Interaction design is undoubtedly an industry worth paying attention to, with both undergraduate and graduate studies rapidly heating up. This field attracts a steady stream of eager students and their families, all of whom are keen to explore the promising paths it offers. To simplify your search, we’ve distilled our previous articles into the definitive guide to Canadian interaction design programs, an absolutely essential treasure trove of information for any potential applicant.
Globally, interaction design stands out as an emerging field with a wide range of attractive career opportunities. The surge in interest has prompted a flood of inquiries from students and parents, all of whom are curious about the academic future of the subject in Canada. In response, this article focuses on four prominent Canadian arts institutions. These schools are not only academic havens but beacons that light the way in the dynamic world of interaction design, setting you on the path to educational and professional excellence in this ever-evolving field.
Emily Carr University of art+design
Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD), nestled in the vibrant city of Vancouver, Canada, stands as one of the country's top four independent art schools. It's renowned for being the first institution in British Columbia to confer Bachelor's degrees in visual and performance arts. The university's reputation for excellence is not confined within national borders; ECUAD has earned international acclaim as well. In the latest 2023 QS World University Rankings, it's celebrated as Canada's premier university for art and design. Moreover, it has been recognized globally for its outstanding contributions to the field, especially in 2017 when ECUAD was ranked among the world's leading design universities, with its industrial design program being particularly distinguished in North America.
01. Program Overview & Educational Highlights
Bachelor of Design, Interaction Design Major:
Similar to the approach at NSCAD mentioned earlier, all incoming students at ECUAD are required to undergo a foundational year of studies before diving into their chosen majors. ECUAD's foundation year offers a comprehensive array of courses encompassing academic theories and studio practices in art, design, and media. This initial year serves as a critical period for students to explore and enhance their creativity, broaden their technical horizons, and, importantly, make well-informed decisions regarding their specialization. Following the completion of this foundational year, students in the Interaction Design program can then fully immerse themselves in their field, focusing on the specific studies and practices of Interaction Design.
At ECUAD, Interaction Design is seen as an evolution of art, omnipresent in its scope and application. The curriculum encompasses a diverse range of subjects including website and mobile app design, as well as game design, emphasizing the critical and practical aspects of research methodologies. The school places a strong focus on cultivating students' technical skills and the creative design process, including prototyping and user testing. Additionally, the Interaction Design program at ECUAD maintains a close relationship with communication and industrial design disciplines.
- Graduate Program (Master of Design, Interaction):
The Interaction Design graduate program at ECUAD is designed to deepen students' professional development while actively engaging with the ethical, political, and ecological dimensions of design. The program goes beyond practical creativity; it places significant emphasis on thesis work. Under the guidance of faculty with diverse professional design expertise, students' theses are developed and refined through studio courses and seminars, ensuring a well-rounded and in-depth educational experience.
02. Tuition Fees
For undergraduate programs, domestic students in Canada can expect to pay around CAD 5,799.20 per year, while international students might be looking at approximately CAD 25,156.40 annually.
As for the graduate program in Interaction Design, Canadian students are likely to incur a total tuition cost of about CAD 37,525, whereas international students may have to budget for around CAD 46,045.00.
03. Program Structure
The Bachelor's degree in Interaction Design at ECUAD is a four-year program, requiring students to complete 120 credits to graduate. The curriculum integrates Interaction Design with other disciplines at ECUAD, such as Communication Design, Industrial Design, Animation, New Media, and Sound Arts.
Graduates from the Interaction Design program are well-prepared for a range of professional roles including Production Design Manager, Interaction Designer, Director of User Experience, Visual Designer for User Interfaces, Web Consultant, Creative Strategist, Chief Product Officer, and Mobile Designer, among others. ECUAD alumni have been recruited by top-tier companies in the industry, including Google, Microsoft, Best Buy Canada, and Giant Ant.
The Master's degree in Interaction Design at ECUAD spans two years and includes five terms, totaling 60 credits. Four of these terms revolve around specific coursework and the students' thesis research. Additionally, one term is dedicated to independent creative research within a supportive community.
04. Application Requirements
- For Undergraduate Applicants:
- Academic Requirements:
- A high school diploma with an average grade of at least C+ (67%).
- Applicants from Mainland China should have their transcripts verified through the China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC).
- Language Requirements: Applicants must meet at least one of the following
- TOEFL: A minimum total score of 84, with no less than 20 in speaking, reading, and listening, and no less than 18 in writing.
- IELTS: A minimum total score of 6.5, with no band below 6.0.
- CAEL: A minimum total score of 70.
- Duolingo: A minimum total score of 110.
