College of Design - Product Design

My DS was accepted to the College of Design and plans to study product design. Anyone else on here with a student planning to do the same next fall? He was also accepted to the University of Cincinnati Industrial Design co-op program but seems averse to the co-op idea (nervous about it). Would like to know if anyone else is on this path?

We are not but I have older kids in art/design school. DAAP is very highly ranked. You might consider meandering over to the visual art major forum and asking other parents. @IDtoTX just had a kid accepted to DAAP for ID so might be a great source of information.

PS: just a quick note: “visual arts” also covers BFA/BS design.

@singermom4 the co-op program is one of the biggest draws for my daughter to DAAP. However, she’s always been focused on career so she loves the idea of graduating with 1.5 years of experience. I will say that I work with quite a few designers and the resounding theme of advice when I spoke with them about art school or art degrees is to get some real world experience as quickly as you can.

We didn’t look at University of Minnesota so I can’t speak to that program.

My older son already attends UMN (studying economics and computer science) so DS15 took a liking to it during our visits. He is more interested in the conceptual nature of design and areas that influence it such as psychology and anthropology… I don’t think anyone can dismiss work experience as a good idea. However, it does take more of a self-starter personality to find co-op jobs and all that goes with it (e.g. finding living accommodations much of the time for the internships) and I’m not sure he’s there yet. It may be what he needs to give him more initiative but it also may be overwhelming. I know businesses (such as Target) are working directly with the school to ensure this new program is meeting industry needs. Of course being so new (product design used to be minor within the design school) it does not have much outcome data. Also Architecture and Product Design classes are in a building on the East Bank and the rest of the design college is in St. Paul.

The UMN Product Design major requires two internships and a portfolio, so he will get the real world experience at UMN similar to Cincinnati. There will be lots of resources at UMN to help with finding an internship, so it is nothing to worry about. It also won’t be a problem to go to St. Paul for some classes, as there are shuttles connecting the campuses. My daughter who attends UMN has had some classes in St. Paul, and she doesn’t mind the ride over there as she thinks the St. Paul campus is beautiful, although she prefers living on East Bank.

Both UMN and Cincinnati sound like great programs, but I would go with whichever one your son is most interested in and that makes the most since logistically and financially. He might also enjoy going where his brother is. I know I found it reassuring to attend a university that my sister was already at.

My daughter (who has a different major) spent last summer at another university for a research internship, and she found housing online, but had other housing offers from people she was going to be working with. In high school she went across the country to do a summer research internship, and got housing in a campus dormitory. Students figure this stuff out. Some summer internships include housing. Chances are, your son could do internships/co-ops in the city where his university is located, but if he did go to some other city, he will find lots of other students in similar situations looking for roommates or renting our their rooms.

When it comes time to apply for internships/co-op positions, he will likely already have a portfolio under way from his classes, and he will probably need a resume as well. He could get help from his university career services office if he needed assistance preparing a resume. The universities will have lists of companies seeking students for internships/co-op positions, and it is easy to search online. Since all the students in his major will be doing the same thing, it won’t really require too much initiative – the professors, advisors and classmates will be supportive and helpful.

It sounds like a great major! Should be lots of fun!

@mommyrocks Thanks so much for your response!

I’m not concerned about the commute to St. Paul but thought it would be a better experience as a design student to be interacting with all the areas of design since product design overlaps a bit into all the other areas. There is a lot more studio work at Cincinnati and opportunities to work specifically on transportation design. The two programs seem to prepare them for potentially different jobs - one more ‘head’ oriented (UMN) and the other more ‘hands’ (Cincinnati). He is preferring the first - has artistic talent but more into the inventing aspect of product design.

I also think the co-ops are a great way to experience other parts of the country with internships. The ones at UMN will more likely be local (thought some great companies are in Minneapolis).

And with the huge OOS tuition hike, we would be paying considerably more for him than for his brother (we can afford it but just noting the price difference). My head says Cincinnati but he’s had his heart set on UMN. I think some of it is fear of the unknown and he likes Minneapolis as a city over Cincinnati (I do too). Of course it’s easier on us logistically to have both at the same school but they only overlap for one year.

@singermom4 - has he visited both programs and campuses?

Yes. He attended a summer camp for industrial design this past summer at the University of Cincinnati and had a tour of the product design facility at UMN .

@singermom4 has your son received any decision in his tracker?

My daughter is in her second year in the College of Design Product Design program, therefore she is in the first group of students going through the program, all 23 of them. The nice thing about this group is that there is a community that was instantly formed, they get to interact directly with the head of the program and have a lot of support from each other and their teachers. I love the first year program for the major as they get to spend time with local business and get a great feel of the program from all aspects. Also, because the major is so diverse, they get to take classes in engineering and management which I believe will set them up for success. All of my daughter’s classes have been on the Minneapolis campus and Rapson Hall is there and is set up for design with studios and resources available to them 24 hours a day. I highly recommend the program, can’t say enough good.

@Merapi42A - yes he was accepted to the College of Design in October at UMN and was just accepted to DAAP ID at the University of Cincinnati.

@UMNMom - thanks so much for the feedback. He really loves the interdisciplinary aspect of this program as he feels those areas have much bearing on design. That being said, I can’t dismiss the high standing of the Cincinnati program and the co-op opportunities. When are the internships at UMN? Are they during the school year or during the summers?

The internships can be either during the school year or in the summer. There are two of them, usually the 3 and 4th years and I believe they are 15-20 hours per week. You can find a sample 4 year plan for the major from the university catalog that shows the suggested plan on the right of this page ( The student sets these up with assistance from the school so the possibilities are endless, especially here in the cities there are lots of options.
This semester, my daughter’s studio class is being taught by a product designer from Target, so cool.

I know that Minneapolis has some big companies with opportunities. My only concern is that interest in the graduates will be primarily local. Cincinnati has ties with GM and Proctor and Gamble and seems to be known more nationwide. Though the right kind of internship experience should open doors. S will likely attend UMN but my head is struggling with this.

Target, 3M, General Mills are all corporations based locally that partner with the program and they tour in the first semester of product design.

Not sure if this has been mentioned but one thing that distinguishes programs from one another in terms of quality is the instruction. I’d look at the faculty, where they were educated, what they have been doing, etc. Also, it’s helpful to compare the programs of study. One might be more intense than the other, although I’d assume that if both are offering a BS or a BFA that they are both pretty intense :slight_smile: