The Best Product Design Colleges In The US

December 2, 2022
By AdmissionSight

The Best Product Design Colleges In The US

If you have aspirations of working in product design, you should be aware of the educational institutions that are considered to be among the best in the field. This article includes a list of the best product design colleges as well as the specific degrees that can be earned from each school.

What are the best product design colleges?

Which schools offer the best product design programs? The decision about which school to attend for product design can be a difficult one. The following is a ranking of the top colleges for product design.

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • School Type: Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Carnegie Mellon University banner

This private research university was established in the year 1900, and it is well-known for its excellent college of engineering as well as the school of computer science and artificial intelligence programs that it offers. Students at its fine arts school have access to a design department where they can learn about product design. There are over 14,500 students currently enrolled across the seven schools and colleges that make up Carnegie Mellon University.

Programs in Product Design with the Highest Quality at Carnegie Mellon University

  • Online Certificate in Product Design Innovation. Students will learn about the design process as well as how to make effective prototypes and test them throughout the course of this online certificate program which consists of two courses. Students get a better understanding of industrial design and product design.
  • Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design. The product design concentration of the bachelor’s degree is where the emphasis is placed. It is a degree that requires students to complete 360 units over the course of four years, and during the second year of their studies, they choose their area of specialization.
  • Master of Design. The Master of Design degree at Carnegie Mellon University can be completed in 195 credit hours over the course of two years. Students are required to write theses and gain knowledge in the areas of design research methods, product design, system design, and service design for interactions.
  • Online Master of Integrated Innovation for Products & Services. To earn this degree, students need to finish 102 credit hours and it takes them nine months to complete the program. Students develop skills in product design, user experience, and user interface design. Students participate in classes focusing on design and creating new products.

The study of product design at Carnegie Mellon University not only teaches students the design skills they need to create effective designs but also investigates new design strategies and methods for responsibly designing products. Thus, it is among the best product design colleges in the country.

Ferris State University

  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Ferris State University building with glass windows

Publicly funded and with a reputation for excellent engineering education, Ferris State University is a leader in the field. It was established in 1884 and currently provides more than 180 degrees and certificates in-person, in addition to its thirty online programs. The class sizes at Ferris State University are intentionally kept low, which allows students and faculty to collaborate closely and results in higher overall instructional quality.

Programs in Product Design with the Highest Quality at Ferris State University

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design. Students who pursue this degree spend all four years of their academic careers learning about the process of product design and functional art. Students are required to complete 120 credit hours and have the option to specialize in one of three areas.
  • Bachelor of Science in Product Design Engineering Technology. Students who enroll in this degree program learn how to apply computer modeling software to the process of product design. The program lasts for four years. They are also taught how to create mechanical designs, as well as how to analyze and improve a design. This degree can only be earned in person and calls for a total of 120 credit hours.
  • Certificate Program in Product Design. People who are interested in learning more about product design can participate in a brief program that is only eight credit hours long and is called the Certificate Program in Product Design. Students receive instruction in more advanced modeling of solids, as well as statistics and ergonomics.

Many things make Ferris State University one of the best product design colleges in the country. Students at Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design build a portfolio that is career-focused and of high quality during their time studying product design at the college. This portfolio is built through the use of internships, projects, and constructive feedback.

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 21%
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Front view of Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology is a research institution that was established in 1885. Some of the topics that are researched there include brain music, interactive product design, and the future of transportation. It has a total enrollment of 43,844 students and provides educational programs in fields such as computer science and mechanical engineering. In the year 2021, Georgia Tech conferred degrees upon 9,222 graduating students. Hence, it is ranked highly among the best product design colleges in the US.

Best Georgia Institute of Technology Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design.  The undergraduate program in industrial design at Georgia Tech takes a total of 130 credits to complete, which can be achieved over the course of four years. During the course of their studies for this in-person degree, students are required to complete a capstone design project, learn the fundamentals of industrial design, and receive an introduction to linear algebra.
  • Master of Industrial Design. This master’s degree requires students to complete 48 credits over the course of two years, which includes coursework such as human-centered design and an introduction to graduate studies in industrial design. In addition, students must successfully defend a thesis.

