Welcome to our ranking of the 30 top-value undergraduate industrial design degrees in the United States. Over 60 schools were evaluated for this list. Only degrees in industrial design proper were considered. Some of these industrial design degrees approach the subject from a fine arts perspective, and others from a more scientific perspective. Many of the industrial design degrees on our list are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The value of a program is important, because while designers make good money, piles of student debt can prove a difficult obstacle to overcome. While college tends to be expensive across the board, design programs often require more out of pocket expenses for professional software. This software can be expensive even with the discounts provided by most universities.

Industrial design is a massive profession. Every product we use on a daily basis was designed at some point before it was produced. Design often focuses less on the engineering of a product, and more on its final form. Ergonomics, user friendliness, kinesiology, durability, and visual appeal are among the many attributes that must be considered throughout the design process. Designers don’t work in a vacuum. They are often part of a design team made up of engineers, business persons, and marketing specialists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an industrial designer is $64,000 per year. Some designers work for major companies, while others freelance or work with design firms as consultants. The median pay of the top 10% in the profession is over $100,000 per year. The best way to start your career off well is to earn your degree from a respected institution.

Check out these top-value industrial design degrees at the undergraduate level. Precise information about the methodology we used to determine what qualifies as a top value is available at the end of the article.

#30. Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Boston, Massachusetts
BFA in Industrial Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 7

Starting off our ranking of the top-value industrial design degrees is the BFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. All of the faculty teaching in this NASAD-accredited program are practicing designers and members of the IDSA. Many of the faculty members have worked in the field as design consultants and started their own design firms. Some of the courses students will have the opportunity to take include rapid visualization and perspective, conceptual drawing, product rendering, and joinery.

Tuition: $11,225
Average 20yr. ROI: $283,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 89%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#29. Montclair State University

Montclair, New Jersey
BFA in Industrial Design

Montclair State industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 7

Another excellent choice among industrial design degrees is Montclair State University’s bachelor’s degree in industrial design, accredited by the NASAD. Montclair State’s students have the opportunity to engage in competitive internships at companies like DKNY, Fisher-Price, Quirky, Innovative Plastics, Aqua Products, ModCo, and Nova Technology. Students will have the opportunity to study abroad through an exchange program with Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Hungary. Students who study in Hungary will participate, for a full semester, in the Mercedes-Benz AG-sponsored transportation design program.

Tuition: $11,540
Average 20yr. ROI: $371,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 76%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#28. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Seattle, Washington
Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design

University of Washington industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 7

Students graduating with an industrial design degree from the University of Washington have been employed by companies like Oracle, Nordstrom, Philips Design, Wizards of the Coast, US Bank, Teague, Disney, and ArenaNet. Some of the products students have developed in their projects are prosthetic limbs, video game controllers, innovative computer peripherals, strollers, and athletic equipment. Students take classes like typography, color + composition, computer aided design, and design history.

Tuition: $12,394
Average 20yr. ROI: $583,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 56%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#27. Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina
BS in Industrial Design

Appalachian State University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 8

Students in Appalachian State University’s NASAD-accredited industrial design degree program can choose between product design and furniture design concentrations. Student designs have been showcased and placed highly at competitions like Dwell on Design, High Point Furniture Market, and Greener Gadgets. Appalachian State industrial design graduates have found work at GoPro, Touchstone 3D, ECR Software, Lowe’s, Toshiba, Kikkerland, and Hunter Fan Company.

Tuition: $6,553
Average 20yr. ROI: $226,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 70%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 2

#26. Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington
Bachelor’s in Industrial Design

Western Washington University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 8

Western Washington offers NASAD-accredited industrial design degrees at the bachelor’s level. One of the distinguished faculty at Western Washington is Del King. He was CEO of Teague, a major design firm that works with companies like Samsung, Xbox, Boeing, and Panasonic. Students will find themselves taking classes like industrial design CAD skills, graphic design concepts, art history, and law & business environment. Sustainable Design and User Experience Design are two minors which industrial design majors often choose. WWU has a very reasonable tuition among industrial design degrees.

