Product Design (BFA)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Product Design at University of the Arts teaches you to create objects, services and systems that solve problems and improve lives. We offer a number of unique, interdisciplinary curriculum tracks that allow an unprecedented amount of freedom to shape and focus your design education in the way you imagine, through which you’ll learn to create innovative products, services and experiences that connect and engage with modern life. You’ll learn to identify and solve real-world problems using contemporary design thinking practices and user-centric insights. Equipped with human-centered problem-solving techniques, Product Design students learn to untangle and solve the issues of our time. 

Courses in our program examine a range of contemporary topics, including emerging manufacturing methods, virtual prototyping, sustainability, entrepreneurial best practices and design ethics. The products you’ll create in these classes will help you explore your curiosities and ask deep questions about the changing world around you.

An interdisciplinary mindset is central to our work. Our product designers learn to work with students in other majors to amplify their projects: You might partner with interaction designers to develop internet-enabled devices or collaborate with graphic designers to brand your market-ready products. By taking classes outside your major, you’ll have access to experts in related fields, as well as facilities and resources that refine your vision, Our state-of-the-art facilities include the university’s Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace and Center for Immersive Media and our large, program-specific Product Design Shop, which includes 3-D printers, CNC routers and digital scanners, as well as many traditional tools to bring your ideas to reality.

You’ll graduate from UArts’ Product Design program transformed and ready for a professional career in product design - including for international star companies like Disney, Nike and Google - or to set out on your own and start a meaningful business that acts as a force for good: positively affecting customers, community and the planet we share.

About the Curriculum

Our unique curriculum combines the creativity of art with the technical knowledge of engineering to help inspire you to be an innovative thinker. Our small class sizes allow for individual learning experiences with faculty members who will continually challenge and inspire you.

As a UArts Product Design student you will:

  • learn to create innovative products, services and experiences;
  • use the latest digital design tools, from digital sketching to CAD (computer-aided design)  modeling, advanced rendering and 3-D printing;
  • learn about advanced virtual and physical prototyping;
  • learn to conduct immersive consumer insights; and 
  • be part of an international and diverse cohort of students.

As a UArts Product Design student, you will be prepared to work for global product brands, start your own product design consultancy or launch your own line of innovative products. You’ll graduate completely transformed and ready for a professional career as an innovative design leader anywhere in the world. With the skills learned at UArts, our alumni have gone on to work for companies including Nike, IKEA, Disney, Google, Knoll furniture and Microsoft.  

The School of Design Core — courses taken by all Design students — promotes peer interaction and encourages cross-disciplinary activity. You’ll learn key principles of design, making, thinking, marketing and business that will help you build a solid knowledge base for further study in Product Design.

Sample Courses in the Product Design Major


Total Credits: 120
Duration: 4 years, full-time
Major requirements: 45 credits
School of Design core: 24 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits
Critical Studies**: 30 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

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First Year

Fall: 16.5 credits
Drawing as Seeing (3 credits)
Design Process, Theory, and Communication (3 credits)
Digital Design Lab (3 credits)
Writing I Placement (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (1.5 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
Drawing as Thinking (3 credits)
Design Studio (3 credits)
Writing II Placement (3 credits)
Discipline history (3 credits)
Free elective (3 credits)

Second Year

Fall: 15 credits 
Human Factors (1.5 credits)
Design Research (1.5 credits)
ODR* selection (3 credits)
Design for Persuasive Visual Communication (3 credits)
Philosophy & Context of Product (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
Elements of Product Design (3 credits)
Prototyping & Fabrication I (3 credits)
Design History (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (3 credits)
 

Third Year

Fall: 15 credits 
Prototyping & Fabrication II (3c)
Emerging Materials (1.5c)
Design for Sustainability & Ethics (1.5c)
ODR selection* (3c)
Contemporary Issues (3c)
Critical Studies** (3c)

Spring: 13.5 credits 
Product Service System (1.5c)
Design for Social Innovation (3c)
ODR selection* (3c)
Intro to Business Prep & Creative Practice (3c)
Critical Studies** (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall: 15 credits
Prototyping & Fabrication III (1.5 credits)
Entrepreneurship & the Object (1.5 credits)
Senior Thesis I (3 credits)
Internship, Workshop or Interdisciplinary Project (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (3 credits)

Spring: 13.5 credits 
Senior Thesis II (3 credits)
Presentation & Portfolio (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (1.5 credits)
 

Explore the Full Curriculum

Faculty Spotlight

A closeup of Matt Rhoades in a black collared shirt in front of a slate gray wall
Matthew Rhoades

Product Design (BFA)
Program Director; former Global Creative Director at Nike and the Founder / Chief Creative of product design agency MatteLab
Jennifer Goettner
Jennifer Goettner

Product Design (MDes)
Designer who's produced sets, exhibitions, costumes, sculptures and more
Tony Guido Headshot
Anthony Guido

Product Design (BFA)
Associate professor; former program director of UArts’ Industrial Design Program; hybrid practicing industrial designer and design educator.

