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Rochester, NY, Design School Overviews with Degree Information

Nov 07, 2018

There are several schools within 30 miles of Rochester, NY, that offer design certificates and degrees. Read an overview of three schools' programs, requirements and admission info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Design Schools Rochester, NY,

Design programs in the Rochester, NY, area can be found at two community colleges affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY), as well as a renowned technology school. Admission requirements for the community colleges include the ACT, ACCUPLACER or Compass placement tests. Summaries of the program options can be found below, along with a table of key statistical information and a paragraph about other school options.

  • Genesee Community College is part of the State University of New York (SUNY), and the main campus is located in the rural community of Batavia, about 32 miles from downtown Rochester. As part of the university system, the college has transfer arrangements with, among other schools, SUNY Brockport, Geneseo and Buffalo State College. The school offers certificate and 2-year degree programs in several design-related areas.
  • Monroe Community College in Rochester is also part of the SUNY system, and the school enjoys dual-admission arrangements with over 20 colleges and universities (in and out-of-network). Located less than five miles from the downtown area, the school offers a certificate and a degree in interior design, among other related programs.
  • The Rochester Institute of Technology, founded in 1829 and located a little over five miles from downtown, also has overseas campuses in Dubai and Eastern Europe. The College of Imaging Arts and Sciences has a designated School of Design, through which aspiring industrial, interior and visual designers can pursue undergraduate and graduate programs.

Comparison of Schools

This table can help aspiring designers finalize their educational decisions by comparing costs of attendance, acceptance rates and the likelihood of receiving financial aid at the three featured schools. Enrollment, graduation and retention statistics can also be found in this table.

Genesee Community College (SUNY) Monroe Community College (SUNY) Rochester Institute of Technology
School Type 2-year; public 2-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (Fall 2017) 5,906* 12,907* 16,584*
Campus Setting Distant town Large suburb Large suburb
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $4,580 in-state; $5,180 out-of-state* $5,139 in-state; $9,419 out-of-state* $40,068*
% of Beginning Undergraduate Students Receiving Any Financial Aid (2017) 96%* 83%* 98%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions* 57%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 56% for full-time students; 47% for part-time students* 61% for full-time students; 43% for part-time students* 90% for full-time students; 100% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate 29% (students who began studies in Fall 2014)* 21% (students who began studies in Fall 2014)* 67% (students who began studies in Fall 2011*)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Genesee Community College (SUNY)

The design programs at Genesee Community College include those in computer technology and the creative arts. Full-time faculty members teach the courses in communication and media arts, 3-D design and digital art, and students also have access to a large number of part-time instructors.

Certificate in Computerized Drafting and Design

The certificate and degree programs in computerized drafting combine the study of traditional techniques with training in the use of current design software. Recommended prerequisites include coursework in basic math, geometry, trigonometry and industrial technology.

The 30-credit certificate may take two semesters to complete. The core curriculum includes topics in engineering design graphics, and students receive their training in the school's up-to-date computer laboratories.

Associate of Applied Science in Computerized Drafting and Design

The core curriculum for the 63-credit degree is nearly identical to that found in the certificate program and includes a study of design problems or a cooperative work experience. During the second year, students assemble a drawing portfolio. Through articulation agreements with the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Buffalo State, students can also pursue 4-year programs in manufacturing engineering, toy design or mechanical technology.

Certificate in Web Design

The certificate in Web design takes 35-36 credits to complete, and requirements include a math elective and a course in business. The core curriculum covers topics in Web publishing and scripting, computer graphics, multimedia productions and programming. Students must also complete a 3-credit cooperative work experience or an internship.

Associate of Applied Science in Web Design

The core curriculum for the 2-year program is nearly identical to that of the certificate and includes the cooperative work experience. In addition to a number of general education courses, aspiring Web designers have the opportunity to pursue a study of databases and a more advanced course in computer graphics. Through the co-op requirement, they also have the chance to build a website for a hypothetical client and develop a project for a real-life business.

