From athletic wear and home goods to stereo systems and medical devices, in the industrial design degree you'll create and develop inventive products for both consumers and manufacturers.
From thumbtacks to athletic wear and medical equipment to home goods – industrial designers produce products to be used by factories, businesses, and everyday people. The industrial design degree at RIT helps you develop the aesthetic sensitivity, technical competence, and the analytical thought needed to improve the user’s experience. You will be able to bring your conceptual ideas to life by developing your technical 2D communications skills and 3D prototyping ability. You will also learn how to formally move your ideas and products to the marketplace.
Industrial design involves the integration of form and function as products are designed and created by combining materials, process, computer-aided design, and human factors. Blending technical instruction with studio assignments, studies also include package, exhibit, and furniture design. Aesthetic sensitivity, technical competence, and analytical thought are developed and applied to meet the challenge of designing products for human needs.
What You'll Study
The industrial design degree integrates major courses, studio and open electives, the liberal arts, and art history electives. Computer skills, design perspectives, career preparation, and exposure to the related areas of publishing, photography, engineering, and information technology are integrated into the curriculum.
The School of Design maintains memberships in a variety of professional organizations, including Industrial Designers Society of America, ACM Siggraph, Society of Environmental Graphic Designers, American Society of Interior Designers, American Institute of Architects, ICOGRADA, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and International Interior Design Association.
Consumer Packaged Goods
Typical Job Titles
outcome rate of graduates
median first-year salary of graduates
Industry Partnerships Launch Careers
RIT Industrial Design’s Metaproject studio course not only connects students with esteemed professionals in the design world, it presents them the opportunity to take a design from idea to...
General Education – Artistic Perspective: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval
In this course students will examine the forms, styles, functions, and meanings of important objects and monuments dating from prehistory through the Middle Ages, and consider these works of art in their social, historical and cultural contexts. The primary goals of this course are to learn how to look, how to describe and analyze what we see, and how to use these skills to understand and explain how art visually expresses meaning. At the end of the term, students will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of the discipline of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors. Lecture 3 (Fall).
General Education – Global Perspective: History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern
In this course students will examine the forms, styles, functions, and meanings of important objects and monuments dating from the European Renaissance through the beginning of the twentieth century, and consider these works of art in their social, historical and cultural contexts. The primary goals of this course are to learn how to look and how to describe and analyze what we see, and to use these skills to understand and explain how art visually expresses meaning. At the end of the term, students will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of the discipline of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication. (Undergraduate Imaging Arts and Sciences) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
2D Design I
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience. (Undergraduate Imaging Arts and Sciences) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study over two-semesters in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the 3D form and space with an emphasis on the elements and principles of visual design and their function as the building blocks and guidelines for ordering a 3D composition. A heightened awareness of form and space will be developed through lecture, assigned projects, and critiques. Students will also develop a personal awareness of problem seeking and solving, experimentation, and critical analysis. **Note: May be taken as a one-semester offering** (Undergraduate Imaging Arts and Sciences) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
Choose one of the following:
2D Design II
This course is the second semester of a sequential, structured introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, students will build upon the visual and a verbal vocabulary, media, techniques, skill development and processes acquired during the fall semester. This term will also focus on the comprehensive exploration of color theory as well as dealing with conceptualization and more advanced issues related to problem solving. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience. (Prerequisites: FDTN-121 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
2D Design II Workshop: Topic
This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about 2D compositions within a more open and experimental approach while still covering the core foundational 2D design II concepts. Different topics may be taken in the same semester, but unique topics may only be taken once. Material and conceptual focus will be determined by the faculty proposing each unique topic. (Prerequisites: FDTN-121 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
Choose one of the following:
3D Design II
This is the second-semester of a sequential course. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Students will build on their prior term experiences, which include the introduction to 3D principles, materials, and building processes. Students will develop the sophisticated skill of conceptualization. More advanced problems will be assigned and students will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of material and process possibilities for their resolution. A heightened awareness of idea development and design research will be explored. Inclusion of 21st century themes in the arts of social cultural and community. (Prerequisites: FDTN-131 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring, Summer).
