Help!! Best Graphic Design Programs

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by tlg620, May 2, 2007.

  1. tlg620 macrumors newbie

    tlg620

    #1
    I am brand new, so hope I have the right forum - if not please redirect me.:eek:

    I have a 4 year BA and am now scouting for fall admission to the best Graphic Design programs still accepting applications at this time of year -- in other words, open or rolling admission. Though I am very artistic and creative and have a passion for graphic design, and have taken art electives as part of my existing degree, a portfolio is problematic. I would prefer California, Georgia, or Rhode Island, but if there are others I am open... I need some feedback on those that I have found, and direction toward others I have not:

    California
    1. Art Center - Pasadena (need a portfolio, I haven't got one yet)
    2. CalArts (not sure on admissions deadline, but I still have no portfolio)
    3. Academy of Art University (accepts anyone)
    4. Otis College of Art & Design (deadline? portfolio?)
    5. Vanguard University of Southern California (in case I can't get in anywhere
    else?)
    6. San Diego State
    7. Cal State Fullerton (I think the deadline's passed, but maybe space available or audit and then apply for admission next semester?)
    8. California College of the Arts - San Francisco
    9. Chapman U

    Georgia
    1. Georgia State University
    2. Savannah College of Art & Design (no portfolio is recommended, and admission is rolling so I wonder how good it is)

    Rhode Island
    1. Johnson & Wales - Providence (high admission rate)
    2. RICD - would be great but no way in hell I'll get in here with no portfolio, and the deadline is way over

    I am getting a divorce and need to get into a school for the fall so I can move on. I'll have to be relocating because I live in North Dakota... While getting into a school for fall is my priority, of course I am not willing to compromise for a school that will not leave me well qualified.

    Any advice or suggestions are welcome and appreciated!!! :confused:

    Thanks!
     
  2. jsm4182 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I'm a student at Johnson & Wales in Providence, in the Computer Graphics department. The school does fit your two requirements, no portfolio and a rolling deadline.We're not the best school for graphic design but we are pretty good. The teachers in the graphics department are pretty awesome. And there is a huge emphasis on getting a job after you graduate, what is taught is more realistic client based stuff instead of more theory. The school also does a pretty good job of helping you get a job when you graduate. Also, if you're young, Providence is a great place to be.
     
  3. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

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    #3
    CSULB has the best graphic design program out of the california state funded schools. Just an FYI. :cool:
     
  4. RojoLeo macrumors 6502

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    Austin, TX
    #4
    A very good friend of mine is a brilliant artist and is currently at SCAD. He hates it. While "prestigious" he said it doesn't challenge him at all. Essentially, he's doing the same thing over and over with no instruction or direction on how to improve his abilities.

    If you're looking for a degree, it might be worth considering, but if you actually want to learn something, I wouldn't recommend it.

    The being said, please take it with a grain of salt. This is not first-hand experience, and I'm sure one of these other, more experienced members would be able to enlighten you.
     
  5. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #5
    as Ax mentioned above, take everything you hear me and others say with a grain of salt.

    having said that i think you are asking for an impossibility: a high quality GD program with open admissions/no portfolio. that is not to say that there are not ANY programs with those requirements, but frankly, none of them are any good. while i understand and respect wanting to move on from a divorce, start a new chapter, etc... i would VERY VERY VERY VERY strongly recommend that rather than try to rush into a program with an artificial deadline you made for yourself of this fall, you take a year to scout schools, build a portfolio, and try to go to a good program instead of a bad one for the fall of '08. Since you already have an undergraduate degree, one thing you may want to consider and not be aware of is a 3-year MFA which is offered by Yale and RISD (sorry, not rhode island college of design, its rhode island school of design :) ). this program allows someone with little design experience in an "unrelated" undergraduate degree to get all the core skills as well as a masters-level thesis in graphic design in 3 full years; no extra summers or anything else. you should note that the 3-year MFA programs at RISD and Yale are literally the best in the world, and also the toughest to get into. You also could get a second undergraduate degree. either way, allowing yourself the time to pursue a good program with a proper portfolio as well as financial aid opportunities will be to your benefit by an order of magnitude at the very least.

