The mission of the Department of Design is to seek to engage its students in the practice of design thinking and visualization to create beautiful, innovative, and responsible solutions (products, spaces, systems, messages, and services) that respond to human needs and enhance the quality of everyday life.

The Department of Design encompasses a rich tradition and a long history of educating students to engage in current paradigms toward defining the future of design practice. Exceptional faculty and state-of-the-art facilities provide an environment that cultivates and optimal educational experience in each area of undergraduate and graduate study through innovative and comprehensive curricula and experiences. Students gain insights from lectures and workshops with world-renowned designers, collaborations with industry partners, and opportunities to participate in short-term study abroad programs and semester-long internships in the US and abroad.

Check out a selection of great student work: 


The University of Kansas Department of Design is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Undergraduate Admissions

Fall 2020 Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Department of Design have been updated for applicants applying for admission for fall 2020. Please consult our website if you are applying for admission for fall 2020:

Incoming Freshmen: http://design.ku.edu/admission-requirements

Transfer Students: http://design.ku.edu/transfer

International Students: http://design.ku.edu/international-students

Current KU Students: http://design.ku.edu/current-ku-students

Students Seeking Readmission and Non-Degree Seeking Students: https://design.ku.edu/readmits-and-nondegree-seekers

Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 Admission Requirements

Incoming Freshmen

Students can complete the online University of Kansas application by going to admissions.ku.edu. This application serves as the application for admission to KU, admission to the Department of Design, and eligibility for scholarships


Direct Admission

Please apply to KU by Nov. 1 to be considered for direct admission to the Department of Design. Students must be admissible to KU by assured admission and meet both of these academic requirements: 

  • 24+ ACT (1160+ SAT) and 3.4+ GPA on a 4.0-point scale

Deadlines

  • Must apply by Nov. 1

Students who meet direct admission requirements do not submit a portfolio. 


Admission by Review 

Students who do not meet the direct admission criteria, or apply after Nov. 1, may be considered for admission by a review.  Students must submit a portfolio and meet at least one of these academic requirements: 

  • 24+ ACT (1160+ SAT) or 3.0+ GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Submit portfolio 

Deadlines

  • Priority Deadline: Nov. 1
  • Final Deadline: Feb. 1

Portfolios are not reviewed until after the deadlines. Decision letters are sent one month after the deadline. 


Application Deadlines

  • Nov. 1: Direct Admission, Priority Consideration for Admission by Review, and University Scholarships
  • Feb. 1: Final Consideration for Admission by Review

Questions? 

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design, please contact design@ku.edu.

Transfer Students

Complete the online application by going to admissions.ku.edu and selecting the School of Architecture and Design, then select your major. This application will serve as your application to KU, the Department of Design and University scholarships. In addition, students must submit a portfolio.   

Requirements


Application Deadlines 

  • Spring 2019: Oct. 1
  • Fall 2019: Feb. 1

Transferring credits to KU

Utilize KU's credit transfer tool to learn more about how your courses may transfer to KU. Please note transfer studio courses with a grade of C+ or lower will not be accepted by the Department of Design for credit. Transfer general education courses with a grade of D+ or lower will not be accepted by the Department of Design for credit. 


Questions?

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design, please contact design@ku.edu.

 

International Students

International students should apply through the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions. 

Requirements


Application Deadlines 

  • Spring 2019:
    • Transfer, Current KU Students, or Readmits - Oct. 1
  • Fall 2019:
    • Incoming Freshmen - Deadline for Priority Consideration - Nov. 1 
    • Incoming Freshmen - Deadline for Final Consideration - Feb. 1
    • Transfer, Current KU Students, or Readmits - Feb. 1

Questions?

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design please contact design@ku.edu.

Current KU Students

Students must fill out the Change of School form and select their major. This form will serve as your application to the Department of Design. In addition, students must submit a portfolio

Requirements


Application Deadlines 

  • Spring 2019: Oct. 1
  • Fall 2019: Feb. 1

Questions?

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design, please contact design@ku.edu.

Students Seeking Readmission and Non-Degree Seeking Students

If you've taken classes at KU before or wish to take a class that won't necessarily count toward a degree at KU, please follow these application instructions. If you have taken courses at another institution since attending KU, please follow the application process for transfer students.

Requirements


Application Deadlines 

  • Spring 2019: Oct. 1
  • Fall 2019: Feb. 1

Questions?

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design please contact design@ku.edu.

Portfolio Requirement

If you are an incoming freshman and meet our direct admission criteria and apply by Nov. 1, you do not need to submit a portfolio. All other applicants must submit a portfolio to be considered for admission to the Department of Design.

