It’s the responsibility of drafters to convert concepts and ideas into detailed technical drawings. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, a drafter will take the rough sketches of architects and engineers and turn them into blueprints for the final product.
Drafters help create everything from home furniture to microchips to space satellites. For a successful career in this field, you’ll need a strong understanding of engineering principles, manufacturing techniques, and end-user psychology. That’s where our ranking of the Best Drafting Degrees comes in.
What kind of drafting degree should you get?
To launch a career as a drafter, consider earning a degree in industrial design. These programs often allow you to concentrate on a particular facet of design.
For example, you may choose to specialize in product design, furniture design, or interactive design. All of these specialization tracks typically feature coursework in two-dimensional and three-dimensional visualization and drafting.
Are you still uncertain about whether you want to work in drafting? Not to worry: as an undergraduate, you’ll have the opportunity to explore numerous career options. Visit our list of the Best Colleges and Universities for a broader view of the top-ranked schools for undergraduate education.
How much money do people make with a drafting degree?
As of May 2017, the median pay for drafters was $54,170 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare this to the median annual pay for all workers: $37,690. With an in-demand niche specialization, such as architectural, electrical, or mechanical drafting, you could earn even more.
Job opportunities in drafting are projected to grow 7 percent between 2016 and 2026. This forecast indicates that drafting jobs will keep up with the average growth rate among all occupations.
What can you do with a degree in drafting?
As you’re planning your academic path, it’s important to keep an eye on your career goals from the very beginning. Drafting and industrial design are broad disciplines. To get the job you really want, plan on tailoring your coursework and practicum experiences to your professional goals.
Depending on the program and specialization you choose, your industrial design degree and drafting skills can lead to a variety of job titles. Possibilities include:
- Mechanical drafter
- Architectural and civil drafter
- Electronics drafter
- Exhibition designer
What are the requirements for a degree in drafting?
The best bachelor’s degrees won’t just provide you with an education: They’ll prepare you for a career.
In light of this, it’s no surprise that many of the degrees on our list feature a capstone experience as a graduation requirement. This capstone experience is typically something that showcases your mastery of drafting and other design skills to potential employers.
There are numerous types of capstone experience you may complete as part of a bachelor’s degree program. You might be expected to compile a portfolio, undertake a one- or two-semester action research project, or complete an internship in the field.
What are the best drafting degrees?
We’ve determined the five most important indicators of an outstanding degree program: Quality, Reputation, Affordability, Value, and Satisfaction. Our team of data analysts examines reports from Payscale.com, U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Educational Statistics, and other reliable sources to pull data points relating to each of these factors.
Using a weighted algorithm, we assign each school a composite score and rank it accordingly.
Ultimately, the best degree program is the one that lets you pursue your passions and brings you closer to your professional goals. With that in mind, we invite you to take a look at our ranking of the best bachelor’s degrees for a career in drafting.
See our rankings methodology page.
Georgia Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $13,340
Located in the heart of Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology is situated on 400 tree-lined acres. U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgia Tech seventh among all national public universities. As a technologically focused institution, Georgia Tech offers innovative undergraduate and graduate programs to over 25,000 total students. One of the institute’s acclaimed undergraduate programs is aimed at providing students with an understanding of Industrial Design at the intersection of design, technology, and business.
The program at Georgia Tech leads to a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. Students will take between 16 and 18 credit-hours in most semesters in order to graduate in four years. This degree offers three specializations: Product Development and Innovation, Health and Well-Being, and Interactive Product Design. Required coursework for this degree includes the following:
- Introduction to Sketching and Modeling
- History of Modern Industrial Design
- Human Factors In Design
- Interactive Product Design Studio
Atlanta offers extensive opportunities for Georgia Tech students to work with nationally and internationally influential clients. Undergraduate students may work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MailChimp, Coca-Cola, Porsche, or another globally engaged organization. Georgia Tech also allows students to pursue the Industrial Design program as a minor.
University of Notre Dame
College Choice Score: 96.45
Average Net Price: $26,683
Founded in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is a leading research institution anchored in Catholic values. Notre Dame’s 1,250-acre campus, adjacent to South Bend, IN, is home to a student body of over 12,000. The Industrial Design program at Notre Dame provides undergraduate students with opportunities for study abroad, internships, and participation in the International Design Excellence Award competition.
