5 alternative routes into design education

A design degree isn't everything – as Michael Johnson, the multi-award-winning creative and strategy director of leading branding agency johnson banks, explained earlier this week.

Beyond traditional higher education there are various different avenues into the creative industries on offer from design companies, colleges and accredited institutions. If university isn't for you, here are five alternatives routes to kick-start your dream design career…

01. Typography Summer School

The one-week Typography Summer School run by designer Fraser Muggeridge is designed to bridge the gap between student and professional life.

"It's like a finishing school really, with visits from tutors and professionals," explains Muggeridge. "With only 25 students per week, it's smaller than most colleges. The course is structured almost like an MA in a week."

02. Shillington

A recent arrival in the UK and US education sector is the Australian "design college with a difference". In direct contrast to the academic structure of university courses, Shillington offers full-time courses lasting three months and part-time courses lasting one year.

They say: "We're convinced that a world-class education shouldn't take forever if it's well-planned, continually updated with the times, and presented by passionate professionals."

03. Hyper Island

Offering "immersive learning experiences for students and industry professionals, with the aim of developing lifelong learners," Hyper Island is different from conventional courses in that it doesn't have traditional teachers.

"We build our programs in collaboration with the industry, based on experience-based learning. This means that instead of going to class, you will be going to interactive sessions and workshops where we bring industry players from around the globe to facilitate lectures and seminars."

04. Werkplaats Typografie

A renowned two-year graphic design masters programme founded by Karel Martens and Wigger Bierma, the Werkplaats Typografie places the emphasis on assignments and self-initiated projects, supported by "lectures, seminars, meetings and readings geared towards self-accountable and independently motivated work and research."

According to the designer James Goggin, who taught at WT prior to moving to the USA, "the general success, of the school is based on its inherent flexibility and its capacity for spontaneity and improvisation."

05. Parsons online degree

Courses offering remote learning are mushrooming. Typical of this trend is Parsons, the venerable New York design school. Its online program offers students the opportunity to "earn their Parsons AAS professional degree from anywhere.

With the same curriculum as the AAS Graphic Design program on campus, the online program will provide an intense, rigorous course of study that prepares graduates to confidently enter or move up in the field of graphic design."

Illustration: Tommy Parker

This article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 232, a design education special packed with insight, inspiration and behind-the-scenes access to the world's most exciting creative minds.

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