What Are the Top Industrial Design Schools?

Learn what to expect from a top-tier school's industrial design programs. Find out industrial design schools' rankings in the United States, and discover the degree programs available at each. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What to Look for in a Top Industrial Design School

For those interested in studying industrial design, you'll probably want to ensure that the school you attend includes access to a computer, lab, and workroom facilities for digital and physical model making. Some schools promote student work online or in an exhibition space. Consider programs that offer study abroad and internship opportunities, as this may best prepare you for a career as an industrial designer. Many of the best schools are rated by industry publications, like DesignIntelligence, or national organizations, like U.S. News & World Report.

What Are Three of the Best Industrial Design Schools?

Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe

ASU was tied at 115th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2019. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts offers an undergraduate industrial design program. You could gain some real-world experience through an internship during your third year. As a senior in the InnovativeSpace program, you might work in teams to develop products that have minimal environmental impacts.

You could pursue an industrial design concentration and develop research skills in a master's program. You would produce either a thesis or a final project. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program offers a design concentration that could be focused on industrial design. The Herberger Institute Research Center provides a focal point for grant and contract research activities. These degrees are available:

  • Bachelor of Science in Design in Industrial Design
  • Master of Industrial Design (Two-year program)
  • Master of Industrial Design (Three-plus program)
  • Ph.D. in Design, Environment and the Arts

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, PA

CMU tied for 25th in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 ranking of national universities. All CMU industrial design students are assigned a workspace in an undergraduate or graduate group studio. Your work might be promoted in an online exhibition or permanent archive. CMU has formal exchange programs with universities in Hong Kong, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. It also encourages other arrangements with foreign and U.S. design schools.

You'll have access to machine, assembly, spray, and materials rooms in the 3-D lab. The John Reese Electronic Studio has equipment for 3-D modeling and other digital work. Advanced research and image creation are supported by the Robert Smillie Digital Imaging Lab.

A one-year professional master's program in product development is available through the School of Design and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, backed by the Tepper School of Business. As part of a capstone project, master's program students work in teams to develop a real-world corporate solution. The following degrees are offered:

  • Bachelor of Design
  • Master of Design
  • Ph.D. in Design

University of Cincinnati (UC)

Available concentrations in UC's industrial design bachelor's program include general product design or transportation design. Through a cooperative education program, undergraduate industrial design students gain roughly one-and-a-half years of professional experience prior to graduation. The Philip M. Meyers, Jr. Memorial Gallery showcases faculty and student work.

Students enrolled in the design master's program may focus on product development. As a master's student, your research could be facilitated by the Center for Design Research and Innovation. You'll have access to centers for computer graphics and rapid prototyping, as well as a photo lab and a shop with wood and metalworking machines. The Robert A. Deshon and Karl J. Schlachter Library specializes in art and design. The following programs are available:

  • B.S. in Industrial Design
  • Master of Design

More 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$50,000
Art Center College of Design 4-year, Private Pasadena, CA$45,000
Cranbrook Academy of Art 4-year, Private Bloomfield Hills, MI$37,000
California College of the Arts 4-year, Private San Francisco, CA$51,000
Pratt Institute - Main 4-year, Private Brooklyn, NY$32,000
Rochester Institute of Technology4-year, Private Rochester, NY$46,000
Auburn University 4-year, Public Auburn, AL$10,000
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 4-year, Private Chicago, IL$50,000
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4-year, Public Champaign, IL$15,000
Ohio State University 4-year, Public Columbus, OH$12,000

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

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