Industrial Design Schools | The Art Career Project (2023)

By TACP Staff on July 07, 2021

Industrial Design Schools | The Art Career Project (1)

Industrial Design schools teach students about the professional practice of designing products, objects, services, and devices used by people throughout the world every day. Each object or device that you interact with on a daily basis at work, home, or school is the result of design decisions made by an industrial designer who sought to improve the appearance and functionality of the object through well-executed design.

Industrial Design Degree Programs

Industrial designers create comfortable, attractive and functional products that people use everyday all around the world. They are directly involved with every step of that process, from initial idea to construction to final implementation.

Students who choose to pursue an industrial design degree can expect to take a series of design courses along with courses in history, psychology, and science. They will learn skills such as sketching, pattern making, product design, engineering CAD, and 3D modeling. Industrial design tends to be the most artistic of all engineering disciplines, while still requiring a strong technical background. New graduates who majored in this field will typically be hired into a position where they create designs for products that are manufactured and sold.

Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design

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A bachelor’s degree in industrial design typically takes four years to complete and oftentimes includes courses like advanced CAD/CAM design, service-learning experiences, or internships with local companies. Students can choose from several different courses that will help prepare them for specific industries, including architecture and manufacturing. In addition, students learn about interior design as well as engineering principles.

Master’s Degree in Industrial Design

A master’s degree in industrial design is a graduate degree that typically takes about two years to complete. It’s an advanced course of study for students who want to work in industries such as consumer product design, communications, and engineering. The curriculum may focus on subjects like materials science, human factors engineering, and 3D modeling. The master’s degree program will also prepare students for professional certifications such as the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) certification.

Related Disciplines

Industrial design affects virtually every manufactured object on the planet. Its applications are ubiquitous – packages, containers, textiles, home furnishings, your mobile phone, and the chair you are sitting in are examples of industrial design. Yet, if you ask most people to define industrial design, no one seems to know what it is. The definition and differentiation are frequently confused and often vary depending on the context.

Perhaps this is because Industrial Design is a trans-disciplinary (relating to more than one branch of knowledge) profession that incorporates perspectives from several related fields and seamlessly balances the creative, conceptual, and technical thinking from several disciplines.

As a student of Industrial Design, you will build a well-rounded understanding of user behavior, shape, ergonomics, materials, color, finishes, manufacturing, and function. Outside of this core, you will also learn about how the benefits of an object or device can be communicated and how it sits within a brand. Your education will build upon several closely related disciplines, including the following:

User Experience (UX) Design

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User experience design is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product. In more general terms, it is about creating a great experience for people who use (consume) a company’s products or services. User experience design is used in all disciplines involving designing products or services to understand how people interact with or experience them.

User Interaction (UI) Design

User interaction design is all about interactions between the user and the system. It’s used when designing any kind of interactive product but is especially important in designing software solutions. It’s about the aesthetics of an interface — how it looks and feels. Of course, your design won’t look or feel good unless it’s easy to use.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is the process and practice of visual communication and presentation through the use of typography, photography, color, illustration, and layout. A graphic designer may use a combination of these techniques to produce a result that communicates messages or ideas visually. A graphic designer often uses images or illustrations to represent words and objects, which helps the viewer better understand a message.

Service Design

Service design is the research, creativity, and thinking involved in designing new service experiences or improving existing ones. Every service has different expectations in terms of performance, security, reliability, and much more. A service designer will need to consider these expectations when creating the best possible experience for that individual customer segment. Service designers must know their customers’ needs intimately and be able to translate them into valuable, tangible, worthwhile service experiences.

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Design Research

Design research is a multidisciplinary field of design that focuses on qualitative research in order to better understand people, behaviors, and contextual factors of specific situations. Design research includes exploratory conversations, rapid prototyping and testing, participant observation, contextual inquiry, usability testing, and heuristic evaluation.

Typically design research is conducted in “context” which means that the focus of the design research is on a specific place or group of people. Design researchers will be side by side with their participants through their natural process to understand how they do things for themselves rather than watching them from afar.

Design Strategy

Design strategy is the process of planning what creative direction a product will take. It is the process of understanding which customer segment to target and how to communicate with them in their language. As a result, design strategy creates products that will be unique to the target market and most likely stand out from other brands. This strategy often starts with creating personas and then determining what their needs, wants, motivations, values are so that you can create an experience targeted toward those needs.

Branding and Marketing

Branding and marketing are terms that often go hand in hand. Branding is the process of creating a visible and meaningful association between a product and its company. Marketing is the process through which consumers are informed about the products and services offered by a company, usually by using words, images, pricing, promotions, and sales tactics.


