Written by: Pavita Singh
Take a second to think about your favorite products that you use every day. Perhaps it’s your computer, your phone, your TV, your kitchen appliances, your clothes, your car, or something else entirely. Now take a second to think about your favorite websites and/or apps. What is it that you like about these products, websites, and/or apps? Maybe you like them because they look pretty or feel nice. Maybe they’re easy to use and/or navigate. Or maybe they allow you to do things efficiently that would otherwise be extremely difficult. Whatever it is, good design is at the core of what allows you to enjoy these products, websites, and apps. Good design is not just about knowing how to make things look pretty. It’s also about understanding how people think and feel, their wants and needs, and what can improve their lives, even in the simplest ways.
Designers find themselves in a variety of fields, including photography, marketing and advertising, interior decorating, user interaction and experience, multimedia Art and animation, graphic design, fashion, architecture, and cinematography. If any of these fields appeal to you and you might see yourself pursuing any of them, you should definitely explore design schools or schools with strong design programs. Below is a list of 12 to get you started.
1. Rhode Island College of Design, Providence, RI: The RISD curriculum includes a combination of liberal arts and hands-on design work. Undergraduates can pursue degrees in apparel design, architecture, ceramics, film/animation/video, furniture design, graphic design, glass, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture, jewelry and metalsmithing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and textiles. In addition, they can pursue option concentrations in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies (NCSS), Computation, Technology, and Culture (CTC), Drawing, History of Art + Visual Culture (HAVC), History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS), and Literary Arts and Studies (LAS). RISD students have the opportunity to take classes at Brown (and vice versa) at no extra cost. Two out of the three Airbnb founders are RISD alums.
2. California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA: California College of the Arts has campuses in San Francisco and Oakland. Students can major in animation, architecture, ceramics, community arts, fashion design, film, glass, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interaction design, interior design, jewelry and metal arts, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, visual studies, and writing and literature. Students also have the option of creating an individualized major. The most popular majors are architecture and illustration. The college hosts a weekly lecture series where renowned artists from around the world come and present. CCA is also home to an initiative called Vibrant Cities, which aims at combining the arts, nature, human systems, and design systems to create cities that ensure long-term health and durability of all people.
3. Pratt Institute, New York, NY: Pratt’s vibrant New York City location makes it a creative space for artists and designers. The four departments at Pratt are the School of Architecture, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Art, School of Design, and School of Information and Library Sciences. Within design, students can pursue communications design (which combines illustration, advertising, and graphic design), fashion, industrial design, and interior design. New York is buzzing with design internship opportunities for Pratt students.
4. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA: Undergraduates at CMU can earn a Bachelor of Design degree (BDes). The undergraduate program offers three tracks: products, communications, and environments. Students can choose to pursue just one of these tracks or combine any of them. Product design can include furniture, mobile and electronic devices, medical and sporting equipment, household goods and appliances, functional apparel, bags, and tents. Communications design includes posters, books, exhibitions, signs, websites, apps, brands, kinetic typography, and multimedia content. Environments design includes showrooms, virtual spaces, hospital rooms, workspaces, and car interiors. One of CMU’s claims to fame is its Human Computer Interaction Institute. CMU design graduates have gotten jobs at such companies as Whirlpool, Volkswagen/Audi, Motorola, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Skype, Pinterest, IDEO, R/GA, Isobar, Mayo Clinic, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA: Design opportunities abound at MIT. It is home to the Media Lab, which is famous for giving high-tech demos, the Design Lab, the Design and Manufacturing Lab, and courses and programs integrating design, engineering, business, and the social sciences. Examples of classes include toy product design, elements of mechanical design, and product engineering processes. There are numerous design-related projects being conducted by students and faculty in the areas of healthcare, tourism, fitness, and finance.
6. School of Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL: Design-related academic departments at SAIC include Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects; Art and Technology Studies, Ceramics, Fashion Design; Fiber and Material Studies; Film, Video, New Media, and Animation; Print Media; Sculpture; and Visual Communication Design. SAIC students get a combination of classroom time and dedicated studio time. Students are also required to pursue off-campus study, either through an internship, a winter or summer study trip, or a semester abroad. Examples of winter and summer study trips include Contemporary Art in New York: Connecting the Dots; Tanzania: Cross-Cultural Arts and Health Collaborations; Painting and Studio Practices in Umbria; Rome, Milan, and the Venice Biennale; and Japan: Travel as Culture, Travel as Art. The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the world’s most renowned galleries, is just another part of the student experience at SAIC.
7. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY: Undergrads at RIT can get a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 3D Digital Design, Ceramics, Film and Animation, Fine Arts Studio, Furniture Design, Glass, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Medical Illustration, Metals and Jewelry Design, New Media Design, and Photographic and Imaging Arts. In addition, some of the Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees at RIT include Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, Game Design and Development, Human-Centered Computing, Media Arts and Technology, Motion Picture Science, New Media Interactive Development, New Media Marketing, Packaging Science, and Web and Mobile Computing. You won’t have any trouble finding a major that suits your interests at RIT. Instead, you might have the opposite problem of not being able to decide. Luckily there’s plenty of time to figure that out. RIT attracts career-oriented designers, and according to a Business Insider study, a large percentage of RIT grads get their top picks for jobs.
8. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA: In addition to having a campus in Savannah, SCAD also has a campus in Atlanta and two international campuses in Hong Kong and France. Since most of the programs are offered at all 4 locations, you have the option of starting your degree in one location and finishing in other, or of taking a year in a different location from your normal one. Undergraduates can pursue degrees in Accessory Design, Advertising, Animation, Architectural History, Architecture, Art History, Branded Entertainment, Fashion, Fashion Marketing and Management, Fibers, Film and Television, Furniture Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interactive Design and Game Development, Interior Design, Jewelry, Motion Media Design, Painting, Photography, Preservation Design, Print Making, Production Design, Sculpture, Sequential Art, Service Design, Sound Design, Television Producing, User Experience Design, and Visual Effects. Facebook’s Director of Design, Kate Aronowitz, is a graduate of SCAD, as are graphic novel creators The Luna Brothers.
9. University of the Arts London, London, UK: UAL is made up of 6 colleges: Camberwell College of the Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of the Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion, and Wimbledon College of the Arts. The departments are 3D Design and Product Design; Accessories, Footwear, and Jewelry; Animation, Interactive, Film, and Sound; Architecture and Spatial Design; Communication and Graphic Design; Curation and Culture; Fashion Business; Fashion Communication; Fashion Design; Fashion Making and Pattern Cutting; Fashion Style and Makeup; Fine art; Illustration; Journalism, PR, Media, and Publishing; Photography; Textiles and Materials; and Theater, Screen, and Performance Design. Some interesting course titles you’ll find at UAL include Cameraless Photography, Lingerie Making, and Sustainable Fashion. The city of London oozes creative energy, which makes it a great place to study design.
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