Students can choose either a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design. The BFA track requires 22 courses (67 credit-hours) within the major, while the BA track requires 12 courses (36 credit-hours) within the major. Students will need to earn a 3.25 GPA in seven core courses before they are formally admitted to the BFA program. Coursework for the BFA degree may include:
- Industrial Design: Digital Solid Modeling
- Origins, Concepts, and Processes of Graphic Design
- History, Application, and Art of Typography
- Industrial Design: Collaborative Product Development
Because the BFA track features more design studio experiences, students earning this degree will graduate with a larger portfolio than BA students. On the other hand, the BA track is ideal for students who would like to double major, or pursue a customized program of study at the intersection of industrial design and art, engineering, anthropology, or another complementary field.
Carnegie Mellon University
College Choice Score: 95.26
Average Net Price: $35,250
In the 2018 World University Rankings from Times Higher Education, Carnegie Mellon University was named to number 17 in the United States (and number 24 globally). The university’s School of Design is one of the oldest and most respected design schools in North America. Reflecting the transdisciplinary nature of industrial design, the School of Design’s undergraduate programs allow students to customize their degree path based on their career goals.
Students may choose to earn a Bachelor of Design with an emphasis in Products, Communications, or Environments. Alternatively, students can pursue an Interdisciplinary Degree. This program allows students to evenly balance their study of design with study in the humanities or sciences. Both of these degrees are highly flexible, allowing students to take courses such as:
- Collaborative Visualizing
- Human Experience in Design
- Color for Communications and Environments
- Type, Form, Meaning, and Context
Carnegie Mellon operates a unique program called the Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology Network (IDeATe), which is designed to foster collaborative, interdepartmental studio experiences. Through the IDeATe Network, undergraduate students can add a concentration in one of eight creative industry areas. Concentrations are available in animation and special effects, sound design, entrepreneurship for creative industries, and more.
Brigham Young University
College Choice Score: 92.41
Average Net Price: $12,864
Brigham Young University is a top-ranked research university enrolling approximately 30,000 undergraduates and 2,800 graduate students. The campus of BYU is located in Provo, UT. The university’s comprehensive academic programs include over 170 undergraduate majors and more than 100 undergraduate minors. The Industrial Design program emphasizes the use of state-of-the-art tools to communicate ideas and the application of end-user psychology in the design process.
Presented by the Ira R. Fulton College of Engineering, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design prepares students to create, develop, and communicate product and service concepts. Undergraduates will complete all 100-level foundation courses before applying to the Industrial Design program. This is a limited enrollment program: Admission is capped at 40 students. Available coursework for this degree includes:
- Tools, Materials, and Processes for Industrial Design
- Exploration in Innovation Design Techniques
- Furniture Design and Advanced Woodworking Processes
- History of Interior Design and Architecture
This program provides extensive opportunities for multidisciplinary team projects, internships, and field experiences with industry groups. Industrial Design students may be eligible for departmental scholarships based on talent, need, and leadership. Students who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will receive a lower tuition rate than non-members.
College Choice Score: 87.72
Average Net Price: $11,693
The flagship campus of the Purdue University system is located in West Lafayette, IN. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Purdue at #18 on its list of the Best Public Universities (and #56 among the Best National Universities, public and private). Through Purdue’s Industrial and Interaction Design program, students will learn to utilize problem-solving innovation to develop and create products, systems, and services.
Students at Purdue can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. This degree is presented by the Department of Art and Design within the acclaimed Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. In addition to a 36-credit-hour Industrial Design required core, this degree path offers an array of electives from which students may choose. Available elective coursework for the BFA in Industrial Design includes:
- Lighting Fundamentals of Photography
- Computer Modeling and Animation
- Information Visualization Design
- Studio in Visual Communications Design
Students in this program will use industry-standard modeling and rendering software such as Rhino 3D, Solidworks, and Keyshot. After passing a required portfolio review in the spring of their sophomore year, students will have 24-hour access to dedicated design studios. In their junior and senior year, undergraduates will work with practicing industrial design professionals on corporate sponsored projects.