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At its basic level, engineering is the application of science to the challenges of product design and manufacturing. Product engineering is at the intersection of these two areas, where a company or institution develops a product that meets its specifications and needs. Industrial design is critical to bringing the engineering side to life. Industrial design translates the plans, drawings, and specifications created by an engineer into a tangible, physical product that can be manufactured.

The Best Industrial Design Schools in the U.S. for 2021

A degree in Industrial Design can change the trajectory of your career. And, while selecting a school can start to feel like an overwhelming process, it is important to keep in mind that your education should not only prepare you for your professional education, but also for your life beyond school. Industrial Design schools can differ greatly in terms of size, location, and focus, but what they should share is a dedication to providing students with a comprehensive education. This list ranks the best industrial design schools in the United States according to five criteria: degree program strength, faculty members and their commitment to student success, percentage of students enrolled in graduate programs, admission requirements, and cost of attendance.

1Rhode Island School of DesignProvidence, RI
2Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA
3ArtCenter College of DesignPasadena, CA
4California College of the ArtsSan Francisco, CA
5Pratt InstituteNew York, NY
6Savannah College of Art & DesignSavannah, GA
7Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester, NY
8University of WashingtonSeattle, WA
9Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
10Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH
11Brigham Young UniversityProvo, UT
12College for Creative StudiesDetroit, MI
13School of the Art Institute of ChicagoChicago, IL
14University of IllinoisChampaign, IL
15Iowa State UniversityAmes, IA
16Auburn UniversityAuburn, AL
17Cranbrook Academy of ArtBloomfield Hills, MI
18Georgia TechAtlanta, GA
19Arizona State UniversityTempe, AZ
20San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco, CA

Helpful Organizations & Resources


What is Industrial Design in art? ›

Industrial design, as an applied art, most often focuses on a combination of aesthetics and user-focused considerations, but also often provides solutions for problems of form, function, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales.

How do I start a career in Industrial Design? ›

How to become an industrial designer
  1. Earn a bachelor's degree. Enroll in a bachelor's degree program at an accredited college or university. ...
  2. Consider a master's degree. ...
  3. Prepare your resume and portfolio. ...
  4. Gain professional experience. ...
  5. Build a network of industry professionals.
8 Mar 2021

Which subject is best for Industrial Design? ›

Candidates wanting to pursue a masters degree in Industrial Design must meet the following prerequisites: A bachelors degree in a product, industrial designing, architecture or engineering with a meritorious score.

What is BFA major in Industrial Design? ›


The Bachelor of Fine Arts, major in Industrial Design program places emphasis on the fusion of art, design and technology. Students learn the skills and discipline necessary for the design development of functional objects that are geared for mass production.

Do Industrial designers make good money? ›

The average salary for a industrial designer in California is $80,000 per year. Industrial designer salaries in California can vary between $28,500 to $310,500 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.

Is industrial design a good career? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of industrial design is expected to grow substantially over the next eight years. And, with an average salary of $77,030 a year reported in 2021 (but closer to $104,000 in San Francisco), the field promises great job security and financial stability.

Is industrial design in demand? ›

Employment growth for industrial designers will be sustained by an increase in consumer and business demand for innovative products and new product styles.

Does industrial design require math? ›

General Curriculum Requirements:

Math Courses: Algebra, Calculus, Computer Science, Logic, Statistics.

Is industrial designing hard? ›

Industrial Design is probably more useful in the world than your degree. Sure you may study Maths, English, Law, even Medicine, but there's an argument to be made for Design. After all, everything in the world needs to be designed.

Is Bachelor of Industrial Design worth it? ›

Industrial Design is responsible for creating products that can be both useful and beautiful, teaching students how to combine the theoretical concepts of materials and processes with the practicality of design and patterns. And that's why, in short, a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design is an awesome degree.

Is Industrial Design BA or BS? ›

Two common degrees at the undergraduate level are the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in Industrial Design or the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design (BSID). These programs are typically offered on campus, but are rarely found online.

Is a BFA better than a BS? ›

Many of our prospective students have trouble deciphering the difference between a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.. The truth is that there is not a difference in the quality of training that students receive in the BFA and BA/BS programs.

