Best Undergraduate ID program under $20K (US or worldwide) ?

scholarships are not a possibility, neither is financial aid.
wherever i go, i have to pay for out of pocket and $20K is my limit.
so, what is the best Industrial / Product Design program that will fit into my budget?


I would check out Swedish schools such as HDK, Umea and Konstfack. I am doing my masters here.
They all have an excellent rep. Umea for ID and the other two especially for furniture and conceptual design.
Tuition free and a very creative and vibrant design environment.

Shot me a message if you have any specific questions.

Do you mean 20K total or per year? 20K total is going to be hard, if not impossible to swing in the US.
If you mean 20K per year, then your best bet would probably be a program in a State school where you would be paying in-state tuition (assuming you’re a resident of that state).
If you can become a resident on Ohio, in-state tuition at University of Cincinnati is around $10,000 (might be increasing next year so double check). Out of state is around 24K, I believe.

$20K per yr including everything
i am technically a resident in NH and also ‘live’ in ME and FL, so a state school isn’t going to work for me unless the out of state tuition is reasonable.

UMEA is a good option, from what I’ve heard, though I believe it is run in Swedish and is tuition free only for students from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Bepster can you confirm this?

ideally i’d like to be in the us, canada or the uk

I know a couple of my classmates at DAAP have been filing their taxes as an independent in OH and living in apts in Ohio as a means to gain residency. I think it takes a year or two to make it happen. You could probably do this in other states too. I’m not sure on the specifics, but if you can budget to eat the costs of the first year out of state, then hopefully pay in-state for the remaining years?

I did the same thing, just have to make sure you document everything very well. There’s a good amount of information and people available at the University to make it happen. Some people in my class, just lived in Ohio for a year to gain instate and then applied to school the second year.

we are talking about undergrad here?
In terms of Umea and the English medium, you have to check their website. However, the masters course are all taught in English. This goes as well for Konstfack and HDK.
All Swedes are fluent though in English and it is fair two say that classes are taught bi-lingual in this country.
If you would consider moving to Europe, I would really recommend looking at other, smaller countries besides the UK.
In my opinion schools there are generally overpriced even though often very good, i.e. RCA.
Smaller countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have a great design culture and are practically fluent in English but with smaller, less expensive school.

As far as I know, Umea is tuition free for all applicants. This might change though next year but there is nothing concrete yet as far as I am aware.
Personally, I would warn for Umea’s location though. Way up north and it takes quite some commitment move up there. Also, the application process is very tough, considering that Umea is looking for a very specific type of design student.
Basically, there is the school… that’s about it. Getting to the next larger city means taking the plane.

You’d know better than I bepster, I now that when I was looking at schools I took it off my list when I read this on their website:

Bachelor Programme (Industridesignprogrammet)

The Institute offers a three-year industrial design programme leading to a Bachelors degree worth 180 credits. The programme aims to give a broad basis and a general competence in handling a range of design problems within many different product areas. The programme is run in Swedish and has no tuition fees. Only open for students from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

When you say including “everything” what is “Everything?”

You mean tuition + fees?

Room and board?


I don’t think you’ll find anything for under $20k if you’re including all of your expenses. I know Virginia tech out of state Tuiton/fees is currently about $22k/year but you can probably expect a $500 raise per semester. Thats still very competitive compared to private schools in the $35k+ range.

Why do you say you know you can’t get financial aid? Have you already completed all the forms and gotten nothing back?

Maybe give Carleton a look?
Canadian ID schools are cheaper than the US and Carleton is generally considered the best Canadian ID school. (I didn’t study there - so no bias here…)
Looks like yearly tuition for an international student is $17,955.70 (Cdn Dollars)
For Canadians reading this - domestic fees are $7,110.70 / year

Tuition fee info:

Carleton ID Program:

The BA program at Umea is taught in Swedish. The MA programs are taught in English. Although the tuition is free, you have to prove you have enough money to live there on your own for a year to get your visa. This comes out to about $13,ooo for one year. It’s true that Umea is way up north, but there’s something nice about that too. I mean there’s a sauna at the school, you have 24 hour access, great shop, parties every friday…

If you are looking for an undergrad BA schools in the UK then I would highly recommend Northumbria University, Design For Industry, most probably the best course in the uk for Industrial Design undergrad. The class sizes are 1/3 of the size compared to other top courses in the UK, so lots of one-to-one tuition, great city to study in and also cheap to live in compared to London and other major cities, + they have fantastic contacts with industry to help you really study industrial design through internships/placements.

I maybe slightly bias, as this is where I studied but from an employment point of view the majority of graduates this year are now working in consultancies, in-house, freelance or something design related even in the current climate where jobs are scarce. Obviously no course can make you into a designer, that’s down to you, but studying in a positive and creative environment helps.

Every graduate get to show their work at final shows and in London at the New Designers exhibition. Check out for the show the rest of this years grads and myself put together so you can get an idea of what people get up to.

The Course is 4 years and includes placements in the summers of 2nd and 3rd year.

There is also an MA but I don’t know much about it as its a new course. However I am told it is very good. Other places for MA in the UK would be the RCA which is proven to be excellent and produces some inspirational work year on year.

I can’t speculate too much about other courses, I can only let you know Northumbria is a pretty good place to study.

Umea is a decent city, about 75k population, 20k of whom are University students. It is true that is far up north, but it’s not like it’s deserted. It’s actually a quite young and vibrant city. Unless you plan on going to arena concerts each month, your social life won’t suffer much, just don’t make the classic foreign student mistake by not mixing with the locals. Although none of that matters since you’re gonna be in the studio 24/7 anyway. Your biggest problem would be to actually get accepted to the school. Sorry for off topic - I grew up in Umea and have lots of friends there, so I have to defend it :wink:

Since you are a Maine and/or New Hampshire resident you can get the New England Resident tuition rate at Mass Art which is currently $14,900 per year.

The University of Louisiana has an ID major and the out of state tuition is $6,293.85!!! Don’t know anything about the program though.

Might want to check out schools in Canada. Carleton in Ottawa is very well recognized and a good program (I’m an alum) and international fees are around 17k (CDN) per year.


I came out with £15k of debt from university over here in the UK (that includes rent tutition etc…)

Uk universities to check out are Northumbria, Loughborough and Brunel.

I’m currently @ Vancouver at Emily Carr University of Arts & Design, paying about $14.5k/year in international tuition for a “overload” 18 credits per semester load.


If you are in the ID program at Emily Carr, please tell us a bit about it. Size, faculty, facilities, depth and breadth?