Where are good web design schools in the United States?
September 22, 2006 10:21 PM   Subscribe

What are some good web design schools in the United States?

I'm mainly focused on the midwest, but I'm open to all over the country.

I graduated with a B.A. in Cinema Studies and I'm looking to continue my education and move over into web design. I'm having trouble finding schools in the United States that offer degrees in web design. Also, if anyone knows of other titles of degrees (like "Digital Arts") that encompass design and programming for the web.
posted by MediaJunkie to Education (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
programming isn't design, it's more technical and as far as I am concerned, you might want to go to more of a regular university with a strong program for that.

as far as art and design colleges go, my recommendations would be (in no particular order)

art center
vcu adcenter
vis arts
cal arts

also, take a look at the aiga website.
posted by krautland at 11:26 PM on September 22, 2006

I've never known anyone in the field who has, or is going for a "Web Design" degree. We're mostly a hodge-podge of other degrees, Computer Science, Graphic Design (that's honestly as close as you're going to get), Advertising, Human - Computer Usability...

If you're a technical person, I'd say go for Computer Science... Even better if you can find a school that'll teach you any scripting languages, like Perl. We had a "Web Design" class at my Alma Mater, but it was the very basics, I Aced the final having never stayed for a lecture, or even cracked open the book.

I've seen quite a few Graphic Design courses that cover Web Design, though I can't speak for how well they do.

You're better off just jumping in, there's a TON of websites out there that will teach you the basics, and some great designs to inspire you (I'm a fan of CSS Zen Garden.com, but I'm sure there are many others that people will point you to.
posted by hatsix at 11:27 PM on September 22, 2006

oh yeah, also good for grad studies is yale.
posted by krautland at 11:27 PM on September 22, 2006

I've heard good things about University of Advancing Technology, and toured their small, edgy and progressive campus. They are a bit pricey, but know their shit and are willing to work with you. And they're fully accredited, I think.
posted by disillusioned at 3:48 AM on September 23, 2006

Step 1 would be figuring out which part of "web design" you want to focus on. Since you say you've already studied "cinema studies", I'd guess the more graphic-design-y parts, but I realize that this may not be correct.

If you want to do animation, please find a program that will explain when it is and isn't appropriate to use animation and/or Flash (if that's what attracts you).

Graphic design is what a lot of "web designers" have studied, but it's not the same as web design. I think web design is, in a lot of ways, more constrained... you'll see what I mean.

Usability is an important part of "web design" which I think a lot of graphic designers underestimate. Please make sure whatever program you enter gives some emphasis to this, or plan to always work with someone else who has a background in this.
posted by amtho at 3:49 AM on September 23, 2006

I took Digital Arts in MICA, and web design was only a small fraction of the program: the larger part of the program focused on digital video and photography, and there was more than a bit of postmodern theory involved as well. There were web electives, though, and Flash was heavily used.

I would recommend you go into graphic design, take all the web electives you can, and plunge into the books along the way. (Zeldman's a good place to start.)

Keep your horizons broad; you might just find your place in a design field not directly web-related.
posted by brownpau at 7:13 AM on September 23, 2006

Disclaimer: I'm totally biased because I'm the director of the program and created the curricullum, but we have 4 1/2 month full-time program in web design here at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University. It's a young program but we train people in standards based xhtml and css and give them exposure to php, flash and javascript. It's definitely not a "programming" course though.

To speak to brownpau's point, our 4.5 month web design semester is technically the second half of our 9 month design program, with the first half being the graphic design portion. Any web designer would benefit from getting a deeper understanding of using type, layout and color that traditionally has been the province of print design.

You can see the curricullum here.

Dan Cederholm of Simplebits recently had some nice things to say about the CDIA web program.
posted by jeremias at 7:26 AM on September 23, 2006

Response by poster: I understand programming isn't design, but some schools like CDIA are merging graphic design with web based programming and calling it interactive design. Those are the schools and programs I'm most interested. But, because it's a relatively new field, I know I may not find the perfect school with the exact curriculum in the right location for me. If I had to pick a field to focus on, either graphic design or programming, it would have to be graphic design. I studied a little computer science during my undergrad years and it's something I pick up on fairly easily, design not so much.
posted by MediaJunkie at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2006

Here is a list of schools that have Art & Technology programs. Not sure how much this can help you.

Also, here is a list of schools that include Individualized/Self-Designed Majors and Graphic Design.

and the Art Institutes offer a Web Design program. Can't say if it is worth it. I did go to a 3 day teacher workshop for web design at AI and it was pretty cool.
posted by nimsey lou at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2006

Since you're clearly interested in and educated in visual studies, I would encourage you to at least try out some web programming/database/backend work to see if you have an interest in and aptitude for it. A solid programmer with a degree in a creative field is a relatively unusual thing and that could serve you well in this job market.

By googling for self-training materials (or browsing your bookstore shelves -- remembering that O'Reilly is the acknowledged master of clear, correct, complete tech books), you can investigate a bunch of different specialties before committing to a degree program. You might even find that self-training is preferable to a degree program...
posted by lorimer at 8:24 PM on September 23, 2006

Regarding the development/programming side: a Computer Science degree is one option. Another is Management Information Systems, or sometimes just Information Systems, which typically caters to less of CS theory and algorithms and more of the business process and how the web/IT is used in the business world.
posted by masymas at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2006

If you're interested in staying in the midwest, definitely check out the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (link goes to their Interactive Media department page). I would agree with brownpau that MICA has a good program as well (disclaimer: I've taught at both schools: teaching a distance learning class at MCAD in web design from my office here in DC and creating the first web design course at MICA in the "olden days" of 1997 -g)

I would suggest that getting a degree in Web Design is actually too narrow. I now work as a new media producer in an art museum and we are looking for people who not only know how to create Web pages but how to creative interactive features with Flash, Aftereffects, and other programs. The field is much broader than just the Web.

When we look to hire we are looking for someone who has good skills (and I can't emphasize this enough: a good creative mind) to help us create new media both on the Net and within our museum (kiosks, etc.).

So, if you're looking to go back to school I'd like to suggest taking a broader approach to your education.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:06 AM on September 24, 2006

Emerson College in Boston, MA has a degree program called 'New Media' as part of the School of Visual & Media Arts. When I was there from 1999-2002 it was still a new program, and I learned much more from fellow students than I did from the instructors. The program is almost 10 years old now and may be different.
posted by bcnarc at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2006

« Older How can I keep my new coat looking new?   |   What do Jews think of converts? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.