- Portfolio Requirements:
- 10-20 individual image files or up to 5 minutes of media files plus up to 10 images or 10 minutes of media files.
- Process Documentation: A PDF of up to 10 pages or a 3-minute video showcasing the creative process.
- Studio Assignment (choose one to respond to):
- •Create a piece reflecting your living environment, whether it's your home, community, or geographical location.
- •Create a portrait of someone you know.
- •Tell us a story related to your creativity in three pieces of work.
- •In a single flat work or a 20-second media clip, answer the question: How do you artistically collaborate with one or several individuals?
- Essay Requirements (100-250 words, choose one to answer):
- What drives and inspires you to work creatively with different materials and mediums?
- Select an artwork you have completed and describe the production process.
- Whose art, media, or design practice has inspired you artistically or creatively?
- Describe a brief scene (fiction or non-fiction).
- Write a review of a creative piece, such as an art exhibition, film, advertisement, photo, furniture, architecture, website, book, music, etc.
- For Graduate Applicants:
- Academic Requirements: Transcripts: Applicants should hold a 4-year bachelor's degree (or some 3-year degrees) recognized by ECUAD, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
- Language Requirements: If the applicant's native language is not English and they did not graduate from a university recognized by ECUAD where the language of instruction is English, they must meet at least one of the following.
- TOEFL: A minimum total score of 90, with no less than 22 in speaking, reading, and writing, and no less than 20 in listening.
- IELTS: A minimum total score of 7.0, with no less than 7.0 in speaking, reading, and writing, and no less than 6.5 in listening.
- CAEL: A minimum total score and in each skill of 80.
- Duolingo: A minimum total score of 115.
- At least 3 letters of recommendation: At least two should be from the applicant's academic background, such as a letter from a professor.
- Curriculum Vitae
- Statement of Intent: In no more than 500 words, please elaborate on your intended direction during your postgraduate studies, allowing the school to understand the perspective you plan to bring.
- Portfolio Requirements:
- Submit 7-10 works online through Slideroom. Curate and edit your portfolio selectively to showcase your creativity and imagination.
- Keywords Exercise: Provide five to ten keywords describing your artistic practice, creative process, and/or research.
- Video Response: Applicants are required to pre-record a 3-minute video, addressing the question: Briefly discuss your practice approach and how you believe a postgraduate degree can provide insight and context to it.
Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD U)
official website: The Ontario College of Art & Design University.
The Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD U), situated in the heart of Toronto, Canada, boasts a rich heritage dating back to its establishment in 1876. As one of Canada's oldest, largest, and most distinguished institutions specializing in art and design, OCAD U has a long-standing tradition of nurturing exceptional artists and cultural leaders. Renowned for its commitment to fostering artistic creativity, OCAD U is affectionately known as Canada's "university of the imagination."
OCAD's Sharp Centre, designed by the British designer Will Alsop, stands out as an architectural marvel with its unique and avant-garde design, garnering numerous accolades for its creative brilliance.
01. Program Overview & Educational Highlights
- Undergraduate Program (Bachelor of Fine Arts/Bachelor of Design degree, Major in Digital Futures):
OCAD's Digital Futures program distinguishes itself from the purely Interaction Design programs previously introduced. It offers an expansive curriculum that not only focuses on interaction devices, UX/UI, and mobile app design but also delves deeply into the realms of VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), interactive installations, game design and development, wearable technology, animation, and sound design. This program is crafted to provide a comprehensive and multifaceted education in the latest digital technologies and creative practices.
In essence, the Digital Futures program integrates core digital skills with art and design, harnessing emerging digital technologies to address contemporary issues and unlock boundless possibilities for the future. The program's ethos is encapsulated in three pivotal concepts: "Make," "Play," and "Connect," representing the foundational pillars of the Digital Futures initiative.
OCAD prides itself on offering students an extensive range of career opportunities. This includes paid internships, experiential short-term internships with hundreds of organizations, summer internships, and opportunities to showcase their work in galleries. For graduates of the Digital Futures program, the career prospects are diverse and dynamic, encompassing roles in game design and development, UI/UX design, VR/AR development, interaction design, as well as communication and data visualization.
- Graduate Programs (Master of Arts/Master of Fine Arts/Master of Design, Digital Futures):
The graduate program in Digital Futures at OCAD is uniquely structured, offering three distinct pathways: a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or Master of Design (MDes). Students can tailor their educational journey according to their individual interests and career aspirations. Those opting for the MFA or MDes routes will delve deeply into practice-based creative work, complemented by a supporting thesis. In contrast, MA students will focus predominantly on academic research, supported by related creative projects.
