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NewsApr 23, 2024

Top 10 design schools based on the 2023 RGD Student Awards

This article features the design schools whose students entered the 2023 Student Awards and received the highest scores from our over 100 judges. 

Below, we present the thoughts from some of our Award winners and Honourable Mentions on their experiences at their schools. Please note: schools that did not have students enter the Awards or had only a small number were not under consideration for being included in this list.

George Brown College logo over blue background

#1. George Brown College

George Brown College emerges at the top of our list with 7 Winners and 13 Honourable Mentions out of 33 students who submitted 97 entries.

"If you’re looking for a way to channel your creative energy and ideas into a career, our School of Design can help you succeed. Our programs have a strong focus on hands-on, studio-based learning with our cutting-edge equipment and facilities. Through our extensive work-integrated learning opportunities, innovative applied research projects and our industry-proven faculty, we’ll help you refine your talents and develop the people and technical skills you need to build your portfolio and network. And if you’d like to add an international lens to your studies, we have partnerships with schools in Copenhagen and Italy among others."
George Brown College

“When I saw that GBC had a new branding program, I knew I wanted to pursue it with all that it entails. Being located in downtown Toronto, the campus allows me to participate in design conferences and events that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend if I was located somewhere else in Canada. The friendships with my classmates and instructors are some of the best experiences at GBC. I'd like to acknowledge Kristine Do, our program coordinator and instructor. Her teaching is clear, concise and filled with a passion for design, which she enthusiastically shares with us.”
Nina Hidaka Cvitkovic Student RGD
York University white logo over a red background

#2. York University

York University had 7 Winners and 10 Honourable Mentions from 31 students with 99 entries.

"Define tomorrow’s design strategies while training at the intersection of information design, human-computer interaction and computation. You will learn to manage and communicate complex information through an interdisciplinary curriculum for meaningful human experiences in our increasingly visual world. Experience small class sizes, state-of-the-art facilities and placements with leading design firms, technology start-ups and cultural institutions like Facebook, Google, IBM and more."
York University

“I chose to pursue Design at York University because of the abundance of university resources and opportunities at my disposal. The various faculties and organizations present at York University have provided me with so many avenues to enrich my design education and provide cross-disciplinary practices throughout my work. I want to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation for Paul Sych and Marija Bacic, who are instructors that are so supportive and encouraging of students' ideas. Working with them in class feels like I'm working with a colleague because of the energy and excitement they bring towards students' projects.”
Catriona Nguyen Student RGD
Wilson School of Design logo over a yellow background

#3. Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Wilson School of Design had 4 Winners and 13 Honourable Mentions from a total of 13 students who submitted 58 entries.

"Want to turn your talent for design into a successful career? If you have an eye for design, a head for business and a sketchbook full of ideas, the Wilson School of Design is for you. We support our students to take risks and innovate in small, personalized classes offering intensive hands-on learning experiences and state-of-the-art equipment. Our well-connected faculty bring strong professional connections and real-world experience to help you grow your professional network, perhaps even launch your own start-up before graduation. There are international exchange opportunities as well for gaining a global perspective."
Wilson School of Design

“I chose Wilson School of Design for its graphic design program because it integrates marketing skills into design, which is essential for real-world jobs. The school also offers specialized field school programs in design with access to grants available for funding, which is a unique opportunity. We get to create projects that involve different type of media, which is super fun! I want to give a special shoutout to Mike Cober for being an incredible mentor, guiding us through our projects and always listening to our ideas. His support and advice on time and project management have been invaluable to me as a designer. And a huge thank you to Marga Lopez for continuous support and belief in my capabilities as a designer.”
Camille Clores Provisional RGD
“I chose Wilson School of Design for its diversity in education. The Graphic Design for Marketing program offers a diverse range of education opportunities including motion, illustration, typography, digital, advertising, communications, ethicality, collaboration, feedback provision, practicum program and most importantly industry preparation. The Graphic Design for Marketing program at WSD allows students to grow and develop in diverse paths. The biggest thank you to Mike Cober, John Belisle, Marga Lopez, Matt Heximer, Erin Ashenhurst and Carley Hodgkinson.”
Ellie Kim Student RGD
Conestoga College logo

#4. Conestoga College

Conestoga College had 4 Winners and 2 Honourable Mentions from 34 who submitted a total of 96 entries.

"The School of Creative Industries offers dynamic programs that span all aspects of media, communication and design. Our programs provide you with the knowledge and skill sets needed for today's exciting and growing career market. You could pursue a career as a game designer, interactive designer, podcaster, community relations specialist, eRetail visual designer, interior decorator, multimedia editor, camera operator, 3D animator, graphic designer, media coordinator, social media analyst, motion graphics artist, reporter, event marketing specialist… and more."
Conestoga College

“I was drawn to Conestoga College's Graphic Design advanced diploma program due to its reputation for graduating talented designers. It is recognized as one of the top design programs in Ontario. By my third year, while crafting my thesis project, I found confirmation that my choice to join this program was correct. Opting to create an illustrative children's book for my project, I discovered a balanced fusion of my lifelong passion for illustration and my newfound love for design. I want to thank Molly Hill, Mike Powell, and John Baljkas for my design journey. Their dedication, guidance, and knowledge have equipped me with the essential design skills for this craft.”
Alli Thompson Student RGD
Capilano University logo

#5. Capilano University

Capilano University had 1 Winner and 17 Honourable Mentions from 39 students who submitted 138 entries.

