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Transportation Design Schools and Colleges with Program Summaries

Transportation design schools and colleges offer training in designing automobiles, motorcycles, and other vehicles to be attractive, distinctive, and ergonomically comfortable. A variety of colleges and schools offer a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Transportation Design.

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A bachelor's degree program in transportation design, especially one that includes collaboration with engineering and business students, provides students with a well-rounded education in design. Prospective transportation design students may consider shop facilities for modeling, including computer-controlled machinery.

Schools and Colleges with Transportation, Vehicle, or Automotive Design Programs

The following schools offer programs in the field of transportation and automotive design.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $11,000 for in-state/$26,334 for out-of-state
Pratt Institute - Main Brooklyn, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $46,586
Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $30,300
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $39,230
College for Creative Studies Detroit, MI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $38,950
Western Washington University Bellingham, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,611 for in-state/$20,963 for out-of-state
Arizona State University Phoenix, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,158 for in-state/$25,458 for out-of-state
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,037 for in-state/$27,365 for out-of-state
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Master's $20,966 for in-state/$42,016 for out-of-state

Sources: *NCES and School Websites

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School Selection Criteria

Bachelor of Science or Fine Arts is the most common level of education offered in transportation design, though higher level programs may be available depending on the school. Students should consider the following when choosing where to attend and what to pursue:

  • Federal student financial aid is only available to qualifying students in programs accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Advanced design degree programs may require students to hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited school.
  • Prospective transportation design students may consider shop facilities for modeling to learn how to use 3-D CAD programs, as well as computer-numerically controlled (CNC) and rapid prototyping machines to work with a variety of materials, such as metal, wood, and plastic.
  • Transportation design programs that include extensive internships can help students make industry connections and obtain professional recommendations that can help them secure a job in this highly competitive field.

Bachelor's Program in Transportation/Automotive Design

Transportation design is a unique aspect of industrial design, sometimes offered as a specialization or minor in an industrial design department. Most undergraduate transportation design programs take five years to complete and involve significant internship experience. Designers take drawing and other studio courses, learn the basics of color and design and study the history of transportation design. Industrial and transportation designers also study the materials and manufacturing processes used in making cars, trucks and other vehicles. Courses in communications are usually included, which can teach future designers how to work collaboratively with other experts while bringing a vehicle from concept to market. A basic assortment of general education requirements also provides students with a foundation in the liberal arts.

Students looking for undergraduate or graduate programs in transportation/automotive design might consider their financial sources, plans for further studies, and the shop facilities and internships available before deciding which program best fits their needs.

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