California State University Long Beach
College Choice Score: 85.61
Average Net Price: $9,867
A member of the 23-school CSU system, California State University Long Beach is a hub of innovation and discovery. Research and technology parks throughout the Greater Long Beach area are home to companies spun off from campus-originated research projects. Graduates of the Industrial Design program at CSULB have gone on to careers in motion picture special effects, transportation technology, medical design, computer and microchip technology, and small consumer appliances.
CSULB’s program leads to a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and requires 120 semester-units. The curriculum for the degree covers rapid visualization, materials and processes, presentation techniques, design methodology, financing principles, and other key skills for industry professionals. Specific course titles for Industrial Design majors include:
- Modeling and Prototyping Techniques
- Design Materials and Tools
- Advanced Idea Generation for Designers
- History and Theory of Design
Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to participate in corporate sponsored projects. In the past, partners for these projects have included Unisys, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Apple, General Motors, Toyota, and many other globally influential brands and organizations. In addition to the BS in Industrial Design, CSULB’s Department of Design also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Design.
Rochester Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 85.25
Average Net Price: $29,111
In 2018, Princeton Review ranked the Rochester Institute of Technology among the Best Northeastern Colleges. RIT occupies a 1,300-acre campus in Rochester, the third largest city in New York State. International campuses are located in Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo. The multidisciplinary Industrial Design program at RIT will provide career preparation in a number of complementary fields, including publishing, photography, engineering, and information technology.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design degree incorporates foundational coursework in the liberal arts, art history, major-specific courses, studio electives, and open electives. The options for the art history electives are diverse: Students might choose to take courses in topics such as Renaissance Painting in Flanders, Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome, or Scandinavian Modernism. A typical degree path might also include courses such as:
- 3D Design
- Integrated CAD
- History of Industrial Design
- Industrial Design Career Planning
RIT maintains membership in numerous professional organizations, such as the Industrial Designers Society of America, Society of Environmental Graphic Designers, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and International Interior Design Association, among several others. These organizations provide students with opportunities to participate in enrichment activities, attend conferences, and network with other professionals in their field.
James Madison University
College Choice Score: 84.65
Average Net Price: $16,252
Enrolling approximately 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students, James Madison University is located in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. JMU ranks among the top 100 Best Values in Public Colleges, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The ranking reflects a combination of outstanding tuition value and top-tier academic quality. Undergraduate students will benefit from the cutting-edge, career-focused academics in JMU’s Industrial Design program.
JMU offers a program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. This degree requires 41 credit-hours in general education courses and 78 credit-hours within the major. Another six credit-hours are required in scientific literacy and quantitative methods courses, bringing the required total to 125 credit-hours. Coursework within the Industrial Design major may include:
- Science, Technology, and Society
- Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
- Systems Design and Placemaking
- Survey of World Art: Prehistoric to Renaissance
There are a limited number of seats in upper-division classes for the Industrial Design major. Students pursuing this degree will need to pass a portfolio review before they enroll in upper-division coursework, and admissions are competitive. After graduation, students will be qualified to pursue a career in product design, lighting design, model making, social innovation, and many other fields.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
College Choice Score: 84.19
Average Net Price: $17,190
In a “Their Students Love These Colleges” ranking from the Princeton Review, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University earned first place among 382 institutions. Home to nine colleges and a graduate school, Virginia Tech offers 110 bachelor’s degree programs and 170 master’s and doctoral degree programs. The nationally renowned School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Tech offers undergraduate degrees in Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Industrial Design.
Virginia Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design aims to nurture a student’s independence. With a focus on humanistic delivery of services, systems, and products, the Industrial Design program emphasizes innovative technological development as well as ethical responsibility. Offering open studios and dedicated desk space, this program is deeply rooted in a “learn by doing” approach. The degree path features the following required courses:
- Computer Aided Industrial Design
- Human Factors
- Design Visualization
- Professional Practice and Entrepreneurship
All Industrial Design majors will be required to complete six credit-hours in professional electives. These electives may be earned in subjects such as Metals and Metal Processes, Technical Writing, Public Speaking, Sculpture, Digital Art, and many other fields that intersect with design. The Industrial Design program is also available as a minor for undergraduates.
