Top 10 Best Bachelor’s in Industrial Design Schools and Degrees 2024

Industrial Design

Author: Adam Birch
Reviewed by: Melissa Maypole
Reading Level: Grade 8
Reading Time: 5 minutes, 59 seconds
Original Publication Date: January 2016

Updates: 5

Welcome to our ranking of the 10 top-value undergraduate industrial design schools in the United States. Over 60 schools were evaluated for this list. Only degrees in industrial design proper were considered. Some of the degrees approach the subject from a fine arts perspective. Others have a more scientific perspective. Many 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 to be 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. Keep in mind that these are on-campus programs, not online bachelor’s in industrial design. Though many online courses are available, it is hard to find full industrial design online programs that culminate in a degree.

Industrial design is a massive profession devoted to solving problems. Every product we use daily 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. Among the many attributes that must be considered throughout the design process are:

Featured Programs

  • Ergonomics
  • User Friendliness
  • Kinesiology
  • Durability
  • Visual Appeal

Designers don’t work in a vacuum. They are often part of a design team of engineers, business persons, and marketing specialists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an industrial designer is $77,030 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 $128,000 per year. The best way to start your career off well is to earn your degree from a respected institution.

Reviewing the Top Industrial Design Schools Available

#10. Kean University

Union, New Jersey

BID in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 10
Tuition: $12,972

Coming in at 10th among our best industrial design schools is Kean University’s NASAD-accredited program. It offers 16 areas 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
  • History of Industrial Design Process

The Kean Internship Fair features companies like IBM, Calvin Klein, and Van Heusen.

Pros:

  • Close to NYC
  • Diverse student body

Cons:

  • Lack of student support has been reported
  • Student to faculty ratio is higher than the national average

#9. San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California

BS in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 11
Tuition: $7,524

Students earning an industrial design degree from SFSU choose a concentration in either:

  • Product Design and Development
  • 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
  • Information Design

Among industrial design degrees, San Francisco State has remarkably affordable tuition and interesting program options. The school is NASAD accredited.

Pros:

  • Excellent research opportunities
  • SFSU is committed to social justice

Cons:

  • Acceptance rate is lower than the national average
  • High student-to-faculty rate in lower division courses

#8. Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Bachelor of Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 13
Tuition: $10,133

Students in the College of Design at Iowa State can study abroad in the school’s flagship Rome program to gain technical knowledge for 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
  • Urban Studies

Some of the courses available to industrial design students are:

  • Design Culture
  • Design Representation
  • Materials and Processes
  • Computer Aided Industrial Design
  • Industrial Design Research Methods

Pros:

  • Acceptance rate is well above national average
  • A wide range of academic programming

Cons:

  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average
  • Lack of diversity, some discrimination has been reported


#7. Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

Bachelor of Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 10
Tuition: $6,304

BYU students in the NASAD-accredited industrial design degree program will take their classes in a very specific order.

  • Second year – Design core classes
  • Third year – Application through a sponsored corporate project
  • Fourth year – Exploration and expression

It all 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
  • Tupperware

Pros:

  • Student debt load after graduation is much lower than national average
  • Wide range of academic programming

Cons:

  • TAs teach many classes
  • Strong conservative culture may not appeal to everybody

#6. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 10
Tuition: $47,629

Students in the Bachelor of Design program at Carnegie Mellon can choose between concentrations in:

  • Products
  • Communications
  • Environments

Alumni from the CMU design program have been employed by companies like:

  • BMW
  • Starbucks
  • Pinterest
  • The Guardian newspaper
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Nike
  • Apple

Students will take courses like:

Featured Programs

  • Photo Design
  • Human Factors
  • Understanding Form and Context
  • Designing for Interactions
  • Prototyping Workshop
  • Designing for Complex Systems

Pros:

  • Intense academic environment
  • No merit aid available

#5. Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio

BA in Industrial and Innovative Design

Website
Rating: 11
Tuition: $34,698

The BA from Cedarville ranks fifth of thirty among top-value industrial design degrees. Students earning their bachelor’s in industrial design at Cedarville can choose between concentrations in:

  • Consumer Product Design
  • Transportation Design
  • Interior Space Design
  • 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
  • Consumer Product Design

Students have pursued careers as industrial designers in industries like:

  • Consumer Electronics
  • Medicine
  • Transportation

Pros:

  • Rigorous academics
  • Welcoming atmosphere for international students

Cons:

  • Faith-based education may not be for everybody
  • A lack of student support has been reported

#4. University of Houston

Houston, Texas

BS in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 11
Tuition: $9,699

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 industrial design students access to resources, internships, and employment opportunities as industrial designers at institutions like NASA and the Texas Media Center. Students will take courses like:

  • Visual Thinking
  • Materials and Methods
  • Physics
  • Visual Presentation
  • Human Factors
  • Design Research Methods

Pros:

  • Flexible programming
  • Supportive faculty

Cons:

  • 85% of students are commuters
  • Heavy focus on business school has left other areas wanting

#3. Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

BSD in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 12
Tuition: $11,618

The NASAD-accredited industrial design program at Arizona State University offers students a wide array of minors. You can take:

  • Architectural Studies
  • Interior Design History
  • Landscape Architecture Studies

Industrial designers work as members of a team. Students have the opportunity to participate in InnovationSpace. This is a transdisciplinary, team oriented program where they collaborate on a design project with students from:

  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Visual Communication Design

Pros:

  • Innovative approach to academics
  • They have an inclusive, diverse community

Cons:

  • Large class sizes
  • Heavy reliance on adjunct faculty

#2. Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York

BFA in Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 12
Tuition: $54,518

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s industrial design program. It ranks second among our top-value industrial design degrees. RIT is 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
  • Yahoo

Industrial design students can minor in any subject area, many of which are great pairings with a bachelor’s in industrial design. Available minors for professional practice include:

  • Science and Technology
  • Music
  • Economics
  • Mathematics

Pros:

  • Highly ranked regional university
  • Low student-to-faculty ratio

Cons:

  • Acceptance rate is lower than the national average
  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average

#1. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

Bachelor’s of Industrial Design

Website
Rating: 14
Tuition: $11,764

Georgia Tech tops our list of high-value industrial design degrees. GIT’s NASAD-accredited bachelor’s of industrial design provides students with concentrations in:

  • Product Development & Innovation
  • Interactive Product Design
  • Health & Well-Being

Students interested in studying in other countries will be able to study in cities like:

  • Oxford
  • Barcelona
  • Greece
  • Italy

Some of the unique and interesting classes industrial design students will encounter include:

  • Visual Design Thinking
  • Materials and Processes
  • Culture of Objects
  • Human Factors in Design

Pros:

  • Offers rigorous STEM programs
  • One of the top-ranked public schools nationwide

Cons:

  • Limited number of non-STEM majors
  • Large class sizes can lead to a lack of personal attention

This concludes our ranking of the 10 top-value undergraduate industrial design degrees in the United States.

Related Resources: 

Sources:

  • The National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Payscale.com


By CVO Staff