Questions about University of Cincinnati

Hi! I am in the process of preparing my applications to start a bachelor in ID next year. I graduated last May from a bachelor’s in Biology at Colorado College. While I really loved the faculty, courses and climate, one thing I learned from living in Colorado Springs was how much I miss the culture of great cities (perhaps unsurprising for someone born and raised in Paris).

At first I wasn’t very excited about the prospect of living in Cincinnati, but the program at UC seems extremely solid and is becoming a very convincing option. From what I can tell the co-op program also sends you around the country quite a bit. I was hoping to hear from some students/graduates about how you see life outside the university itself. What were your experiences with the coop program in that regard?

In other words, how do you find the city, and the cities you’ve interned in with UC? Exhibitions, night-life, climate and such.

Hi Kepano, I am a parent of a current student in DAAP (Digital Design program). Let me try to answer your questions from a parent’s perspective and from what I have gleaned from my daughter.

You are quite correct in noting that Cincinnati has a very solid program in all aspects of design and architecture. My daughter LOVES her program and finds it VERY challanging. Be prepared for long hours and little sleep. In fact, unlike that of other schools, the intensity doesn’t stop in the freshmen year. I guess with coops coming up, they want kids well prepared by their sophomore year. Frankly, I can’t imagine many programs better than that of Cincinnati.

I don’t know what you took as an undergrad, but if you didn’t take a lot of drawing, you may have to take some foundation courses in drawing, color, space and form,which will put you an extra year behind. I just want you to be aware of this. Frankly, you may be better off going for a MFA somewhere (such as Cincinnati) and taking some basic courses in addition in order to prepare you for the MFA.

As for internships, kids get jobs all over the US and even in a number of foreign countries including Japan. These are pretty well paid too. One internship, for example was helping to design special effects for David Copperfield. Another one that I am aware of was with Hasbro toys. They even have a few automotive internships for the transportation designers.

Although the city has a lot to do with museums, sports, I personally don’t like much of it. Like any big city, there are a number of sketchy ares where I wouldn’t be caught in with several body guards. Howcver, there are also some great areas to live and that are very nice. You just need to find out where to go. My daughter goes to nearby Kentucky,which has a fabulous area for dining and entertainment.

If you go go to Cincinnati, make sure you get the Skyline Chili and DEFINITELY go to Graeter’s Ice Cream.

Let me also note that there is a LOT going on at the University. With CCM ( Cincinnati Conservatory of Music), there are always musical events and shows,which are top notch. In fact, if you check with the UC calendars, they have TEN calendars for events. True, some don’t apply to you such as the admission’s calendar;however, if you check the CCM calendar and main street calendar, you will be overwhelmed by the many events going on each week. In addition, sports at UC is HUGE. Football games and basketball games are a blast to attend. Unfortunately for you, you will be so busy that you honestly won’t have a lot of time to attend many of these events.

As for climate,Ohio isn’t California or Florida; thus, it does get cold in the winter. It also can rain a fair amount.People are very nice. It must be that midwestern charm.

I hope I was able to help you.

Hey kepano,

I’m in relatively the same situation as you: about to complete my Bachelor’s work in the Social Sciences, and hope to start up at DAAP for ID next fall.

Have you sent in all of your transcripts and application documents yet? If not do it now. The deadline is quickly approaching for the ID program, November 15th I think. From what I can gather their admissions are rolling so the earlier the better. Plus I’ve heard that the spots available for second time college students like us are fewer as they reserve a majority of the spots for first time students, and transfers from within the college.

As far as Cincinnati goes, I lived there for my high school years, so being a minor living at home with no disposable income I can’t really say much for the night life. But when I do return for holidays I find the city entertaining. I go to school in Chicago currently and in comparison Cincy is ALOT quieter, smaller, and the city dies down fairly early. The Downtown area in recent years has been in a bit of a decline, more and more shops closing, increased crime, etc.; but as Taxguy eluded to, there is quite a bit to do just south of the Ohio river in Kentucky. I am sure in what little spare time you will have you’ll find something to entertain you.

