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Major in Design

The Design Program at the University of San Francisco integrates coursework in graphic design, digital media design, and environmental design into a dynamic interdisciplinary studio concentration. By practicing design in an expanded field, students gain comprehensive experience with a wide range of process-oriented skills, including conceptual development, visual rhetoric, formal experimentation, and critical thinking.

Courses are taught in state-of-the-art computer labs, where students gain fluency with advanced production methods and digital technologies. Though we encourage students to express their personal interests in their project work, we are equally committed to having them engage with the various demographics of the larger community by working with non-profit and other community-based groups. Advanced courses in the program provide students with opportunities for community outreach, independent research projects, and internships.

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the Design Major will leave with a body of knowledge and skills that will serve them well as graduate students, design practitioners, and/or community leaders.

The Design Major includes:

  • Design Process: The study of the creative practice, with a focus on conceptual development, form-making strategies, formal experimentation, and product prototyping.
  • Design Research: The study of methods for gathering knowledge and data, with a focus on field research and bibliographic literacy.
  • Digital Literacy: The study of digital media, with a focus on both technical and conceptual skills and processes.
  • Design Production: The study of the ways and means of producing design projects, with a focus on craft, mechanical fluency, and project management.
  • Design History: The study of the meanings and values that design and design technology have created for different people in different places throughout history, and how these meanings and values relate to the present.
  • Design Theory/Critical Thinking: The study of design theory with a focus on the function of hypothetical, ethical and polemical content.
  • Design Leadership: The study of design as a vehicle for social justice and environmental responsibility, with a focus on the development of experience with leadership, agency, and activism.

Requirements for the Major

The Major in Design requires 48 credits.

First Year
  • ART - 155 Visual Communication I
  • ART - 120 Art Fundamentals
  • ART - 101 Survey of Western Art History 1
  • ART - 175 Visual Communication II
  • ART - 102 Survey of Western Art History II
Second Year
  • ART - 205 Typography
  • ART - 252 Publication Design
  • ART - 130 Introduction to Drawing
Third Year
  • ART - 315 Digital Literacy
  • Design Studio or Seminar Elective (see below)
Fourth Year
  • ART - 460 Senior Design Project
  • Design Studio or Seminar Elective (see below)
Design Studio Electives (choose 1)
  • ART - 335 Information Visualization
  • ART - 385 Interaction Design
  • ART - 350 Advanced Typography
  • ART - 345 Exhibition Design Practicum
  • ART - 450 Design Internship
Design Seminar Electives (choose 1)
  • ART - 304 Sustainable Systems in Design
  • ART - 301 Design + Social Change Seminar
  • ART - 314 History of Design
  • Additional Special Topics - See Program Director
Minimum Grade Requirements

Students majoring or minoring in Design must obtain a minimum grade of a "C-" (C minus) in all required Design courses in order to receive credit for that course toward the major/minor. If the minimum C- grade is not achieved and the course is a prerequisite for a higher-level course, the student may not register for the higher-level course until the prerequisite course is repeated and a C- minimum grade is achieved.

Learning Goals for the Major in Design

  • Students will gain solid historical knowledge of the objects of art and principal artists of all major periods, and their associated theories, analysis and criticism. This includes a broad understanding of the cultural diversity of art movements from prehistoric times through contemporary culture, both locally and globally.
  • Students will gain an understanding of basic visual principles, concepts, media, and formats in the various fine art disciplines, and the ability to apply them to meet a specific objective. This includes an ability to think critically and propose creative solutions to aesthetic problems.
  • Students will gain a deep appreciation and knowledge of how to use their skills to work with diverse communities both locally and globally to create social change. This includes the acquisition of professional skills that will serve them as postgraduate students, professional practitioners, educators, and community leaders.
  • Students will gain knowledge and skills in the use of basic tools, technologies, and processes sufficient to conduct advanced research or project work. This includes the mastery of bibliographic research and understanding of the digital tools and processes necessary to develop that research.