What Are the Best Product Design Schools?

Product or industrial design marks the cross-disciplinary intersection of math, engineering and management to improve consumer and manufactured products. Read on to learn about three top schools in the field. See what makes them special and learn about the programs they offer. Find out about undergraduate and graduate degrees, curricula and school rankings. Review a list of top ten product or industrial design schools. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Would I Look for in the Best Product Design Schools?

You should start by looking for schools that are nationally ranked for their industrial design programs. You may also want to enroll in a school that will allow you to collaborate on new product designs with students from other disciplines, like engineering or business. Some schools may have studio options with corporate sponsorship or specialized institutes that may prove useful. You could have opportunities for internships or study abroad to gain a professional or international understanding of the field.

Three Top Product Design Schools

Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ

ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts offers undergraduate and graduate product design programs. You could explore a broad facets of design as a design studies major or learn traditional and computer-aided design and prototyping skills as an industrial design major. InnovationSpace is a collaborative venture among the schools of design, engineering and business that is used to foster sustainable design using Integrated Innovation and biomimicry techniques. Its product development projects are supported by corporations like Procter & Gamble, Dow Corning and Intel. You could earn these degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Design in Industrial Design
  • Master of Science in Design
  • Master of Industrial Design (2 or 3 year program)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Design, Environment and the Arts

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

CMU tied for 25th in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 evaluation of national universities. At the School of Design, you could learn to design consumer products, industrial or medical equipment, or focus on human factors design. Your major will require studio courses. You'll access the MPD Studio and the MPD Lab for project collaboration. These degrees are offered:

  • Bachelor of Design (BDes)
  • Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Interactions
  • Master of Integrated Innovation
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Design

Ohio State University in Columbus, OH

OSU tied for 56th among U.S. News & World Report national universities in 2019. Its Institute for Ergonomics provides research opportunities for safe and effective work environment and consumer product design. You might apply computing solutions to design problems using OSU's Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, or employ human-centered techniques to address behavioral responses to design. The Office of International Affairs sponsors a Study Abroad Expo, and industrial design exchange programs are available with universities in the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Finland and Hong Kong. Available degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design
  • Master of Fine Arts in Design Research and Development

Top Schools for Product/Industrial Design Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Rhode Island School of Design 4-year, Private Providence, RI$51,000
Pratt Institute - Main 4-year, Private Brooklyn, NY$34,000
Cleveland Institute of Art 4-year, Private Cleveland, OHN/A
Rochester Institute of Technology4-year, Private Rochester, NY$46,000
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4-year, Public Champaign, IL$18,000
Art Center College of Design 4-year, Private Pasadena, CA$46,000
California College of the Arts 4-year, Private San Francisco, CA$52,000
Auburn University 4-year, Private Auburn, AL$11,000
Cranbrook Academy of Art 4-year, Private Bloomfield Hills, MI$38,000
Syracuse University 4-year, Private Syracuse, NY$39,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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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