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Which Ad School And Why?!

8 min, 15 sec read
12:30 PM | 26 August 2016
by Finn O'Neill
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Finding a list of different advertising schools for aspiring creatives shouldn’t be as hard as it currently proves to be. Having scoured the internet looking at the different options available to me, I realised that there is a huge variety in advertising schools and it would be hugely beneficial to compile a list of them. This is by no means a complete global list of advertising schools, there are certainly plenty in North America which I haven’t covered, however, it should prove a helpful and informative starting block for people seeking to develop their skills as creatives. Many universities offer bachelor degrees in marketing, however I wanted a list of schools which focus mainly on the copywriting and art directing side of creative advertising.

It is by no means a necessity to have attended an ad school to become a creative, however the training and networking opportunities which they open up must not be understated. The old adage that you cannot teach creativity is, to some extent, true. Yet, what you can teach is how to write persuasively and concisely, you can teach art direction which emphasises brand promotion and attracts consumers, you can teach ‘creativity’ in the sense that the tools needed to execute creative ideas can be developed. Attending an ad school puts aspiring creatives in a wonderful position to get a job, especially since most ad schools include time in an agency as part of the programme. I have listed the ad schools in terms of personal preference - this very much takes into account pricing and location but tries to offer a varied list both geographically and financially.

As far as financing your studies, every school is different in what funding and scholarship opportunities are available. It is worth bearing in mind that Masters and Bachelor students in the UK can apply for student finance loans from the government, check out the government website for the most up-to-date information. Foreign schools often have scholarships available and the best advice I can give is to get in touch with the schools directly and enquire as to what help there may be available. There’s no risk in asking, and you may end up saving yourself a lot of money!


#1. Watford Advertising Course (West Herts College)

DEGREE: Professional Development Diploma in Art Direction and Copywriting
RUN BY: Tony Cullingham
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Eloise Smith, Yanny Elliott, Simon Veksner, Ben Tollett
FEE: £3,995

The 10 month course in Creative Advertising in Watford might just be the holy grail as far as creative tuition goes in Britain. Started in 1961, the course provides students the opportunity to form creative partnerships, work on briefs, get experience in agencies and develop a professional portfolio. The first 4 months are spent in university, however from January the students are in placements until their graduation in July. Having placed hundreds of people in creative jobs over the past 50+ years, the course receives applications from students all over the world, accepting less than 20 people per year. The application process involves a ‘creative test’ which can be seen on Tony Cullingham’s website. By no means a simples application, it is very much for the most creative people looking to break into the industry. Find out more.


#2. School of Communication Arts (SCA), Brixton

DEGREE: Diploma in Communication Arts
RUN BY: Marc Lewis
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Marc Lewis, Graham Fink
FEE: £14,250

Re-opened in 2010 by former SCA student, Marc Lewis, the course has links with over 100 agencies and has a network of over 700 teachers. The 12-month course accepts 36 students per year and the course is delivered through a sequence of briefs (about 50). The application procedure consists of a phone call with Lewis, and if successful, a further invitation to meet the current SCA students, and then (hopefully) the offer of a place. Upon completion of the course, students then spend 6 months in industry placements. About 80% of students get a job at a Top 100 industry within 6 months. Find out more.


#3. Falmouth Advertising Course

DEGREE: MA Creative Advertising
RUN BY: Sion Scott Wilson
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Rachel Holding, Daniel Leppanen, Phil Beaumont
FEE: £6,500

The one year MA based in Falmouth offers students the chance to learn their trade in a setting which replicates the experience of working in a typical full-service agency. Working as an individual or in copywriter/art director partnerships, students work on live briefs and have the opportunity to enter work into competitions. Part of the course is the London Study Week giving students the opportunity to visit agencies and network at the heart of the advertising industry in London. The application procedure involves sending three pieces of creative work and completing a creative brief for a product. Find out more.


#4. Berghs School of Communication

DEGREE: Berghs Bachelor
RUN BY: Marco Ortolani
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Urban Gyllström, Mikael Ahlström, Pelle Sjoenell, Hand Bylund
FEE: One semester at Berghs (£3,408) + 2 years abroad (£31,000 - £56,000)

The international Bachelor degree at Sweden’s Berghs School of Communication offers students the opportunity to take a foundation semester in Berghs and then complete their degree at a partner university. Whilst at Berghs student’s cover four mandatory courses and then select a module in copywriting, communication strategy or graphic design. Despite being expensive (there is some funding available for the time abroad), the training at Berghs has proved to be excellent, with lots of creative teams winning at the Future Lions awards this year. Berghs also offer 31 week online certificates for creatives or strategists and shorted 5-6 week courses on a variety of communication topics. Find out more.