3D Design II Workshop: Topic
This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about 3D compositions within a more open and experimental realm while still covering the core Foundation concepts. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its
relationship to space. Material exposure will be determined by the topic’s instructor. (Prerequisites: FDTN-131 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
This course will introduce students to drawing objects and three-dimensional space. Students will use the basics of perspective sketching, developing grids and mechanical perspective and orthogonal views. Students learn to depict various materials such as glass, metals, plastics, fabrics, wood, and other natural materials consistent with professional standards. (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
Choose one of the following:
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
General Education – Mathematical Perspective A
Sophomore ID Studio I
This course will focus on experimentation and discovery through the exploration of creative problem solving techniques. Students will explore the dynamics between objects and the user’s senses, emotions, and expressed needs. Using drawing, sketch-modeling and basic shop skills, students will discover the wide choice of materials industrial designers use to further develop their projects. Concepts of recycling and reuse are introduced along with philosophical design approaches, and historical examples. Emphasis will be placed on the improvement of craft in the development of projects and on clarity and professionalism in practice. (Prerequisites: IDDE-102 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
Sophomore ID Studio II
In this course, design projects are conceived as the result of close contact between students and real-world projects commonly found in the manufacturing sector. Students research a specific manufacturing entity in order to understand its capabilities. Research will be conducted in the field and shared with the class to enhance the understanding of the realities associated with production. Students will be challenged to improve their ability to define problems, generate and promote concepts, evaluate their work and offer refinements of solutions. They will learn to derive inspiration from the material world and marketplace while simultaneously bringing inspiration to them. (Prerequisites: IDDE-201 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
This course will emphasize the cognitive and technical skills necessary to manipulate material for the accurate three-dimensional communication of design intent. Projects focus on understanding the relationship of materials, manufacturing processes, products and the user. Special emphasis is placed on using non-toxic materials. (Prerequisites: FDTN-132 or FDTN-232 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
ID Digital Drawing
This course will develop more advanced analog and digital visualization techniques, while expanding on graphic and three-dimensional components needed to create presentations and the workflows to achieve them. Students will learn various types of digital techniques using vector and raster-based software applications, and a variety of input and output devices for the creation of professional-level output. (Prerequisites: IDDE-102 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
Human Factors Applications
This course will emphasize human characteristics, capabilities and limitations as the primary design criteria in understanding, designing and analyzing systems, displays, controls, tools, and workstations. (Prerequisites: IDDE-201 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Integrated Computer-Aided Design
Students will develop the skills needed to effectively develop and communicate design concepts graphically, digitally and three-dimensionally, consistent with professional industrial design practice standards. Emphasis will be placed on the development, integration and application of computer aided design skills throughout the assignments, utilizing the relationship of analog and digital mediums as a means of enriching the design process. (Prerequisites: IDDE-201 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
History of Industrial Design
This course explores the history of the industrial design profession as it evolved in response to the Industrial Revolution and industry’s need for standardized approaches to aesthetics and design for the end user. Significant designers and their work are reviewed in the context of the economics and politics of the times. This course also surveys the history of modern furniture design from the late 19th Century to the present, including important design movements, individual designers and their significant furniture designs. Lecture 3 (Fall).
General Education – Ethical Perspective
General Education – Social Perspective
General Education – Elective
Junior ID Studio I
Students will explore the benefits and challenges of working with a design team to address a complex product, problem, or system. Students will explore group dynamics, creativity in design teams, as well as the nature of complex problems and the various methods required to solve them. (Prerequisites: IDDE-202 and IDDE-211 and IDDE-212 or equivalent courses.) Studio 6 (Fall).
Junior ID Studio II
This course will highlight the application of design methods and processes through projects that focus on deepening the students’ problem-solving skills, studio skills (two- and three-dimensional sketching, drawing, CAD), shop skills (modelmaking) and presentation skills. Emphasis will be placed on collaborating with multidisciplinary partners outside the industrial design program, and/or, when circumstances allow, with external resources such as clients or project sponsors. (Prerequisites: IDDE-301 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
Materials and Processes
This course will help students develop a theoretical understanding and technical competency in materials and processes applied in industrial design practice. Discussions and assignments focus on the relationship of manufacturing processes and materials selection to design intent. (Prerequisites: IDDE-202 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course provides industrial design students with an introduction to the design and application of graphic elements to objects and environments. (Prerequisites: IDDE-202 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
ID Career Planning (WI-PR)
This course will introduce the business of industrial design. Field trips, guest lecturers and discussion of current trends help students understand the various employment opportunities for the design professional. The course will cover the mechanics of job searching; creating a résumé, cover letter structure and portfolio, and interviewing to help prepare for design internships, co-ops, and entry-level positions. (Prerequisites: IDDE-301 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
General Education – Immersion 1 (WI), 2
Art History Elective§
The course will take an in-depth look at business of design, and employment as a design professional for students beginning the job search. Students will refine their résumé, cover letter, and portfolio developed in Career Planning as they identify career options through research and networking with professionals in their chosen area. Students will explore the financial and legal aspects of employment in the design business. (Prerequisites: IDDE-302 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
ID Senior Capstone I
This is the first course in a two-course sequence in which an industrial design capstone project is developed. Focus is on establishing content, planning, scheduling and research of a capstone project that explores the social elements of design either in a collaborative design process, or in the broader social impact of design decisions. Early stages of capstone development include ideation, concept refinement and evaluation. The capstone project is approved by the student’s faculty advisor. (Prerequisites: IDDE-302 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
ID Senior Capstone II
This is the second course in a two-course sequence in which an industrial design capstone project is developed. Focus is on finalizing design solution, presenting it in a capstone show, and creating a written document that addresses how the theories and methods used in the project have an impact on the current and future state of design in society. The capstone project is approved by a faculty committee. (Prerequisites: IDDE-407 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
Senior ID Studio I
This course will explore the application of design methods and skills to projects addressing large-community and global problems requiring team-based, trans-disciplinary collaborations. (Prerequisites: IDDE-302 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
Senior ID Studio II
Senior ID Studio II applies design methods and skills to advanced level projects addressing users with unique, non-traditional needs requiring multi-disciplinary collaborations. Project development will emulate processes used in professional industrial design practice. (Prerequisites: IDDE-501 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
General Education – Immersion 3
General Education – Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
§ Art History electives are non-studio courses searchable in SIS with the Art History attribute of ARTH.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
• Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required for all programs in the schools of Art and Design. A portfolio must be submitted. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in studio art, art history, and liberal arts. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Related programs or studio art experience in desired disciplines. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. Summer courses can lead to third-year status in most programs.
Josh Owen, an internationally renowned designer, author and faculty-researcher who has led RIT’s industrial design program to national prominence since coming to the university a decade ago, has been named the new director of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies and the Massimo and Lella Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design.