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.

Degrees specific to vehicle design are extremely difficult to find. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in industrial design or commercial design are more common, but are still only available at select schools. There are approximately 352 art and design programs that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Schools with Industrial Design Programs

College/University Location Institution Type Program Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $10,158 (in-state) $25,458 (out-of-state)
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,037 (in-state) $27,365 (out-of-state)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $15,054 (in-state) $30,214 (out-of-state)
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $11,839 (in-state) $34,143 (out-of-state)
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,452 (in-state) $17,612 (out-of-state)
University of Houston Houston, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $8,759 (in-state) $20,519 (out-of-state)
North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $8,581 (in-state) $24,932 (out-of-state)
San Jose State University San Jose, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $7,378 (in-state) $18,538 (out-of-state)
Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,485 (in-state) $29,129 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a program you want to make sure the program offers the courses and outside of class opportunities needed to prepare you for your desired career. Consider the following when looking for automotive design schools:

  • 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.
  • An internship is important to aspiring automotive and industrial designers and should be one of the main considerations when choosing a design school.
  • Specific automotive design courses should cover areas such as technical creativity, design for manufacturing and assembly, vehicle packaging, design terminology and vehicle electronic systems.
  • There are a variety of degree types to consider, such as the Bachelors in Industrial Design, Bachelor of Science, Masters in Industrial Design or Master of Science in Industrial Design; Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design is also offered. It's important to consider the curriculum of these programs and how they align with your career goals.

Aspiring automotive designers may find it hard to locate degree programs specifically in automotive design, however bachelor's or master's degree programs in industrial design or commercial design may provide them with the required education.

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