Car Design College Degree Program Overviews
Learn about bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs related to car design. Get information about prerequisites, course topics and salary to make an informed decision about your education.
At the undergraduate level, car design majors can be found within broader programs such as automotive engineering technology. Graduate students interested in car design typically study automotive engineering. While the curriculum will vary by program and school, some of the common classes address topics like design materials, marketing, leadership and electronics. There are numerous design, research and manufacturing careers available to graduates with an undergraduate or graduate degree in car design.
Bachelor's Degrees Related to Car Design
A bachelor's degree in car design can be found in a variety of program majors, including automotive engineering technology, transportation design, industrial technology with a vehicle design emphasis and mechanical engineering with an automotive engineering emphasis. Along with manufacturing, materials and electronics, these programs include courses in car design.
At least a high school diploma or GED equivalent is required for admission. Students may also be required to complete prerequisite lower-level coursework or complete a minimum number of credit hours before they can enroll in the program.
Relevant program courses generally cover automotive systems and features in addition to design concepts. Course topics may include:
- Computer-aided design
- Manufacturing process
- Power systems
- Vehicle electronics
- Vehicle development
- Materials in design
- Environmental and emission factors
Popular Career Options
Graduates may find employment working with automobiles, mass-transit systems, motorcycles and aircraft. Automotive designers may work with the interiors and exteriors of cars. They could find work at:
- Automotive-equipment manufacturers
- Car companies
- Product research facilities
- Manufacturing sites
Master's Degree in Automotive Engineering
A master's degree in automotive engineering allows students to focus on areas such as the design, marketing and manufacturing of vehicles, as well as on technological innovation within the automotive industry. Programs may be offered onsite or through distance education opportunities.
Individuals must typically possess a bachelor's degree for admission into these programs. A specific major may not be required, but relevant coursework or work experience in engineering may be preferred.
Graduate courses prepare students for a variety of professional responsibilities, including vehicle design, project management and product development. Coursework may include:
- Systems design
- Vehicle electronics
- Automotive marketing
- Product evaluation
- Quality assurance
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for mechanical engineers in motor vehicle manufacturing in May 2010 was $91,470 (www.bls.gov). In the same period, electrical engineers, including professionals who design automotive electrical systems, earned a mean annual salary of $87,770.
The BLS also reported that mechanical engineers overall were expected to see an employment growth of six percent, while electrical engineers were expected to see an employment growth of two percent, from 2008-2018. In February of 2012, PayScale.com noted that most professionals working in automotive engineering earned from $35,724-$112,104 before commission, profit sharing and bonuses.
Ph.D. in Automotive Engineering
Doctoral programs in automotive engineering allow students to perform research work in specific aspects of automotive engineering, such as technical and leadership roles. These programs may be completed in 3-4 years, either in part- or full-time formats. A dissertation may be required.
Doctoral programs typically require at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in engineering. For some programs, a master's degree program in a specific field, such as engineering or computer science, may be required.
Doctoral programs allow students to research an area of the automotive industry, with coursework centered around the chosen area of study. Subject areas may include:
- Automotive systems integration
- Industry management
- Control systems
- Environmental regulations
- Manufacturing logistics
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