What can you do with a bachelor of industrial design? ›

As an Industrial Design graduate, you can look forward to career opportunities in:
  • Technological innovation.
  • Consumer goods.
  • Entertainment and games.
  • Online and e-learning solutions.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Secondary Teaching. (further study is required)

Which design field has highest salary? ›

  • Creative Director Salary: $134,582 per year.
  • Furniture Designer Salary: $61,352 per year.
  • User Experience Designer Salary: $92,666 per year.
  • Architect Salary: $86,514 per year.
  • Advertising Designer Salary: $67,100 per year.
  • Fashion Designer Salary: $60,918 per year.
5 Sept 2022

How many hours a week do industrial designers work? ›

Most work full time, 40 hours per week. Many work overtime to meet deadlines and production demands.

Is industrial design declining? ›

The market size of the Industrial Designers industry is expected to increase 3.7% in 2022. Has the Industrial Designers industry in the US grown or declined over the past 5 years? The market size of the Industrial Designers industry in the US has grown 6.7% per year on average between 2017 and 2022.

Is industrial design a stressful job? ›

Industrial designers tend not to find their jobs stressful, which likely contributes positively to career satisfaction.

Where are industrial designers paid the most? ›

Highest Paying Cities For Industrial Designers
RankCityAvg. Salary
1San Francisco, CA$89,485
2Seattle, WA$88,808
3Chelmsford, MA$75,539
4Wichita, KS$69,962
11 more rows

Do industrial designers travel a lot? ›

They may travel to testing facilities and to clients' and users' locations to ensure their designs are on track, and visit manufacturing facilities to observe production. Commercial and industrial designers may need to meet with clients on weekends or evenings.

Where do most industrial designers work? ›

Industrial designers work in a variety of industries. Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, clients' exhibit sites, users' homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured.

What skills should an industrial designer have? ›

Some of the skills you should look for in a good Industrial Designer include:
  • A knack for hardware, tools, and machines.
  • Practical, yet creative.
  • Meticulous attention to detail.
  • Able to concisely articulate a concept.
  • Good collaboration skills.
  • IT skills.
  • Original and imaginative.
  • Excellent at translating an idea into a design.

Do industrial designers build? ›

Industrial designers are in charge of developing concepts for manufactured products. They design, develop and document industrial, commercial or consumer products and then make prototypes to test the design to be considered for production.

What is the career path for a industrial designer? ›

Industrial designers need complex problem-solving skills, and the ability to work across both hands-on and digital techniques. Careers include working in design agencies, government departments and companies in scientific, technical, manufacturing and retail industries.

What are the disadvantages of industrial design? ›

However, there are also some disadvantages to industrial design. Mass production can sometimes result in inferior quality, and designers may have less control over the final product. In addition, industrial design can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if multiple prototypes need to be created.

Is industrial design still popular? ›

It's on-trend, but it has a past.

As cities grew and space became limited, old industrial areas were converted into residential neighborhoods. "Industrial style design incorporates elements of historic commercial spaces into a living space.

Are industrial designers happy? ›

Industrial designers rate their happiness above average.

How long does it take to become an industrial designer? ›

How Long Does It Take to Become an Industrial Designer? It takes at least two years to earn an associate degree to become an industrial designer. You need four years for a bachelor's degree program, and earning this degree will only increase your chances of being hired as an industrial designer.

Can you get an Industrial Design job without a degree? ›

Nobody will dispute the fact that a degree will make things easier for you, provide you relevant skills and theories, as well as give you a certificate to use in getting yourself a job as a product designer. But the truth is, having a university degree is not a must in the design world even though it helps.

How long is a degree in Industrial Design? ›

The UNSW Bachelor of Design is a three-year degree when studied full time.

Is industrial designer an architect? ›

Industrial designers are responsible for developing consumer goods, such as toys, furniture, and kitchen appliances. Architects, on the other hand, busy themselves with designing buildings, which can require them to consider such factors as window placement, shape, and materials.

Should I study Industrial Design? ›

Industrial Design is responsible for creating products that can be both useful and beautiful, teaching students how to combine the theoretical concepts of materials and processes with the practicality of design and patterns. And that's why, in short, a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design is an awesome degree.

Is Industrial Design under STEM? ›

The Master of Industrial Design program has the approved CIP code 15.1502: Engineering Design, which makes the program a recognized STEM degree program.

What are 10 careers in art and design? ›

What specific roles are available in art and design?
  • Fine artist. Fine artists create and sell their original artwork, often specialising in mediums such as painting, drawing or sculpture. ...
  • Illustrator. ...
  • Graphic designer. ...
  • Photographer. ...
  • Interior designer. ...
  • Furniture designer. ...
  • Art teacher or lecturer. ...
  • Curator.

What do industrial designers actually do? ›

What Does An Industrial Designer Do? Industrial designers design products that we use everyday, like fridges, appliances, laptops, and cars. They take these products from a concept in the customer's head to a fully functional product with a sleek, attractive appearance.

