Undergraduate Design Program

Design students work in the Design studio. Photo by Maddie George.

Photo by Maddie George.

The undergraduate Design program empowers students with a rich, multi-faceted educational experience that poises graduates for careers in the design professions or an entrepreneurial endeavor. Design is about solving a problem and creating new processes, products and services for people. It is human centered; the end-user’s needs, wants and limitations are explored at all stages within the design process and development lifecycle.

Students enjoy the extensive offerings of one of the world’s great public universities, while receiving individualized instruction from expert, passionate faculty and local industry professionals in small cohorts of approximately 20 students. Students immerse themselves in various aspects of design and are able to create graphics, objects, interactions, systems and services.

During their first year, Design students will work with students in the Department of Art and Art History through the department's AAH Core Program. All incoming Design, Studio Art and Art History students are required to take this set of courses to build core technical and conceptual proficiencies and prepare them for advanced study toward their degree.

As they continue in the Design program, studio-based courses develop students’ research, problem-solving, critical thinking and making skills, while elective courses and the university’s core curriculum emphasize the liberal arts.

In their senior year, students complete at least one professional internship and undertake a capstone design project that culminates in a public thesis exhibition at the Visual Arts Center.

 

BFA vs BA

The Design BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) is a pre-professional degree program encompassing typography, image creation/manipulation, interaction design and 3D design that is intended to prepare students for employment or graduate study in the field of design. BFA students take approximately two-thirds of their undergraduate courses in design and related coursework, and culminate their studies by completing one or more paid professional internships, undertaking a substantial capstone design project and presenting their work in an annual public exhibition. By choosing from a wide range of pre-approved supportive courses in fields across the university, BFA students acquire not only the visual discernment and technical skills necessary to gain employment or admission to graduate school, but also the capacity for research, critical thinking, writing and speaking that enables them to rise to positions of creative leadership as designers, art directors, project managers, executives and entrepreneurs.

The Design BA (Bachelor of Arts) is intended for students who desire a solid foundation in design techniques, aesthetics, research methods, history and theory, but who prefer the flexibility and breadth of a liberal arts degree to the more studio-intensive and employment-oriented pre-professional BFA degree. BA students enroll side-by-side with BFA students in rigorous introductory design studio courses; however, BA students take fewer upper-division studio courses in exchange for foreign language study and more electives. The BA degree’s flexibility makes it a particularly good choice for external or internal transfers or students who want to add a simultaneous major.

 

Degree Requirements

BFA Design: View the 4-year sample plan and degree guidelines

BA Design: View the 4-year sample plan and degree guidelines