Automotive Product Design Schools and Colleges

Dec 04, 2019

Automotive product designers create models of interior and exterior car components. Designers must have knowledge of the materials and processes used in automotive manufacturing as well as a strong background in art and design. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in industrial design are available that include courses in auto design.

Individuals can seek industrial design programs that allow them to concentrate their studies on automotive product design. Programs are offered at undergraduate and graduate levels at 2- and 4-year schools throughout the U.S.

Automotive Product Design Schools

Programs for aspiring automotive product design professionals are offered by these schools.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $12,424 In-state Undergraduate; $13,788 In-state Graduate
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,262 In-state Undergraduate; $23,128 In-state Graduate
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $50,703 Graduate
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,620 In-state Undergraduate; $31,908 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $9,992 In-state Undergraduate; $28,794 Out-of-state Undergraduate

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Some programs specifically focus on transportation design and provide a range of courses on cars and other vehicles. When choosing an automotive product design school there are a number of things to keep in mind.

  • Individuals at every degree level should consider a school's reputation in the industry, job placement and recruiting possibilities, internship availability, as well as notable alumni and affiliation with local industrial design firms.
  • Aspiring designers might want to research whether a school is affiliated with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA); student chapters of IDSA host guest speakers and provide opportunities to network with industry professionals.
  • Working students may wish to attend programs that are offered at night, on the weekends or online as these alternative schedules allow students to maintain employment while earning their degree.
  • Traditional B.S. degree programs tend to require more engineering classes, while BFA degree programs typically contain more fine art courses, such as model making and drawing, so it is important to determine which focus suits your goals.

Associate's Degree in Industrial Design Technology

Aspiring designers can pursue various 2-year degrees, such as an Associate of Arts in Industrial Design or an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology with a concentration in design and drafting. Some programs require students to complete a final design or drafting project in their last semester of study.

Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design

Students in a 4-year BFA program often learn model-making and computer-aided drafting. Students in a B.S. in Transportation Design program might study transportation history and interior and exterior auto components. Students are usually required to complete one or more internships and a capstone project during their final year of study.

Master's Degree in Industrial Design

Master's degree programs in industrial design and product development typically require 1-2 years of study. Students must usually complete a research project or thesis on a topic of their choice. Some fine arts programs require students to teach undergraduate industrial design courses for one or more semesters.

A number of postsecondary institutions offer industrial design, industrial technology or industrial design technology programs for those interested in automotive design. Bachelor's and master's degrees are the most common in this field of study.

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