scad vs. IIT (and why's iit so mysterious?)

hey guys, i’ve got a decision that I’m hoping some of you can help me out with.

ive just applied and gotten accepted to both SCAD’s MID and IIT’s MDes/MBA program and now its down to decision time. I’ve gotten a chunk of scholarship money from SCAD, and I’m still waiting to hear back from IIT in regards to money.

I’ve got a bs in mechanical eng and econ, so i’ll be crossing disciplines a bit, and i could use a bit of feedback on both schools from the design community. i understand from this board that IIT’s going to be more research intensive but why is it so dang hard to get info from the school? they seam a bit disorganized. is that just the admin or is that a true reflection of the school?

please help make this post as informative as possible for everybody by stating if:

a) you are an alumnis or are currently enrolled in either school

b) you’ve had an experience with either school as a prof/teacher or on a collaborative project

c) you have have an opinion on the school. if it is an outside opinion, please help keep the slandering to a minimum. just trying to keep Core77 on the positive.

thanks for the help and i love the posts (and thanks for all your admin work “Yo”)!


By IIT you mean Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Well last I checked SCAD was not accredited and IIT is. However for grad school I feel the work you do vastly outweighs the accreditation of your school. SCAD puts good people out so go to the place that dose what you want to do in the end and gives you the most money. Both schools are in crappy neighborhoods.

IIT? Mies, baby. Mies. Need I say more?

thanks for the feedback,
I’ve checked resumes from iit kids post grad and it seams like they end up doing really cool things with brand management, but what do you think of the quality of hands on design that they end up doing?

sidenote: ill watch my back when im in the hood

It’s not that bad, well this is coming from someone who will casually walk alone at night around CCS.

simon_four_fingers you’re brave enough to walk around CCS? It’s scary stuff I tell you. I have good stories to tell…


please use the search function to check up on these two schools, there has been much discussion in the past about these two universities specifically

thanks for the tip taylor, but specifically on IIT, all i can find is single sentences from non IIT students talking about the schools concentration on research.

What I’m trying to figure out is, if the school is so well respected in the design community, why is it so hard to find any talk about the program anywhere?

Preciate all the feedback

Try looking at some of the IIT master’s thesis online.
probably tell you more about the school and students than anything.

You obviously have never been to Savannah. Yes there are some bad parts of town, and the ID building does sit in a questionable area. But the City of Savannah is beautiful an is a great city to live in. I did my undergrad there.

I think IIT sets you up more for design management. You will get better pay, most likely, and the school is respected. I know some people who went there and had some exposure to it living in Chicago last year.

sajidkhan -

The main campus of of IIT is located in a sketchy neighborhood south of Chicago, but the design school is located downtown. Actually, unless you really want to make the trip, you would never have to go to the main campus. The IIT design school is on La Salle and Kinzie in the River North, which is one of the nicer neighborhoods in Chicago. Just a thought in case that is a factor.

Talk about polar-opposites! Why these two?

It could be that they were unaccredited at one time, but according to their website the school is currently accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Back to the original post: Whether or not SCAD is a better school than IIT is a matter of what you want to come away with, in my opinion. From the curriculum, it looks like IIT is much more research and theory based where SCAD is more product based. From the surface, it looks like SCAD requires an outstanding product with some research to back it up, where IIT requires an outstanding research project backed up by a product.

These days it’s almost impossible to develop an outstanding product without outstanding research.

That’s exactly why I’ve hired two IIT grads on my staff.

You should talk to both schools about job placement after graduation–what percentage are employed within a year, and where do they end up?

I agree that research and development go hand in hand. I was merely drawing a distinction between the program emphasis from each school.

Which brings me to these questions and hopefully it might help answer sajidkhan’s original question:

  1. Assuming you had a choice between candidates from both schools, what aspects of the IIT program lured you to choose them over SCAD grads.

  2. If research is required for excellent products, do you feel that IIT students produce better results than SCAD students?

  3. Does that have something to do with the amount of focus each school places on research?

thanks for all the feedback and i appreciate all of you keeping it on the constructive. i just got back from chicago this morning and I’m heading out to savannah tomorrow, here’s what I’m thinking about IIT so far:

  1. i love the incubator feel of their campus. five floors, and 150 grad students (and only grad students) with a core group of kids that you work with through foundation. question: they claim that they hold the design school model that most other schools model off of. how true is that?