Associate of Applied Science in Digital Art

This 62-credit program provides students with training in a number of design-related areas, including those associated with graphic arts and media. Recommended prerequisites include high school coursework and an art background.

The curriculum provides students with instruction in traditional drawing and photography, and aspiring designers also learn how to work with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Specific training topics include those in animation, page layout and photo editing. Through the student design group and a local internship, students also have the chance to acquire some real-life problem-solving and work experience.

Monroe Community College (SUNY)

The Visual and Performing Arts Department is one of the largest at the school and offers more degree programs than any other division. The faculty is composed of professional artists and academics, including some who have been recognized on a national level.

Certificate in Computer-Aided Design and Drafting

This 25-credit certificate program is available through the Engineering Technologies Department and can be completed in two semesters. In addition to courses in composition and algebra, the curriculum covers topics in geometric applications, data management, manufacturing interfaces and rapid prototyping. Students also pursue courses in design analysis and optimization and learn how to use the SolidWorks software.

Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design

Students in the 2-year program learn about the history of interior design and take additional courses in 3-D design and advanced CAD. Career options include those in facilities planning, home furnishings or sales. Qualified students may be able to continue their education at the New York School of Interior Design, the Rochester Institute of Technology or Syracuse University.

Associate of Science in Commercial Art and Illustration

This program is specifically intended for students who want to transfer to a 4-year program, and although not required for admission, a portfolio is recommended. The curriculum includes training in 2-D and 3-D design, computer graphics and graphic arts. Qualified students may be able to transfer to, among other schools, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons The New School for Design or the Pratt Institute.

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Design School at this 4-year institute has over 20 undergraduate and graduate members on its faculty. Admission to the school is competitive, and students must submit a portfolio.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program is a comprehensive course of study that helps aspiring designers acquire the creative, critical-thinking and research skills they need to solve visual communication problems. It provides students with a broad exposure to a number of design areas, including those associated with, among other specializations, brand and identity, environmental graphics, publications and Web-based media. They also learn how to work within a budget, organize their time and use appropriate technology. Additional program features include cooperative work experiences and internships.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design

The undergraduate program in industrial design provides students with training related to furniture, exhibition and product development. Among other topics, the curriculum includes the study of 3-D modeling, rapid prototyping and technical drawing. Students have access to a number of departmental resources, including state-of-the-art computer labs, online libraries and high-profile internships.

Graduates students in the Master of Fine Arts program typically pursue topics related to design challenges, environmental issues and methodology, and the program culminates in a written thesis and an exhibition.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design

The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) accredits this interior design program. The program provides students with an integrated approach to aesthetics, creative problem-solving and professional responsibility and includes topics in architecture, environmental studies, economics and sociology. Students also learn how to use color, finishings, lighting and furniture to create environmentally sustainable and resident-friendly interiors. Graduates may be able to find positions with Apple Inc., General Electric or Marriot International.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media Design

The 4-year program in digital and interactive media is especially relevant for students who are interested in careers as visual designers or creative directors. The interdisciplinary course of study is offered in conjunction with the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, and experiential studies include those related to digital photography and video, animation, concept development and information architecture. Students also pursue topics in entertainment media, mobile devices and motion graphics. Potential employers may include Kodak or Yahoo.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design

This program is a new, integrated version of the computer graphics and graphic design programs, and its purpose is to help students remain current in the fields of electronic and print-based media. It also provides them with the opportunity to focus on one of three in-depth concentrations, including communications, 3-D graphics and interactive media. These are interdisciplinary units of study that, in addition to helping students acquire new skills, can provide them with a comprehensive approach to all of the contextual, historical and practical aspects of design. Additional employment opportunities may be found with Adobe Systems, Google or Xerox.

Other School Options

In addition to the schools highlighted above, the Department of Visual Arts at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester offers a Bachelor of Arts program with concentrations in graphic design and time-based media. An undergraduate major in studio art with a minor in graphic design is also available at The College at Brockport (SUNY).

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