Moreover, this innovative program is a collaborative effort between OCAD and the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, blending academic rigor with industry-relevant experience.
OCAD suggests that applicants should have a background in design, technology, culture, or art at the undergraduate level or possess relevant professional experience. Consequently, the graduate student body in this program is diverse, including designers, artists, architects, journalists, engineers, and filmmakers, all bringing a rich tapestry of perspectives to the exploration of digital futures.
02. Tuition Fees
For undergraduate students: Domestic students in Canada can expect to pay approximately CAD 7,200 per year in tuition fees, while international students may need to budget around CAD 26,000 annually.
For graduate students: Canadian residents are likely to face annual tuition fees of about CAD 16,669.5, whereas international students might be looking at approximately CAD 32,535 per year.
03. Program Structure
OCAD's Digital Futures program spans four years, immersing students in a blend of digital and physical design skills during their first year. Students can tailor their learning journey by selecting electives in areas such as programming, art and design history, physical computing, game design, painting, art and code, and time-based media.
The second and third years are dedicated to hands-on practice. Students engage in collaborative, project-based learning in studios and research labs, tackling projects across various domains including computer software and coding, smartphone app development, game design, digital art, social media trend analysis, history of computer science, digital business, and wearable technology.
The final year pivots towards entrepreneurship and leadership in the digital economy. Additionally, students spend two semesters developing a capstone project, which can be an individual or collaborative effort. This culminates in a presentation at OCAD's GradEx exhibition, Toronto's largest free art and design exhibition, anticipated to draw over 40,000 visitors, where students showcase their work to a broad audience.
04. Course Structure
OCAD's Digital Futures program spans four years, focusing on various digital and design skills in the first year, with elective options including programming, art and design history, physical computing, game design, painting, art and code, and time-based media. The subsequent years prioritize hands-on studio work and research lab projects in fields like software and coding, app development, game design, digital art, social media trends, computer science history, digital business, and wearable tech. The final year includes courses on entrepreneurship and leadership in the digital economy and a two-semester capstone project, showcased at OCAD's GradEx exhibition.
The 2-year Digital Futures graduate program offers foundational courses in computation, entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership; core courses in digital methods, research, theory, and practice; individual research and creation; courses on digital project and prototype design; summer internships or study abroad; creative projects and supporting thesis for MFA and MDes students or academic thesis and supporting creative works for MA students, and electives. Career prospects for graduates include app developers, game designers, cultural industry producers, digital transmedia producers, startup founders, digital strategists, and educators.
05. Application Requirements
- Academic Requirements: High school graduation with a minimum average grade of B (70%) in the final year.
- Language Requirements: Meet one of the following: TOEFL (min total 84, reading and writing min 20, listening min 19, speaking min 22), IELTS (min total 6.5, no band below 6.0), CAEL (min total 70, no skill below 60), Duolingo (min total 110).
- Portfolio Requirements: Include process works, 8-10 examples of original finished works showcasing a variety of artistic, design, and media skills and methods, a 50-word description for each finished piece, and, if applicable, examples of visual art skills (e.g., models, jewelry, sculptures) or non-visual strengths (e.g., written reports, other written works) along with works showcasing your interests (e.g., photography, crafts, poetry, animation, DIY videos, model making, computer programs).
- Statement of Intent: OCAD will provide specific requirements via email post-application, not exceeding 300 words.
- Academic Requirements: Hold a 4-year BA, BFA, BDes, BComm, BSc, BEng, or similar honors certification, with a GPA of at least B+ (75%) in the last two academic years.
- Language Requirements: If your university was not in Canada and the primary language of instruction was not English, meet one of the following: TOEFL (min total 90, reading, speaking, and writing min 22, listening min 20), IELTS (min total and in each skill 7.0), Duolingo (min total 120).
- Thesis Project Proposal (800 to 1,000 words): Cover topics like title, idea, content for research/creation, background, proposed research field including any relevant theories, methodologies, art or design works or technologies, reasons for the research - its importance and why you chose it, why OCAD U's Digital Futures is the best place for your research/creative work, technology, media, or tools to be used for creation, relevance of your background and experience, and references used in the proposal.
- Sample Works: Choose 3-7 samples reflecting your ongoing work and interest in the Digital Futures program, provide background, process, date, and your role for each sample, and note that multi-page documents should not exceed 5 pages and time-based media should not be longer than three minutes.
- 2 Letters of Recommendation
- Resume: Include the most recent copy of your personal resume.
- Professional Course-Related Questions: Applicants will be asked to provide answers to questions related to the professional course.
