Automotive Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Automotive designers are often regarded as a specific type of industrial or commercial designer. An automotive designer conceptualizes the appearance of a vehicle's exterior and interior. A bachelor's degree in industrial design or motor vehicle design is the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions in the field.

Choosing an Automotive Design School

Bachelor's degree programs in industrial design or commercial design are unique fields of study, and those specific to vehicle design are even more difficult to find. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (, there are approximately 300 art and design programs that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

A prospective student who wishes to enter the field must first be aware of the number of industrial design programs that qualify graduates to work in the field of automotive design. This is especially important for students who have no plans to enroll in a vehicle design program. In general, a bachelor's degree program in industrial design is broad in scope and prepares graduates to work in a number of different areas, and this fact alone may figure into a prospective choice. Some of the classes found in an undergraduate program in industrial design include art history, design methodology, design history and theory, advanced industrial design and visualization techniques. Internships are typically offered during the last year of study, and students receive the opportunity to work with industrial designers. An internship is important to aspiring automotive and industrial designers and should be one of the main considerations when choosing a design school.

In contrast, a bachelor's degree in automotive design focuses solely on the technical and creative elements needed to design the exteriors and interior elements of automobiles. Some automobile design programs may include topics in materials and processes, computer-aided design and drafting, science, mathematics, automotive design and descriptive geometry. Specific automotive design courses cover areas such as technical creativity, design for manufacturing and assembly, vehicle packaging, design terminology and vehicle electronic systems.

Automotive Design Schools and Colleges by Population

College/UniversityStudent PopulationInstitution Type
Arizona State University67,0824-year, Public
Ohio State University - Main Campus53,7154-year, Public
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign43,2464-year, Public
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor41,0284-year, Public
University of Washington - Seattle Campus39,6754-year, Public
California State University - Long Beach37,8914-year, Public
University of Houston36,1044-year, Public
North Carolina State University at Raleigh32,8724-year, Public
San Jose State University32,7464-year, Public
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University30,7394-year, Public
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus29,6174-year, Public
University of Illinois at Chicago25,8354-year, Public
Western Michigan University24,8184-year, Public
Auburn University - Main Campus24,5304-year, Public
Metropolitan State College of Denver21,7294-year, Public
Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus19,4134-year, Public
Clemson University18,3174-year, Public
Appalachian State University16,6104-year, Public
University of Louisiana at Lafayette16,3204-year, Public
Western Washington University14,6204-year, Public

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