Best Product Design Colleges: List of Top Schools

Research the degree options for product and industrial design. Learn about the curricula for product design programs, and research the school rankings and locations to make an informed education decision. View article »

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  • 0:00 School Information
  • 0:45 Rhode Island School Of Design
  • 1:28 Art Center College Of Design
  • 2:06 California College Of The Arts
  • 2:49 More Top Product…

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Video Transcript

School Information

Undergraduate and graduate level programs are available in industrial and product design. Some programs focus on design for vehicles, technology, medical equipment, furniture, housewares, appliances, toys and tools. Industrial design degrees are available at top art schools, universities, and colleges around the country, including Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and California College of the Arts in Oakland. The three industrial design schools profiled here were highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report for their fine arts offerings for 2017.

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and was ranked #4 among graduate-level fine arts programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

RISD offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Industrial Design, and the Master of Industrial Design programs. The school's industrial design department is housed in six floors where galleries, studios and shops are dedicated to undergraduate and graduate-level students. Design students also have access to RISD's industrial design wood shop and model shop, as well as the machine shop and metal working area.

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California

The Art Center College of Design has hosted faculty such as Ansel Adams, a famous American photographer, as well as product designers of the Apple monitor. The Art Center was ranked as the #20 best industrial design graduate program in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

The Art Center awards a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Product Design and Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial Design, both of which have a strategic innovation methodology that focuses on designing products that are functional and socially responsible. Students can also pursue a dual M.S./Master of Business Administration option.

California College of the Arts in Oakland, California

At California College of the Arts students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. Students in this program take courses in drawing, model making, manufacturing and other design-specific topics, as well as more general liberal arts courses, such as Art History and Visual Studies.

The program also includes extensive studio requirements and culminates in a senior thesis project in which the student designs and tests a prototype. Internships are available at many industry leaders in the Bay Area, including Pixar, The North Face, and Pottery Barn. For 2017, CCA was ranked #15 among fine arts schools by U.S. News and World Report.

Top Product Design Programs

Here are some top ranked schools with great industrial design programs:

College/University Name Distinction Location
Carnegie Mellon University This school was ranked #6th among fine arts schools for 2017 by U.S. News and World Report, and it hosts a student chapter of the Industrial Designer Society of America (IDSA), giving students access to field trips, conferences and networking opportunities Pittsburgh, PA
Cranbrook Academy of Art This small graduate-level school offers a 3D design program that is tailored to hands-on students and features weekly discussion and critiques Bloomfield Hills, MI
Ohio State University Ranked 54th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, and the school offers undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts degrees for industrial design Columbus, OH
Pratt Institute A bachelor's degree in industrial design features courses in drawing, problem-solving, computer-aided design (CAD) and 3-D modeling; study abroad opportunities are also offered Brooklyn, NY
Rochester Institute of Technology The second year of the Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design program at the Rochester Institute of Technology includes research and development of a thesis project that is documented and displayed Rochester, NY

Overall, the best industrial design programs in the country offer training at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. These programs are usually highly disciplinary, often emphasizing both art and technology studies.

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