According to US News & World Report, Georgia Institute of Technology is the tenth-best public university in the United States. Because the Industrial Design program at Georgia Tech is so highly regarded, students who enroll in it are assured of receiving an education of the highest possible caliber.

Iowa State University

  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Iowa State University signage with the school's bell tower visible in the back ground

Iowa State University is recognized among the best product design colleges in the nation. The year 1858 marks the beginning of Iowa State University’s history as a land-grant institution. There are currently 30,708 students enrolled in the university’s 100 graduate and undergraduate degree programs, some of which include accounting, industrial design, and visual arts, respectively. The university is particularly proud of its College of Engineering, design school, extension and outreach programs, as well as its Greek life and student organizations.

Best Iowa State University Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Industrial Design. Students in this human-focused academic field learn about the development of industrial design throughout history, as well as how to draw and use digital tools for industrial design. Students who earn this degree are equipped with the skills necessary to pursue careers as product designers, graphic designers, and design researchers.
  • Master of Industrial Design. Students who enroll in this master’s degree program in industrial design learn about design communication as well as design theory methodology. It is a two-year, face-to-face program in which students are required to present a thesis after completing a total of sixty credits.

Students at Iowa State University who major in industrial design receive training in a wide variety of technical skills through the use of hands-on, practical experience. The curriculum of the program allows students to participate in internships and study abroad and also provides many opportunities for gaining real-world experience.

North Carolina State University

  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 46%
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

North Carolina State University signage attached to a brick wall

North Carolina State University is considered among the best product design colleges in the US. This research university was established in 1887, and its areas of expertise include big data, biomedical engineering, material science, and research about the safety of food. Students at North Carolina State University have access to over 300 different undergraduate and graduate degree programs from which to choose. The student body at North Carolina State University currently numbers more than 37,000 individuals.

Best North Carolina State University Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Industrial Design. Students at the undergraduate level are instructed in digital techniques, experience design for industrial design, and human-centered design through the course of this program. This degree program that is taken on campus can be finished in a total of 120 credits over the course of four years.
  • Master of Industrial Design. This degree can be earned in one of two ways: the first is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in design, and the second is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. It can take anywhere from two to three years and anywhere from 48 to 78 credits to complete, depending on the path that you choose. The courses cover a variety of topics related to industrial design, including product visualizations, materials, and processes.
  • Certificate in Consumer Textile Product Design and Development. This on-campus certificate program requires a total of 15 credits and can be finished in a single academic semester. Students gain knowledge in the areas of digital design and technology, market research in the textile industry, and graduate apparel product design.

Projects with real-world clients are a required component of degree programs in industrial design. Students are allowed to devise answers to challenges and acquire practical experience working in the industrial and product design sector.

Purdue University

  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Purdue University archway

Purdue University is consistently ranked among the best product design colleges in the United States. Purdue University is a public research university that has a total enrollment of 49,639 students and offers more than 200 degrees at the undergraduate level and more than 160 degrees at the graduate level. According to US News & World Report, Purdue University is the second-best university in the United States for students interested in pursuing degrees in industrial and manufacturing fields.

Best Purdue University Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. This on-campus degree can be completed in a span of four years, during which time students earn 126 credits by taking classes in areas such as industrial design, furniture design, and new product development.
  • Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. This master’s degree can be earned in person over the course of two years by completing a total of sixty credit hours. Students receive instruction on product design, continue their education with graduate-level coursework related to industrial design, and participate in an internship.

Students at the prestigious Purdue University receive instruction from faculty members who are recognized as leaders in their fields; the university’s faculty includes two winners of the Nobel Prize. In addition to this, it is well-known for the discoveries and innovations that it has made as a result of its high-quality research.

