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Private art college vs. UC

jennleejyjennleejy Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
I'm intending to major in one of the design areas, maybe industrial design.
I have all A's and my SATs are not outstanding... high 600s but they'll improve since I'm only a freshman.
I was wondering if the art program in UC schools such as UCLA, or even Yale or Cornell,
are much different from those in, say RISD or PRATT.
In other words, what are the advantages and disadvantages of going to a non-art-specialized university instead of a private art college, with regards to admittance, rigorousness, future career prospects, etc.? And -- Is the tuition much different between Yale and private art colleges?
Post edited by jennleejy on

Replies to: Private art college vs. UC

  • kaelynkaelyn Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    I'm not an expert on these things but as far as I've found traditional universities and liberal arts colleges don't really focus on design (except architecture). Instead, they are usually more fine art (painting, sculpture etc) and media (film, photography etc) oriented. A few odd universities like Yale and Upenn do have graphic design programs (yale's own is supposed to be great) and I've heard of others that have industrial design and fashion courses. So if you're set on studying design at a traditional uni or LAC I'm sure there'll be something out there for you, just keep in mind that they are not the most common majors.

    But you might also want to consider the qualitative differences in education. Liberal arts colleges may only offer these subjects in the context of a broader liberal arts education. On the other hand art schools like RISD, SVA, Parsons etc can be very pre-professional especially where design is concerned. They offer highly structured studio intensive programs. And, what that boils down to is that art school graduates tend to have a better professional advantage in their chosen subject areas.

    To summarize. Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities are more oriented towards fine art and media as opposed to design. If you plan on becoming a professional designer, you'd be better off (career wise) at an art school. Art school will give you a more rigorous practical and theoretical training your chosen field than a traditional school could but the downside is that you would have to give up the prospect of a generalist education.

    Generally art schools have very high admission rates. The only really selective ones are RISD (about 30%) and Cooper Union (about 6%). Bear in mind however that admission to art schools are based primarily on an applicant's portfolio. Tuition wise RISD, Pratt, SVA etc are all in the same price range as Yale, Amherst, Wesleyan etc. i.e. somewhere between 30 and 35k a year except they tend to have less financial aid.
  • kaelynkaelyn Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    PS There are a few schools that are trying to combine the art schools practical training with tradition university academics. A few examples are RISD/Brown, SMFA/Tufts and more recently Art Center/Occidental. Nonetheless a BFA (the type of degree usually administered by art schools) is a specialized degree which means if you want one, 2/3 of your course load will be have to be art/design/media classes. Whereas with a BA (the more traditional kind of degree) i think 2/3 of your courseload has to be traditional academics.

    hope this helps
  • worried_momworried_mom Registered User Posts: 2,205 Senior Member
    Probably more important than the type of school -- university vs. independent art school -- is the type of degree offered. A BFA means that a significant portion (usually 50 - 65%) of your credits will come from studio-based classes focused in that area, while a BA or BS degree usually connotes just 1/3 of your credits will be studio classes, while you spend the rest of your time meeting "core" or "general distribution" requirements (in English, history, science, etc.) and taking non-major electives. Obviously, the specialized BFA program provides far more intense and rigorous training and best prepares you for a professional design career. But a BA program gives you the opportunity to explore more options and may actually be the better choice if you're not entirely committed to an art or design career already.

    In general, private art schools tend to offer the BFA, while universities (both public and private) usually offer the BA or BS, but there are many exceptions. For example, Carnegie-Mellon and U Michigan both offer a BFA. And some schools (e.g., Notre Dame) offer both BA and BFA options in design.

    Kaelyn is correct in noting that most university art programs are really more oriented towards the fine arts than design. There are relatively few universities that specifically offer industrial design as a major. The following link will give you a list of schools that do offer ID programs:

    Industrial Designers Society of America
  • TrinSFTrinSF Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    It was important for my daughter that school's she's applying to have the BFA and a true foundation year for art students, not a studio major layered on top of a general degree. We didn't find any compatible UC's that had a BFA + Foundation year (though the UCLA program was close, it's not a good match for her). Daughter does not want to spend time taking GE or core requirements other than the sort offered at the art schools she's applying to.

    That said, a friend went to the Syracuse University Art program and found it more like an art school than a LAC/university program. You might look at that.
  • jujubiejennyjujubiejenny Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    I'm currently an Art major at UCLA, and currently working towards double majoring in the Design|Media Arts major there too.

    UCLA school of Arts and Architecture is fairly competitive. This year, the Art department had 55 incoming first years (transfers+freshmen) out of over 600 applicants, and 26 D|MA [only] freshmen (don't know about transfers or other statistics). I'm going to be applying for the D|MA double major, and they're only accepting 2 this quarter. They're the only UC campus that asks for portfolios.

    First of all, I absolutely love it here. UCLA is an amazing campus, and the art facilities are awesome, and plus... we're in LA.

    But you have to decide what you're looking for in terms of location, education, and college life. LA is going to have a lot of connections, and UCLA does make an effort to expose Undergraduate work, and do provide a lot of opportunities (our art student advisor sends us about 12 emails a day).

    Plus, once you're in the School of Arts and Architecture here, you're in the College of Letters and science, meaning if you wanted to double major or minor in something not art related, you have the ability to, and you would be still getting some top notch education. GE's do get a little irritating at times, but I came in with several credits from high school, so I don't have to do as much as most incoming first years.

