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MICA vs Parsons vs RISD for Graphic Design

metso22metso22 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
My daughter has been accepted to MICA and Parsons and we are waiting to hear from RISD. But from what I am hearing, if we don't hear soon from RISD, we may have to put our deposit down at Parsons just so she has a good dorm selection!

She is undecided. I have heard some negative about MICA and professors being unavailable for the students.

Any insight about the graphic design program at each school would be helpful. She is leaning towards Parsons.

Post edited by metso22 on

Replies to: MICA vs Parsons vs RISD for Graphic Design

  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    Here is a post that was buried the large thread dealing with "Visual Arts Colleges and Programs."

    We looked at both MICA and RISD. I can give you an overview of the pros and cons of each:

    a. you can take liberal arts courses at Brown. This certainly competes with anything that MICA offers. However, MICA's liberal arts are integrated with their art curriculum, which is not necessarily the case with RISD.

    I should note at this juncture that MICA is known to have ( and they themselves will tell you this) a strong academic focus compared to other stand alone art programs. One of the vice presidents of MICA is on the board of advisors for the "National Assocation of Schools of Art and Design," which is the accediting agency for art schools. They also take their liberal arts courses very seriously,unlike other art schoos that simply give lip service to them for accreditation purposes. Thus, if you want strong liberal arts plus a strong art education, you probably won't go wrong at either school. However, if strong liberal arts courses is not a goal for you, you probably won't like MICA.
    b. I found that Providence is MUCH more charming and liveable than the location of MICA in Baltimore.
    c. RISD had 43 buildings compared to MICA's 7 or 8
    d. RISD is pretty inflexible on taking courses outside of your department other than winter session.They do, however, have an unusual 6 week winter session that you are required to participate in and encourged to take courses outside your department. This gives all students some greater outside exposure.

    Interdisciplary studies is not really available at RISD. You can, however, change your major and take longer to graduate as a result.
    e. MICA prides itself on interdisciplinary studies. You can take courses in many departments and basically design your major and "sculpt "your own education. Flexibility is definitely encouraged at MICA.
    f. RISD is in some ways the antithesis of MICA. You specialize after your foundation year in one department. Although you can theoretically take courses outside of your department, it is very tough to do for several reasons: lack of room and many courses have a form of "guild like" system of prerequisites; thus, stopping kids from taking a number of upper level courses because they won't have the prerequisites. However, when you graduate from RISD in an area, you will be very skilled in that area. I guess the question is, "whether you want to be a master of one area or have some good broad training in a number of areas but not necessarily mastery in any one area?"

    g. Although MICA has both a worldwide reputation and statewide reputation, RISD is probably more world reknown, if that means anything.

    h. MICA does have a BFA/MFA combination in some areas such as education that you can acheive in 5 years instead of the usual 6 or 7 years at other art schools. This saves a lot of money if you are planning on achieving a MFA. However, it is not available in many areas of study. You, thus, need to inquire about it.I can say that if you are going into art education, I believe that MICA is the stronger of the two institutions. It has a strong placement area in education and strongly emphasizes it in many ways such as BFA/MFA etc.

    i. In Maryland, MICA has a very strong reputation in fine arts, notably painting and in art education. They are not, however, as well known as RISD in the design arts. This may change, however, with a new facility solely for the design arts, which is primarily in communcation design, industrial design and animation and new media. MICA is definitely trying hard to beef up their design programs. I should also note that there is no new media or digital design program in RISD. RISD has it as a graduate school option but not in the undergraduate school. MICA does offer this major.

    j. MICA is a stand alone art school that will iimit your interactions to other art students, period. At least at RISD, which admittedly is also a stand alone art school, there is a lot of interaction with Brown kids at restaurants, meeting places, dances, jobs, religious institutions etc. I guess you will have to decide whether this is an important factor.

    k. MICA does NOT accept any advanced placement credit. Yes, you heard me correctly.Even if you get "5's" on your AP exams, it won't be accepted. The reason given is that MICA has an integrated liberal arts program where there is very little comparability with AP courses. RISD does accept AP credits.

    l. MICA will tell you that you can also take courses at Hopkins. However, Hopkins is 3 miles away and is not, in my opinion, conducive for this.

    MICA students have a bit of a different feel than that of RISD kids. Although I do know that this is subjective, RISD students were very artsy, maybe too much so. Many had colored hair and quirky jewelry. MICA students hit me as a bit more conservative ,but certainly you have the artsy crowd there too.