#5. Miami Ad School (MAS)

DEGREE: Diploma, Bachelor, Masters
RUN BY: Ron & Pippa Seichrist
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Soham Chatterjee, Giulia Magaldi, Jens Pfau, Shawna Laken
FEE: Diploma (USA: $38,800; Europe: €20,800), MA/BA + (~€/$10,000)

Promoting itself as the top advertising school worldwide, Miami Ad School now has 15 schools in 10 different countries. Offering portfolio programmes, Bachelor degrees and Masters degrees, MAS has courses for art directors, copywriters, digital designers and photographers. Course length is typically two-years and as a MAS member you get access to a host of helpful materials and openings, such as internships, job placements and portfolio reviews. MAS has schools in New York, Miami, Hamburg and Berlin amongst others! The applications procedure includes completing some set creative tasks. Find out more.


#6. Leeds College of Art

DEGREE: BA (Hons) Creative Advertising
RUN BY: Fabio Fragiacomo
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Magdalena Dobrakowska, Chris Poots
FEE: £27,000

The BA at Leeds is a full-time undergraduate programme for aspiring creatives looking for a challenging degree course. The course has links with many agencies in the industry, with 90% of students securing internships or job placement at the time of graduating. The course has a theoretical underpinning but also allows students the chance to work on briefs and develop a portfolio during their time. Students have the opportunity to enter competitions and also look to study abroad for a semester at one of the partner universities. Advertising legend, Sir John Hegarty said about Leeds advertising students ‘They’re a great bunch, led by some very bright tutors’. Find out more.


#7. Hallo© Academie

DEGREE: Postgraduate study for creativity
RUN BY: Wim Michels
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Remy Kurpershoek, Joost Esser, Bas Manders
FEE: €15,125 (£12, 830)

Hallo academie sells itself as a masters in essence thinking and upside down thinking. The one-year postgraduate degree covers all forms of contemporary communication and has tutors from the top of the strategic and creative industries teaching students. Each student is given an ‘external personal coach’ which gives them optimal industry exposure and insight. Students who wish to apply must send an email to receive a application assignment which they must complete. Interviews are then given to selected students and held by two members of the selection committee and a former student. Hallo offers 20 places every year to students who have graduated from universities and academies.Find out more.


#8. Hyper Island UK

DEGREE: MA Digital Management/Digital Experience Design
RUN BY: Max Larcombe
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Peter Sundberbg, Bruno Ribeiro
FEE: £11,500

Formed in 1994 as an educational platform designed to be flexible in anticipating and dealing with change. Focusing on digital content particularly, Hyper Island offers full-time courses in Manchester or a part-time Digital Management MA in London. Students learn the skills required to drive change in the digital world, whilst students on the design course combine that with a teaching programme centred around technical and creative skills. With partnerships with the likes of Sony and Google, Hyper Island is an excellent option for designers and digital strategists looking to increase their knowledge of the changing digital world. Find out more.


#9. Creative Circus

DEGREE: Portfolio
RUN BY: David Haan
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Jesse Juriga, Brent Goldman, Johnny Dantonio
FEE: $45,012 (£34,440)

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Creative Circus portfolio school has the sole aim of graduating the top creative talents in communications. Offering two-year degrees in copywriting, art direction, design and photography, graduates from the Creative Circus have a 97 to 100% employment success rate within six months of graduating. The school offers students access to state-of-the-art facilities and has links with media and advertising industries, offering students and graduates networking opportunities. There are grants and funding available as well, making the school more accessible than at first glance! Find out more.


#10. Bucks New University

DEGREE: Ba (Hons) Creative Advertising
RUN BY: Julie Wright
FAMOUS ALUMNI: Adam Collins, Mark Campion
FEE: £27,000

Similar to the BA run by Leeds College of Art, the course at Bucks offers students a three-year broad creative advertising degree. Offering students the opportunity to work with the latest technologies, such as 3D CAD software and the possibility to team up with people from other creative courses, such as filmmaking, the course is quite varied. Given the proximity to London, the Bucks course offers students an immediate door into the advertising industry with links to major agencies. Students work on live briefs, have the opportunity to enter awards, and meet some of leading names in the industry. Find out more.

Notable Absentees

What do you think? Any schools I have missed or mis-judged. Leave your comments below.

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