Industrial Design

Industrial Design

Industrial designers serve the consumer through sensitive and innovative collaboration with art, science, engineering, anthropology, marketing, manufacturing, and ecology.

Industrial designers give form to virtually all mass-manufactured products in our culture. They seek opportunity and advantage through identifying and solving problems. Their creative contributions impact the utility, appearance, and value of our tools, toys, and environment. Their most innovative solutions lie at an intersection of what is knowable and what is possible.

The industrial design profession demands excellent organizational skills, an awareness of visual and tactile aesthetics, human behavior, human proportion, material, process, and the responsible appropriation of resources, during and after use. Designers express conceptual proposals through a combination of well-developed drawing, physical modeling, computer modeling, writing, and verbal skills.

Designers best serve the consumer through sensitive and innovative collaboration with art, science, engineering, anthropology, marketing, manufacturing, and ecology. Properly implemented, industrial design affords greater benefit, safety, and economy to all participants and recipients impacted by the product development cycle. Apply now.

Bachelor of Fine Arts & Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree requires 66 hours of coursework (or 21 courses) in the major area while the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree requires 36 (or 12 courses). Students will be advised by faculty with respect to which degree fits their interests. Generally, the BFA affords a larger portfolio due to considerably more design studio experiences. A candidate for a BFA also has the opportunity to pursue a year-long, self-driven thesis project. BFA entrance will be based on a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher in the seven core courses. The seven core courses must be completed before taking the BFA studio seminar. See the Bachelor of Fine Arts course requirements.

The BA is more suited to students who wish to double major or desire to create a custom experience combining industrial design with art, art history, engineering, anthropology, athletics…and more. See the Bachelor of Arts course requirements.

Sample BFA Curriculum

First Year
2D Foundations–ARST 10100
3D Foundations–ARST 10601
Drawing I–ARST 10201
Rapid Visualization–DESN 20200


Intro to Product Development–DESN 20201
Design Research Development–DESN 20204
Photo I–ARST 20401
ARST/DESN Elective
Pre-1600 Art History Course–ARHI
Post-1600 Art History Course–ARHI 


Digital Solid Modeling–DESN 30209
ID 3: Advanced Product Development–DESN 40200
Figure Drawing–ARST 40203
Department Elective–ARST or DESN
Department Elective–ARST or DESN
Art History–ARHI
Collaborative Design Development–DESN 40201 (suggested 3D elective)
Senior Seminar (fall semester)
BFA Thesis (fall semester/3 credits)
BFA Thesis (spring semester/6 credits)
Art History or ARST or DESN Elective
2D Elective– ARST or DESN

Study Abroad

Thinking of perhaps London or Rome to take an Art History course requirement? Students are encouraged to spend a semester abroad to get credit towards their degree in industrial design. Your academic advisor will help with options and scheduling.


Students are encouraged to seek out an internship after their second year of study. The program maintains relationships with design firms in the Chicago area and across the country with many opportunities coming from alumni. Internships are encouraged during the summer, but may also substitute for credit towards a degree. Download the internship form.


Depending on the path you choose in industrial design, the opportunities wide and varied. Here are some of the types positions held by former students:

soft goods designer footwear designer
housewares designer furniture designer
medical device designer automotive designer
interaction designer transportation designer
electronics designer experience designer

Industrial Designers Society of America

IDSA represents professionals in product design, interaction design, human factors, ergonomics, design research, design management, universal design and related design fields. The society produces the renowned International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) competition annually in which Notre Dame industrial design students participate—and often win the Midwest chapter.

Recommended Technology

Each course in industrial design may require different materials and technologies, and those requirements will be specified by the instructor. By the middle of the sophomore year, students are encouraged to purchase their own laptop and design software (see recommendations). The department has specialized computing labs for student designers. However seats are limited, and courses are routinely taught in these spaces. As students progress into the higher level courses, the near necessity of having a personal laptop with design software becomes more important.

Contact for Advising

Contact Director of Undergraduate Studies, Emily Beck, for general questions about the various Art, Art History & Design programs. If you have specific questions about Industrial Design, feel free to contact a faculty member directly.

Visit the Program

If you are in the area, please visit the Design Center at West Lake Hall. The second floor is dedicated to industrial design and visual communication design showcasing design work in the Cregg Commons, the public corridor spaces, and undergraduate studios. The building is open Monday-Friday from 6am-9pm. If you are considering design at Notre Dame, feel free to contact an industrial design faculty member for a tour. Please seek out all the facilities associated with design: West Lake Design Studio, Riley Hall, and the Snite Museum of Art.


Declaring a major? Visit the department's main office: 306 Riley Hall of Art. General questions about majoring in industrial design can be sent to the Department of Art, Art History & Design at Applying or transferring to Notre Dame?