    As for food, I liked the RISD cafeteria food better. In fact, RISD might have served the best food that I have ever had when compared to any other college cafeteria. However, I have to say that my family also liked the MICA food a lot. It was certainly one of the better cafeterias that we had experienced, just not better than that of RISD.

    m. RISD has a higher endowment than that of MICA. In fact, RISD is the highest endowned art school in the nation. They had over 200 million as of last year. This means more money for scholarships, endowed chairs for education etc.

    n. Although I feel that both institutions are excellent, RISD is probably harder to get into. They have about 50 points higher in SAT and about a .3 higher average in GPA. I can't speak for portfolio work since I haven't seen the portfolio submissions for each school.

    Hopefully, this will give you a good grounding to ask questions and to further investigate each school.
  • metso22metso22 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thanks for the info. Anything on Parsons?
  • liek0806liek0806 Registered User Posts: 3,316 Senior Member
    I personally don't know any info on Parsons for graphic design, but one very good advantage to parsons is that it is in nyc meaning your daughter could probably do some internships while in school.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    I should also note that US News and World Report ( if you can believe them) rates RISD (at least in graduate school) the number one program in graphic design. They even have a 5 year program that leads to a BGD, which is the only one in the US that has this.

    MICA as noted is not known for design,but they have built a whole new design building. Thus, I don't know the status of their program,but it is rated lower than that of RISD. Don't know much about Parson's program in graphic design,but I do know that it is rated lower than that of RISD.
  • HotSaucyStuffHotSaucyStuff Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I was a freshman at MICA Fall 2004 and they accepted all of my AP scores of 4's and 5's. So the info that MICA doesn't accept AP scores is not true. Just thought I'd let ya know...
    Good luck!
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    HotsaucyStuff, thanks for the info. I was told at the time, however, by an admission's rep that they didn't accept AP credits. It is good to know that either I was told incorrectly or that they changed their policies.
  • carolyncarolyn Registered User Posts: 7,435 Senior Member
    Also, just as RISD students can cross register at Brown, Mica students can cross register for classes at most of the other 12 colleges in Baltimore, including Johns Hopkins, Peabody, Towson, Goucher, etc. There's even a free shuttle bus that goes between the schools.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    Carolyn,yes that is true. However, there isn't the same relationship as that of RISD-Brown. Brown is right across the street from RISD. It is hard to beat that.RISD also formally can use all of Brown's facilities and can even participate in most of Brown's extra curricular stuff such as band etc.
  • pberrymapberryma Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I took a class at SCAD 10 years ago taught by the present co-chair of MICA's graphic design department. He was an excellent professor.
  • grim67grim67 Registered User Posts: 185 Junior Member
    RISD is probably the best graphic design choice... however, pratt would be even better. MICA is known best for painting, Parsons for fashion, and RISD for illustration and graphic arts. Also, MICA is not the best college to attend right out of high school- it is located in Baltimore, which has the highest murder rate in the country. Also, Baltimore does not have a subway system or reliably safe public transit. Although MICA would give you a better education in graphic arts than Parsons, you have to consider everything else.
  • m&sdadm&sdad Registered User Posts: 1,201 Member
    Regarding MICA:

    * The largest major is General Fine Arts (GFA). Graphic Design ties with Painting for the second spot.

    * Baltimore does have a subway system. In addition, MICA offers student shuttle service, including off campus, 24 X 7.

    * I was in the surrounding neighborhood during the day and at night and never felt unsafe.

    * Also, in reference to an earlier point by Taxguy, students are granted waivers for Painting I and Drawing I. Not sure if it based on AP scores, portfolio strength or both, but it does happen.
  • grim67grim67 Registered User Posts: 185 Junior Member
    I'm not an authority on MICA or Baltimore... I just know that two of my guidance counselors (both who grew up in maryland) strongly advised against it. However, the murder stats were pretty astonishing and I was happy to find that out before applying. I am a petite blonde white girl from the suburbs, and not to be stereotypical or paranoid, but I know that I (or anyone else in my position) would not feel comfortable walking the streets of Baltimore alone.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,618 Senior Member
    Here is a link to a longer thread comparing MICA and RISD. This contains Taxguy's original post incorporated above as well as the ensuing discussion. It's not limited to graphic design.

  • m&sdadm&sdad Registered User Posts: 1,201 Member

    My D is a petite white girl, although not blonde. She has visited the campus/neighborhood/city and does not have your reservations. I can assume you have never been on a site visit?

    They have crime in Providence, RI too...
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,618 Senior Member
    On your latter point, this is true. In fact my daughter was mugged in Providence during her second year there. (No harm, but her purse was snatched.) She is also petite (and not blond) but understands that urban environments can be risky and you should do your best to be street-wise. She now lives in NYC, so she's getting plenty of practice!
This discussion has been closed.