    And also, do you want to be around people that are ALL art students? I mean, my roommate is an English major, my suitemates are History and Physiological Science. I think it keeps it interesting for me, and you're not constantly pressured to do better than those around you. Plus, you'd be living the stereotypical college dorm life, get to do what most college kids do, but you'll be doing your own thing for school, and personally, I really enjoy that.

    oh, and UCLA's dorm food is spectacular.

    And kind of going off of Kaelyn and Worried_Mom, what I dislike about the Art major at UCLA is that its very strictly Fine Arts, which is why I'm going to try to double major in Design|Media Arts. I've been saying that the Desma major is like a myth to Art Majors, and vice versa, since, even though they're in the same building, they're extremely separated. But you always have the ability to take Desma classes, (if you crash the class, meaning you don't enroll until you talk to the professor and they give you a Permission to Enroll #). I'm double majoring because I personally like the Desma major better, since that's just what I want to do later in life, but I still think a Fine Arts degree is really important to supplement that.
  • WheatyWheaty Registered User Posts: 520 Member
    Hi Jujubiejenny,

    My daughter has applied to several art programs and UCLA is high on her list. We'll find out in a few weeks if she gets accepted but I have a few questions in case that happens. She's thinking of dual majoring in Fine Art and Art History and I see you're a dual so... how heavy is your work load? Do you have time for a social life?

    UCLA is sometimes depicted as a "sink or swim" environment. Do you feel that applies to the Art School?

    UCLA Arts is a wonderful program and I'm glad you're enjoying college.

    Oh hey, one last question, what schools did you turn down?

  • mino74urmino74ur Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member

    Actually UCSC also has portfolio requirements as well for the Studio Art Major. I would suspect that UCSD is likely to follow suit in this matter sooner then later. I do believe the focus at UCSC is more weighted towards placement and weeding out the obvious problems with students who failed to learn basic concepts in design and perspective in foundation classes to a degree.

    How is the DESMA program for undergraduates? When I first was considering the department it felt quite inhibited and early in the birthing process with more emphasis being placed on performance and interactive works with a more liberal stance towards the graduate side of the department. In contrast to MAT at UCSB which is a really developed program that is committed diving head first into more contemporary genres like Information Art (for example). I would love to hear about your experiences and perspectives and would certainly find them quite valuable!

    I am likely going to wind up in the ICAM program at UCSD in the fall but I am considering UCD who is supposedly is quite adventurous and open to rampant experimentation with sculpture (ie: integrating time based media and sound into the installation/exhibition construction) while I work extensively with video, I dont care for it as a medium in and of itself. So I often flirt with the sculptural treatment of film, sound, or information and a strong foundation in the development of such strategy is really important to me when considering a department.

    I have been mentored by a USC MFA student for the past two years (who now has gallery affiliation abroad and is quite active in trying to break out of the LA art scene and show in Berlin/Tokyo and other environments that are really receptive to these new mediums)

    What schools did you consider before settling in on UCLA, plans for MFA? Based on your experiences how would you compare the undergraduate program with the graduate program at UCLA in media arts?
  • jujubiejennyjujubiejenny Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Whoops, I should probably check back more often.

    I actually found out that I logistically can't double major in Fine Arts and Desma, due to being over the unit cap. I recently submitted an application to change majors, but I don't anticipate much since it wasn't a very strong Design portfolio.

    I only applied to the UC campuses except SC, Merced, and Riverside all for an Art major. I was a new CA resident so I didn't know about any other schools, but LA was my top choice. And I have to admit, I was rejected from all the UC's except LA, even though I had the grades to get into any other UC (probably except UCB, maaaybe UCSD). So yes, that means I got rejected from UCSB, but in UCLA. Don't ask me how that works. My friend got into Stanford and rejected from UCSB.

    Anyway. I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do, but my personal preference is for a more digital and industrial application for art. I decided, though I excel in Fine Arts and tactile mediums, it's just not what I want to do with my abilities.

    The DMA major is hard to get into the swing of things, especially if you're unfamiliar with the software, but I'm really happy with the major. Something that I admire (although some people could find to be a negative) is that they do provide you with a very broad base of digital media experience. It ranges from working with Adobe After Effects to using illustrator, to programing, to building models of rooms with foam core. But this sort of dynamic base is also evident in the Fine Arts major, where you're required to take drawing, painting, scultpure, ceramics, etc etc.

    The workload can seriously vary. Last quarter wasn't too bad, even though I took extra classes in both Fine Arts and Desma... but I was taking a fairly easy Desma course. On the other hand, I'm in a language, Motion24, and Design History and... Well, lets just say I'm typing this after not sleeping for the past 35 hours and working on 3 essays for Design history. It's the beginning of 6th week and last night was my 4th all-nighter of the quarter.

    The professors I've encountered in the major have all been incredibly friendly, and all my good friends are in desma. Although I wish the Fine Arts and desma majors were a little bit more connected (the two majors share a building, but I swear, they're like myths to each other. We rarely come in contact), the things i'm interested in doing later on in life have always been more geared towards the digital medium, like Video game design or Special Effects, so I figured the Desma major is a little better suited.

    But, like all college students, my life is still up in the air. Hope that sort of helped, albeit a little late.
This discussion has been closed.