RISD 4yrs/5yrs

RISD offers A 4yr. BFA in ID and a 5yr. BID. When we visited we were told that not many students choose to go on to the 5th year. We were told that it is because most students feel prepared to enter the work force after 4 years. I’m guessing it also has a lot to do with money, but would anyone from RISD comment a bit more on this? I heard a podcast with a RISD grad talking about deciding to take the 5th year because he hadn’t gotten the chance to take an in depth personal project through to completion.

It seems most of the art schools with ID (Pratt, RISD, CCA for example) have the student take a general fine art foundation year with the chance to take Intro ID during that foundation year. So you’ve got 3 years of focused ID.

Syracuse has the fine art foundation year but their ID program is for four years after that.

Then there’s Carnegie which has the students start with a design foundation year (communication design students together with ID students) so it seems a bit more focused from the get go.

And finally you have schools like DAAP and Art Center that start you out in ID right away.

I’d like to hear from ID graduates their opinions on the various paths and timeframes. What are the pros and cons of a broader foundation vs. a focused training.

Is three years of focused ID enough? I know it varies from individual to individual (and you have to take into account the strength of the program itself) but real life stories would help.

One more question:
If a student is interested in human factors and user research which ID program would you recommend?

I don’t think DAAP puts you in ID right away? I thought you actually had to apply to get into ID from within the school?

The foundation year at RISD was by far my favorite and I feel also the most rigorous year. And this is coming from someone who knew he wanted to get into ID since he was 13. The 5th year was new when I went there, but my impression was that you are essentially paying to just use the facilities.

The first year of DAAP is foundational, you take classes with students from Graphic, Digital and Fashion Design; but you are already assigned to your respective majors, that happens during the application process.

I did the 5th year there. They’ve done it for a while, it just isn’t very popular. I felt I missed a lot of opportunities my junior year so considered it a waste and I just started to put everything together the end of my senior year. I didn’t feel prepared enough at that time and they were just about to start using the Roitman building the next year so I wanted to have that extra year with my newfound focus and the schools new facilities. It definitely helped me out and gave me more confidence. But it is pretty much just like Junior and Senior year except you get the last semester to work on your own self-directed project.
I’d say it depends on how you feel senior year, whether you think you need more practice. The program wasn’t very focused when I was there, facilities scattered around campus, etc…so I felt I needed it. You really have to go with your gut, I know plenty that just did 4 and are doing fine (although most that I know of also had some training at another school other than risd).

It was a “transitional time” as I was told :wink:

Thanks for the feedback.

Skinny and Yo, it seems a lot has changed since you both attended RISD. I assume the current head of the department, Leslie Fontana, wasn’t there when you were?

Would someone comment on schools/programs that place a strong emphasis on research and human factors?

Go to Art Center or DAAP. I loved my time at RISD, but the ID program is very weak. I graduated in 2004 and got a job in design, but very few of my classmates did and many of those jobs are not the glamorous ones you would hope for given the cost of RISD.

The nice thing about DAAP is though its 5 years you get a few 6 month co-op experiences. It is much tougher for RISD students to get the same because of the traditional schedule. It also exposes you to working designers rather than professors, many of whom at RISD had never actually designed a product that got manufactured. The same could easily be true of the DAAP profs, but at least you will get the balance with co-op’s.

The 5th year at RISD is the same as the 4th year and you’d be much better just getting a job. I would suggest this, find RISD grads working at big firms and ask them how often they hire alums. When I was out looking I talked to a founder of a very well known firm founded by a RISD grad. He said he didn’t usually hire RISD folks because “They take too long to retrain”. See if it still holds 6 years out.

That said, the open nature of the education is very nice. It prepares you for life in entrepreneurial environments extraordinarily well if that is your interest. Where it sounds like your interest is HF I would again consider DAAP if only because you could potentially double major in psych which will be 100x more valuable than the regurgitated IDEO techniques you’ll learn at most design schools under the auspices of “HF research”.

I just graduated from RISD last year and got a similar impression of the 5th year program; it looked like an extension of junior/senior year and didn’t seem to offer anything new. The extra time to use school facilities, take a few more ID classes, and work on a year long project is definitely nice but then again its another year of tuition. I also felt that if I really wanted to continue with school it would’ve been wiser to do that somewhere else and just go for an MID, not because there’s anything wrong with RISD (I loved my time there) but because I think another perspective would’ve better complimented my education and I couldn’t get by keeping the same professors.

I ended up choosing some sort of in between approach. I didn’t feel like I’d benefit much from the classes so much as just having the time to fully develop a project. As a result I took the year off to continue working on a large project at Brown and finish up some I never had the time to at school and believe it’s given me a chance to get a bit more comfortable with things but without the high cost of school. Hope that helps some

I’ve often thought about this, and even recommended it. It is great to hear that it proved beneficial for you in the real world. I have pretty much zero desire to go for a Masters, after 12+ years in the real world, but taking a year off to figure out a few things on my own sounds pretty awesome.

Thanks Yo, it’s comforting to hear that from a more experienced person such as yourself. I honestly couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision :slight_smile:

I would have assumed that things would have changed greatly since the time we were there, that was 13 years ago! Leslie was there at that time, she was a teacher and my faculty adviser senior year. I liked her, she seemed to bring a more realistic pov so her being the head now should be a good thing. Things change so much year after year, after being out for so long I can’t really say where they’re at with the program now. But I just look at corefolios to see where the best ones are coming from to determine where you might want to be. Daap is definitely one of them from what I’ve seen. Risd does a good job at getting your entreprenurial state of mind going (at least traditionally it has). Lots of grads from there will start up their own firms or put out their own products and start work that way.

I go back and visit a few times a year. The work still seems pretty similar.