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Course Sequencing of Design Major Requirements

The Design Program Curriculum is designed to be completed over 8 semesters. It is possible to condense this into 4 semesters, although not encouraged. After successfully completing the Design Program at USF students earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Design. Applicants to the program should follow USF's regular undergraduate admissions procedures; no portfolio is required.

updated Fall 2014

year fall semester spring semester
1 Visual Communication I
Western Art History I
Art Fundamentals + Fab Lab
Visual Communication II
Western Art History II
2 Typography Publication Design
3 Digital Literacy Design Elective*
4 Design Elective*
Design Elective*
Senior Design Project

* Students must choose one Studio Elective, one Seminar Elective and one Professional Practice Elective.  Electives can be taken anytime in the junior and senior year. 
Studio Electives:  Information Visualization, Interaction Design, Advanced Typography, Exhibition Design Practicum, or other Special Topics
Seminar Electives:  Sustainable Systems in Design Seminar, Design + Social Change Seminar, History of Design Seminar
Professional Practice Electives:  Design Internship, Professional Practice in Design 

Design Minor Requirements

complete these 3 foundation courses
Visual Communication I
Visual Communication II
Art Fundamentals
then choose any 2 of the following courses

Art History I -or- Art History II
Publication Design
Digital Literacy
Information Visualization
Interaction Design
Exhibition Design Practicum
Sustainable Systems in Design Seminar
Design + Social Change Seminar
History of Design Seminar 

Design Major Course Descriptions

Visual Communication I  The Visual Communication course series will introduce students to the technical and conceptual study of graphic design as a wide-ranging practice for the creation, reproduction, and dissemination of visual messages. In Visual Communication I, students will explore these issues while developing fluency in the Macintosh OS operating system Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and In Design.  

Visual Communication II  The Visual Communication course series will introduce students to the technical and conceptual study of graphic design as a wide-ranging practice for the creation, reproduction, and dissemination of visual messages. In Visual Communication II, students will explore these issues while developing fluency in web development using HTML, CSS, and other methods of production for digital media. 

Typography will introduce students to the design and history of printing types. Through independent research and project work, students will produce typographic solutions to applied and experimental problems using typography as their singular design element. Lectures, readings, and guided discussions will supplement project work, introducing students to the topics of typographic composition, letterform design, and printing history.

Publication Design will introduce students to the practice, history, and theory of book and periodical design. Through design research and independent project work, students will experiment with the compositional principles that have informed the practice of publication design from the time of the first printed books through the contemporary era of digital production.

Digital Literacy will introduce students to the practice and history of screen-based interactive design for the web and screen.   Course work will cover topics of interaction design, networked culture, and critical analysis of the use of technology in design and our everyday lives.

Senior Design Project will allow students the opportunity to design a comprehensive project that synthesizes what they have learned throughout their tenure in the Design Program. Using quantitative and qualitative design research methods, students will develop and produce a project that responds to specific cultural, social, and political changes in the world around them.

Sustainable Systems in Design Seminar (seminar elective) This course will examine theories and practices that encourage the development of ecological consciousness as applied to design practice and production. Thinking beyond recycled plastics and reusable tote bags, this course will ask students to think critically about what sustainability actually means, and to examine the complexities in our choices of materials, processes, locations, quantities, production and consumption. Lectures, readings, discussions and student research will supplement project work addressing issues of sustainable technologies and materials, processes in production and consumption, and sustainable systems on both small and large scales.

Design & Social Change Seminar (seminar elective) This course will demonstrate to students the power of design to leverage their sense of humanity and ability to fashion a more humane and just world. The course will survey an array of visual styles, communications and design projects that date from the turn of the century to the present in the form of artistic posters, non-commercial advertisements, web sites, outreach and political propaganda.

History of Design Seminar (seminar elective) This course will present a historical study of the material world, focusing on designed objects. It will challenge students to think critically about the rhetoric of design and examine the ways in which objects are both reflective of the culture that produced them while also serving as devices for cultural change. Throughout the semester, seminars will explore topical themes related to and extending beyond chronological focus, including gender, luxury and excess, revival styles, production and consumption, and user experience.

Exhibition Design Practicum (studio elective) will provide students working experience with the professional practice of exhibition design. Through research and collaborative project work, students from the Design, Art History/Arts Management, and Architecture & Community Design programs will curate, design, and mount an exhibition for the university’s Thacher Gallery.

Information Visualization (studio elective) will introduce students to the design of complex information systems. Information has been an effective way to communicate both abstract and concrete ideas from the time of the earliest cave paintings until the internet-based projects of today. Lectures, readings, and student research will supplement project work, introducing students to the concentrated disciplines of mapping, comparative timelines, and information design.

Interaction Design (studio elective) Building on skills learned in introductory programming courses, this class advances students’ technical and conceptual skills in interaction design. Coursework emphasizes immersive and engaging user experience, data visualization, and design solutions through critical thinking and technical application. Conceptually this class will explore ideas about human-machine interaction from mouse clicks to cyborg theory; interface design as it relates to the Internet, animation, game design and interactive media; form and interactivity in programming structures, and algorithmic systems. Students will gain experience using the Processing and Arduino programming languages designing for interaction both on the screen and in physical environments.

Advanced Typography (studio elective) This course will build upon the practical skills and historical framework learned in the Typography course to allow students to create advanced typographic project work and research. Students will begin the semester by developing an original design for a single-case font, using the Fontographer technology. For their second project, students will integrate digital and non-digital technologies to develop an experimental font design that must be conceived, manipulated, and/or reproduced beyond the environment of the computer. Throughout the semester, students will conduct research to identify the ways in which fonts have historically represented the cultural identities of their makers and users within a variety of global contexts, and will end the semester by producing project work that publishes their findings.

Design Internship (professional practice elective)  The Design Internship provides a supervised work experience in a professional Bay Area design setting that complements the theoretical, methodological and practical instruction received in the Design major. Students experience working with selected design professionals in professional studios and business environments. Additional course work contextualizes the students’ work experience and helps them to prepare for future work in the field.

Professional Practice in Design (professional practice elective)  The course will bring students greater awareness of the career options that will be available to them following graduation and will provide them with the skills that will enable them to successfully enter the profession. Students will meet with a wide-ranging selection of design professionals who will introduce them to many aspects of the design field. Class sessions will focus on the writing of resumés, biographies, personal statements, project proposals, professional contracts, grants, and graduate-school applications.