OCAD vs Emily Carr, Toronto vs Vancouver, new curriculum?

OCAD or Emily Carr

  • OCAD
  • Emily Carr

0 voters

I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted to the first-year ID programs at both OCAD and Emily Carr (just Foundation, but it’s clear I’m going for ID), and am having trouble deciding between the two. I have found the discussions on this topic here at core77 to be very helpful, but I still have a number of questions unanswered:

  1. Does anyone here have any strong opinions on what differentiates these schools from each other, beyond geography? After reading all the course materials and talking to staff at both, I’ve been left with the impression of overall sameness.

  2. From what differences there are, the mandatory laptop program at OCAD is one of the biggest. Do any OCAD members here think that the focus on CAD has greatly increased with the laptop program? Is it actually changing the way you design? Do Emily Carr people wish they had more CAD, or are you happy to not be stuck at a computer?

  3. I was originally attracted to Emily Carr because of a focus on sustainable design. I’m discovering that the ‘new curriculum’ at OCAD apparently covers sustainable design broadly. What do current OCAD students think about this ‘new curriculum’? Is it actually a change for the better? Are Emily Carr grads happy with their curriculum?

  4. Do you see major differences between Toronto and Vancouver in the ratio of ID grads to available jobs every year? I’ve seen posts here that mention 2 or 3 ECIAD grads out of 36 getting jobs in B.C. With OCAD, Humber and Carleton feeding into the same general market as each other, would the ratio be similar? How much does your choice of school and city really do to affect your career opportuntities in ID, especially if it’s Toronto or Vancouver?

  5. Do you think the addition of new research facilities and programs at either school will affect the undergrad student population? In Emily Carr’s case, with the addition of the CNC machine, spatial scanner, rapid prototyper, etc to IDS, would experience making product with these machines give you a leg up on finding a job, or is it a distraction?

I have many more questions I’m thinking about, but that’s a pretty big start.

To sum up: Toronto or Vancouver? Hi-tech or low-tech? Who really gets a job from all of this anyway?

Regarding #2, I heard they use MACs, so it’s not really CAD, is it? lol :stuck_out_tongue:

Regarding #4, the sheer amount of industry around southern Ontario vs. Vancouver trumps B.C. for job opportunities for sure.

It’s not at all indicative, but in the fall, I contracted some prototype work to a recent ECIAD grad, and I have to say that her work was very good. Also, the school apparently teaches for her to know the billing side of running a practice.


you would think something like teaching billing would be standard. that is pretty great.

Teaching billing sounds great. While I am looking forward to the academic experience, I want to get as many practical skills as I can, and being a bonehead about actually collecting money from clients wouldn’t help matters any.

While I appreciate the people who have contributed so far, has anyone else got anything to contribute?

Have you worked with or known anyone associated with either of these schools and heard them say anything? There’s very little info out there about what people at OCAD who’ve now been through a year of the ‘new curriculum’ think about it. And what people at ECIAD think about the new research facility, and the opportunities it may present… Does anyone here have an opinion?

ECIAD is ok, however the lack of industry in the area makes it hard for students to get internships etc… They just hired a few new teachers to the program this year. I have found their to be a disconnect btwn the teachers and the ID world (industry), mabye this is something every design school suffers from who knows…?
its what you make it.

my 2 cents…


-Looks like you are located in Toronto. Hopefully you had a chance to see the Rocket show at the DX on the weekend. (It may be still up today). For everyone else’s benefit- Rocket is a combined grad show featuring students grad projects from the 3 ID schools located in Ontario.

If by any chance you can make it to Vancouver in the next month you could also view the grad show at Emily Carr. There is an industry preview on Friday night which may be a good spot to meet both the students and the local design community.

There may be digital versions of each show (I’m not sure) and that would give you and idea of the type of work being produced by each school.

In my opinion - both schools will provide you with a good education. You are very correct in your evaluation that they each have their good points.