Rhode Island School of Design

  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • School Type: Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 27%
  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

A building facade made of glass windows and mostly bright orange bricks and a huge metal signage that says Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design.

Rhode Island School of Design is unquestionably among the best product design colleges in the country. This prestigious art school was established in 1877, and it currently has 2,576 students enrolled across its 22 different graduate and undergraduate majors. It offers degrees in fine arts, graphic design, furniture design, and industrial design, among other design specializations. Students who major in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design participate in studio-based learning, which allows them to gain both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the design process.

Best Rhode Island School of Design Product Design Programs

  • Certificate in Product Development and Manufacturing. People who want to further their education in product design are the target audience for this online certificate. To finish it will take you between two and a half and three years. Courses include design research methods and digital design techniques.
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial design. This four-year, in-person program in industrial design requires 126 credits and can be completed in a total of 126 months. Industrial design students learn design principles and manufacturing techniques.
  • Master of Industrial Design. Depending on whether or not they already hold a bachelor’s degree, those who enroll in this master’s degree can finish the on-campus portion of the program in approximately two years. This course culminates in the completion of a thesis and requires a total of 66 credit hours.

Students at Rhode Island School of Design’s Industrial Design program learn how to design products for a variety of industries and applications. Following the successful completion of these programs, students will have the ability to create new materials, household goods, and medical devices.

Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • School Type: Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

Rochester Institute of Technology front buidling

The Rochester Institute of Technology, one of the best product design colleges in the US, first opened its doors in 1829 and currently enrolls 19,718 students in one of its approximately 211 undergraduate degree programs. The Rochester Institute of Technology is home to more than three hundred different student organizations and clubs, and it features an abundant number of research facilities devoted to the study of imaging science, sustainability, and cyber security.

Best Rochester Institute of Technology Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Industrial Design. It takes a total of four years to earn a bachelor’s degree which can be earned by attending classes in person. To be eligible for graduation, students need to complete a total of 120 credit hours. Students study topics such as 3D design, digital drawing in industrial design, and the history of industrial design throughout their time in the program.
  • Master of Fine Arts Degree in Industrial Design. Students are required to complete 60 credit hours and a thesis over the course of this two-year master’s degree program. Within the confines of the classroom, students receive instruction on design research methods, integrated design visualizations, and the function of the form.

While you are a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, you are a member of a community that is extremely diverse and welcoming to all. There are almost 2,000 students who come from other countries, 900 students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and more than 2,700 students who come from underrepresented groups.

University of Minnesota

  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

University of Minnesota signage

The University of Minnesota was established in 1851 and currently serves more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. This highly regarded educational institution offers more than 200 graduate and professional programs, in addition to providing opportunities to study abroad. Students have the opportunity to major in fields such as acting, product design, and accounting, and there are many research and internship opportunities available.

Best University of Minnesota Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Product Design. This in-person program in product design has a total credit requirement of 120, and it takes a total of four years to finish. Students gain knowledge of the production of goods or services through experiential learning in settings such as classrooms and studios. In addition to that, students will participate in two internships and learn creative design.
  • Master of Science in Product Design. Students complete between 34 and 36 credits over the course of this two-year program, which teaches them how to use product design tools to create functional products and services while also providing them with valuable theoretical knowledge. Students have the option of completing a thesis if they so choose.

Students at the University of Minnesota who are working toward a degree in product design have the opportunity to attend product design events where they can network, take part in workshops, and make connections with potential employers. Hence, the University of Minnesota is consistently ranked highly among the best product design colleges in the US.