Tuition: $8,965
Average 20yr. ROI: $318,000
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 74%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#25. Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio
BS in Industrial Design

Ohio State University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 8

Ohio State University offers students an NASAD-accredited industrial design degree. Some of the distinguished faculty in the design department at Ohio State have worked for companies like Motorola, Nokia, Fitch, and Proctor and Gamble. Students enrolled in the bachelor’s in industrial design program will take courses like design media, collaborative design, and visual strategies for industrial design. Excellent students have the option of taking honors track design research and creative activity in design courses.

Tuition: $10,037
Average 20yr. ROI: $394,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#24. Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama
Bachelor of Industrial Design

Auburn University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 8

The industrial design degree at Auburn is accredited by the NASAD. Design students at Auburn will have the opportunity to study abroad in studios and workshops at universities in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Prospective industrial design students must enroll in a summer design studio after their first year of college. Only the top 45 students from that studio (based on GPA) are accepted to the program.

Tuition: $10,200
Average 20yr. ROI: $439,900
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 78%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#23.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, Virginia
Bachelor of Industrial Design

Virginia Tech industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 8

The NASAD-accredited industrial design degree at Virginia Tech provides students with many interdisciplinary opportunities through cross-college projects with the college of engineering. Many of the industrial design faculty are still active professionally, whether they are involved with design firms, or sitting on the accreditation commissions of NASAD. Students who have graduated with a bachelor’s in industrial design from VT have worked for companies like Whirlpool, Nike, Fluke, General Electric, Case Logic, Dell, Motorola, Under Armor, Samsung, and Uber.

Tuition: $12,017
Average 20yr. ROI: $583,900
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#22. University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Lafayette, Louisiana
Bachelor of Industrial Design

University of Louisiana industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

The University of Louisiana’s industrial design degree is accredited by the NASAD. The program will prepare students for a career designing manufactured goods like automobiles, household products, food packaging, consumer electronics, toys, movie sets, and medical equipment. Some of the classes available to students are visual arts, design communication, principles of marketing, and design and the computer. Industrial design faculty member Andy Loewy currently has designs in the collections of the Arkansas Art Center of Little Rock, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis University, and Hampshire College. Potential students looking for an inexpensive option among industrial design degrees will want to take a good look at University of Louisiana.

Tuition: $6,872
Average 20yr. ROI: $224,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#21. University of Wisconsin-Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin
BFA in Industrial Design

University of Wisconsin Stout industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

Students in the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s NASAD-accredited industrial design program will take courses on design research and problem solving, concept development, ergonomics, interface and interaction, and designing for manufacture. Graduates of the program have found employment at companies like 3M, Target, Trek Bicycles, Masterlock, Microsoft, Harley Davidson, Hasbro, and Leapfrog. The program has many gallery spaces on and off campus where students can proudly display their designs.

Tuition: $9,025
Average 20yr. ROI: $353,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#20. Pennsylvania College of Technology

Williamsport, Pennsylvania
BS in Industrial Design

Pennsylvania College of Technology industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

The bachelor of industrial design degree at the Pennsylvania College of Technology is an interdisciplinary program that blends aesthetics, ergonomics, material science, engineering, manufacturing, business, and the social sciences. Students can expect to take courses like trigonometry, three dimensional design, ergonomics and kinesiology, technical drawing, and 3D parametric modeling using SolidWorks. Graduates of the program often find jobs in packaging design, environmental design, and marketing.

Tuition: $15,450
Average 20yr. ROI: $402,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#19. University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
Bachelor’s of Design in Industrial Design

University of Illinoi at Chicago industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

Because of the beginning-to-end continuity with which their industrial design degree is delivered, UIC does not accept transfer credit for design courses. The first year of the program is devoted to helping students create a portfolio, which they then use to apply to the major officially. Once fully enrolled in the industrial design degree, students will take classes like human experience in design, design research methods, materials and methods, and history of design.

Tuition: $13,634
Average 20yr. ROI: $444,900
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 82%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#18. California State University-Long Beach

Long Beach, California
BS in Industrial Design

CSU Long Beach industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

CSU at Long Beach offers students an NASAD accredited degree in industrial design. Sponsored projects and internships allow students to work with companies like Oakley, General Electric, Apple, Chrysler, Hitachi, Kawasaki, and Nike. Among the courses students will take in this program are perspective and rendering systems, design drafting, design materials and tools, visualization techniques, history and theory of design, and advanced form study.