Good luck with admissions, and maybe I’ll see you

Thanks for your replies. Yeah, I have sent in my application, however, I was surprised to find no need for recommendations, personal statement or portfolio. I am quite worried about the grounds on which they make their selection. Hefty_unicycle perhaps you are more informed than I am on the subject and can shed some light?


Over the weekend I was talking with an Industrial Design grad of the DAAP program at UC. He said the first thing they look at is your GPA. This is how they narrow down the flood of applicants that are trying to get into the Industrial Design program. Basically they only look at students with 3.7 and higher. Next they look at your portfolio. In the end they only take on 30 new students a year. This selection process is for the undergrad I.D. program at DAAP. I’m sure the graduate program will be even more selective due to the fewer spots available. I’m not trying to discourage anyone, I’m only repeating what I heard.

That seems plausible, though unfortunate. I had a good GPA, around 3.5 for my major, but that was Biology. I’m not sure how it really shows anything about my potential in design.

UC’s admissions philosophy is that they can teach anyone to be a designer if they are fairly bright and seriously comitted.
Have you interviewed in person there yet?

Not yet. It sounds like something I should look into, but I doubt I can make it to Ohio in due time. I’m planning to tour American universities in February, but in UC’s case it will be too late to affect my application.

Yes, UC is very GPA oriented and class rank oriented,which is a bit different from most other art and design schools, although the good ones such as RISD and CMU are also very GPA oriented.

If you already have a bachelors degree, they make make allowances. I don’t think you need a 3.7 in college to get into their BFA program or even their MFA program. I would bet that if you graduated ( as compared to a transfer student) with a 3.5 or better, you have a very decent shot of geting in for their BFA program or MFA. If you test well, UC does like high test scores; so, send them.

Also, although they don’t require portfolios per se, I was told that if you send it in anyway, and you are close to what they want for admission, a good portfolio will sway them. My daughter had a bit under what they wanted for the GPA from high school (3.45). They wanted at least a 3.6 for her program. However, she sent in her portfolio,which was good enough to get into Carnegie Mellon, and got admitted to UC.

Taxguy, I am going to have to differ from you there. As a UC graduate GPA is important, but only so you dont get the boot from DAAP. I would say that understanding design and getting better at it is way more important to students and DAAP faculty than getting A’s in all of your other core curriculum classes. Not to say that you shouldnt care, its just not that important.

Also, you should try and take classes that will apply to wha tyou like and how you can use that in the design profession

Wait sorry, I misunderstood what was being talked about. Scratch what I said.

hey there- im a current id senior at uc…

first off if you’re worried about admission as a non traditional undergrad- you should be. it is very correct that they only take about 30, you either do a full freshman year of foundations, or you go for summer quarter before you start, and get a year of foundations crammed into one quarter as a “crash course”

regardless- it pays off to bug them. be persistent, make phone calls, get email addresses etc. let them know you reeeally want in. Don’t go through the university admissions/onestop office, go directly through daap offices. This has paid off for a few of my friends.

Finally- Cincinnati as a city has it’s charm. I’ve been co-oping/traveling all over the country, and currently in europe… and although I hate to admit it, I actually miss Cincinnati. Yeah, it’s no NYC or chicago… but then again you dont have to be rich to survive, and there’s plenty of things you can find to stay busy. Good luck!!

Hi, couldn’t help but notice UC on the front page, I’m a current U.C. sophomore in Industrial Design, figured I could at least mention a few things…

First sikoraem is spot on with his comment on being worried… I started freshman year at UC in DAAP and I am friends with a few non traditional students who were told to take freshman year with the rest of us. Two of these students had been through a complete design degree at another college and were still told to take the freshman year courses.

