Online Vehicle Design Schools: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online vehicle design school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, on-campus factors, and common topics offered for the field of study.

Review what online programs you can pursue if you want to be a vehicle designer. Here we cover some of the important things to look out for in a vehicle design program and explore some of the schools that offer these programs such as accreditation and appropriate training.

How to Select an Online Vehicle Design School

Online programs for prospective vehicle designers can be found at a few online colleges, as well as select colleges and universities. The artists who specialize in commercial or industrial design are the ones who create the look of an automobile. These professionals generally have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in industrial design, architecture or engineering. However, the opportunities available online in vehicle design are generally limited to industrial design and engineering.


The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is one of the largest bodies accrediting design schools. When possible, students will want to choose a design school accredited by NASAD in order to maximize the effectiveness of their degree. Additionally, engineering majors should look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Appropriate Training for Vehicle Design

Some students transition from engineering programs into the field of design. Many different online engineering programs exist for engineers, but vehicle design students should be careful to ensure that these programs include computer-aided design (CAD), drafting technologies and other mechanical drawing topics. Students in an online engineering program will want to discuss design possibilities with their advisor.

Career Prospects

Commercial and industrial design is a competitive field, with vehicle design being a small part. Vehicle designers can make themselves more desirable to employers by having a strong background in engineering as well as computer-aided design. BLS also states that many industrial designers are making themselves stand out by completing master's degree programs in business administration.

List of Online Industrial Design Programs

Online Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design

Though exceptionally rare, there are some online bachelor's degree programs in industrial design available. These programs help students develop technical proficiency in the execution of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional product designs, including automobile components. Students will also learn how to present their designs in a professional manner. Online learners will need access to a computer, as well as design software. Topics of study include:

  • Machining technology and visual documentation
  • Industrial design perspectives
  • Model-making and design drawing
  • Concept and form development

Online Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology

There are many different fields of engineering available as online degree programs. Students wishing to become vehicle designers should choose mechanical engineering or another specialty that emphasizes CAD design principles. Some schools offer specialized programs in automotive engineering or vehicle design, but these programs are exceedingly rare. A bachelor's degree in engineering consists of online lectures, discussions and assignments. Some lab courses require on-campus participation. Students take courses in:

  • Dynamometer testing
  • Alternative fuel and vehicle systems
  • Automotive engines
  • Material selection
  • Thermodynamics of applied fluids

Schools with Online Programs in Vehicle Design

The University of North Dakota has as an online mechanical engineering program that students may complete to learn the creative, critical thinking and communication skills need to be a vehicle designer. The online format has allowed students to continue their career with companies and organizations like Boeing and departments of transplantation while earning their degree. Following graduation students earn a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

The Academy of Art University offers a number of online degree programs that can prepare students for a careers as vehicle designer. These include an Associate of Arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts and in Industrial Design. The associate's degree teaches students the basics of industrial design. Here they learn the skills needed to start a portfolio and seek out internships. Those in the bachelor's degree program learn more of the critical thinking and creative skills use to draw designs and be competitive in the job market. The two master's programs teach more skills that allows professionals to build a stronger portfolio and become experts in their field. The Master of Fine Arts program requires students to complete a thesis.

While online programs in vehicle design may not exist, students may find online programs for mechanical engineering and industrial design that teach them the skills needed to compete in the job market as a vehicle designer. Depending on your current level of education, you may find these programs at the associate's, bachelor's or master's levels.

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