"CapU's IDEA School of Design offers a curriculum which is rigorous and industry-focused, and you'll graduate ready to stand out in the competitive job market of creative professionals. You'll expand your skills, build an impressive portfolio and gain industry experience. You'll improve your abilities in visual communication design, illustration, branding, interactive design, art direction, UI (user interface) and UX (user experience), editorial design, publishing, digital media, character design, storyboard art, environmental design, web/app design and more."
Capilano University

“IDEA has a wonderful reputation and network of alumni. Like many other students in the program, I had an illustration/fine arts background and wanted to explore more options in the world of branding and design. After doing some research on past grads and the type of work they were producing in their portfolio, I realized this was the right path for me. No regrets! Dominique Walker has been very supportive! Thank you!!”
Celina Zhong Student RGD
Alberta University of the Arts logo in black and white over a red background

#6. Alberta University of the Arts

 AUA had 1 Winner and 3 Honourable Mentions from 6 students who submitted 21 entries.

"As an AUArts student, you’ll enjoy one of the best – and biggest – arts facilities Canada has to offer, with each of our shared studios supervised by skilled professionals. So you get a helping hand when you need it, as well as your own studio space in your third and fourth year. AUArts’ classes are led by some of the most talented – and prominent – practising artists in the country, with some of the smallest class sizes (we’re talking a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1)."
Alberta University of the Arts

“I have always been interested in art from a young age, and have always loved painting and drawing. I knew I wanted to do something visual and I have an older cousin who studied graphic design who really opened my eyes to the possibility of a creative career. My dad also did lots of art in university and he listened to advertising podcasts, so the field had been on my radar for a while. Taking the leap and signing up for design school made me feel like I was pursuing something really meaningful. So many instructors influenced me and helped me along the way. Jennifer Merio & Kelly Hartman were two that I really can't thank enough. I learned so much technical skill and hit a stride in their classes that brought me to where I am today.”
Garrett Poon Provisional RGD
OCAD University logo

#7. OCAD University

OCAD had 1 Winner and 2 Honourable Mentions from 11 students who submitted 22 entries.

"OCAD U is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD U continuously builds on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, members of the OCAD U community are uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians. Our programs and research bridge fields of digital media and design, sustainability, health and wellness, cultural diversity and indigenous cultures."
OCAD University

“I wanted to go to a school that went beyond just technical education and offered students a well-rounded arts education. OCAD's graphic design program offers many opportunities for cross-disciplinary exploration in areas beyond graphic design, such as illustration and material arts, which broaden students' experience and allow students to discover new areas of interest beyond their specific program of study. I had the privilege of taking a number of courses in packaging design with Stuart Werle, who has a wealth of knowledge from many years in the industry working with major brands like Minute Maid and Coca-Cola.”
Sandra Dammizio Provisional RGD
Langara College logo over an orange background

#8. Langara College

Langara College had  1 Winner from 3 students submitting 11 entries.

"Langara strives to provide the best possible experience to each student, delivering relevant education to build a strong foundation for success. Here are five reasons why you should consider making Langara your choice for higher education. We aim to promote a comprehensive understanding of the design process and expose students to various aspects of the field. This allows graduates to explore their own creative paths with a broad set of skills and experience."
Langara College

“"Langara Design Formation offers a comprehensive program enabling exploration across diverse design realms. I firmly believe that creativity thrives on a foundation of design principles, creative processes, and practical design applications. From delving into 2D and 3D design to hands-on crafting, I acquired a versatile skill set poised for self-directed learning and a career in the creative sector. Special gratitude extends to Kevin and Marcela for their unwavering support, I express heartfelt appreciation to Katie for her role in unveiling a new dimension of my abilities in 3D Virtual Design, igniting a newfound passion within me. Finally, I am deeply thankful to Terry and Scot for generously sharing their wealth of experience, industry connections and expertise,"”
Khanh Ma
Seneca College white logo over red background

#9. Seneca College

 Seneca College received 5 Honourable Mentions from 7 students with 23 entries.

"Creativity is at the heart of what matters. It’s at the root of our lives. Communications, analytics, art, performance, marketing, design — everything starts with inspiration and imagination. The faculty and students in our communication, art and design programs value the currency of ideas and nurture them to spark progress. Our collaborative setting encourages individual and collective expression. This expertise has helped our graduates build meaningful and successful careers within the creative economy,."
Seneca College

“"I chose Seneca because they had an internship program, and it was a three-year program as opposed to four. Thank you, Professor Johanne Daoust for pushing us to attend class in-person,"”
Gisso Kang
Humber College logo

#10. Humber College

Humber College received 5 Honourable Mentions from 16 students who submitted 44 entries.

"We specialize in storytelling of all forms. No matter your medium, we show you how to bring your art to life: on page, stage, screen or speaker. Get hands-on experience through Live Labs, regular performances and ongoing work-integrated learning and learn the industry-specific business skills needed wherever your career and your story take you. Your professional future starts here."
Humber College

“After graduating, I worked as the Communications Officer for the McMaster Students Union and realized I liked the design side of the job more than others, so I looked into short term advertising and design programs in Ontario. Humber seemed perfect as it was close to my stomping grounds and everyone I know that went to Humber, loved Humber. Thanks Sylvie Pusztaszeri for believing in me and my work and affirming that I made the right decision to complete the ad graph program after taking a year and a half off. Thank you to Laurie LaBelle who took the time to email and video chat with me about the program while I was on the other side of the world with major time differences. Last but not the least shoutout to Eric Forest and Trent Thompson, two profs that are still working in the industry.”
Haley Greene Provisional RGD

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