Portfolios are submitted online through SlideRoom. Please select "Undergraduate Student - Portfolio Submission" from the directory. For technical support questions while submitting your online application, please contact support@slideroom.com.  

The online portfolio submission includes the following requirements:

  • Media: Please upload 10-15 images of your strongest creative works. 
    • Please title each piece.
    • In the description, include the medium or software used, the size, date of completion, and a brief one to two sentence description.
    • In the case of documented professional or group projects, applicants should indicate personal responsibilities.
    • Your portfolio must include at least two mediums. Examples: sketches, drawings, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, 3-D pieces, logos, branding, publications/yearbook, posters or any art or design-related works.
    • Displaying a variety of work is essential; use your strongest pieces and good judgment.
  • Essay: Why are you interested in studying design, what have you done to prepare, and how do you hope to use your degree?
    • To complete your application you must provide a response to the prompt.  
    • Please limit your response to 200-250 words.

Deadlines for Portfolio Submission

Please note that portfolio submissions are not reviewed until after the deadline. Decision letters are sent out approximately one month after the deadline.


Questions?

If you have any questions about your application to the Department of Design please contact design@ku.edu.

For technical support questions while submitting your online application, please contact support@slideroom.com.  

Design BFA Degree, Programs Offered

The Department of Design offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Design with concentrations in the following areas:

  • Illustration & Animation
  • Industrial Design
  • Photography
  • Visual Communication Design

Each of these concentrations is built upon a carefully-sequenced pathway of unique studio courses that constitutes a four-year track to graduation from the fall semester of the year of a student's admission. More information about the Design studio sequence is available at https://design.ku.edu/design-studio-sequencing.

Summaries of each of the concentrations of the Design BFA are listed below:

Illustration and Animation

The Illustration & Animation program prepares students to develop and refine methodologies in image-making while acquiring an effective use of visual language and problem solving skills. Technical skills and techniques, as well as a refined understanding of composition, color, and value are developed through the introduction and exploration of traditional and contemporary media. Business and legal issues of the industry are addressed that prepare students for numerous professional options that include print media, book publishing, motion graphics, entertainment, gallery installation, fashion, toys and games, and surface design.

Industrial Design

Graduates of KU’s Industrial Design program are particularly attractive to potential employers because of our well-rounded and rigorous curriculum. Our students find career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines including product design, furniture design, exhibit design, package design, human factors, design research and product planning. The variety of products and systems that fall within the potential scope of an industrial designer's work is extremely broad. Examples range from household appliances to aircraft interiors, furniture to major electronics equipment, transportation and vehicles, and myriad other product areas.

Photography

The Photography program at the University of Kansas is dedicated to evaluating and redefining the medium of photography. Through in-depth instruction, students develop a diverse technical skill set, becoming proficient in both analog and digital practices. The program encourages a strong work ethic, and places emphasis on visual literacy. Graduates of the Photography program at the University of Kansas leave with exceptional visual communication skills, fully prepared to successfully engage in a wide range of possible careers in lens‐based media.

Visual Communication Design

Visual Communication Designers shape the information that everybody sees, uses and experiences. The Visual Communication Design program at KU prepares students for current professional demands and provides students with the fundamental design thinking, making and process skills required to build a rewarding career and facilitate life-long learning. Career options for visual communication designers include a wide range of areas such as traditional print media, magazine and book design, corporate marketing communications, branding, packaging design, exhibition and environmental design, motion graphic design, website design, interface design and more.


General Degree Requirements

Total Hours Required for the Design BFA

In order to earn the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design degree, students must complete a total of at least 120 credit hours. At least 45 of those credit hours must be in "junior/senior-level courses," which are numbered 300 and above. At least 30 credit hours must be in residence to receive a degree from the department and KU.

Maximum Number of Applicable Activity Hours

Only three hours of activity and/or performance work (e.g. HSES 108 or BAND 210) will count toward the degree.

Maximum Accepted Age of Studio Transfer Credit

Transfer courses with course codes ADS, BDS, ILLU, INDD, PHTO, and VISC will not be accepted to fulfill requirements in the Studio & Professional Requirements component of the Design BFA if they are older than three calendar years from the semester to which the student is admitted to the Department of Design.

Remedial Courses

Remedial courses - those numbered below 100, such as MATH 2 - will not be counted toward the requirements of the Design BFA and may only serve only as prerequisites to other courses.

Minimum Grades of Foundation Studies and Major Studies Courses

Special minimum grades are required for each course in the Foundation Studies and Major Studies requirements of the Design BFA and are generally prerequisite to one another. These minimum grades are documented each course's catalog description as well as at https://design.ku.edu/minimum-grades.


