Industrial and Product Design

Industrial design is the creation of a product that’s intended for mass production, and earning the degree involves multidisciplinary study that is as creative as it is calculating. Industrial design is used in many industries, ranging from car design to packaging design to product design, and it includes conceptualizing and designing the product, as well as creating a manufacturing plan for said product. Industrial design degrees are available at the baccalaureate and master levels.


Studying industrial design means learning about several other areas of study, as well. Notably, graphic design and computer-aided design (CAD) will be crucial elements during the 4-year program. The curriculum will often include techniques used in manufacturing, the principles of design, art history, and wood and metal work. Functionality, user experience, and aesthetics are of equal importance, along with the ability to mass manufacture, which all must be taken into account.

Baccalaureates in industrial design are usually offered as a Bachelor of Art (BA) in Industrial Design or a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in Industrial Design. The difference between a BA and a BFA is ultimately simple: the ratio of general education classes and major course classes are inverted. In a BA program, students will spend 60% of their time in liberal arts classes and 40% in major-specific classes. In a BFA program, 60% of students’ time will be in major-specific courses, while 40% will be spent in liberal arts courses. Often, BFAs are considered pre-professional degrees because of their more intensive training.

Career paths for graduates with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Design: Industrial Designer. This major translates directly into a profession, with an average salary of $62,000. There is some limitation on industry based on location, such as most of the auto industry is located in Michigan, so graduates should be prepared to relocate if their passion is in a specific area.

Master Level

While it’s not required to have a graduate degree, earning an Master's degree in Industrial Design can result in more advanced knowledge, as well as more experience in the research aspect of the field. Entrepeneurialship is often a focus at this level, as well as the protection of intellectual property and advanced work in modeling programs.

Industrial design degrees at this level are offered as either a Master’s in Industrial Design or a Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. The ratios for liberal arts to major-specific courses mimics the BA versus BFA degrees, with the primary difference being that an MFA is considered a terminal degree. Terminal degrees make graduates eligible to teach in higher education. Both will make individuals more competitive in the industrial designing field.

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Auburn University
Auburn University, AL