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
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- ART - 205 Typography
- ART - 252 Publication Design
- ART - 210 Drawing 1
- ART - 315 Digital Literacy
- Design Studio or Seminar Elective (see below)
- 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
- 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
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
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.