Design Foundations & Major Admissions


Admission to The Ohio State University does not guarantee acceptance to any of the undergraduate major programs in design. Students who are admitted to the university expressing an interest in one of our three undergraduate programs directly enroll into the College of Arts and Sciences with an area of interest in their respective design discipline declared. To be considered for selection to our Design Foundations program, a student must be eligible for Columbus Campus coursework for the Autumn semester they will be starting into the Design Foundations program. Additional information about Columbus Campus Admissions can be found on the Univeristy Admissions site, Who Get's In?

Acceptance to our three undergraduate programs then occurs via a two-part process, which begins with selection to the Design Foundations major, and ends with an annual entrance review that occurs at the close of Spring semester.

Please be aware that the acceptance process for the design undergraduate major programs is highly-competitive, as the number of applications received far exceeds the number of students that can be admitted. As well, a student must be declared as a Design Foundations major to be eligible for consideration for acceptance to any design undergraduate major program.

Step One: Selection to Design Foundations 

The Department of Design selects a very limited number of Design Foundations major students to go through its first-year Design Foundations course sequence on an annual basis. The primary criteria for selection for the first-year foundation course sequence are the completion of the applicant's high school college preparatory program, performance in that program as indicated by class rank and/or grade-point average, and performance on either the ACT or SAT.

On average, there are about 150 students interested in one of our three undergraduate degree programs. They are competing for 80 spots in our Design Foundations first-year Design Foundations course sequence.

Prospective students are notified during the month of May regarding their Design Foundations selection status.

Step Two: Acceptance to a Design Major Program

The annual entrance review process occurs at the close of each Spring semester. Those students previously selected for the first-year foundation course sequence submit project outcomes from the Design Foundations first-year Design Foundations course sequence, along with other materials specified by the Department. This is the competitive portfolio review. After these materials are reviewed by design faculty, no more than 54 students — 18 per major — will be offered acceptance to one of the three undergraduate major programs.

The competitive portfolio review happens during week 14 of Spring Semester and students are notified before the end of finals week regarding their major program admissions status.

Rationale for a Selective Acceptance Process

All highly-ranked US design programs limit the number of students who enter their programs. This practice keeps class sizes small, and guarantees placement in all required major program courses. Some schools handle the need to limit the number of major students in different ways. They may accept freshmen students directly into design programs, but will then eliminate extra students through excessively rigorous coursework.

We don't agree with this approach, as students eventually not accepted to these programs often end up with wasted course credits, poor grades, and low spirits. We are committed to the success of our students and have structured our major programs accordingly. The standard for entrance to our major programs may be very high, but the students who are accepted typically perform at very high levels, and go on to productive and successful careers in the profession.

General Qualifications for Acceptance to a Design Major Program

Since admission to all design major programs is highly selective, applicants are advised that maintaining a 2.25 cumulative point-hour ratio (CPHR) is a minimum level for acceptance, and that students qualifying for the program will be selected on the basis of highest qualifications in CPHR, assessment of quality in the portfolio, and assessment of overall aptitude for studies in the design 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.