Now, I’d like to say that’s not a bad thing. There’s a reason they want you to take the foundations, to get into a mindset. The whole DAAP experience to me is about disorienting yourself. You are in a disorienting building, doing projects that at the time make you question their purpose from professors that seemingly change gears daily, with people who are usually externally different from yourself. However it all works, you find your classes, you learn amazing lessons from those projects and professors and become great friends in the most unlikely places. In addition, although its unspoken, I believe they also want friendships and connections to form between students of different degrees. Freshman year everyone is mixed and you take foundations with kids of all design degrees. Stepping into a degree like ID in sophomore year means you’ve missed out on a lot of things, we can be in studio and a professor will reference something, a student will say “So this is in a similar vein with the “(insert name here)” project we did last year?” Its important that you know what people are talking about. Back to the friendship thing I mentioned earlier, DAAP is very accepting of everyone, but I think there is a certain respect we have for each other both as designers and people because we have all been through the same things. And when you’re all up at 3 in the morning working on projects there is a strong friendship that forms between you and your classmates, haha. Even during breaks of classes, other students you had class with the previous year, who are now in their digital/graphic/fashion/etc class will come and visit. I think that combination of thoughts helps immensely.

I would say take the freshman year, its worth it in the long run… as sikoraem said, be persistent and go through the DAAP offices! DAAP is like an island in that way, the rest of the university is on its own, get in contact and get to know multiple professors there, they are some of the best people you will know.

As for needing portfolios, unless you WANT to jump in sophomore year (usually thats as far in as you can jump, they won’t let you jump any higher due to course requirements and coop) you shouldn’t need it. Coming out of high school, I had a really nice portfolio ready for them and documentation for my two 5’s I got on the Drawing and Design AP tests and they didn’t need them. GPA is where its at, turns out when they saw my 4.0 they accepted, thats how it goes. Anyways, the higher the better, but even more they want desire. Show you want in, have a zeal for the subject. Cause truthfully, you need to genuinely have it, you have to want to do design, cause like I said, multiple nights up at 3 in the morning… haha.

Finally in sophomore year you decide where you will coop and learn about portfolio development, applying, etc… thats extremely valuable. There are lots of options for coop right now both local to UC and far out of state…also there are many great connections, DAAP has founded strong relationships with many large companies and therefore can net great COOPs. In fact, the price of tuition for DAAP, some argue, is well worth it just because of the COOP experience you get. I go on Coop this upcoming summer and now that I’m looking at my options, I’d have to wholeheartedly agree.

Hope this helped a little for whoever is interested.

I want to reiterate something that LeedyBC said. You REALLY need a strong desire to succeed at UC DAAP. Although my daughter has a 3.7+ there, she is a perfectionist and works till she drops. She has worked past 3AM on many days. Students who aren’t willing to work as hard or aren’t as driven,don’t do well there.

Art and music both have major time commitments. Be aware of this before you decide to apply to DAAP. This is true for all design majors that I know about.

Hi Leedy, my daughter also is a sophomore at DAAP. You probably know each other.

Ah really? I know a fair amount of people in Digital (Our classes are nearby), though I may be getting some mixed in my head with Graphic Designers… hehe there are A LOT of people at DAAP.

I don’t want to post her name here due to privacy concerns. Just send me a PM or email me at

Haha completely understandable, I think I might be editing my own post for privacy’s sake… sadly can’t trust people these days…

I’m a nontraditional student in the ID program. I transferred in after spending three years at another university studying art. My GPA was around 3.5 and they accepted me without a portfolio, interview, or any design experience. If you have good test scores, yeah send them, they can only help you. You will have to take a foundations year before you get to take any classes in your major. The foundations program teaches you how to draw, use software, and basic color/form/space.
The city of Cincinnati isn’t too bad. I wouldn’t worry about nightlife. If you get in, you’re going to be busy.

Ard, are they making you take all of the foundation class or can you place out?

I would imagine if your coming out of 3yrs of art school you would have strong drawing skills compare to other students that have not been accepted base on any portfolio considerations. I wonder how UC handles transfers students with higher skill level or real world experienced. Anyone?