University of Houston
College Choice Score: 83.88
Average Net Price: $15,571
The University of Houston is a state university established in 1927. Today, UH serves more than 45,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. The Corporation for National and Community Service has recognized UH for addressing community challenges and promoting lifelong civic engagement among its students. The conceptual framework of UH’s Industrial Design program is based on three core principles: Integrated Learning, Collaborative Learning, and Project-Oriented Learning.
The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design was established in 2003. It was the very first undergraduate program of its kind in the surrounding four-state region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico). The degree is presented by the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. Students in this program are required to complete at least 132 credit-hours, which they may earn through courses such as:
- Architecture Design Studio
- Design Research Methods
- Design Interaction
- Design Practice and Business
UH is home to the Burdette Keeland Design Exploration Center, a premier digital fabrication facility. The center is open to students of Industrial Design and integrated disciplines such as Architecture and Interior Architecture. All three of these disciplines share the same undergraduate curriculum for the first semester. Students who wish to continue on to graduate study can earn a Master of Science in Industrial Design from UH.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College Choice Score: 81.89
Average Net Price: $16,683
Times Higher Education frequently ranks the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign among the top 50 universities in the world. U of I offers more than 150 fields of study to its 32,000 undergraduate students. Alumni of the university’s Industrial Design program have gone on to successful careers in toy design, interface and experience design, marketing, design management, and many other fields.
The program at U of I culminates in a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. Offered through the esteemed School of Art and Design, this degree requires 122 credit-hours. Students will gain an understanding of the market demand for design, changes in technology and cultural patterns, and methods and materials of production. Required coursework includes the following:
- Introduction to the History of Art and Visual Culture
- Sustainability and Manufacturing
- Human-Centered Product Design
- Art, Design, and Society
U of I offers professional-grade tools and facilities for undergraduate students. More than 70 top-of-the-line computers feature advanced software packages for 2D design, 3D design, computer modeling, rapid prototyping, and animation. Students also have access to a modern engineering and wood shop facility, collaborative studio spaces, and the Krannert Art Museum archives (which include over 8,000 pieces).
North Carolina State University
College Choice Score: 81.15
Average Net Price: $13,066
Founded as a land-grant university in 1887, North Carolina State University is now a preeminent research institution and a national leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The university’s main campus is located in Raleigh, a city that was ranked by Forbes as the third best city in the nation for young professionals. NC State offers a cutting-edge program that leads to a Bachelor of Industrial Design.
In the first semester of the BID program, students will learn the foundations of design processes and design vocabulary. The coursework for this first semester is shared among all majors in the College of Design. After this semester, the curriculum features a blend of studio and lecture courses specific to the Industrial Design major. Students pursuing this degree will take courses such as:
- Digital Product Modeling
- Contemporary Manufacturing Processes
- Advanced Digital Design Process
- Human-Centered Design
Starting in their sophomore year, students will have the opportunity to work with industry partners to conduct user-based research and to engage in design and development at the professional level. To complement their six-credit-hour studio classes, students will take supporting courses that cover ideation and design sketching, materials and processes of manufacturing, digital visual communication, and other critical skills.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 80.37
Average Net Price: $13,007
For three consecutive years, Arizona State University has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as number one among the Most Innovative Schools (Stanford and MIT took the second and third slots). With six total campuses, ASU has an enrollment of over 98,000. The Design School, within the nationally ranked Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, offers world-class programs in Architecture, Urban Design, Environmental Design, Industrial Design, and more.
ASU offers a program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Design for Industrial Design. The program is available through the main ASU campus in Tempe. An internship experience is required for this degree. Industrial Design students may take classes such as:
- Design for Ecology and Social Equity
- Essentials of Advertising and Marketing Communication
- 20th-Century Design
- Visual Methods for Problem Solving
After earning their bachelor’s degree, students can go on to ASU’s Master of Science in Design for Industrial Design. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Industrial Design hold full accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. With more than 5,000 students and almost 400 faculty members, ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the nation.
Iowa State University
College Choice Score: 79.65
Average Net Price: $13,623
A public, land-grant university, Iowa State University is located about 30 minutes north of Des Moines in Ames. The university has a global reputation for excellence in science and technology. It’s also home to one of the nation’s largest campus public art programs. Iowa State has a total student body of over 36,000. By contrast, the College of Design at Iowa State is a tight-knit community of roughly 1,850 undergraduate and 100 graduate students.
