Transportation Design

a sports car with a background of a rocky terrain

Graduates of the MFA program in Transportation Design will be innovators, in automotive design and all aspects of mobility, always with an eye toward the future

Building on your art and creativity, the College’s MFA program in Transportation Design will bring you together with other bright, forward-thinking students from design and engineering disciplines who want to delve into the invention and entrepreneurial aspects of transportation design.

In this program, you will take on the role of “designer as inventor,” and learn how to integrate innovation with real-world business strategy, including business practices, research, brand identity, vehicle architecture and mobility as a system. The curriculum will lead you through a complete design process – extensive research, sketching and 3D rendering, animation, core competencies analysis and more – and will include special projects that explore innovation through forms and materials, functionality and engineering. It’s a unique approach that will teach you how to combine creativity and research with business realities to create new brand value.

Studying at CCS will put you at the very center of transportation design. In the College’s studios and labs – housed in the same building where Harley Earl, the first modern automotive designer, and other renowned researchers and designers pioneered groundbreaking vehicles – an automotive executive or other industry leader is very likely to stop in to engage informally with students.

The College’s alumni are designers at every major car manufacturer and nearly all the Tier 1 auto suppliers, at racing and defense companies like Pratt & Miller, and consulting in firms as far away as Vietnam and Abu Dhabi. You will participate in design competitions, internships and sponsored projects from the Big 3 and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers. With these exceptional networking advantages, CCS is the ideal place to develop the knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial outlook that will enable you to influence the future of transportation.

Graduate MFA Transportation Design will be a STEM-designated program for students starting in the fall of 2021. New international students completing this program will qualify to apply for the STEM OPT (optional practical training) Extension.

Leading the charge in innovation, our MFA programs are shaping the future - literally. In fact, graduate Spencer Chamberlain’s skills were so advanced that General Motors actually created a new position specifically for him: Senior Design Strategist and Innovation Architect.

MFA: Transportation Design program highlights

  • Study in small intensive groups where you will receive individual attention from faculty.
  • Learn from faculty with years of industry experience and automotive industry connections.
  • Work on real industry-sponsored projects for companies such as GM, Nissan and Toyota.
  • Benefit from CCS’ deep relationships in the transportation industry and location in the center of the world’s automotive capitol – Detroit, home of the “Big 3.”
  • Complete a capstone transportation design thesis that involves design development, extensive research, business case/creative brief development and the realization of a substantial digital or hand-built deliverable.

Our curriculum is led by faculty who understand what it takes to succeed in the design industry because they have been or currently are successful industry practitioners and leaders. Students learn not only to become critical thinkers and strategic designers but to be professionals because creative talent and executional skills alone do not guarantee career advancement or entrepreneurial success. Students are taught to work effectively in teams both as leaders and as team peers. They cope with the real stresses of deadlines and uncertainties, both within and outside of their control. They learn to champion their ideas through formal presentations and rigorous critiques led by industry professionals who are in positions to recruit and hire promising talent.

In the final academic year for graduate students, the MFA Transportation Design curriculum concludes with the Graduate Thesis, designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of their graduate studies experience. Students follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and a creative brief emerge from their research findings. These serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Through multiple phases – complete with milestones and reviews with their advisors – students complete a series of high-quality deliverables, building up to a final presentation to the Graduate Thesis Review Committee.

Contact Us

MFA Transportation Design Department
T. 313.664.1475
F. 313.664.1490

Department Chair
Raphael Zammit