How to Choose an Industrial Design Engineering School

Students in industrial design engineering programs learn to combine art, business and engineering to design structures or manufactured goods. They can work in a range of industries, designing everything from automobiles to toys, while ensuring that their designs are both functional and safe.

Industrial design programs are offered by community colleges, art and design colleges and universities. Degree programs can be found at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

Top Industrial Design Schools

Some of the postsecondary institutions offering industrial design programs are listed below.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees* (2015-2016)
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $45,840 (Undergraduate); $45,840 (Graduate)
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $39,230 (Undergraduate); $41,432 (Graduate)
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $50,665 (Undergraduate)
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills 2-year, Private Master's $35,886 (Graduate)
California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $43,708 (Undergraduate)
Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $46,586 (Undergraduate); $30,570 (Graduate)
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $10,037 In-state (Undergraduate); $12,425 In-state (Graduate)
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $37,124 (Undergraduate); $40,426 (Graduate)
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's $15,054 In-state (Undergraduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

When selecting an industrial design school, students may find the following considerations helpful.

  • Schools should be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD); they periodically have their programs reviewed to make sure they meet the association's standards for education.
  • Since the ability to incorporate digital graphics is essential for industrial design, students might benefit by selecting a program that emphasizes the use of programs like Photoshop or Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Many schools post recent graduates' portfolios on their websites, so prospective industrial design students might look at alumni portfolios to aid in deciding if a school will fit their needs.
  • An industrial design program that offers the opportunity to complete a cooperative internship prior to graduation could give students an advantage in the competitive field of industrial design.

Professional Certificate Programs

Professional certificate programs, which can range from as few as five courses to more than 15, are geared toward students who already hold a degree in another field and wish to become industrial designers. In some programs, students compile a portfolio of their work.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

In most bachelor's-level programs in industrial design, the first year is devoted to completion of general education courses, including some introductory design courses. The second year typically focuses on general studies in studio and design techniques. The final two years are dedicated to advanced professional training, culminating with the completion of a senior portfolio. Students are often required to complete an internship or cooperative work experience.

Master's Degree Programs

While there aren't many graduate-level industrial design programs, students might consider a master's program in architecture or design development. These degrees typically can be completed in under three years and allow students to select a focus area, such as visualization or product development. Some programs require students to complete a thesis or final project.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Students interested in researching or teaching industrial design at the university level likely will need to complete a Ph.D. program in design or architecture with a focus in industrial design. Doctoral candidates generally need to attend several seminars in addition to completing advanced coursework. Students need to complete a dissertation or research project.

Choosing an industrial design school begins with determining what degree level you plan to pursue, because programs are often available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Other factors that might be considered include program accreditation, tuition and the opportunity to gain workplace experience.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?