Question: Delaware vs. UMD

Hi Katharine,

So the two colleges that I am debating between (for graphic design) are Delaware and Maryland and it’s really hard for me to choose which one. I REALLY liked UM except for the fact that the graphic design is only a concentration and not a full major. Delaware’s IS a full major. I want to know is if you thought that during your studies at UM that you got an adequate education there. If it’s just as good a program as say a full major dedicated to graphic design?

– Ineedmorereasons 4 UM

Hey INeedMoreReasons4UM,

I hope I’m not too late answering this for you, but if I am: you’re debating between two great schools in my opinion, so there’s no wrong answer.

I don’t know a ton about Delaware’s Graphic Design program. I’ve met several people who went to Delaware and from what I can tell it is a great school and very similar to the University of Maryland in structure, in people, and in general.

I asked one of my favorite professors at UMD to help me out with your question and she said:

As for the difference between UMD and Delaware, the actual degree makes little difference in relationship to the portfolio. I have never heard of someone being hired because they have a BFA but a weaker portfolio over someone who has a strong portfolio and a BA in Art Studio (or whatever). Experiences such as internships can also benefit a student in terms of attractiveness to a prospective studio. Honestly, there are successful designers that do not have design degrees. 

As for the University of Maryland, I can go on and on about the Art Department there. Since you said you really enjoyed it I’ll break down why I think Maryland was so great and maybe it will help you see if these are things you are looking for.

  1. You really can’t beat the location. The University of Maryland is 15 minutes from D.C. and an hour from Baltimore –  two of the best art/design communities on the east coast. You have ridiculously easy access to free museums like the Smithsonians, you can network with other designers and artist in these great metro areas.
  2. The Opportunities. The location also helped with the local opportunities: I had friends who interned at the Discovery Channel (in Silver Spring, MD), The Smithsonians (in DC), and I have a friend who now works at the Washington Post (in DC). As for not-local opportunites: Because of the GDConcentration I co-curated an exhibit in Berlin, Germany with schools from Maryland, Turkey, China, England, and Boston. It was one of the most defining projects of my life.
  3. The Professors.  I may be biased, but my professors were/are extraordinary. They aren’t easy and the concentration is extremely competitive. You leave the concentration not only an exponentially better designer – but a professional designer. My professor, Audra Buck-Coleman, was the reason we did the Sticks + Stones project. She fought for our finances, and was a key player in the entire execution of the project.
  4. The Access. The Graphic Design Concentration has it’s own classroom with laptops, software, printing capabilities, and an excellent lab assistant for lab hours.
  5. Your Fellow Peers. I can honestly say one of the greatest parts of this exclusive concentration is the fact that you take class after class with the majority of the same people. While that’s great on a social level (I’m still really close friends with these people) it’s extremely helpful when people know you well enough to critique you constructively. They learn your style and can base their critiques on what they’ve seen you do before. These are also great contacts to have later in your career.
  6. I loved the Campus. This is a completely superficial addition, but  one of my favorite things about the University of Maryland is the campus. Through – every season – it’s incredible.

To sum up, I believe I received an extremely rounded education because I was exposed to not only fine art practices and graphic design practices, but also because I had to work on my CORE credits which introduced me to some of my favorite classes Media Literacy, Human Sexuality, and Philosophy of Literature. 

That being said, I’m a firm believer that you get what you make for yourself out of life. So I think either school would make you into just the designer you want to be. The question is can you shape yourself into the designer you want to be using your university as the vehicle to get you there?