Design Foundations

Design encompasses a broad spectrum of foundational knowledge; not the least of which is thinking like a designer and embracing the research and design process. The first semester of the pre-design year focuses on learning the basic drawing skills that enable designers to think visually and formulate ideas through sketching, mapping and making diagrams. Students practice using basic design software tools for depicting, creating, modifying and presenting. They are introduced to typographical principles and page design that enhance communication and presentation. Students work individually and in teams and participate in open discussions and reviews of design ideas.

In the second semester, ideation moves to realization as two-dimensional form takes shape in three-dimensions. Students gain exposure to the properties of materials and visualization skills are advanced to more complex modes of modeling and representing design ideas. The first year culminates with an individual, discipline-specific project that will become the cornerstone of the portfolio each student submits for admission to the major programs in the department.

Curriculum and Course Sequence


The Interdiciplinary First-Year Design Foundations course sequence consists of 18 credit hours of coursework (9 in Autumn Semester, 9 in Spring Semester). We commonly refer to this as the Foundations Sequence or the Pre-Design Program. In addition to a student's 9 hours of Design courses, most students also enroll in 6 hours of General Education courses each semester, along with Arts and Sciences 1100.09: College Survey (1 hour) in the Autumn Semester.

This Design Foundations sequence begins with a highly competitive selection process to become a Pre-Design student and concludes with a competitive portfolio-based major admissions review process. More specific information about this process can be found in the Undergraduate Prospective Students section of this site.

All required courses in the Pre-Design Program must be taken in an exact sequence, as they are offered only once per academic year. Any student failing a required course will be removed from the pre-major program and be required to stop the course sequence.

Design Foundations Sequence

Autumn Semester
Design 2110: Design Fundamentals I-II, 3 hours
Design 2310: Visualization Principles I-II, 3 hours
Design 2700: Intro to Design Practice, 3 hours
Arts and Sciences 1100.09: College Survey, 1 hour
GE Courses, 6 hours

Spring Semester
Design 2130: Design Fundamentals III-IV, 3 hours
Design 2330: Visualization Principles III-IV, 3 hours
Design 2750: Design History, 3 hours
GE Courses, 6 hours
Portfolio Review — Application to Major Program

Students Not Accepted to a Design Major Program


Those students not accepted to one of the major programs via the portfolio review process at the close of each Spring semester, but successfully completed the 18 hours of Design Foundations coursework, will have completed a specific version of the Design Minor, and will be able to pursue another major in the university.

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