ArtCenter College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Transportation Systems and Design

Vehicle Track

This track is appropriate for students wishing to enter or re-enter the vehicle/automotive industry. Their goal may be to fast-track their careers with an orientation toward business or design strategy or even beyond the bounds of traditional automotive studio positions.

Transportation Systems Track

This track is intended for students who want to focus on using design and systems thinking to create smart and innovative transportation solutions rather than design of vehicles per se. Students will have a desire to create change by engaging across disciplines and into areas such as policy-making, business strategy, and urban planning as related to transportation systems.

The graduate transportation design program seeks gifted, articulate, thoughtful individuals who are self-motivated and who would like to help transportation industries and agencies change the way they think. Diversity and breadth of background plays an important role in defining the cross-disciplinary culture of the program.


A completed admission application

This may be downloaded, or completed online.

A nonrefundable application fee

A nonrefundable application fee of $50 for U.S. citizens and permanent aliens or $70 for non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. permanent alien residents.

Official transcripts from all colleges attended

A completed undergraduate degree must be verified prior to enrollment. Preference is given to students who have completed their prior studies with a grade point average of 3.0 or better.

Vehicle Industry Track Applicants will often have a prior degree in Industrial Design or Transportation Design. Urban Transportation Systems applicants may have degrees in Industrial Design, Transportation Design or areas such as urban planning, engineering, architecture, social science disciplines, among others. All students, regardless of background should be able to demonstrate a level of design skill and thinking through the portfolio.

Your portfolio

A portfolio of work demonstrating the candidate’s design abilities.

Vehicle Track applicants should include vehicular projects that demonstrate high levels of transportation design competency. These should demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, originality of solutions, excellent visualization/drawing skills, 3-D exploration, good organizational ability, ability to research, and a sense of curiosity and inquiry. Evidence of previous study of transportation design and competency will be required.

Transportation Systems Track applicants should include examples of design projects and concepts. These might incorporate a variety of projects, but should include some samples of transportation system concepts. Demonstration of critical thinking, problem solving, originality, organizational ability are important. Concepts should be demonstrated through drawing; it is understood that candidates for this track may not have well-developed visualizing skills, but evidence of an aptitude for drawing is important. Students will receive focused training in drawing and sketching once enrolled.

The following formats are acceptable:

  • Slideroom (Web-based).
    Our preferred method for submission is through Slideroom. Upload your portfolio images at https://artcenter.slideroom.com. A nominal fee will be charged by Slideroom for this service. Full instructions are listed on their site. For general artwork, we recommend scanned images rather than photos for best resolution. Film applicants should provide a DVD; see below for details.
  • Non-Returnable Printed Portfolio.
    Maximum size limit is 11" x 17", including the envelope or covering. This can include a presentation format or simply individual samples of the work. This format works well for the design disciplines in which presentation or project formats are appropriate. Copies of sketchbook can be included in this format along with the portfolio. Work will not be returned.
    Mail with your name and address to: Admissions Office, Art Center College of Design, 1700 Lida St., Pasadena, CA 91103

Written essays

All applicants should provide a written statement that delineates their motivation for pursuing a graduate program. This should include both topics and areas of interest and personal goals to be undertaken in the program. In addition, applicants should describe specific skills and competencies they want to achieve. The statement should also articulate goals beyond completion of the program and describe how a design education will relate to career objectives.

Urban Transportation Systems applicants should also include a statement that highlights their particular interest in the future of transportation. This should make reference to the types of transportation systems that are of special interest and an explanation of their potential social impact.

Required English Proficiency Testing

Graduate applicants whose bachelor's degree was achieved in a language other than English must score at least 100 on the Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) or 7 on the I.E.L.T.S to be considered for admission.

Visit www.TOEFL.org or www.ielts.org for testing and procedures information.  Art Center does not accept institutional scores, and all scores must be sent directly from the testing service. We do not accept electronic download scores from I.E.L.T.S. In addition, the College may require minimum scores on each section of the test.


An in-person or phone interview will be required of all applicants. This will allow for a dialogue between the applicant and the Chair or faculty to assure that the candidate’s goals and interests are in alignment with the program. Students who are able to visit in person are strongly urged to do so. Arrangements can be made around the time of application.
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