Online Industrial Design Degree Programs

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From medical equipment and computers to cars and toys for children, the products and machines around us everyday have all been carefully planned and guided through manufacturing by industrial designers. They often have skills not only in production and design, but in business and customer service.

Industrial designers usually meet with their clients to sketch plans for the models of products, incorporating feedback to make the product closer to the look the business may want or need for their budget. Industrial designers usually collaborate with an engineer to produce their designs and identify any flaws in the design before it goes to market. Learning communication and teamwork skills is essential for designers since they coordinate between many departments.

Still need convincing? In 2021, those active in the industrial design work force hold degrees at a variety of academic levels: 74.5% have a Bachelor’s, 20.3% have a Master’s, 2.7% have a professional degree, and 2.48% have a doctoral degree.

What to learn a broader approach to design? Check out architecture degree programs here.


BFA in Industrial Design

This program covers the art, science, and business of the industrial design. Students also have the freedom to pursue their personal design visions within the program format.

Course Examples:

  • Computer Drafting
  • Model Making
  • Digital Imaging

MS in Industrial Design

This is a thesis based program. One of its goals is to ready students to shape sustainable products ad systems. Students may also tailor classes to their specific area of design interest.

Course Examples:

  • Prototypes
  • Product Design
  • Synthesis of Drawing

Doctor of Design

This program aims to help students develop high level expertise in applied design and innovation. As a result, students research to come up with original designs that make an impact.

Course Examples:

  • Design Practice Legacy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Supervised Research


While most designers use computers to make simulated prototypes, often relying on CAD software, others may sculpt or sketch their designs by hand so a fine arts background is often useful to the job. Because of this, students enrolled in an industrial degree online course often take courses in art to prepare for this element of the job.

Not all industrial designers work on the same kinds of projects and may vary in what their design skills are, such as being a versatile house ware and furniture designer or specializing as an interface designer for electronic devices. Many online design colleges build in course requirements so that their students can explore the differing approaches to the field, allowing students time to decide what track is most appealing to them and their interests. Some industrial design students may go on to earn even more specialized degrees by pursuing an online masters in design or earning certificates in niche design elements.


Most degree programs in industrial or product design focus on developing skills in students understanding the design process, using research, technical drawing, concept design, incorporating industry feedback, testing designs, and collaborating with other designers. There are often opportunities in the program to build a personal design portfolio that students may show to future employers and to start to conceptualize the sorts of products and designs they’d like to develop outside of the academic setting.

Some programs require or offer opportunities for internships so students can get more field experience. While many of the areas of study overlap between schools and each school offers their own series of classes and expertise, you may take some of the following courses during a design degree program:

Some common courses include:

History of Industrial Design: Looking at work from the past may help you build on good ideas – and avoid the same mistakes. This course could cover major movements, designers, and achievements.

Design Principles: Study the key concepts that go into a design – whether it’s beautiful, solves a problem, or both! Methods covered may include drawing, model making, and more.

Metal: Gain a new appreciation of this vital material. You could learn about properties of metal, plus tools and methods for working with it.

Design Studio: This course may serve as a chance to apply the design skills you’ve learned, in person. You could plan design, and make something awesome!

Design for Impact: A course like this might look at how to solve problems in design and production. You could address local and global challenges, like sustainability.

Intro to Drawing: From sketching figures to designing products, you may need to learn how to draw your vision. This course could cover basic drawing concepts and methods.

Computer Aided Design: Learn how to use tech tools to draft, model, and more. In this course, you may study the process of designing with a computer – from prototyping to final edits.

Industrial Design: In this course, you may learn how to design a product, or improve one that already exists. That includes understanding markets and consumers – and what they want in a product.


The engineering, artistic and design skills you learn while taking online industrial design courses may also prepare you for related professions that require the same particular set of skills. Research which options may be available using statistics compiled by the BLS.


Industrial designers engage in brainstorming, designing, drafting, and constructing various items, spanning from vehicles to household appliances and toys. They conduct thorough research to discern consumer preferences for new products, hold client meetings to understand specific requirements, and craft designs that align with these criteria.

According to 2022 BLS Data:

Median Salary: $75,910 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 2% (As fast as average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s Degree


These professionals serve as planners who create documents, models, and virtual programs for projects. They meticulously perform calculations concerning the materials employed, the load-bearing capacities, the efficiency of the design, and other critical aspects.

According to 2022 BLS Data:

Median Salary: $82,840 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 5% (Faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s Degree


Art directors are responsible for setting the theme and style adopted by magazines, TV programs, newspapers, product packaging, and various other mediums. They strategize the most effective methods to communicate visual elements and distribute tasks among a team of creators. Additionally, they develop precise timelines and budget plans tailored to meet the requirements of both clients and the company.

According to 2022 BLS Data:

Median Salary: $105,180 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 6% (Faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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