School and Ranking Information
There are about 8 schools offering computer-aided design (CAD) training within 20 miles of Minneapolis. The top 3 are included in this article and were chosen based on the breadth of their program offerings and the number of degrees or certificates they recently awarded in CAD.
- Winner: Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is the top choice because it offers the most programs directly related to CAD design and also granted the most credentials in the field in 2011-2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
- Runner-Up #1: Dunwoody College of Technology also has a handful of program offerings that teach CAD, though it awarded about half the degrees and certificates as HTC, so it's the next best choice.
- Runner-Up #2: Century College, which has two program options, earned the third spot on this list.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Hennepin Technical College||Dunwoody College of Technology||Century College|
|Rankings||N/A||63rd among regional colleges in the Midwest in 2013*||N/A|
|Location||Brooklyn Park, MN (10.6 miles from downtown Minneapolis)||Minneapolis, MN||White Bear Lake, MN (14.9 miles from downtown Minneapolis)|
|School Type||2-year, public||4-year, private not-for-profit||2-year, public|
|Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)||$4,998**||$18,154**||$5,357**|
|CAD Programs Levels Offered||Associate's degrees and certificates**||Associate's degrees and certificates**||Associate's degrees and certificates**|
|CAD Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012||59**||35**||18**|
|Most Popular CAD Program (2011-2012)||Associate's degree in CAD Design/Design Technologies (20 awarded)**||Associate's degree in CAD Design/Design Technologies (22 awarded)**||Certificate in CAD Design/Design Technologies (12 awarded)**|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time)||26% (16% transfer-out rate) for 2009 entering class**||41% (2% transfer-out rate) for 2006 entering class**||18% (24% transfer-out rate) for 2009 entering class**|
|Noteworthy||Multiple labs with computers, printers and scanners are available for student use.||Students are able to work with the latest equipment in the graphic design studio and digital printing and finishing labs.||Students can complete an internship and a design project.|
Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **National Center for Education Statistics.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Winner: Hennepin Technical College
- Offers programs in general CAD operation, engineering CAD and architectural CAD
- Computer labs offer access to AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Revit and SketchUp software, as well as scanners and large format printers
Hennepin Technical College offers CAD training through certificate, diploma and degree programs. The Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Engineering CAD Technology prepares students to become design technicians for multiples types of projects. Courses include engineering drawing, geometric dimensions and industrial CAD. A 64-credit diploma in engineering CAD technology is also available for entry-level students.
Advanced technical certificates are available in AutoCAD operator, Pro/ENGINEER operator and SolidWorks operator. All certificates require students to have graduated from or be currently enrolling in a 2-year engineering CAD program and have at least 2 years of work experience.
CAD design training is also available through the school's architectural technology programs. Students can choose between a 64-credit diploma or 72-credit AAS program. Both programs include classes in architectural CAD, 3D rendering and building modeling.
Runner-Up #1: Dunwoody College of Technology
- It is the only private, not-for-profit technical college in the region and 1 of only 3 throughout the country, according to the school
- The land design and civil engineering technology degree program includes internships
Students who are interested in learning CAD design have multiple degree and certificate options to choose from at Dunwoody College of Technology, depending on the industry they wish to work in. The engineering drafting and design technology associate's degree program prepares students to become CAD/CAM technicians or drafters. Students are eligible to earn Certified Solidworks Associate (CSWA) certification as they complete required coursework.
The associate's degree program in land design and civil engineering technology also teaches CAD operation. Graduates are prepared to sit for the Certified Survey Technician (CST) exam and to seek employment as land surveying technicians or civil drafters. Certificate programs in these disciplines are also available. CAD is also taught through an architectural drafting and estimating program that teaches students to analyze projects and describe the construction process. Finally, the graphic design associate's degree program also includes CAD training.
Runner-Up #2: Century College
- Students may pursue the certificate program individually or in conjunction with the degree program.
- Graduates are prepared for as mechanical drafters, technicians or engineering assistants, among other positions.
The Engineering CAD Technology Department at Century College offers both a 64-credit AAS in Engineering CAD Technology and a 16-credit certificate in digital fabrication technology. The AAS degree requires general education courses in addition to classes in applied geometry and math, engineering drafting and power transmission devices. The certificate program can be taken prior to the associate's degree program. It teaches students about automation and manufacturing systems. Both programs includes courses in CAD-related software such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Inventor and CREO Elements/Pro.