The Bachelor of Industrial Design at Iowa State emphasizes a strong foundation in product design, with complementary coursework in business and engineering. This degree requires a minimum of 132.5 credit-hours, which will include 24 credit-hours in major-specific coursework. Required classes for all Industrial Design majors include:
- Creative Thinking for Industrial Design
- Industrial Design Research Methods
- Computer Aided Industrial Design
- Portfolio and Professional Practice
High school students who plan to apply for this program are encouraged to take classes in art, photography, journalism, computer science, and physics. In order to graduate with this degree, students will need to complete two out of three available capstone experiences. Options include an international study program, a multidisciplinary sponsored project, and a professional internship. The College of Design’s dedicated internship coordinators can assist students with the internship application process.
College Choice Score: 78.76
Average Net Price: $22,849
Cedarville University is a private Christian institution enrolling almost 4,000 undergraduate, graduate, and online students. The university offers more than 130 programs of study, all of which are presented through a distinctly biblical worldview. Design students can take advantage of Cedarville’s innovative collaboration with the International Center for Creativity (ICC), located in northwest Columbus, OH.
Students at Cedarville can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial and Innovative Design. Through this unique program, students will spend their freshman and sophomore years on the Cedarville campus and their junior and senior years in the professional design studios of the ICC. Coursework for this degree may include:
- Digital Imaging: Adobe Photoshop
- History and Influences of Design
- Fundamentals of Surface Development
- Architectural/Exterior Space Design
While on the Cedarville campus, students will complete general education classes and coursework for the required Bible minor. During their last two years in the program, students will interact with active professionals at the ICC. These professionals may attend students’ presentations, jury student work, conduct content-specific workshops, and supervise class projects. Among the 2016 graduating class of Cedarville’s Department of Art, Design, and Theatre, 98 percent were employed or pursuing further study within six months of graduation.
Lawrence Technological University
College Choice Score: 77.79
Average Net Price: $27,504
Established in 1932 with the help of Henry and Edsel Ford, Lawrence Technological University is a private university in Southfield, MI. Lawrence Tech is featured in the Princeton Review’s 2018 ranking of the Best Colleges in the Midwest. The undergraduate program in Industrial Design at Lawrence Tech focuses on the integration of creative art, engineering, leadership, entrepreneurship, and sustainability.
A total of 128 credit-hours are required for the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from LTU. This program promotes extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration within the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Engineering, and Management. Students will also have the chance to collaborate with industry professionals in all four years of their program. The following coursework is required:
- Art and Design Awareness
- Technical and Professional Communication
- Manufacturing Process
- Design Leadership
This program requires applicants to submit a design portfolio as part of the admissions process. Portfolios must include between 10 and 25 pieces, and should highlight the student’s drawing and conceptual skills. Industrial Design majors will have access to dedicated studio space and digital, wood, and metal fabrication labs. The College of Architecture and Design at LTU, which presents the Industrial Design program, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1.
Wentworth Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 76.76
Average Net Price: $36,579
According to the Brookings Institution, Wentworth Institute of Technology ranks in the top 2 percent of US schools for value-added earnings for graduates. Wentworth is part of the Colleges of the Fenway, a consortium of six institutions of higher learning. Students at any of the participating institutions can cross-register for courses at the other colleges. This collaborative environment, along with practical learning opportunities and access to leading-edge labs and studios, makes Wentworth a strong choice for Industrial Design students.
Wentworth’s Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Coursework for this degree will cover drawing, model making, manufacturing technologies, user research, and design history. Specific course titles may include:
- Color and Composition
- Plane and Solid Geometry
- CAD: Surface Modeling
- Human Factors in Design
There is no portfolio requirement for students who are applying to the program. However, accepted students will need to pass a portfolio and GPA review at the end of their freshman year before being allowed to continue as a sophomore. Starting in their junior year, students will complete two co-op work semesters that are designed to complement the studio curriculum.
The Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 76.55
Average Net Price: $17,971
The Ohio State University is a land-grant university with a main campus in Columbus and satellite campuses and research centers throughout the state. In the 2018 ranking of America’s Best Colleges from U.S. News & World Report, OSU came in #16 overall. Undergraduates in the Industrial Design program will gain the foundations to plan and develop consumer appliances, furniture, medical equipment, architectural products, transportation devices, and more.
The program at OSU leads to a Bachelor of Science in Design for Industrial Design. Students will take each class for this degree in a designated sequence, as courses are only offered once per academic year. The curriculum features the following required courses:
- Visualization Strategies for Industrial Design
- Materials, Process, and Production for Industrial Design
- Design Media for Industrial Design
- Design Research for Industrial Design
In a recent graduating class of the Industrial Design program, 79 percent of students earned their degree within four years, and 100 percent of students who applied to graduate school were accepted. The OSU Department of Design also offers a minor in Design Thinking, a Bachelor of Science in Design for Interior Design, and a Bachelor of Science in Design for Visual Communication Design.
San Jose State University
College Choice Score: 76.41
Average Net Price: $13,777
Located midway between San Francisco and the Monterey area, San Jose State University sits on 154 acres at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. The university is a national leader in granting degrees to minority students, and it is the number one supplier of engineering, computer science, and business graduates to Silicon Valley. With a diverse student body and a prime location near one of the world’s leading technological hubs, SJSU offers an ideal environment for Industrial Design students.
The College of Humanities and the Arts at SJSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. Through this program, students will gain fundamental skills in visual communication, strategic thinking, design theory, user-centered design, sustainability, and more. Students will take courses such as:
- Advanced Digital Workshop
- Advanced Prototyping
- Advanced Materials and Processes
- Critical and Contextual Studies in Industrial Design
This program features regular portfolio reviews to help guide students through the phases of their academic career. Industrial Design students will have the opportunity to participate in SJSU’s strong international exchange program, which includes partner institutions in Europe and Central America. Graduates of this program have gone on to leadership positions at Apple, Nike, Gibson Guitar, Hewlett Packard, and more.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
College Choice Score: 76.08
Average Net Price: $14,038
The University of Wisconsin-Stout was named by the UW Board of Regents as “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University,” placing it among the ranks of other highly respected institutions such as Cal Poly and Michigan Tech. As a designated polytechnic university, UW-Stout offers a distinctive blend of career-focused education, applied learning, and industry collaboration. These factors make the undergraduate program at UW-Stout an ideal place to launch a career as a drafter.
Students at UW-Stout can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. This program is designed to promote exploration at the intersection of fine art, history, design, and sustainability. To earn the degree, students will complete 120 credit-hours, including 40 credit-hours of general education requirements and 80 credit-hours in major-specific courses. Coursework within the Industrial Design major includes:
- Design Drawing and Concept Visualization
- Two-Dimensional Design Foundations
- Industrial Design: Product Form and Visualization
- Advanced Design Drawing
Degree candidates will be required to complete a regional, national, or international co-op or internship as part of their program. Undergraduates will have exhibition opportunities through the School of Art and Design’s student gallery. Overall, 98.2 percent of UW-Stout graduates are either employed or pursuing further study within six months of graduation.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 76.04
Average Net Price: $15,406
With 128 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six specialized schools, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public research university enrolling about 11,400 students. Business Insider ranked NJIT first in the nation among America’s Most Underrated Colleges. The School of Art and Design at NJIT was established in 2008, and in the decade since its founding, it has grown to roughly 200 undergraduate students.
The first Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from NJIT was awarded in 2010. Starting in their freshman year, students in this program will have 24/7 access to studio space in the Foundation Year Labs. Additional facilities, such as the Physical Computing Lab and the Animation Lab, are available to students in relevant courses. Required coursework for all Industrial Design majors includes:
- Communication in Art and Design: Traditional
- Communication in Art and Design: Digital
- Past, Present, and Future of Design
- Sustainable Materials and Processes
Candidates for this degree will take six semesters of design studio. The program provides numerous opportunities for undergraduates to showcase their work, including a curated student exhibit that is displayed at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. Students at NJIT are encouraged to participate in regional and national design competitions.
