Where does UIUC Stand?

I’ve heard from a lot of people that the ID program at the University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana has kind of fallen off. I’ve heard people say that the ID program used to rank somewhere in the top 5 to being somewhere in the top 10-ish. Still good, but a drop off nonetheless.

After attending for two years, I can kind of see why we’ve fallen off a bit. What with the shrinking budget, we’ve had to cut our model making class from the curriculum and recently our computer drawing class was taught by two grad students who weren’t even familiar with the programs they were supposed to teach. Granted it wasn’t really their fault since the program was understaffed and they were left with no choice. Also two of our professors have left the program which leaves us further understaffed.

Lately it seems like if any of us want to learn anything, we have to teach each other, which can be handy sometimes b/c some of my classmates are better teachers than some of the professors, but the lack of structure can make it hard sometimes to learn in an organized matter.

So my question now is, what do people in the industry think of UIUC now? Does the school still command respect?

this sort of question gets asked alot. and although it’s interesting to students - the only thing that matters will be how much respect your portfolio demands.

I see a lot of good portfolios come from UIUC. I also heard issues about the program/funding, but the pier-group help is very strong which is something potentially more valuable than a kick-ass program.

Your comment:

Lately it seems like if any of us want to learn anything, we have to teach each other,

rang true with this theory, and please continue to do so. I studied at Newcastle (of Jonathan Ives fame) and the program was very well structured but the majority of learning came from the other students. Someone tries something new, someone else builds upon it and so on…

The best a program can do is allow for this sort of co-operative environment, if not even nurture it (re: MIAD).

when I was a student (at UIUC) and spent A TON of time scouring the forum here, I remember having the same type of thoughts. Is my program highly recognized?

Here’s the scoop on the whole national ranking story at UIUC. Sometime around 2000 or 2001, the big school ranking issue of whatever magazine (Businessweek, Newsweek?) came out and UIUC ID was ranked #3. WOOHOO YAY right!? Well… not exactly, the rankings only accounted for graduate programs at state schools. So this leaves out all your CCS, CIA, ArtCenter, and other privates schools and again was only accounting for grad programs anyway. This made a great selling point for the school to prospective students, but really doesn’t mean a whole lot.


In my experience the program puts out some excellent students every year. Sadly, this is not to say everyone that makes it through the program is even necessarily employable at graduation, but I would generally put the thinking and problem solving skills of the top UIUC ID grads up against most and feel very comfortable. In my professional experience I have seen interns from some of the tops schools (this is not to say we’re always getting the top students from these schools) and have seen a mix of good and bad. When I talk to a lot of the kids from UCincinnati they seem to voice many of the same things you hear from all students, “we learn more from each other than from our professors” etc. I haven’t seen the most recent work from UIUC, but I know when I was visiting last year, I saw some good and bad, but it was the same as always, not a fall in quality. When I was there our CAD and comp apps classes were taught by grads too, after having the priviledge of working with PaulH here on an internship, I ended up teaching a lot of my rhino class as many of the students were having problems following the instructors.

To wrap up, if I could do it all over again, I would have not spent so much time worrying about where my school ranked (it’s a respectable school, it may not land you the job or even the interview, but few will scoff at it) or if the program was falling off, and spent more time sketching and making physical models and form studies. I would advise you to take this into consideration as well, but we must all make our own way.


Haha shuphrk88 I had the same thoughts. I’m going into the program as a Sophomore and heard about all the teachers leaving and going, by the way, I know Alex is leaving, who is the second?

Thanks IDiot for giving a little shine on the situation, I’m sure there are others thinking this too. I think it would be cool if Allumi came to help set up projects for fun. Haha but i’m sure they’re all busy.

Just hope I’m of some help.

I think the loss of Alex is a big blow, he is probably the best teacher I have ever had, it took me awhile to understand his methods and thinking, but he’s incredible.

Some alums have gone back to sponsor projects from time to time ( we do what we can, and I know I will try to do more when I have a little more seniority ). I’m glad to help out via this forum too.