What Are the Top Industrial Design Schools?

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

What Should I Look for in a Top Industrial Design School?

You'll probably want access to 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. Many of the best schools are rated by industry publications, like DesignIntelligence, or national organizations, like U.S. News & World Report.

What Are Three Top Industrial Design Schools?

Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe

ASU was tied at 129th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2016. 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 24th in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of national universities. The school was also tied for 4th in rankings published by DesignIntelligence magazine in 2016. 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 is supported by the Robert Smillie Digital Imaging Lab.

A 1-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. These degrees are offered:

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

University of Cincinnati (UC)

UC's undergraduate and graduate industrial design programs were ranked 2nd and 4th best, respectively, by DesignIntelligence magazine in 2016. 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 1.5 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 program 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 metal working machines. The Robert A. Deshon and Karl J. Schlachter Library specializes in art and design. These programs are available:

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

More Top Schools for Product/Industrial Design Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocation
Rhode Island School of Design 4-year, Private Providence, RI
Art Center College of Design 4-year, Private Pasadena, CA
Cranbrook Academy of Art 4-year, Private Bloomfield Hills, MI
California College of the Arts 4-year, Private San Francisco, CA
Pratt Institute - Main 4-year, Private Brooklyn, NY
Rochester Institute of Technology4-year, Private Rochester, NY
Auburn University 4-year, Public Auburn, AL
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 4-year, Private Chicago, IL
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4-year, Public Champaign, IL
Ohio State University 4-year, Public Columbus, OH

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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