College Choice Score: 75.48
Average Net Price: $39,021
With a student body of more than 24,000, Drexel University is one of America’s 15 largest private institutions of higher learning. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Drexel among the Best National Universities for the past ten years. The university was founded in 1891 with one campus in Philadelphia. Today, it includes three Philadelphia campuses and numerous regional sites. Drexel’s Product Design program offers extensive opportunities for co-op experience, study abroad, and multidisciplinary collaboration.
Presented by the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, this unique program leads to a Bachelor of Science in Product Design. The degree requires 48 credit-hours in visual studies coursework, 72 credit-hours in product design coursework, and 27 credit-hours in electives. Required classes within the Product Design core include:
- Mechanical Behavior of Materials for Product Design
- History and Analysis of Product Design
- Computer Aided Imagining in Product Design
- Applied Human Centered Design
Graduates will be qualified to work in consumer electronics, housewares, furniture, fashion accessories, medical devices, toys, transportation, and other areas of product design. Many alumni of this program also launch successful start-ups. Westphal offers additional undergraduate programs in Game Design and Production, Animation and Visual Effects, Interactive Digital Media, and more.
Montclair State University
College Choice Score: 74.76
Average Net Price: $15,131
Located 12 miles from New York City, Montclair State University is a comprehensive public university in Montclair, NJ. With an average class size of 23, students are assured plenty of support from the university’s acclaimed faculty. The Wall Street Journal ranks Montclair State among the top 100 public institutions nationwide, and Money Magazine ranks it at number 15 for “Colleges That Add the Most Value.” The university’s innovative design programs prepare graduates to improve the overall standard of living through their work.
At Montclair State, students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design. This program allows students to focus on the principles and applications of design starting from their freshman year. Requirements for the Product Design major include the following courses:
- Design Rendering: Concept Visualization
- Model Making and Prototyping
- Product Design Form Language
- Digital Rendering: Adobe CS
The required projects for this degree are based on real-world design scenarios and will offer students the chance to collaborate with major manufacturing firms. Montclair State has strong industry partnerships with Movado Group, Kaz Design, and Ingersoll Rand, providing students with opportunities to participate in sponsored corporate projects and present their work to senior designers, design directors, and other industry professionals.
Appalachian State University
College Choice Score: 74.17
Average Net Price: $10,167
Located in North Carolina’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State University is one of 17 institutions within the University of North Carolina system. Appalachian State offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate programs and enrolls about 19,000 students. The small, closely knit Industrial Design program at Appalachian State includes 175 undergraduate students and seven full-time faculty members.
The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design allows students to choose a concentration in either Product Design or Furniture Design. Regardless of their chosen concentration, students will gain a strong foundation in design inquiry, creative problem-solving, user research, and social and environmental concerns. The degree requires a minimum of 125 credit-hours. Coursework in the Product Design concentration may include:
- Human Factors in Design
- History of Interiors
- Materials and Process
- Design for Manufacturing
This degree program is housed in a 12,000-square-foot facility within the Department of Applied Design. Undergraduates will have access to leading-edge facilities such as a woodworking lab, metal fabrication lab, plastic working area, ceramics lab, and more. Graduates of this program have gone on to work at an array of top-ranking, globally influential brands and companies, including GoPro, Nike, Westfield Outdoors, Skookum Digital Works, and many more.
University of Illinois at Chicago
College Choice Score: 73.89
Average Net Price: $11,571
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public research university with an annual research expenditure of roughly $348 million. With more than 30,000 students, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area. The university employs over 1,900 faculty members, 81 percent of whom hold a PhD or equivalent degree in their field. With the vibrant city of Chicago as their campus, UIC students will benefit from the world-class cultural institutions and thriving design community surrounding them.
The UIC program leads to a Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design. The curriculum in the first year of this program is shared with students in the Graphic Design program. This first year features an intensive studio-based curriculum where students are rapidly immersed in the design process. More advanced coursework for the Industrial Design degree will include:
- Design Research Methods
- Human Experience in Design
- Visualization (Analog)
- Visualization (Digital)
During their senior year, students will complete a year-long Senior Design Colloquium and an Industrial Design Thesis. Fourth-year students will also complete a two-semester course sequence in Interdisciplinary Product Development. For students who plan to continue onto graduate study, UIC offers a Master of Design in Industrial Design and a Master of Design in Graphic Design.