    As far as the schools you mentioned go:

    these are what i would call Tier A schools with CCA being maybe a high Tier B. these are a no way for the fall of '07 without a portfolio.

    i would not go to either of these schools even if they paid me and offered coke + hookers nightly. horrible, crappy programs.

    i honestly do not know anything about these specific schools, but they are not top programs, tho may be an option. North Carolina State U. BFA program is a high Tier B/low Tier A program that you should also consider, tho you will need a portfolio. not too sure about Otis, but i think thier claim to fame is more fashion + interior design? not sure on that.

    J+W is more of a vocational program, e.g. get a job. there is nothing wrong with this but my opinion on design education is that it should teach you how to think and understand design, not how to use photoshop. if you basically just want to work then its worth a look, but the intellectual and analytical aspect of the program there is lacking. like Ax said, this is a degree but what are you really learning? (full disclosure: i teach graphic design at a number of RI colleges so i am not just pulling this out of my butt.)

    the basic point here is that any school that would accept anyone sans portfolio is a school that is a waste of your time and money to go to.
     
  6. ATD macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Being a CSUF grad I'll take that as opinion. ;)
     
  7. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

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    #7
    :D
     
  8. ezkimo macrumors regular

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    Sep 12, 2002
    #8
    Hi,
    I'm in a similarish boat. I actually have a year before I graduate with a BFA, but have started scouting out masters programs with not all that much luck, so its good to hear peoples reaction to schools.

    I agree that it dosn't make sense to apply to a mediocre program without a portfolio when you could wait a semester or a year and apply with great work to a really good school.

    Ill probably apply to a couple of the following (in no particular order):
    Art Center
    CalArts
    CCA (a friend goes there, so loves it)
    RISD
    Cranbrook, which I'm surprised nobody has mentioned yet.
    and perhaps Yale, though most likely not.

    I know somebody who was at Otis. She really enjoyed herself but was there for fashion. I don't know how their graphic design program is.

    Also a few friends at Chapman. I wouldn't go there.

    -Zach
     
  9. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #9
    until Elliot Earls leaves Cranbrook, its not worth looking at. i have a close connection to Cranbrook and the work the MFA students are doing under Elliot is derivative crap right now. Also there is no BFA program (which may be why it has not been mentioned yet in the thread.)

    i would also look strongly at NC State and Virginia Commonwealth. Also at the moment the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is well ranked, but my feeling is it was less intellectual and more about promoting "hip" design and cranking out slick portfolios. You could also put MICA and MCAD on the list but i would look at those as Tier B programs. my short list for MFA is (which i am waiting a couple of years on getting):

    RISD
    Yale
    CalArts
    NC State
    Virginia
    Cranbrook (if elliot leaves)
     
  10. ezkimo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    #10
    Thats unfortunate. One of my professors (a ceramic artist) has some connection to Cranbrook and said its a really incredible school, but didn't know much about the graphic design realm too much. Good to know.
     
  11. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #11
    very unfortunate indeed, Elliot is a great guy and i like what he has to say, but the way he runs the program is making the students produce crap.
     
  12. dopey220 macrumors 6502

    dopey220

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    #12
    I have an associate's in graphic design from Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I know, I know, community college. It's an EXCELLENT program, trust me. By far the best in the southeast Michigan area. Cheap tuition, and no portfolio is required! Also, Ann Arbor is a really hip, liberal town. It's easy to find a good time on the weekends.

    In the fall I'll be transferring to Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Mi for a bachelor's in 2d Animation. They have an excellent graphic design program as well, but you'll need a portfolio that includes observational drawings as well as whatever else you're into. Obviously, I used some of my graphic design work from WCC in the portfolio to make up the other half.

    EDIT: Forgot to provide links:

    http://www.wccnet.edu/departments/visualarts/graphicdesign.php
    http://www.kcad.edu
     
  13. kitki83 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    Alumn of LMU which is next to Otis. That school is awesome and they do really awesome stuff. But you do need a portfolio and they prefer to admit students who have taken their General Eds in another school and transfer to otis.

    Hope this helps.
     
