Industrial Design Programs in Philadelphia


So I am a freshman in college looking to transfer to a school in Philadelphia for Industrial Design program, as the current college I am at does not have the program.

So I was wondering what all of your opinions are on some of the industrial design schools and programs in Philadelphia. I have my top three choices of Philadelphia University, University of the Arts, and the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

If any of you have any other suggestions on schools to look at I am open for them as well.


My biggest suggestion would be to not choose a school based on a city. The best ID schools are not in Philly.

Okay. That is understandable, but I do not have the money nor means to get the money to live out of state, I need the option to live at home and I live in New Jersey. And I have looked into these schools throughly and are my choices atm.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Yo. Philly ID schools are not stellar. I grew up in Philly.

Use Coroflot to look at students portfolios.
See what the schools you mentioned are producing, then compare them to the top ID schools student portfolio.
That will help to indicate what your completion for employment will look like after graduation.

If money is your strongest concern find out what classes are transferable and get as many courses out of the way at a community college. Build a strong portfolio and shoot for scholarships. Find out what schools have partnerships with other design schools for semester exchange and study abroad. Look for a school with strong ties to industry and internship placement… be proactive.

Most people only get one shot at going to college. Choose the school that best positioned you for success not the one that is most convenient.
Good Luck!

I graduated from the University of the Arts with a degree in Industrial Design. Very Poor program to transition into the workforce. There are a few folks that I know that went onto work at top tier firms, start their own respective companies or the such, but that is the 1-2% range. I’ve worked with the likes of graduates from Philadelphia University and haven’t seen anything different, also. Bottom line is that your best bet is to travel to New York to Parsons New School, or Pratt.

I’ve steadily built my professional portfolio without using my school work because the lack of preparedness. Luckily, I was able to pull through with strong skill sets that I’ve learned past graduation and things that I constantly build on. The unfortunate thing is that I wasn’t able to network early enough in my career because the school didn’t have any networks for me build upon. Therefore, I’m a good 2-4 years behind my fellow pier designers who graduated from other schools.

Lastly, I’ve talked with all the professional ID firms, and seasoned professionals in Philly, and unanimously agree with me that the schools don’t offer any quality design professional that they can draw from. Either the graduates will hit the ground post graduation learning the foundation skill sets or leave the field all together.

Yes, this isn’t good news for Philadelphia. I’ve offered to return to try and convince faculty to instill better skill sets, but to no avail. I hope things change for the sake of my own degree. Good Luck.

Okay thats alot to consider considering, alot of negative toward Philadelphia and its schools, but I definitely want to consider it.

So what are the best schools to go to for Industrial Design?

And what sort of skill sets, experience, techniques, portfolio etc. are employers looking for from an industrial designer right out of college?

Check out these two things.

The Ideal Junior Designer by Michael Roller

And the top 10 ID programs as defined by Design Intelligence

Thanks! thats pretty helpful, alot of things in that study that I wouldn’t expect to be such a big quality in a designer out of college that an employer wants.

The schools I got to look into.

If $ is a consideration (which 99.9% of us will be), you may want to consider schools outside US. You’d be surprised it may cost you the same or less than if staying in your home town even with the cost of living added. I went to Canada and paid 1/4 the tuition costs compared to US tuition. Many countries in Europe are free and some actually pay you to go there (to help with rent). That being said, it may be harder to get (additional secondary) loans as local country’s loan apply to local citizen, which you will not be…and many US loans apply to US schools only, which you won’t be.

Also may US art-based schools has good grants and scholarships, could bring down the expensive art tuition to a local college tuition costs.

Alternatively, you can stay in state for your 1st year, take the required basics that most colleges look for (art history, etc), then transfer over the 2nd year. But it’s often harder to get accepted as there may be less open space available come 2nd or 3rd year.

That is what I am doing now. I have been at Stockton College since the fall and am doing a second semester so I will have a full first year and transfering to a school for Industrial Design. Cost is a concern because I have to be able to afford it one way or another. I’m working toward scholarships and grants and hoping they can help out.
College in another country is a really interesting idea, but not so sure my parent’s would like that let alone help me out with paying for it cause I would love to be in Europe at some point in my life lol.
Thank you! More to think about and take into consideration. :slight_smile:

I am currently a senior industrial design student at Philadelphia University and by far, i believe we have the best program in PA. Our school has a unique experience called the DEC program that all majors go through. DEC stands for Design Engineering and Commerce and the program combines some classes in the freshman and sophomore level to allow each major to gain a perspective on the others as well as work collaboratively on projects. We have had sponsored projects with the likes of Philips Healthcare, Avenues, SDI (iHome, Timex), Armstrong, Kinex, Federal-Mogul, and Knoll, to name a few. We use the collaborative projects especially our 3rd year and work on teams of engineers, designers, and marketing/ business and develop real world solutions that make an impact on the companies that sponsor them. We even work collaboratively with San Jose State University and Lincoln University (UK) on products for our in house design program called Mbrela. Our school may not be in the top 10 in the nation, but what we have is a passion for design and the teachers and campus to back us up. I firmly believe that we are innovating the future and our program is getting better by the year.

PhilaU is a good choice.

Wow thats awesome to hear, especially some positive feedback on one of the schools I am looking at going to. Thank you! And I was really impressed by PhilaU when I visited and met with the Director of the Industrial Design Program and he did tell me of these things and you just told me more, that I find to be really impressive. I think I am between the PhilaU program and the UArts program, and I did throughly enjoy and was extremely impressed with PhilaU because they seem to have an excellent program and college experience.

You may want to see if the schools can put you in touch with some alumni to see what they are doing post graduation and to get a sense of how the school prepared them.

To add to what Yo said, I would also say to talk to the local Industrial Design Firms in the area and see what they say as well. I’m pretty sure they can guide you as where your best bets are. Also, see if and how the graduates/graduating classes got their respective internships and see what they say.

Lastly, as I’ve said my peace on this topic, this is your investment in your future. You will see and read that this is a very competitive field as design is very very global. Depending on where you go, perhaps 2% of your class may actually get a design job when they graduate. If your lucky and prepared enough, perhaps you may be of that 2%. Of 2012, compare the portfolios of all the graduates from every school your prospecting. This will give you a better insight into where each school stands.

You are lucky enough to learn about Industrial Design through the internet as some of us older professionals started going to Design school before the some design schools even had an internet connection. You have the ability to learn about what is actually valid advice from practicing professionals and marketing hype.

Heed the advice very carefully as this is one of the first things you will learn about design; learning to filter out effluence from the content that matters. The choice is yours…

okay thats good advice i am going to take. im always open toward it. thank you. i have actually started looking at the local firms already, one of the biggest ones out here is bresslergroup that has alot of top designs and designers and clients and their designers are from the schools i am looking at so im going to continue that research.