Alumni & Careers


Our Product Design program has served as a powerful launchpad for graduating students across multiple industries, from healthcare to technology. Our alumni have used the skills and knowledge developed at UArts to start their own product consultancies, launch their own consumer brands and work for iconic international brands like Nike, Google, and Disney.

Graduates with Product Design BFA can find themselves working in a variety of roles. Some career options for those pursuing product design making include:

  • Product designer
  • Production designer (CAD specialist)
  • Exhibition designer
  • Furniture designer
  • Interior designer
  • User Experience (UX) designer

 

Alumni Spotlight

A grayscale portrait of Lorenzo Buffa
Lorenzo Buffa

BS ’12

Designer, entrepreneur, brand marketer, business manager, earned media strategist, and educator.
Becca Danna headshot blue shirt blonde hair
Becca Danna

BS ’11

User Experience Researcher (UXR) at Google; previously Senior Design Manager at IBM.

Facilities


The University of the Arts Product Design program takes great pride in the use of the best analog and digital design tools. From CAD modeling to advanced prototyping methodologies our student capabilities are endless. 

  • Multiple desktop FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3-D printers
  • Cintiq tablets for digital sketching
  • Higher resolution SLA (resin-based) 3-D printers
  • Three axis desktop CNC mill
  • Handheld and desktop 3-D scanners
  • Multiple laser cutters with the ability to cut materials from paper to metal

Our students learn the complete product design and development process, from innovative consumer-insight driven research to advanced prototyping methods. Our intensive studio experience is an essential part of our curriculum. The Product Design program also has access to University of the Arts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM), a 5,600-square-foot space dedicated to immersive technology, including augmented and virtual reality walkthroughs using Oculus headsets and the ability to run software like Gravity Sketch to create real products in virtual spaces. The CIM space is dedicated to exploring virtual and mixed reality through human-computer interaction.

Center for Immersive Media


UArts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. The space includes
optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;

  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media.

The Albert M Greenfield Makerspace


The Makerspace is a 3,500-square-foot digital and traditional fabrication studio that brings together the entire university community and serves as a catalyst for the collaboration, experimentation and innovation that are characteristic of UArts. The space houses state-of-the-art digital and analog equipment that allows students to create virtually anything they can imagine.

It is outfitted with  

  • a ShopBot PRSAlpha9648 CNC Router;
  • a Roland MDX540A four axis CNC Mill with ATC;
  • a printed circuit board (PCB) and decal printers;
  • two NextEngine 3-D scanners for small objects;
  • two laser cutters/engravers, which can cut wood, acrylic, leather, fabric, paper, etc.;
  • four Ultimaker 3, 3-D printers, with both PLA and ABS plastics, which are able to build up to 7.5 x 8.5 x 8 in.;
  • a ProtoMax waterjet cutter with a 12 x 12 in. working area that can cut any material up to 1 in. thick (even steel);
  • a four-color Janome digital embroidery machine;
  • four electronic soldering stations and a PCB printer; and
  • four Windows-based workstations that are available for anyone to use.

 Learn more about the Makerspace.

Scholarships & Financial Aid


UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarshipsAll applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about scholarships and financial aid.

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline (Feb. 15, 2023).

Spring 2023 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2022
Fall 2023 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2023

We cannot accept spring 2023 applications after Jan. 9, 2023, and cannot accept fall 2023 applications after Aug. 11, 2023.

The following materials are required for your application. 

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A completed application for admission
$60 application fee

If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code

Official high school transcript
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
  • International transcript requirements 
  • Transfer student transcript requirements
    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.
    • Official college transcript(s)
      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 
Portfolio

A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission. View a full list of portfolio requirements by program.

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.
Optional letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Apply Now

About the School of Design


University of the Arts’ School of Design redefines what it means to educate a 21st century designer. We celebrate the reality that the boundaries between all sorts of contemporary design practices are more open than ever before and that a modern designer needs a greatly expanded skill set at their disposal. With this new reality in mind, the School of Design initiates innovation and empowers you to pursue your passions, build core values, broaden your design exposure and become a design leader of the future.

The School of Design strongly believes in collaboration, self-expression and professional preparation through its undergraduate programs in Graphic Design and Illustration, with Product Design and Interaction Design launching in 2023. The School of Design consists of programs that work together, providing depth in your discipline while expanding your understanding of design. This academic model best prepares you to respond flexibly to change and future career opportunities.

Learn more about the School of Design.

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