Toy Design Universities and Schools in the U.S.

Toy designers create both toys and toy packaging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers prefer to hire individuals holding a bachelor's degree in toy design or industrial design. While toy design programs are rare, industrial design and illustration programs are offered at a number of colleges and art schools throughout the country.

How to Select a School for Toy Design

As of 2009, the BLS reported only two schools in the U.S. offering bachelor's degree programs in toy design. These programs offer coursework in child psychology as well as toy packaging, toy history and game theory.

Industrial design bachelor's degree programs, which are far more common, deal with the creation and packaging of many different types of products, focusing on both functionality and aesthetic quality. These programs often offer electives in computer modeling, graphic design, product development and varied manufacturing materials.

Many artistic courses found within illustration and industrial design programs are similar to a toy design program. Both illustration and industrial design programs are found allowing students to focus on toy design.

Consider the following when selecting a toy design program:

  • An up-to-date workshop setting with access to a variety of materials and design tools is recommended in any program for an aspiring toy designer.
  • Programs with portfolio and resume building courses, as well as career planning opportunities, can also be advantageous.

Programs should include model-making equipment, access to toy catalogues and facilities for creating stuffed toys. Hands-on group experiences, including brainstorming, design and development, are useful in preparing students for real-world work environments. Toy design internship opportunities with major toy companies help students become familiar with the industry and provide valuable networking opportunities.

Toy Design Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Toy Design or Illustration

Students can find toy design concentration options and facilities through a number of artistic and illustration bachelor's degree programs. Students can also take specialized courses dealing with the toy industry, child development, hard toys, soft toys and games. A senior research project or internship is sometimes required for successful completion of such programs. Common coursework includes:

  • 2-D and 3-D design
  • Drawing
  • Modeling
  • Safety
  • Toy production

Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design

Bachelor's degree programs in industrial design teach students to conceptualize and construct a variety of products, including furniture, appliances, technology and toys. Toy design is offered as a concentration area in some programs. Coursework often includes:

  • 2- and 3-D modeling
  • Drawing
  • Product design
  • Toy design
  • Furniture design

Schools with Illustration and/or Industrial Design Programs

College/University Institution Type
Carnegie Mellon University 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Rhode Island School of Design 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Purdue University 4-year, Public
School of Visual Arts 4-year, Private for-profit
Arizona State University 4-year, Public
California College of the Arts 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Portfolio Center 2-year, Private for-profit
Rochester Institute of Technology 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Maryland Institute College of Art 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Southwest University of Visual Arts 4-year, Private for-profit

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