Industrial Design is a major offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History, a program within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Admission and Progression Standards

As this is a new major, Major Snapshots information is not available, however, you can refer to the Industrial Design page in the catalog

Description of Major

The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design at JMU equips students with the creative problem solving skills necessary to become innovative design leaders. It empowers students to become positive social, environmental, and economic forces in their communities and within the design professions. The program emphasizes experimentation and investigation utilizing a rigorous human-centered, studio-based practice. The curriculum addresses the interaction between humans, objects and their environment through an empathy-based “design thinking” approach to problem solving. ID students study sculpture and form, drawing, making, material science, sociological and anthropological research methods, systems thinking, history, writing, and design theory. ID students also receive exposure to basic engineering, advanced manufacturing & fabrication processes, and common marketing, business, and entrepreneurship practices.

The intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of the field of Industrial Design requires students to develop both a depth of design-specific knowledge and technical skills as well as a breadth of knowledge in a variety of associated fields like business and engineering. The JMU ID program is designed to offer many opportunities for students to directly experience a collaborative, applied approach through connection with industry and community partners, internships, study abroad programs and professional critique.

Supplementing JMU's general accreditation, all degrees offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History are professionally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

More About the Field 

What is Industrial Design?

Look around you. Notice your shoes, your watch, or your phone. Someone thought about the style, color, and materials of those objects. They planned the way they were manufactured and thought about how you would interact with them. Those people are industrial designers. They develop the stuff of our daily lives.

Industrial designers blend together art, engineering, business, sociology and anthropology. Industrial designers experiment and invent. They house inner workings in beautiful, ergonomic, marketable shells. They study people and drive consumer behavior. And that’s just the beginning…

Industrial designers think through making – using their hands, as well as computers – to create drawings and prototypes of novel ideas.

Industrial designers ask a lot of questions. They solve problems by doing research – interviewing and observing the behavior of end-users. They create solutions that satisfy needs and solve problems based on those interactions.

Industrial designers also create systems and services. The work they do drives innovation and business strategy. They use their skills to interface with complex, “wicked” problems to instigate communication, foster collaboration, and spur action.

Industrial Design Society of America

The Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) is the professional organization for industrial designers and JMU has a very active student chapter. IDSA defines Industrial Design (ID) as “the professional service of creating products and systems that optimize function, value and appearance for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer. Industrial designers develop products and systems through collection analysis and synthesis of data guided by the special requirements of their client and manufacturer. They prepare clear and concise recommendations through drawings, models, and descriptions. Industrial designers improve as well as create, and they often work within multi-disciplinary groups that include management, marketing, engineering and manufacturing specialists.” [1]

Complementary Majors and Minors 

The Industrial Design curriculum is demanding and cannot usually accommodate another major or minor, unless the student takes classes in the summer or adds additional semesters. Minors could include: Art, Art History, Anthropology, Cultural Communications, Integrated Science & Technology, Materials Science, Sociology or Theater.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful industrial design students are creative, skilled at problem solving, and have an entrepreneurial approach to their work and life. 


Industrial Design students at JMU have the opportunity to prepare for a wide variety of art and art-related career fields. Because the program educates students as critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, graduates have an enhanced ability to think independently, respond flexibly, work productively and compete successfully for employment in career fields that value original and thoughtful creativity. Some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Advertising Designer
  • Architect
  • Computer Animator
  • Computer Graphics Designer
  • Conservator
  • Craftsperson
  • Entrepreneur/Founder
  • Environmental Designer
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Freelance Artist
  • Furniture Designer
  • Illustrator
  • Imaging Artist
  • Industrial Designer
  • Layout Artist
  • Lighting Designer
  • Metalsmith
  • Model Maker
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Museum Curator
  • Package Designer
  • Product Designer
  • Transportation Designer

Who Employs Graduates?

Architecture Firms, Colleges/Universities, Design Consultancies, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Industrial Design Firms, Manufacturing Companies, Motion Pictures Studios or Research and Development Departments within a broad range of industries.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Involvement in student clubs and organizations, such as JMU’s very active student chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA).  JMU student chapter is the professional organization for industrial designers.  Students should consult with their advisors about internship opportunities. 

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Art Directors
Arts and Design Occupations
Craft and Fine Artists
Industrial Designers
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Commercial and Industrial Designers
National Endowment for the Arts - Industrial Design Study
Fine Artists - Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators
Graphic Designers

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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