Commercial Design Schools

Learn about the job duties and education requirements for commercial designers. Discover tips for finding schools with programs related to commercial design, and find out what you'll learn in these programs. Schools offering Design Strategy & Innovation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Commercial design can be studied at the bachelor's or master's degree level. Some commercial design schools offer online programs. Coursework includes computer-aided design (CAD), material science, and engineering.

What Do Commercial Designers Do?

Commercial designers oversee the design of products that you use every day, determining how they work and what they look like, and are also responsible for making sure these items are safe to use. As a commercial designer, you will probably specialize in one specific type of product, such as computers, cell phones, furniture, medical equipment, tools or kitchen appliances. You will be responsible for determining the needs and desires of the customer, which means a great deal of research. Then, you will be charged with developing a product that will satisfy those needs and desires in a way that is safe, effective, innovative and profitable.

But before your idea is sent to manufacturing plants for assembly, you will have to document your design by using computer-aided design (CAD) software to create diagrams and blueprints. Then, you will build and test prototypes and implement changes to improve on the design. You may have to go through this process many times over before your design is deemed worthy of being sold on shelves.

What Skills Will I Need?

To succeed in the commercial design industry, you will need to possess a unique combination of artistic creativity and technical know-how. Although computer software is often used to create design sketches, drawing ability can still be important. And because you will have to sell your ideas and convince clients that they are worthy of production, you must also be an effective communicator. Finally, commercial designers need to work closely with a wide range of people, from corporate staff to marketing specialists to engineers, so the ability to cooperate with others is essential.

What Should I Look For in a School?

When it comes time to apply to a school, you should consider those with programs in industrial design or engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you will likely need at least a bachelor's degree in order to earn an entry-level position in the field. When seeking out schools, you may want to find one that offers a co-op program. These programs help you get internships in the industry, which can be hugely beneficial, not just for developing job skills but also for making professional contacts. You should also explore the kind of facilities that each school offers, looking for those that provide up-to-date software and equipment related to the design field. You may also want to select a school that offers a concentration in a particular type of industrial design.

Which Schools Offer Bachelor's Degrees in Commercial Design?

Students can find several schools that offer relevant undergrad programs, including the following bachelor's degree programs in industrial design. Many programs are available through four-year academic institutions, technical and specialty schools.

  • The University of Houston offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Industrial Design
  • The Academy of Art offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in Industrial Design
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology offers a B.S. degree program in Industrial Design

What Will I Learn?

Programs in commercial design can be highly demanding, because of the wide range of topics you will be asked to master. Some of your classes will cover artistic topics like drawing, art history, principles of design and design aesthetics. On the other hand, you will also take classes in math, science, engineering, material science, manufacturing methods and computer science. Both undergraduate and graduate-level degrees are offered.

Which Schools Offer Graduate Degrees in Commercial Design?

Consider a variety of programs in engineering or industrial design when pursuing graduate degree options. Each area of study includes relevant coursework for commercial design employment; online options also exist.

  • The Academy of Art offers online Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree programs in Industrial Design
  • Pratt Institute offers a Master's in Industrial Design degree program
  • Northwestern University offers a Master of Science degree program in Engineering Design Innovation

Students can study commercial design through undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and industrial design. There are numerous options to chose from, with online programs as well.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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