University of Oregon

  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • School Type: Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s, master’s

The University of Oregon signage

The University of Oregon is a public institution of higher learning that was established in the year 1859. There are currently 22,298 students enrolled, and approximately 331 degrees and certificates are offered to them. In addition to having highly regarded departments for administration, psychology, and advertising studies, the University of Oregon is home to a faculty member who was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Best University of Oregon Product Design Programs

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design. The product design program at the University of Oregon lasts for four years and requires students to earn a total of 120 credit hours. During the course of their studies for this on-campus degree, students gain knowledge of the design process, various design tools, and digital arts.
  • Master of Science in Sports Product Design. A Master of Science in Sports Product Design can be earned on-campus in approximately two years by completing 73 credit hours of coursework. The topics of research, sports production design, and strategic communications are covered in person throughout the course of this degree program.

Students at the University of Oregon who are working toward a degree in product design have access to some of the best design facilities in the country. These facilities include computer and digital imaging labs, a digital computer-controlled mill, and a large-format printing facility.

What should you look for in the best product design colleges?

What characteristics should you search for in the top schools of product design? You need to begin your search by looking for schools that are ranked highly in the nation for the industrial design programs they offer. You might also want to consider enrolling in a school that allows you to work on the design of new products alongside students who are majoring in different fields, such as business or engineering.

There is a possibility that some educational institutions offer studio options supported by corporate sponsorship or specialized institutes that could prove to be beneficial. To acquire a more professional or global perspective on the field, you might have the opportunity to participate in internships or study in another country.

Tips for choosing the best product design colleges

Consider the method of instruction, the expense of the program, and the range of degrees that are available when selecting the product design school that will best suit your needs. Continue reading below for a rundown of important considerations to make when selecting the most reputable universities for product design, as well as an explanation of why these factors are so important.

Flexibility and Organizational Format

Your education is impacted by the mode of instruction as well as the adaptability of the program. When you enroll in a conventional, on-campus program for product design, you have the opportunity to participate in student organizations, and Greek life, and attend classes in person.

An online degree in product design could be the right choice for you if you want to further your education but also keep working or traveling at the same time. You can begin your journey into product design and study online at your own pace, which will allow you to integrate your school schedule into your already hectic schedule.

Cost and Available Financial Assistance

Because everyone’s budgets and financial capabilities are unique, the expense of earning a degree in product design is a factor that must be considered. Try to find a degree in product design that fits within your budget, or apply to a school that has strong financial aid options that you can choose from.

Community college students typically have lower annual out-of-pocket costs for education compared to students at private universities. According to Statista, the average cost of tuition for a degree earned at a public institution with two years of study is $13,130, while the cost of tuition for a degree earned at a private institution with four years of study is $51,690.

Accreditation

You should prioritize finding product design colleges that are accredited when looking for the best product design programs to enroll in. Accreditation is significant for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is that it demonstrates that a school or other organization has demonstrated that it satisfies rigorous educational criteria and provides instruction of a satisfactory standard.

Degree Levels Available

Before beginning your search for the product design school that is ideal for you, you must first determine the level of education that you intend to earn. This will assist you in narrowing down the scope of your search. For instance, if you are interested in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in product design, you will search for the schools that offer the best bachelor’s degree programs in product design.

Help With Your Career

Attending a college that offers career services will make the process of finding a job after you have completed your degree much more manageable, even though it may still be a daunting and difficult task. You should look for one of the top colleges for product design that offers career services that can assist you in preparing for your upcoming job interview, writing a resume, and writing a cover letter.

What jobs can you do with a product design degree?

What kinds of work can you get with a degree in product design? A degree in product design can prepare you for a variety of careers, including those in product design, industrial design, product management, and even product design teaching.

a design student sketching on her sketch pad

Jobs in product design tend to pay well and require candidates to have strong design and communication abilities. If you have a higher level of education, your salary will be higher, and you will have more opportunities to work in senior-level positions.

Earning a degree in product design equips you with valuable skills and information through experiential learning opportunities such as internships. In addition to this, you will have the opportunity to develop more advanced artistic techniques. Some degree programs in product design include real-world projects that are completed for actual customers.

If you’re set on getting into one of the best product design colleges but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about what we offer.

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