What is the salary of a BFA? ›

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Jobs by Salary
Job TitleRangeAverage
Job Title:Graphic DesignerRange:₹156k - ₹588kAverage:₹306,495
Senior Graphic DesignerRange:₹287k - ₹1mAverage:₹603,162
Visual DesignerRange:₹296k - ₹967kAverage:₹562,384
Graphic Artist / DesignerRange:₹137k - ₹737kAverage:₹315,188
3 more rows

Is a BFA a real degree? ›

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is considered to be the most prestigious bachelor's degree that you can receive in the visual arts. This option is for students who wish to gain as much experience and skill in photography as possible.

Is a degree in Fine Arts worth it? ›

Despite the stigma surrounding art majors, an art degree can be an excellent opportunity to develop and hone the studio skills necessary to forge a career as a professional artist. Both the environment and length of the program allow students to learn relevant tools and surround themselves with like-minded individuals.

Is Industrial Design an art course? ›

No! Industrial Design is a pure science course and not suitable for commercial or art students. But if you have the required subject combination in your O level result, you can go for it if that is the course you desire to study.

What is Industrial Design degree called? ›

Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours)

Who is a famous industrial designer? ›

Marc Newson is an award-winning designer with works that range from furniture to aircraft and luxurious yachts. In addition to being one of the most influential industrial designers of his generation, Newson's works are featured in many contemporary design museums all over the globe.

How do I start a career in industrial design? ›

How to become an industrial designer
  1. Earn a bachelor's degree. Enroll in a bachelor's degree program at an accredited college or university. ...
  2. Consider a master's degree. ...
  3. Prepare your resume and portfolio. ...
  4. Gain professional experience. ...
  5. Build a network of industry professionals.
8 Mar 2021

Is industrial design an engineer? ›

Industrial Design Engineering is a specialisation in the engineering discipline in which systemic thinking converges with the creative process. Industrial design engineers are professionals specialised in applying scientific and technical knowledge to create products, materials or services in a creative way.

What is industrial design example? ›

An excellent example of iconic industrial design is the Coca-Cola 'Contour' bottle which is recognised by millions across the globe and is used on a daily basis by many people every day. The design is immediately recognisable and this has been the case for over 100 years.

How do you describe industrial design style? ›

It's a style inspired by the noble look of warehouses, factories and industrial spaces. The decor includes stripped-down architectural details, including the use of bare bricks, metals, and wood, as well as recycled materials. Industrial-style furniture is generally resistant to wear and tear.

What is industrial art example? ›

Industrial arts teachers instruct students in an array of vocational subjects. Their courses may focus on engine repair, heating and air-conditioning systems, welding, or wood- and metal-working. They may also teach robotics, computer technology, graphic design, and/or computer-aided design (CAD).

What does industrial design focus on? ›

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day.

What colors are used in industrial design? ›

Monochromatic palettes of greys, iron black, and white are the main colors used in Industrial design. Any color that is found in brick, natural wood, or concrete will fit into an Industrial home. Red and orange are popular colors for accessories.

Who is the father of industrial design? ›

As one of the key designers in the 20th century, Raymond Loewy's life as a designer across many disciplines provides proof for many that design is not limited to one industry or field.

What are the benefits of industrial design? ›

Industrial design can help businesses to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve the aesthetic appeal of their products.

What are the 7 areas of industrial arts? ›

Industrial Arts
  • Industrial Engineering.
  • Industrial Design.
  • Mechanical Designing.
  • Applied Technology.
  • Mechanical Engineering.
  • Electrical Engineering.
  • Electronic Engineering.

What are the 4 types of industrial? ›

Primary industry involves getting raw materials e.g. mining, farming and fishing. Secondary industry involves manufacturing e.g. making cars and steel. Tertiary industries provide a service e.g. teaching and nursing. Quaternary industry involves research and development industries e.g. IT.

What do industrial artists do? ›

They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

What skills do you need for industrial designer? ›

Some of the skills you should look for in a good Industrial Designer include:
  • A knack for hardware, tools, and machines.
  • Practical, yet creative.
  • Meticulous attention to detail.
  • Able to concisely articulate a concept.
  • Good collaboration skills.
  • IT skills.
  • Original and imaginative.
  • Excellent at translating an idea into a design.

What is the job demand for industrial design? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of industrial designers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 3,100 openings for industrial designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Do industrial designers work long hours? ›


Most work full time, 40 hours per week. Many work overtime to meet deadlines and production demands.


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