First-Year Checkpoint and Second-Year Checkpoint & Full Review

First-Year Checkpoint

Beyond first-year studies, there are a maximum number of seats available for degree-seeking students each year. In order to arrive at an impartial means of entry to those seats, all first-year students majoring in Design are ranked according to their cumulative GPA. Enrollment for the second-year is completed during the spring advising and enrollment period (for the following fall term). In order to participate in the checkpoint, students must have completed BDS 101 and 103 (or their equivalents) with a grade of C or higher and be enrolled in (or have completed) spring-semester Foundation Studies courses unique to each concentration of Design at the time of spring advising and enrollment.

The maximum number of seats available for each concentration in Design is outlined below:

Illustration & Animation: 18 seats reserved for first-year students participating in the checkpoint, 2 seats reserved for transfer students admitted directly into second-year studios.

Industrial Design: 20 seats reserved for first-year students participating in the checkpoint, 2 seats reserved for transfer students admitted directly into second-year studios.

Photography: 18 seats reserved for first-year students participating in the checkpoint, 2 seats reserved for transfer students admitted directly into second-year studios.

Visual Communication Design: 36 seats reserved for first-year students participating in the checkpoint, 4 seats reserved for transfer students admitted directly into second-year studios.

Second-Year Fall Semester Checkpoint & Full Review

Any student who fails to earn the minimum required grades in their second-year Major Studies courses will be unable to continue into the spring-semester major studies courses required for their intended concentration in Design. Such a student would not have the option of repeating any coursework and would need to transfer to another major.

After completing second-year spring-semester Major Studies courses, students are required to participate in a portfolio review that is organized according to each student's concentration in the Design BFA, as outlined below:

Illustration & Animation:

  • Students are required to participate in a portfolio review of all course content produced in both fall and spring semester Illustration & Animation courses. The Illustration & Animation faculty use this review to determine if a student's work is at a satisfactory level. Supplemental to the grade portion of the Portfolio Review, students are also evaluated on attendance, work habits, attitude and the ability to listen and learn from constructive criticism.

Industrial Design:

  • The Portfolio Review is of all projects produced in both the fall and spring semesters in Industrial Design courses: INDD 212, INDD 284 and INDD 302. The Industrial Design faculty use this review to determine if the student's work is at an above satisfactory level. Supplemental to the grade portion of the Portfolio Review, students are also evaluated on attendance, work habits, attitude, and the ability to listen and learn from constructive criticism.

Photography:

  • The primary component of the review is the submission of a photographic portfolio (10-15 images) of work made over the course of the previous year. Each portfolio is evaluated by a faculty committee upon the following criteria: originality, treatment of form and composition, engagement with subject matter and medium, quality of ideas, technical ability, and craftsmanship. In addition to their portfolio, students are also evaluated on attendance, work habits, professionalism, participation, and GPA.

Visual Communication Design:

  • The Portfolio Review is of all projects produced in both the fall and spring semesters in Visual Communication Design courses. The Visual Communication Design faculty use this review to determine if the students’ work is at a satisfactory level. Supplemental to the grade portion of the Portfolio Review, students are also evaluated on attendance, work habits, attitude, and the ability to listen and learn from constructive criticism.

In addition to passing the Second-Year Full Review, students must earn or exceed the minimum required grades for their spring-semester Major Studies courses.

Students who fail to pass the Second-Year Full Review and/or fail to earn or exceed the minimum required grades for their spring-semester Major Studies courses do not have the option of repeating any Major Studies coursework and must transfer to another major.


Breadth of Study Requirements

Written & Oral Communication

At least 12 credit hours of courses in written and oral communication are required of all Design students, consisting of:

ENGL 101Composition3
ENGL 102Critical Reading and Writing3
or ENGL 105 Honors Introduction to English
Select one of the following:3
Topics in Reading and Writing: _____
Freshman-Sophomore Honors Proseminar: _____
Introduction to Fiction
Introduction to Poetry
Introduction to the Drama
KU Core Goal GE22 (Oral Communication)3

Students whose ACT/SAT/AP scores have exempted them from ENGL 101 or ENGL 102 will need to complete one or more additional General Elective courses in order to meet the minimum credit hour requirements of their degree. Students who earn credit for ENGL 101, 102, and/or 105 through AP or IB credit may be exempted from taking additional General Elective courses in some cases.

Students who are exempted from KU Core Goal GE22 will likewise need to complete an additional General Elective course in order to meet the minimum credit hour requirements of their degree.