Tuition: $6,452
Average 20yr. ROI: $481,900
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 72%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#17. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina
Bachelor of Industrial Design

NC State industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

NC State offers students an NASAD-accredited industrial design degree. Graduates of the program have worked for companies like IDEO, Nike, Dell, IBM, Volvo, Hasbro, Target, Bosch, PepsiCo, Microsoft, and Smithsonian. Student projects sponsored by companies like Coca Cola, Hanes, and Lowes are crucial to the industrial design curriculum at NC State. Some of the classes students will encounter in the industrial design degree are digital product modeling, advanced industrial studio, and digital design process. Low tuition and high ROI among industrial design degrees make NC State a great value.

Tuition: $8,296
Average 20yr. ROI: $510,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 69%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#16. Wentworth Institute of Technology

Boston, Massachusetts
BS in Industrial Design

Wentworth industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

Wentworth Institute of Technology’s NASAD-accredited degree in industrial design is accredited by the NASAD. Students have the opportunity to study design abroad, exploring the design environments of companies like BMW and Ferrari in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France. Students and graduates have found employment at companies like Bose, New Balance, PUMA, Sun Microsystems, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Hasbro. Wentworth’s industrial design degree features classes like design magic, 3D realization, conceptual physics, plane and solid geometry, and visual communication.

Tuition: $30,765
Average 20yr. ROI: $541,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 98%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#15. San Jose State University

San Jose, California
BS in Industrial Design

San Jose State industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

The faculty of the NASAD-accredited industrial design degree at SJSU is an all-star team that has worked for companies like Apple, Nike, and Hewlett Packard. The list of companies founded and co-founded by SJSU faculty includes Ammunition, LUNAR, Branch Creative, and Astro Studios. The industrial design degree features over 40 approved internship sites at corporations like Apple, Brooks Footwear, DesignWorks, FuseProject, GoPro, Pixar, and Nokia.

Tuition: $7,323
Average 20yr. ROI: $579,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#14. Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
BS in Product Design

Drexel University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

Students looking for industrial design degrees in the Philadelphia area will want to seriously consider Drexel. The faculty of the Drexel University’s NASAD-accredited product design degree have worked with companies like Hewlett-Packard, Ciba Corning, Data General, Texas Instruments, and Vogue. This bachelor’s in product design prepares students for careers designing consumer electronics, housewares, fashion accessories, medical devices and more. Students will take courses like applied design visualization, applied human centered design, design thinking, and applied design research.

Tuition: $47,051
Average 20yr. ROI: $589,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#13. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois
BFA in Industrial Design

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

The NASAD-accredited industrial design degree program at UIUC can lead students into careers involving toy design, architecture, marketing, computer interface design, furniture design, and management. Some of the unique electives students can choose to take during their study include book making, Japanese aesthetics, printmaking, digital photography, multimedia, and computer animation. Graduate exhibitions provide students the opportunity to showcase the projects on which they worked throughout their undergraduate career.

Tuition: $15,020
Average 20yr. ROI: $601,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 65%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#12. Lawrence Technological University

BS in Industrial Design

LTU industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

The NASAD-accredited industrial design degree at Lawrence Technological University facilitates collaboration between students and industry professionals on the design of products throughout all four years of study. Students can engage in interdisciplinary projects with with students from the colleges of architecture and design, management, and engineering. Students who earn a degree in industrial design from LTU will be prepared to pursue a career in product design, fashion design, jewelry design, entertainment art, 3D modeling, exhibition design, and furniture design.

