Rochester Institute of Technology

Academic Program Overviews

Student Skills & Capabilities, Salary Data, Career Information 

Industrial Design MFA

Program Overview

The MFA in industrial design is for career enhancement or redirection. The educational experience is project-oriented, requiring research into design methods and technologies. Cross-disciplinary collaboratives provide an experiential dimension.

The first year of study includes seminar courses in design history and research, which are common to all graduate students in the School of Design. In addition, studio courses involve extensive design work with respect to sustainability, design process, the meaning of artifacts, and critical analysis. Additional course work using three-dimensional software for modeling and fabrication fills out the program.

In the second year students conduct research and develop a thesis project, which is presented in a graduate thesis exhibition or presentation, and is documented in a written thesis report.

Degrees Awarded

  • Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design


  • Approximately 42 students are enrolled in this program

Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component

  • Co-op is optional for this program
  • Minimum co-op requirement: N/A
  • Co-op availability: summer through fall

Salary Information

Co-op:    $16.50                     $14.00 - $58.00
MFA:       ID

Student Skills & Capabilities

  • User-centered approach in identifying relevant user needs and defining design opportunities.
  • Effective use of form color, graphics, and materials in the development of product aesthetics.
  • Conceptual sketching, mixed media rendering, computer-aided design, and soft and hard model making.
  • Technical and theoretical understanding of materials and processes as they relate to manufacturing. 
  • Computer skills including experience with software applications such as Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, InDesign), SolidWorks, Rhinoceros and AutoDesk Fusion 360.
  • Effective application of human factors, emphasizing safety, efficiency, and comfort.
  • Team problem solving and presentation techniques.


National Association of Schools of Art & Design.

Equipment & Facilities

Computer labs offer students hands-on design experience using Macintosh and Windows platforms.  Software includes Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, InDesign), SolidWorks, Rhinoceros and AutoDesk Fusion 360. Design courses are conducted in large studio spaces adjacent to a well-equipped model making shop. Students have access to a variety of maker-space facilities within the College of Art and Design that include 3D printing, stereo lithography, CNC and laser cutting.

Job Titles

Industrial Designer, Product Designer

Significant Points

  • Commercial and industrial designers usually work closely with engineers, materials scientists, marketing and corporate strategy staff, cost estimators, and accountants.
  • According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, approximately 40 percent of inventors named on design patents were also named on utility patents. In contrast, among all inventors named on utility patents, only 2 percent were named on design patents.
  • Since its launch in 2009, 11,393 design projects have been launched on Kickstarter, with 69 requests raising $1M or more. (Source: retrieved June 3, 2018)
  • Of the approximately 40,000 industrial designers practicing in the United States, thirty percent (30%), or approximately 12,000 industrial designers, are self-employed. (Source: Valuing the Art of Industrial Design, Nat'l Endowment for the Arts, Aug '13
  • Keen competition is expected for most jobs because many qualified individuals are attracted to careers in this field.
  • Continued growth is projected for overall employment of industrial designers, though the growth rate (+10.5 percent from 2010 to 2020) is somewhat lower than for all occupations as a whole (+14.3 percent).
  • Those with strong backgrounds in engineering and computer-aided design, as well as extensive business expertise, will have the best prospects. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.) Data retrieved June 3, 2018

Selected Employer Hiring Partners

Allegion Bally Design BioLite Cascade Maverik Lacrosse Core Home FirstBuild Fisher-Price Brands GE Appliances, a Haier company Hasbro Herman Miller MASH Studios Melissa and Doug Menasha Packaging Company MSA Safety Inc Packaging Corporation of America Pepsi Radius Reebok International  Staach, Inc. Staples The Timberland Company

Contact Us

We appreciate your interest in your career and we will make every effort to help you succeed. Feel free to contact Shauna Newcomb, the career services coordinator who works with the Industrial Design program. You can access information about services through our web site at

Shauna Newcomb, Career Services Coordinator,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 585.475.5472
Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY  14623-5603