  14. primalman macrumors 6502a

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    at the end of the hall
    #14
    Don't count out state school programs just yet. Those can be easy to get started in, can be generally cheaper and some are very high quality. I know of several very nice programs in Missouri, Colorado, Washington, California, Montana [I know], Illinois and New York. I myself am a product of state programs, both undergrad and MFA, and I have had, and am still having, a very successful career for over 15 years – teach and run my own studio, and growing. If you look at the faculty lists of a lot of schools, the teachers are often from state programs.

    It is surprising, I know, but I myself have not found private or specialty art schools to have very high quality GD programs as a whole. Just me. Some are good, some are not, just like state schools, too. Visit them. Ask questions of them. Look at other students work. Ask where graduates work. Things like that. Ask what is the focus of the program. Good ones are not technical or software oriented, they are idea-based, IMO, and I am a teacher at one of them. :)

    Good luck.
     
  15. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

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    #15
    The only thing about state schools is they require a "full" education which includes math, english, science, philosopy, etc. I don't think private art schools have that (at least not so in depth).
     
  16. primalman macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I actually see that as a plus in the comprehensive program's column. I would not be able to solve the creative, business and psychological issues I am presented with everyday in my professional life had I not been exposed to ways of logical thinking and problem solving that were not visual. Taking all those courses has given me an intellectual understanding that does nothing but aid me in the success of my artistic and professional pursuits.

    FWIW :)
     
  17. kitki83 macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Quote for the Win. This is what I tell people when they think tinkering with photoshop they are pros but those types of schools give you worldly knowledge. Thats what my prof taught us when out in the world when we have to compete with Art and solo train designers.
     
  18. primalman macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    TY :)
     
  19. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

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    #19
    Can't say much at all about other schools, but to let you know...

    Chapman's full emphasis is on their film school. I wouldn't be here if I were taking graphic design. Or anything other than film, for that matter.



    irmongoose
     
  20. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

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    #20
    Definitely. I wasn't trying to be negative about it. :) I just wanted to inform the OP that the educational requirements are a little different.
     
  21. riverpl8 macrumors newbie

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  22. ohmyamoose macrumors newbie

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    May 4, 2007
    #22
    I know you won't look into it but Missouri State University has one of the top rated graphic design programs in the country. You have a bunch of internationally known graphic designers as teachers. I know a bunch of them are from soviet era Poland and other eastern bloc countries. The department head has built of a very strong program with mostly all highly respected designers. There is a dude from China that was named one of Print magazines top graphic designers under 30. They have a fairly strong art foundation so you will have a good deal of traditional art classes (drawing, painting, photography, others) for the first 2 years. The teachers will also have a heavy emphasis on solving problems visually (not just 'design a CD cover') and many employers really like this kind of teaching.

    You don't need a portfolio to get in the school but after you complete your arts foundation you have to submit a portfolio from all your previous classes before you are accepted to your graphic design program.

    I know Missouri doesn't sound like the most exciting place (especially since you listed to many Cali schools) but give it a look. They are also building a new art building and it looks to be really nice.
    I am pretty sure you will be able still get into the school and Springfield, MO is pretty cheap to live.
     
  23. radiantm3 macrumors 65816

    radiantm3

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    #23
    Does AIGA or some other reputable group have any published lists like this? Because it seems like everyone thinks their school has one of the top rated [insert program here] in the country.
     
  24. shecky Guest

    shecky

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    #24
    exactly. and unfortunately there really is not any official list, more just conjecture among those in the know. US News ranks MFA programs (last year it was RISD, Yale and SAIC), but i am not aware of any specific list for undergrad programs. i do know that Missouri is most definitely NOT one of the top programs in the country - it is not even NASAD accredited (which is usually a good indication of at least an adequate program.)

    the commonly known "best" undergrad programs (some better than others) in my experience are:

    RISD
    ArtCenter
    Yale
    CalArts
    MICA
    MCAD
    SAIC
    NC State
    Virginia Commonwealth
    CCA
    Parsons
    Pratt
    Cooper Union

    and a handful of others i am forgetting.
     
  25. ezkimo macrumors regular

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    #25
    I heard that US News ratings are based on the amount of money the school has an not necessarily the quality of the program. Know anything about how they pick?
     

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