RISD and Yale (for graphic design). The same school?

Like many others on these boards I’m deciding between GD MFA programs for the fall, and I’ve narrowed my choices down to RISD and Yale. But beyond that I’m at a loss for deciding which is the better program, or for that matter what the differences are between the two places.

Both schools seemed to have a more academic bent than more practically oriented programs like SVA, but it’s hard to know where the fault lines between them lie. I got the sense that the faculty at Yale was slightly less encumbered by the need to cloak design in theoretical clothing that might not fit. But perhaps they were just trying to compensate for the school’s old reputation of being overly theory-driven.

So can any RISD or Yale grads (or anyone else who knows the schools) comment on what each could offer that the other could not. And, just as importantly, what potential downsides I should keep in mind for each place (aside from the comparative dreariness of New Haven that is).

I had visited Yale Grad School in year 2001 when one of my previous school friend was first year student there.
In this year, one of girl from SVA who majored in computer graphic got in; I heard she got in with experimental portfolio (personal journal)-but this is more of Fine Arts to me (but again what is what these days?). I have friends who are graphic designers from Yale and RISD, but they said Yale and RISD’s programs are very different.
Yale is more experimental and philosophical, and I would say they are more related to Cranbrook.
I think during yr. 2001-2003 everyone were doing Isolation theme-including Suburban to Sexuality to Adolescent stories.
(I was at Yale when there was all day presentation of Graphic design, Painting, Sculpture and Photography- lots of stuffs were related to Gregory Crewdson, Collier Schorr, Richard Lytle, Mel Bochner even for the graphic design students)
After that I am just keep seeing modern Goth styles to Hip Hop stuff.
I would say Yale is more cutting edge, and maybe RISD still for more portfolio reviews.
Correct me if I am wrong. I would like to know more about Graphic Design schools also.

Actually, from what I hear, Yale and Cranbrook are pretty much diametrically opposed.

At RISD, you’ll benefit from the resources of a large art school. At Yale, you’ll benefit from the resources of a large research university. New Haven and Providence are pretty similar small cities; New Haven is close to NYC and Providence is close to Boston.

I recently had a chance to see some senior-level GD work at Yale and was unimpressed. That’s not to say that the program is bad (and this wasn’t MFA thesis work), but what I saw was pretty weak, not what you’d expect from a school with that reputation.

I remember seeing a site for the Yale MFA projects last May. I’m sure you can do a Google search for that. I vaguely remember that the work looked strong, but that there wasn’t enough of a context to understand what it was really about.

Visit these schools (while school is in session). You might also want to look at the new MFA program at MICA in Baltimore, headed by Ellen Lupton.

New Haven blows. The 9 blocks around Yale are decent, the rest needs to be bulldozed.

Providence is a much more alive city, with a vibrant arts scene, and way more to do than New Haven, plus you can walk around in numbers smaller than 5 afteer dark, bonus, but you won’t get any “big school” benifits at RISD, it is only about 2000 students in total.

same is both schools are hard to get in. so i would suggest applying for both.
i remember yale’s GD MFA’s selection rate is 16/1000sth, don’t know risd’s, but should be close to that.
i came across yale’s gd mfa works site too, and had the impression that yale’s very much focused on research. Very theoretical and functional, even minimalistic. and they use new media/interactive media a lot as an approach to graphic design. i like some of their works. simple smart and articulate.
it’s kinda dilemma to choose between the two schools.
yale’s really great school to be. they have many famous designers in us and from all over the world as lecturers and critics. but risd with its large number of design students, makes it possible to have more peer inspirations. and of course you also benefit from the design scene in risd.

For what it’s worth, US News and World Report rates RISD as the number one grad program in graphic design. Yale is number 2.

I visited yale a few years ago and was also unimpressed with the student work I saw, and because of this I didn’t apply. I have since come across the occasional student and remain unimpressed. In talking to them, I find them to be thoughtful and articulate, but as designers their work was neither particularly memorable, innovative, nor impressive (either conceptually or formally.)

This is my impression of the students as a whole. I’ve also met a couple who were really good (both were Asian guys, coincidentally.) But I imagine that’s what most programs are like, even at the most “best” ones: there’s alot of OK work and a few that shine.

Also, I think Yale’s peak was in the eighties, when they had Rand, Tufte, Thompson, and others on faculty. Can you imagine taking a class with those gentlemen?

That’s actually a pretty big size for an art school. By the way, I think both programs sort of had their heydays in the 80s, nut just Yale. For the past 10 or so, the grad program at RISD has seemed sort of stale and dated (to me, at least), but they’ve got some new faculty and things seem to be picking up again. I don’t know if the same is true of Yale, or if they’re just riding their own 80s coattails.

What about Cal Arts, MICA, NC State, and CCA? Have you looked into those schools?

RISD is more than a small (big) design college.
You can take classes at Brown University if you attend RISD. Brown, like Yale, is an Ivy League university. Providence is also in much better shape than New Haven. A great city and easy access to Boston. RISD cared about Providence, always. Yale did not care about New Haven all that much, and it shows.
RISD gives you some pretty good connections and credentials. The programs are great too. In short, you can’t go wrong.
Yale does much the same and the faculty are top in what they do and are international in scope. But, you also become a member of the old boys club and join the ranks of the elite. If that is what you want.
Also good: NCSU, UIUC, CalArts, Cranbrook, Art Center Pasadena, CCA in SF, Institute of Design at IIT, VCU. Not all have graduate programs in industrial design but do graphic design.