3-year Masters programs in Industrial Design?

Hello everyone! I’m a Mechanical Engineering graduate who’s recently decided to switch careers into Industrial Design. My natural course of action was to start building a portfolio for applications as well as researching universities for a Masters program.

I noticed that most of the 2-year Masters programs have a preference for students with bachelors degrees in design or related fields. I did however come across a few 3-year programs which are geared towards students who come from a non-design background. I’ve more or less decided on the 3-year courses since I believe I’d need the extra foundation year to get my skills up to scratch.

When it comes to Industrial design, I have an inclination towards the ideation and prototyping phase, UI/UX, and interaction. So, based on the above information, here’s my question:

Which school/university would you recommend for my interests which also offers a 3-year graduate program? I’ve looked up schools like CMU, RISD, Pratt, and Georgia Tech, but don’t have a solid opinion on them yet.

Any help is appreciated. Cheers!

ASU has a 3 Year program as well, although its newer. Can’t say anything about the other schools you listed but I’ve heard good things about RISD, and Pratt. I think one of those has a pretty big focus on furniture design in i’m not mistaken.

Auburn has a 3 year program that I am interested in myself. It’s certainly cheaper than some of the other options and still gets a modest amount of acclaim for its program. From what I understand the first year starts in the summer where you intensively learn sketching and then in fall and spring you take bachelors classes that they feel are the most essential to getting a good foundation in industrial design. Beyond that I don’t know much else about the program. Hope this helped!

Hey guys, thank you for your suggestions. I got to explore some programs I had previously overlooked. I did take a look at ASU and Auburn but didn’t end up applying due to a few factors. In my case, I really can’t stand the heat, so ASU wasn’t someplace I’d want to be. While Aurburn’s hard copy portfolio requirement would’ve made applying a major hassle. Their 10-page limit would’ve also heavily limited my portfolio.

In the end, I applied to RISD, Pratt, CCA, SVA and Georgia Tech. Let’s hope for the best now. Cheers!


In the Netherlands this exact situation is solved by offering a 6-month transition program, like a proof period where you enter the field and community and get an idea about the practice of industrial design. In my experience, while with a ME background you will think differently than most designers, the step is quite straightforward to make and you can be of great value to others as well because mechanical prototyping is something that ID people tend to struggle with.

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for the suggestion and the boost in confidence. I’m pretty nervous about the shift in field.
However, I didn’t manage to apply to the Netherlands this year, although it was a location I as seriously considering. On the bright side, I have gotten into Pratt and Georgia Tech for their Master’s programs. Currently deliberating and trying to weigh my options.

Do you have any pointers on what I should look out for during this time period?