Car Designing Schools and Programs: How to Choose

Car designing programs teach students about general and automotive design concepts. Learn about the courses, requirements, and important school facilities associated with these programs to make an informed decision.

Undergraduates interested in car design can enroll in industrial design programs at colleges and universities, some of which include transportation or transportation design concentrations. A few colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in transportation design, but industrial design programs are more prevalent; master's programs in industrial design and transportation design are available as well.

Ten Schools that Offer Car Design Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in industrial design.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $40,932
College for Creative Studies Detroit, MI 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $38,950
Western Washington University Bellingham, WA 4-Year, Public Bachelor's, Post-Bachelor's Program In-state Undergraduate $8,611; Out-of-state Undergraduate $20,963; In-state Graduate $9,305; Out-of-state Graduate $19,300
Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $20,340 ; Graduate $22,440
Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $30,300
Cleveland Institute of Art Cleveland, OH 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $38,487
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL 4-Year, Private, for-profit Bachelor's $17,700
Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 4-Year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $28,638
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 4-Year, Public Bachelor's In-state $11,000 ;Out-of-state $26,334
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 4-Year, Public Bachelor's In-state $11,850; Out-of-state $23,670

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when reviewing programs in this field:

  • Look for faculty members with automotive design experience.
  • Choose a program that offers corporate partnerships that lead to internship and work opportunities for students
  • Some schools host student-based chapters of groups related to car design, such as the Industrial Designers Society of America, and membership may lead to networking opportunities.
  • Find out if the school has state-of-the-art design facilities, including prototype labs, modeling shops, photography labs, and computing facilities.

Bachelor in Industrial Design

These 4-year programs often cover broad design topics along with transportation or automotive design concepts. Some programs offer transportation or transportation design concentrations. Hands-on lab and design studio work is often required, and many programs include internships.

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Transportation Design

Bachelor's programs in transportation design often cover some of the same skills as industrial design programs. Some of these programs cover other modes of transportation as well, including motorcycles, aircraft, and boats.

Master of Industrial Design

Master's programs in industrial design can usually be completed in two years. Some of these programs admit students without an industrial design background, though prerequisite coursework may be necessary. Both an internship and a thesis are usually required, though some schools offer non-thesis options.

Master of Science or Master of Fine Arts in Transportation Design

While these graduate programs are similar to those in industrial design, they focus more on cars and other types of transportation.

A number of public and private institutions offer programs to prepare aspiring car designers for a career in car design. Industrial or transportation design programs can be pursued at the bachelor's or master's level.

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