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Industrial Design Graduate Degree Program Overviews

Master of Arts in Industrial Design programs focus on the theory and practice of design processes and methods. Graduates can choose to explore a wide variety of professional design positions.

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Essential Information

Industrial designers help create products, systems and environments that are innovative, culturally sensitive, useful and safe. Students examine manufacturing, technical processes and various topics related to design, such as production, marketing, social responsibility, universal accessibility, aesthetics, ergonomics and economics. Master's programs are typically research-driven and are intended for students who want to pursue professional work in design, strategic planning, project management, education or technology. Students applying to an industrial design master's degree program are generally required to hold a bachelor's degree in industrial design or a related area, and many schools require students to submit a portfolio of related work.


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Master of Arts in Industrial Design

Applicants to a Master of Arts in Industrial Design program need a thorough understanding of psychology and sociology, photography and video, the physical sciences and engineering. Candidates with a bachelor's degree from other disciplines are often required to complete some undergraduate industrial design coursework.

Curriculum for a Master of Arts in Industrial Design is often self-paced and project-based, affording students time to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Programs usually culminate with a thesis project in design topics, such as consumer products, packaging, transportation or exhibition design. In total, students must complete 60 to 75 credit hours of coursework prior to graduation. In addition to learning design principles and theories, students pursuing a Master of Arts in Industrial Design may study the following topics:

  • History of industrial design
  • Design methodology
  • Design systems
  • Design management
  • Human factors in design
  • Aesthetics in design

Popular Career Options

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some industrial designers are self-employed, and others work for specialized design or engineering firms. Individuals holding a Master of Arts in Industrial Design may be interested in one of the following professional design positions:

  • Design researcher
  • Multimedia designer
  • Industrial designer
  • Interface designer
  • Corporate designer
  • Social designer

Individuals who want to pursue advanced studies in industrial design can pursue a Master of Arts degree in the field. Advanced courses in design and design history provide adequate preparation for multiple design-related careers.

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