Regarding what you have heard on the seamingly low number of graduates getting jobs from ECIAD - I would think that the ratio is probably pretty close to that in Ontario also given the signifiacantly larger number of students so I wouldn’t discount ECIAD too much on this one. There is a often a significant difference in talent between the top 10% and the remainder of most graduating classes and as competition for ID jobs is steep everywhere in North America the jobs inevitably go that top 10%.

If I were to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would choose the program at Emily Carr. Here’s why, positive and negative.

  1. I know the people behind both programs a bit. The people who started the Emily Carr program were very influential in my early career, good designers, dynamic, knowledgeable of Canadian markets. The people behind the OCAD program have, unfortunately, consistently underwhelmed me.

  2. The program at Emily Carr has some affiliation with the British Columbia Institute of Technology, ID curriculum used to take place at both schools. To be honest, I am no longer aware of the status of this relationship. It sounded ideal. OCAD used to have with UofT, but no more.

  3. Now the really negative. OCADs’ art school philosophy is mirrored by the ID program emphasizing the Industrial Designer as entrepreneurial commercial fashion-products developer. I know of no success in Canada from this educational model. In other words, if you graduate from OCAD, look forward to rejection, rip-off, and possible employment in the display design industry. To be positive, most OCAD graduates do have good design styling-ability education and good introduction to intangibles of emotion, community and design as culture.

  4. I believe sustainable design is a fad. In some short time period it will fade from the spotlight, the knowledge and skills added to design history lexicon, occasionally coming up for use (like predecessors green-, universal-, global-, axiomatic-, real world- etc.). I think you will be very easily disillusioned upon graduation with this specialty, unless you are the sort of person who is genuinley interested in committing to it. Sustainable anything is an anomoly in Canada, so more power to you if you are a crusader.

  5. van_ID’s last paragraph is spot-on about schools’ top xx%. Statistically there are more employment opportunities in SW Ontario than Lower BC, but more designers, but so what, we are all mobile in this country and continent. Also, there is some manufacturing industry in BC, certainly more than when I worked there. BCID used to have excellent relationship with IDSA Northwest. I’d tap into this if I were a student; US Northwest is a hotbed of industry and ID.

  6. I used to attend university student job nights for my employer. #1 question “is my degree from X worth more or better than degree from Y?” Our standard answer “The fact you finished your degree is most important, the school is irrelevant.”

To sum up: re-read my point 6. High-tech all the way: you will get a job if you show you’ve graduated, have passion, knowledge of design, technology and business. I would favour Emilly Carr over OCAD, to be honest, Humber over all of them. Perversely, Toronto is probably more affordable right now than Vancouver.

First off, I AM biased, (Carleton BID, 2001), but I would suggest you also look at Carleton University’s Industrial design program, located in Ottawa.

From my perspective as a design manager who has interviewede many people from Carr, humber, and Carleton, I would say that Carleton has by far the strongest ID programme in canada.

In part, I would say the Engineering based, design program has a lot to do with it (Technically, the ID programme is in the faculty of Engineering). As a part of the Carleton program there is a very strong focus on the practical side of design, compared with other programmes. Not just sketching and fancy art stuff, but ID required physics, calculus, manufacturing and materials courses as well as business and marketing.

Ultimately it depends what you are looking for. For an all round design degree, however, I think that Carleton grads (myself included) are very well prepared (abeit in an old skool kinda way) for practical work and getting a solid job on graduation.

just my 0.02$ worth.


hey sanityclause, I am applying to both schools next year to the same exact program ( Industrial design). If I get excepted to both, theres no question that I’m going to OCAD, because I live in Toronto. I think OCAD is a good school.

though sanityclause, since you got into the program that I am applying to next year, could you tell me a little bit about what your portfolio consisted of. Not only in terms of what your drew ( be it cars, electronics or footwear) but also how you presented it. This would really help me for next year as I apply. I currently live in Toronto, contact me by email ( nikelab@hotmail.com with any info that can help)

For the guy who claimed Carleton’s ID program is the best, he’s right in many ways. The program consits of the balance of art and science. Thats the number one reason i’m not appyling there. I suck at math and science and they require calculus, algerbra geometry, and physics. so ya . But the balance of art and science is important in many industries such as footwear, automotive and electroncis.

thats my $2.00