Toy Design Universities and Schools in the U.S.

Toy designers create both toys and toy packaging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers prefer to hire individuals holding a bachelor's degree in toy design or industrial design. While toy design programs are rare, industrial design and illustration programs are offered at a number of colleges and art schools throughout the country.

As of 2009, the BLS reported only two schools in the U.S. offer bachelor's degrees in toy design. Industrial design bachelor's degree programs, which are far more common, deal with the creation and packaging of many different types of products, focusing on both functionality and aesthetic quality.

Schools with Illustration and/or Industrial Design Programs

These schools offer undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare future toy designers:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $50,665; Graduate: $40,625
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $45,840; Graduate: $45,530
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate: $10,002; In-state Graduate: $9,208
School of Visual Arts New York, NY 4-year, Private for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $35,000; Graduate $39,200
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $10,158; In-state Graduate $10,610
California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $43,708; Graduate: $45,510
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's Graduate: $40,158
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $43,870; Graduate: $42,280
Southwest University of Visual Arts Albuquerque, NM 4-year, Private for-profit Bachelor's Undergraduate: $22,613

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); School websites

School Selection Criteria

There are some key things to consider when selecting a toy design program.

  • An up-to-date workshop setting with access to a variety of materials and design tools is recommended in any program for an aspiring toy designer.
  • Programs with portfolio and resume building courses, as well as career planning opportunities, can also be advantageous; toy design internship opportunities with major toy companies help students become familiar with the industry and provide valuable networking opportunities.
  • Hands-on group experiences, including brainstorming, design and development, are useful in preparing students for real-world work environments
  • Programs should include model-making equipment, access to toy catalogues and facilities for creating stuffed toys.

Bachelor's Degree in Toy Design or Illustration

Students can find toy design concentration options and facilities through a number of artistic and illustration bachelor's degree programs. Students can also take specialized courses dealing with the toy industry, toy history, child development and psychology, hard toys, soft toys and games. A senior research project or internship is sometimes required for successful completion of such programs.

Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design

Bachelor's degree programs in industrial design teach students to conceptualize and construct a variety of products, including furniture, appliances, technology and toys. Toy design is offered as a concentration area in some programs.

There are only a few colleges offering programs in toy design, so it is common to complete a degree in illustration or industrial design to prepare to enter this career field. A number of public and private institutions offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees that prospective students can choose from.


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