How to Evaluate Design and Applied Arts School

Choosing a design and applied arts school or program can be a difficult and time-consuming choice. At first you will need to make many decisions: whether you wish to pursue a degree, diploma or certificate; study on a full-time or part-time basis; what majors and areas of specialization interest you; how important special features such as co-op, international exchange and so forth are to your decision; and the importance of cost, location and other similar factors. Once you have decided on these, you will still need to undertake a significant exploration and consultation to focus your interests and choice of a program in design and applied arts.

Here is a step-by-step process to help you evaluate each program:

  • Visit the university's, college's, school's or program department's website. Most institutions provide detailed information about their programs - i.e., which degrees/diplomas/certificates are offered, amount of tuition and fees, admission requirements and intake times, student demographics, faculty qualifications, industry experience and research accomplishments, and more! Often the website will provide a "Q&A" or FAQ page which will answer the most common questions about the institution and its programs.


  • Visit the university, college or school. Many universities, colleges and schools have "open days" where high school students are invited to tour the campus for a day. Campus visits allow you to learn things about the institution that might not be obvious from its marketing materials, such as facilities, campus lay-out, transportation and how it feels to be on campus. If the university, college or school is in your home-town or nearby, you can always take an informal tour on your own and visit the admissions or program office to ask questions. Even if the university, college or school nearest you is not the one you are considering, an information-gathering visit can help you get a sense of what you are comparing your other choices to.


  • Speak with an admissions counsellor or academic advisor: they have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and study programs that can lend a perspective to your decisions, and sometimes lead you in new directions.


  • Research other sources of information. There is a wealth of things that you can do here:


    • If you know past graduates of the university, college, school or program, talk with them about their experiences while a student.

    • Confirm which organizations have recruited graduates in the past and talk with their human resources departments to determine their satisfaction with the institution's graduates and programs, whether they continue to recruit from the university, college or school, and whether they value it over others on a regular basis.

    • Search the Internet for information on awards and achievements bestowed on specific design and applied arts schools or programs - competitions won, faculty honours, research grants, etc.

    • Consult Facebook and other social networking sites that may provide testimonials and other student comments on specific design and applied arts programs and the universities, colleges and schools that offer them.

    Then match these facts and figures against the design and applied arts programs that you are evaluating.

    Check out CampusStarter's database of Canadian Design and Applied Arts Schools and Programs