  2. great alumni network and respected faculty. I was able to get contact information for students that had graduated from the program and talk to a few kids on the way out.

  3. their mdes/mba program is interesting, but still needs tweaking. I initially applied for both programs through one application in october, but on this visit I ended up having to burn an hour (of only 7 that i had in the city) sitting in front of a computer filling out an online app (a formality). I’m still waiting to hear my official reply from the business school and the program starts in 5 days.

  4. eeexpensive. ends up running about double scad. what’s ya’lls feelings on the pricetag vs. the potential on the way out? a great program is a great program, but it’s still gotta get paid off.

Why did i choose these two programs? i did like how they were very different schools with very different atmospheres, and when looking at their research, they were my favorite schools of the two opposing approaches (fab focused scad vs. resaearch innovation focused iit).

hey cg, i read an earlier post about how you only note iit and one other school when you’re looking at resumes. why is that? and are you at liberty to tell me about the other school?

once again, thanks for the talk.

sidenote, i’m cool with keepin an eye out for bad sections around each campus (as there are around any city) and i’m cool with the accredidation issue. just lookin for program that leaves me in the best place 3 years from now.


hey to all. i just got back visiting scad this morning and i think i’ve made a decision.

I’m thinking i’ll start at savannah this spring. here’s my reasons why:

  1. i checked out profiles of my fav designers (Yves Behar, Rajan Sedalia) and they all have taken a pragmatic approach which is SCAD’s current focus. I’m thinking they’ve got their shit together. Anybody got counter examples?

  2. all the accreditation argument is bullshit. its in the IDSA south, enough said. the schools quickly gaining respect and attracting professors because of its hands on approach. And i’m hoping that this comment isn’t going to prompt pages of accreditation ego trips. we all know that’s already been done. Please try and refrain.

  3. While IIT’s design strategy approach might be great for some, it seams like theoretical approaches to problems that managers/directors are unfamiliar with has to do a lot with what’s gotten the U.S. into the corporate rut that its now (think detroit, motorola’s current stall, etc.). I’m a fan of going ground up. thoughts?

Again, thanks for all the dialogue. I hope this topic is serving useful to others.


For my particular needs in corporate medical device design, I want the equivalent of a “User-Centered Systems Engineer.” Someone who can understand and solve complex design problems in concert with many other disciplines. Specialists are then outsourced as needed.

I think IIT is one of the best programs at creating this type of designer. They’re pushing boundaries. I also like Carnegie Mellon.

quick update:

last minute, just before giving IIT my ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter, I switched my decision and now I’m here up in the Institute of Design at IIT widdling away on my second quarter! I’m in their foundation program, which is an intense overview of all things design smashed into a single year. I love it so far, and for the following reasons:

-IIT has a great rotation of faculty from well versed profs (i.e. marti thaler from IDEO for product) to working adjuncts (like Robert Zolna from gravitytank) that keep the program grounded to what’s really going on in the professional world.

-The foundations program is based around kids from a range of disciplines which gives it this really cross polinization feel.

-great studio space. sounds trivial but the big openness of their work area creates killer opportunities for collaboration. someone’s always teaching someone something.

but there are a few things that can be worked on:

-there’s a bit of self conciousness coming from the faculty and its reputation of a very ‘fuzzy’ university and lacking pragmatism. it results in lectures that overcompensate with almost disdain for highly artistic schools like crambrook. I sense that IIT feels like there’s a bit of rivalry, but I also feel like crambrook couldn’t care less.

-the school has great recognition in the design world, but its low outside recognition and arbitrary connection with a ‘technical school (IIT)’ can eat at the morale from time to time.

-the mdes/mba program’s a bit disjointed, and the relatively weaker mba program offers most kids a scholarship. having said that if completed over 3 years, the scholarship that the business school offers most design kids offsets the total tuition by a couple 1000.

But Overall, Im pretty happy hear and I love the 150 strong masters only environment. come on over as long as your willing to drive your emotive side while in the process focused program.