. It is very hard for me to turn down RISD, but I think I have to look at the experience as a whole and choose what I best identify with. I have a friend who is graduating in the University of Chicago and although she loved the college, she absolutely hated the city. I´m not looking to have fun…I´m want to study, but NY offers so many incredible things that I would never have here in Rio. I was meaning to ask you about the art schools in NY for graphic design. Is Risd so much ahead? Is it really so much better? If you could also give me any feedback in relation to Parsons, Sva and Pratt, I would deeply appreciate it.
Thank you!