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Design Studies Courses and Curriculum

The critical path established for Design Studies is based on a strong core that allows students to integrate individualized topics. The courses are scaffolded to increase independent study and research by providing a strong foundation of research, writing and historical and theoretical knowledge within Art + Design.


First Semester

D100: Design Thinking

Second Semester

ADN292: Design Culture and Context: Design Culture and Context  is an interdisciplinary survey of the impact of culture on the ideas, styles and expressions of art and design during the 19th and 20th centuries. With a focus on the United State and societies around the globe, a variety and material references from architecture, industrial design, textile and clothing manufacture, the arts, graphic design, film and new media will be used to explore the “big picture” of the things people create–material culture– within a frame of significance, utility and public need.

Third Semester

ADN200: A Survey of Design Studies: In this sophomore-level introductory course, students are introduced to a variety of perspectives within design studies. Students engage in a variety of critical writing assignments and exercises that evaluate material culture, design process and design production. In addition, students engage in exercises that apply process and methods of design towards developing new and innovative business models and addressing critical social issues. Critical topics include design as related to technology, accessibility, production, sustainability, and experience. Readings for the course will be focused on various theories of design, design studies and the future of design.

Fifth or Sixth Semester

ADN418: Contemporary Issues: The class explores a range of issues about contemporary art and design ideologies. Concentration on selected readings which provide a platform for discussion of various ideas, approaches, perspectives and practices in the contemporary fields of art and design.

Seventh Semester

DS482: Research Seminar

Eighth Semester

DS483: Capstone Paper

In addition, students are required to take a number of advised electives in the following areas. These selections include (but are not limited to):

  • Application: Basic Drawing, 2D Design, 3D Design, Color + Light, Digital Imaging, Visualizing Narrative, Visual Data, Sculpture and Photography
  • History: History of Graphic Design, History of Industrial Design, History of Landscape Architecture, History of Architecture, American Art History
  • Theory: Limits of Interpretation, Theory of Graphic Design, Business of Design


Internships are a critical part of the Design Studies degree as it gives students the opportunities to explore and apply the research and theoretical knowledge that they are gaining the program in a professional context. Students in Design Studies have completed internships at CAM/Raleigh, and the Gregg Museum.


The following sample curricular display shows the Design Studies-BA and General courses necessary to complete the Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies degree within four-years. General courses may be taken in a different order than shown, and may be pursued during summer sessions.

Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies

Includes Design Foundations, 30 hours of Advised Design Elections in three units, Application, Theory and History and an International Experience.

Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies with a concentration in Business Administration

Includes 15 hours of Business Administration courses equivalent to a minor taught by the College of Management. 15 hours of Advised Design Elections in the three units: Application, Theory and History and an International Experience.

Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies with a Concentration in Non-Profit Studies

Includes 15 hours of Non-Profit courses equivalent to a minor in Non-Profit Studies taught by the College of Humanities and Social Science. 15 hours of Advised Design Elections in the three units: Application, Theory and History and an International Experience.