Sheridan College, nestled in the Greater Toronto Area of Canada, is recognized as a premier institution for the arts in North America, often referred to as the "Harvard of Animation." The college places a strong emphasis on the future career prospects of its students, offering high-quality internship opportunities across most of its programs. This focus on practical, career-oriented education ensures that Sheridan graduates consistently enjoy higher employment rates compared to peers from similar institutions.
01. Tuition Fees
For the academic year (covering two semesters), domestic students in Canada can expect to pay approximately CAD 6,822 in tuition fees. International students, on the other hand, are looking at about CAD 17,854 for the same period.
02. Course Structure
The program spans four years, totaling eight semesters, and requires students to complete 120 credits to graduate. The curriculum is designed with a focus on various digital technologies, including mobile and PC interfaces, collaborative interfaces, and global networks. Throughout the program, students gain insights into creating new products, developing superior applications, and producing engaging content, as well as integrating technology into everyday life. In their final year, students are expected to produce a range of individual and team projects, showcasing their creativity and technical prowess.
03. Application Requirements
For Undergraduate Applicants:
- Academic Requirements: Applicants must submit a high school transcript with a minimum overall average of 65%, with a competitive admission process.
- Language Requirements: Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- TOEFL: A minimum total score of 88, with no less than 21 in each component.
- IELTS: A minimum total score of 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in each component.
- CAEL: A minimum total score of 70, with no less than 60 in each component
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD)
official website: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), established in 1887, stands as one of Canada's most prestigious art institutions. Located in Halifax, a vibrant city on Canada's east coast, NSCAD has cultivated a rich, century-long history that has earned it international acclaim. Particularly renowned for its prowess in visual arts, NSCAD is a leader in this field within North America. Moreover, the college boasts robust connections with art museums, galleries, and various cultural institutions not just in Canada, but around the globe.
Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, is a key economic hub in Canada's Atlantic region, renowned for its vibrant cultural and economic activities.
02. Tuition Fees
For residents of Nova Scotia, the annual tuition fee is approximately CAD 9,239.6. Students from other provinces in Canada can expect to pay about CAD 10,522.64 per year. International students, on the other hand, are looking at an annual fee of around CAD 22,463.6. These figures are based on the assumption that the student is enrolled in a full course load of 30 credits for the year.
03. Course Structure
To embark on this major, students are required to successfully complete two specific courses in their foundation year: FNDN 1450, which focuses on studio design practices, and DSGN 1500, centered around foundational studio design practices. Out of the total 120 credits required to complete the degree, 90 credits are dedicated to studio courses, underscoring the program's strong emphasis on practical skills. Additionally, the college encourages students to pursue a minor in consultation with their academic advisors, allowing for a more rounded and comprehensive educational experience.
04. Application Requirements
For high school graduates, the only entry point to NSCAD is through the Foundation Program. Applicants who have completed at least one year of visual arts courses at a university or college recognized by NSCAD can apply as Advanced Standing candidates, which allows them to bypass the Foundation Program and directly enter a specific major.
For Foundation Program Applicants:
- Academic Requirements: High school transcripts with an average grade of at least 70%, including a minimum of 70% in Grade 12 English.
- Portfolio Requirements:
- •Submit 10-20 pieces of recent work (completed within the last three years) that showcase a variety of mediums.
- •Include 5-10 sketchbook/notebook/journal entries that depict the creative process, from initial planning to concept development.
- Admission Essay (for international students): A one-page essay outlining your reasons for choosing NSCAD, the skills and knowledge you aim to acquire, and how you envision NSCAD's education shaping your future.
For Advanced Standing (Transfer) Applicants:
- Academic Requirements: A minimum of one year of visual arts-focused studies completed at an accredited university or educational institution, with up to 75-120 credits eligible for transfer.
- Official Transcripts.
- Portfolio Requirements:
- •Submit 10-20 completed works that relate to the medium of the major you wish to apply for.
- •Present works in other mediums to demonstrate the foundation of art and design knowledge accumulated in your previous university/college studies.
- Admission Essay (for all Advanced Standing applicants): A one-page essay detailing your motivation for studying at NSCAD, the skills and knowledge you wish to gain, and your future aspirations influenced by an NSCAD education.
- Language Requirements (for both Foundation and Advanced Standing applicants): If the official language of instruction for the last three years of high school or one year of university/college was not English, meet one of the following:
- •TOEFL: Minimum total score of 90, with no less than 20 in each component.
- •IELTS: Minimum total score of 6.5, with no less than 6 in each component.
- •CAEL: Minimum total score of 69, with no less than 60 in each component.