Tuition: $30,200
Average 20yr. ROI: $609,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#11. Purdue University

West Lafayette, Indiana
BFA in Industrial Design

Purdue industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 9

Purdue’s bachelor’s in industrial design is accredited by the NASAD. Purdue students have won top prizes in design competitions held by International Bicycle Design, Microsoft Next PC, Dyson “Eye for Why,” Marine Design, and IDEA. Some of the classes students will take include materials and processes, seminar on ideas in industrial design, furniture design, problems in industrial design, and social issues in industrial design. Students graduating with a degree in industrial design from Purdue have found employment at companies like International Trucks, Delta Faucet, General Electric, Sears, and BMW Designworks. Among industrial design degrees Purdue offers an affordable program with a great ROI.

Tuition: $10,002
Average 20yr. ROI: $635,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#10. Kean University

Union, New Jersey
BID in Industrial Design

Kean University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 10

Coming in at 10th among our industrial design degrees, Kean University’s NASAD-accredited program offers 16 area of emphasis courses that can be used to create custom concentrations. Among the emphasis courses are drafting and CAD in industrial design, CAD and 3D modeling, model design, design delineation, production methods, furniture making, and history of industrial design. The Kean Internship Fair features companies like IBM, Calvin Klein, and Van Heusen.

Tuition: $11,244
Average 20yr. ROI: $303,000
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 81%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 3

#9. San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California
BS in Industrial Design

SFSU industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 11

Students earning a NASAD-accredited industrial design degree from San Francisco State University choose a concentration in either product design and development, or industrial technology. Students may also choose to minor in industrial arts. Some of the courses offered as concentration electives are digital media, electricity and electronics, technical drawing, interactive electronic prototyping, exhibit design, and information design. Among industrial design degrees, San Francisco State has remarkably affordable tuition and interesting program options.

Tuition: $6,468
Average 20yr. ROI: $417,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 70%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 3

#8. Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa
Bachelor of Industrial Design

Iowa State industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 13

Students in the College of Design at Iowa State have the opportunity to study abroad in the school’s flagship Rome program for either a semester or over a summer. The NASAD-accredited industrial design degree offers minors in critical studies in design, design studies, entrepreneurial studies, digital media, and urban studies. Some of the courses available to industrial design students are design culture, design representation, materials and processes, computer aided industrial design, and industrial design research methods.

Tuition: $7,726
Average 20yr. ROI: $474,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 4

#7. Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah
Bachelor of Industrial Design

BYU industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 10

BYU students in the NASAD-accredited industrial design degree program will take their classes in a very specific order. Design core classes their second year, third year focuses on application through a sponsored corporate project, and fourth year is focused on exploration and expression which culminates in each student spearheading their own project. The third year projects have been structured and sponsored by companies like General Motors, Logitech, Hewlett Packard, and Tupperware.

Tuition: $5,000
Average 20yr. ROI: $633,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#6. Carnegie Mellon University

Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design

Carnegie Mellon University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 10

Students in the bachelor of design program at Carnegie Mellon University can choose between concentrations in products, communications, and environments. Alumni from the CMU design program have been employed by companies like BMW, Starbucks, Pinterest, The Guardian newspaper, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Spiderman), Nike, and Apple. Students will take courses like photo design, understanding form and context, designing for interactions, prototyping workshop, and designing for complex systems.

Tuition: $49,022
Average 20yr. ROI: $785,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 3

#5. Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio
BA in Industrial and Innovative Design

Cedarville industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 11

Ranking fifth of thirty among top-value industrial design degrees is the BA from Cedarville. Students earning their bachelor’s in industrial design at Cedarville can choose between concentrations in consumer product design, transportation design, interior space design, and architectural and exterior space design. Some of the classes available in the industrial design degree program are two-dimensional design, composition, three dimensional design, drawing in dynamic perspective, innovative media systems, and consumer product design. Students have pursued careers in consumer electronics, medicine, transportation, and other industries.

Tuition: $26,420
Average 20yr. ROI: $354,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 99%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 4

#4. University of Houston

Houston, Texas
BS in Industrial Design

University of Houston industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 11

In 2003 the University of Houston became the first school in its region to offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. The program’s prime location has allowed students access to resources, internships, and employment opportunities at institutions like NASA and the Texas Media Center. Students will take courses like visual thinking, materials and methods, physics, visual presentation, human factors, and design research methods.

