Bachelor of Art in Design Studies

Bachelor of Art in Design Studies

Design Studies is a new and exciting field that blends design thinking and critical evaluation of design artifacts to understand better how design process and outcomes affect and contribute to the human experience. The program advances nimble, adaptive and critical and creative thinkers that are committed to responsible innovation. The Design Studies program has two core aspects to its curriculum:

  • Evaluating core aspects of design process and outcomes to better understand and contribute to the progress of the field through design curation, criticism and research and strategy development.
  • Applying design thinking strategies and methods to fields outside of design in developing innovative strategies, products and experiences.

Design Studies evaluates design artifacts and design process through issues of technology, usability, sustainability and even morality as it relates to the ways that they affect human behavior, perspective and even culture. Design Studies is not discipline-specific, but aimed at uncovering patterns within these aspects of design that are cross-disciplinary and might contribute to the progress of the field as a whole. To that end, the Design Studies programs is designed to aid each student in uncovering a unique, novel and meaningful course of study.

Design Studies is aimed at students:

  • Whose interests and talents in design lie in a critical analysis and cross-disciplinary application;
  • Passionate about issues of material culture;
  • Wanting a blend of formal, cultural, historical, social, physical, technological, ecological, economic and entrepreneurial knowledge;
  • Seeking a design-based education to develop innovative practices in fields outside of design.

While some students majoring in Design Studies do go on to advanced study in studio-based design, the BA in Design Studies is not a preparatory program for the practice of design. Students wishing to enter the studio program may apply during their First Year in Design Studies.

Undergraduate Program

The Bachelor of Art in Design Studies is geared towards students who are interested in an interdisciplinary orientation to design and material culture. At the core of Design Studies is an investigation into the formative role of design in shaping human values and experiences by engaging students in the critical evaluation of design through research, writing, and exhibition. In addition to design history, theory and criticism, students in Design Studies also engage in applying design processes and methods to fields outside of design, such as business, education, social causes and cultural initiatives. Design Studies produces students who are fluid in working with designers because of their insight into the design process.

Design Studies is a non-studio course of investigation, however 12 to 18 credit hours of application (making) are required to help students gain insight and practice in design methods and processes.

The Design Studies curriculum develops the following core competencies:

  • Design Thinking
  • Design Research
  • Design Process and Methods
  • Design Writing and Criticism

These core competencies extend across all of the design disciplines and can also be applied to fields outside of design. Recent graduates from the Design Studies Program have gone on to careers as user experience researchers, design strategists, media production managers and museum conservationists, to name a few.