What Is Transportations Design? Schools, Costs, and Programs

The transportation industry has seen rapid changes since the emergence of automobiles. This has brought about great opportunities for talented designers. Hence, there is a great need for innovative transportation designs.

Transport design is often focused on the automotive industry, but it also covers the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, or marine vessels. Within the field, it is imperative to create vehicles that are innovative and solve problems experienced in the transport industry.

Hence, in this post, you will learn all about transportation designs. And we also suggest schools that don’t just give you a transportation design degree but also a seamless and innovative learning experience.

What is Transportation Design?

Transportation design also known as transport design is a field that provides you with a variety of design, development, and engineering employment options.

For this reason, it also involves the study of topics related to automotive design, surface molding, ergonomics, manufacturing, and sustainable technology that aid in an effective transport product design process.

Hence, transportations system designers must have a strong background in graphics design.

Graphics design is a wonderful graduate program to study in college if you know about these 15 Masters in Graphic Design Programs

What Does A Transportation Designer Do?

Typically, with the knowledge of transport design, you can work designing private or commercial vehicles. This might include automobiles, marine vessels, motorcycles, aircraft, rockets or mass-transit vehicles. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most transportation designers work as industrial designers for large companies or organizations; the manufacturing industry is responsible for 30% of the transportation design jobs, and it’s the largest employer of these professionals.

Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, clients exhibit sites, users’ homes or workplaces, and places where the transportation product is manufactured.

How Much Does a Transportation Designer Earn?

Most transportation design professionals work as industrial designers and civil engineers in corporations. So, according to BLS, the average annual salary for industrial designers was $66,590.

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Although, the salary of a transport designer can vary for different organizations.

Transportation Design Job Outlook

According to BLS, it projects the employment of industrial designers to grow by 3% from 2025 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations. Consumer demand for innovative products and new product styles should sustain the demand for industrial designers.

Also, the employment of transport designers is likely to continue to grow in areas that require a high degree of technical ability and transport product design sophistication.

So, designers with powerful skills in engineering, CAD, and those with an advanced degree in transportation system design, are expected to compete more successfully in this job market.

What Kind of Education do you Require to Become a Transportation Designer?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to work as an industrial designer who best describes a transport designer, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Also, a portfolio showcasing your designs to qualify for entry-level positions will help your career.

Also, degree programs in transportation design are available at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. However, it is common to get a bachelor’s degree in transportation degree programs.

So, degree programs in industrial design, which often teach transport design, are also available. Most undergraduate transportation design programs take five years to complete and involve significant internship experience.

Designers take drawing and other studio courses, learn the basics of color and design and study the history of transportation design. You could also opt for a master’s degree in transportation/civil engineering since these foster specialization solely in transportation design.

Why Study Transportation Design in USA?

The United States of America is one study location apt for almost every kind of technological and art program. Not only do they have the right facilities and faculty, but the right university for each design program.

Also, you can find the best automotive engineering schools in USA here.

With over 5,000 universities and colleges in the USA, there is surely a wide option of the best colleges available to you to choose from.

Also, they offer some of the best transport design programs that inculcate internships into their curriculum so you can gain some hands-on experience in the field.

Meanwhile, US universities and colleges offer tons of scholarships to students who study in the USA.

What is the Cost of Studying Transport Design?

Although the tuition cost of studying transportation design might vary with different programs and schools, the average annual tuition cost to study industrial design, which is a requirement to become a transport system design professional, is $32,500.

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Best Transportation Design Schools in the USA

As we explained earlier, the easiest way to get a job as a transport design is to get a bachelor’s degree in industrial design.

So, below, we have outlined several schools that offer the best programs.

Generally, our ranking schools all have relevant program accreditation.

Herberger Institute for Design and Arts – ASU

Acceptance Rate – 84%

Arizona State University (ASU) is one of the best schools for automotive design. The Art Career Project ranked ASU Design School’s Industrial Design program 20th in 2025.

ASU’s degree in Industrial Design prepares students for a professional career in product design, concentrating on the development of manufactured objects people use daily.

Generally, ASU offers four Industrial (transport) Design Programs through its Herberger Institute for Design and Arts (Design School).

These are the Undergraduate Industrial Design (BSD), Master of Industrial Design (MID) for two years, Master of Industrial Design (MID) for over three years, and Industrial Design (MSD) for advanced studies.

Average Undergraduate Tuition Fee: $13,288 (Per 12 hour semester)

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Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

Acceptance Rate – 45%

The University of Houston through its Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design offers two kinds of degree programs in Industrial Design. These programs create a pathway for a career in transportation system design and in other innovative areas of design.

You can take a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design or a Master of Science in Industrial Design at the University of Houston.

However, the MS in Industrial Design is especially notable for its integration of non-design disciplines such as engineering to its design disciplines such as industrial design. This makes it one of the best transport design schools in the USA.

Average Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $29000

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College of Design, NC State University

Acceptance Rate – 47%

North Carolina (NC) State University at Raleigh with its “Think and do the Extraordinary” slogan offers one of the best Industrial Design Programs in the US. Through its College of Design, the university offers a Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID) degree for undergraduates and a Master of Industrial Design (MID) for graduates.

However, this program at NC State University is in two tracks – Track 2 and Track 3. Track 2 is for students with an undergraduate degree in industrial design, while Track 3 is for students with a non-industrial design undergraduate degree.

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These options easily absorb students looking for transport design schools with an engineering or business degree.

Average Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $26,399

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The School of Art + Design, the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign

Acceptance Rate – 62%

The School of Art + Design of the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign offers Industrial Design degrees. These degree which prepares automotive designers for a career path in Product design, transport design, etc are some of the best in the United States.

However, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign only offers two program degrees in Industrial Design towards an automotive design career.

They are the Industrial Design BFA (undergraduates) and the Industrial Design MFA (graduates).

Average Undergraduate Tuition Fee: $25,000

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The University of Washington – Seatle Campus offers its Industrial Design through its School of Art + Art History + Design. It is one of the best schools for transportation design in the USA with its Industrial degree programs.

Through its Design School, The University of Washington offers two Design programs. They are the Industrial Design for Undergraduates (BDes) and the Design for graduates (MDes).

Average Undergraduate Tuition Fee: $30000

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Transportation Design FAQs

How do I become a transport designer?

Becoming a transport designer requires you to first get a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study.

What should I do while studying to become a transport designer?

During your time studying, also complete an internship program to help build your portfolio. Then, find an entry-level job in the industry to gain work experience and progress in your career by taking a graduate degree. Finally, consider joining a trade association.

Easiest way to get a degree in transportation design?

The easiest way to get a degree in transportation design is to take industrial degree programs because they cover courses on transport system design too. There are several schools that offer these degree programs and also internships to help the learning experience.

The requirement to become a transport designer?

You need at least a four-year bachelor’s degree to become a transport designer. An associate’s degree is not an option.

Job

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that individuals interested in pursuing a career as a transportation designer earn at least a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture or engineering.

What do transportation designers do?

Transportation designers utilize the knowledge of computer software or computer-aided programs to create better models of vehicles to solve problems arising in the transport industry.

Salary for transport designers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for industrial designers (which also includes transport designers) was $66,590.

Conclusion

Transportations design is a field that requires high creativity, which is a quality that pertains more to artists than engineers. Hence, a degree in industrial design sets you apart as a professional. Hence, we have listed the best schools that can help you achieve this goal.

References

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