Tuition: $8,605
Average 20yr. ROI: $526,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 83%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 1

#3. Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona
BSD in Industrial Design

Arizona State University industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 12

The NASAD-accredited industrial design program at Arizona State University offers students the opportunity to minor in architectural studies, interior design history, and landscape architecture studies. Because industrial designers work as members of a team, students have the opportunity to participate in InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary, team oriented program where they collaborate on a design project with students from business, engineering, and visual communication design.

Tuition: $10,157
Average 20yr. ROI: $436,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 91%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 3

#2. Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York
BFA in Industrial Design

Rochester Institute of Technology industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 12

Ranking second among our top-value industrial design degrees is The Rochester Institute of Technology’s industrial design program, accredited by NASAD and recently designated as one of the top ten design schools in the US by Business Week. RIT design graduates work at companies like Adidas, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Reebok, Rubbermaid, Toyota, Under Armor, Xerox and Yahoo, among many others. Industrial design students can minor in any subject area, many of which are great pairings with a bachelor’s in industrial design. Available minors include science and technology, music, economics, and mathematics.

Tuition: $35,768
Average 20yr. ROI: $564,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 4

#1. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia
Bachelor’s of Industrial Design

Georgia Institute of Technology industrial design degrees

Website
Rating: 14

Georgia Tech tops our list of high-value industrial design degrees. Georgia Institute of Technology’s NASAD-accredited bachelor’s of industrial design provides students with concentrations in product development & innovation, interactive product design, and health and well being. Students interested in studying design in other countries will be able to study in cities like Oxford, Barcelona, Greece, and Italy. Some of the unique and interesting classes students will encounter include visual design thinking, materials and processes, culture of objects, and human factors in design.

Tuition: $11,394
Average 20yr. ROI: $835,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 74%
Minors, Concentration, and Emphases: 3

Methodology

Our ranking system for determining the top-value industrial design degrees in the United States was simple. We awarded points based on four categories: low tuition, high return on investment, a high percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the number of minors, concentrations, or areas of emphasis offered within the program. Each of these categories contributes to the value of a program.

Tuition: Up front cost is one of two major factors in student borrowing. With student debt at an all time high, many students are looking for ways to graduate with as little debt as possible. Low tuition can drastically reduce student debt.

Financial Aid: The higher the percentage of students receiving financial aid, the more likely any individual student will be to receive some form of financial aid. A high likelihood of receiving financial aid, combined with a low tuition, works to reduce overall expenses.

Return on Investment: These figures give a rough guide as to the success of students graduating from the school over the following 20 years of their life. The return on investment figures listed here are equal to the amount of money graduates from the school earn on average over and above the average earnings of people with no college degree. The ROI figures are from Payscale (see link at end of article). You can find out more information about how they determine ROI on their website. ROI was used to break ties in our ranking, with the better ranking going to the school with the higher ROI.

Minors, Concentrations, and Emphases: Transferring schools can be a major expense. Often schools have different requirements for majors and students lose credits in the process. It’s not unusual for students to extend their education by a semester or more by transferring schools. Schools with plenty of options within a student’s given major provide students with the ability to switch between minors and areas of emphases without transferring schools, thus saving time and money.

Below is the outline of our ranking system detailing how points were awarded to schools.

Tuition Points

Under $10,000: 3 Points
Under $20,000: 2 Points
Under $30,000: 1 Point

Students Receiving Financial Aid:

60%: 1 Point
70%: 2 Points
80%: 3 Points
90%: 4 Points

20 Year Average Net Return on Investment Points

$200,000: 1 Point
$300,000: 2 Points
$400,000: 3 Points
$500,000: 4 Points
$600,000: 5 Points
$700,000: 6 Points
$800,000: 7 Points

Minors, Concentrations, and Emphases Points

One point per minor, concentration, emphasis, option, or track.

Sources of Information on Industrial Design Degrees

The return on investment figures were sourced from Payscale.com

The tuition and financial aid information was sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database

Salary Information was sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

This concludes our ranking of the 30 top-value undergraduate industrial design degrees in the United States.

Further Reading: 20 Best Values in Occupational Safety Degree Programs


By CVO Staff
Published April 2016