Historical Context

At least 12 credit hours of historical context courses will be required of all Design students, consisting of the following for students in the Illustration & Animation, Industrial Design, and Visual Communication Design concentrations of the Design BFA:

ADS 340History and Philosophy of Design3
HA Elective Course See note below.3
and Option I or Option II6
Option I
History of Western Art: Ancient Through Medieval
History of Western Art: Renaissance to Contemporary
Option II (Honors Students Only)
History of Western Art : Ancient Through Medieval, Honors
History of Western Art: Renaissance to Contemporary, Honors

Note: A course to fulfill the HA Elective requirement can be any HA course except HA 100 and HA 300, which feature very similar material to HA 150/151 and HA 160/161.

Students in the Photography concentration of the Design BFA must complete the following instead:

HA 100Introduction to Western Art History3
ADS 340History and Philosophy of Design3
HA 380History of Photography3
HA 567Contemporary Art (or HA 566)3

Social Responsibility & Ethics

All Design students must complete ADS 401 to fulfill KU Core Goal AE51 (Social Responsibility & Ethics).

ADS 401The Victor Papanek Memorial Course on Design Ethics3

Other KU Core

All Design students must complete the KU Core. KU Core goals not otherwise fulfilled by courses required for the Written & Oral Communication requirement, Historical Context requirement, and Social Responsibility & Ethics requirement are listed below:

KU Core Goal GE12 (Quantitative Literacy)3
KU Core Goal GE3N (Natural Science)3
KU Core Goal GE3S (Social Science)3
KU Core Goal AE41 (Human Diversity)3
KU Core Goal AE61 (Integration & Creativity): Fulfilled by ILLU 535, INDD 580, PHTO 500, or VISC 530)3-4

Please consult classes.ku.edu and an academic advisor to explore course options to fulfill these KU Core goals.

Students whose ACT/SAT/AP scores have exempted them any of these KU Core Goals will need to complete one or more additional General Elective courses in order to meet the minimum credit hour requirements of their degree. Students who earn credit for any of these KU Core goals through AP or IB credit may be exempted from taking additional General Elective courses in some cases.

Academic Concentration

All students in Design must complete at least 3 courses at the 300+ level in the same topic or subject area beyond the Departments of Design and Visual Art. Suggested courses and more information is available at http://design.ku.edu/academic-concentration-requirement.

Academic Concentration Course See note above.3
Academic Concentration Course See note above.3
Academic Concentration Course See note above.3

General Electives

All students in Design must complete General Elective courses to meet the minimum total credit hours required for their degree. Students completing the Illustration & Animation, Industrial Design, and Visual Communication Design concentrations of the Design BFA must complete 6 credit hours of General Electives:

General Elective Course See note above.3
General Elective Course See note above.3

Students completing the Photography concentration of the Design BFA must instead complete 9 credit hours of General Electives:

General Elective Course See note above.3
General Elective Course See note above.3
General Elective Course See note above.3

Studio & Professional Requirements

The curriculum of the Design BFA centers on a carefully-sequenced pathway of studio courses and professional studies. This sequence is unique for each of the four concentrations of the Design BFA, and is outlined below:

Illustration & Animation

Foundation Studies

BDS 101Design Thinking and Making3
BDS 103Drawing for Design3
ILLU 200Foundations in Image Making3
VISC 200Foundations in Typography3

Major Studies

ILLU 205Drawing Media for Illustration3
ILLU 315Introduction to Illustration3
ILLU 405Drawing Media for Illustration II3
ILLU 410Fundamentals of Animation4
ILLU 415Illustration Concepts3
ILLU 425Concept Art3
ILLU 435Sequential and Narrative Illustration4
ILLU 445Advanced Concept Art3
ILLU 510Animation Will be 4 credit hours effective fall 2022.3
ILLU 535Promotion and Marketing for Illustration Will be 3 credit hours effective fall 2022.4
ILLU 545Promotion & Marketing for Illustration II4

Supplementary Studies

DRWG 213Life Drawing I3
PNTG 263Painting I3
PHTO 200Foundations in Photography (or PHTO Elective)3

Professional Studies

ADS 320Hallmark Symposium Series (Must be successfully taken 4 times.)4
6 credit hours from the options below:
Design Trends and Forecasting
Internship Credit
Study Abroad: _____
Study Abroad Documentation
Topics in Design: _____
Special Problems in Design
Letterpress
Digital Letterpress
Studio Elective See note below.

Note for the Professional Studies requirement of the Illustration & Animation concentration of the Design BFA: A Studio Elective can be any studio course in the Departments of Design, Architecture, or Visual Art at the 300+ level.


Industrial Design

Foundation Studies

BDS 101Design Thinking and Making3
BDS 103Drawing for Design3
INDD 200Foundations in Industrial Design3
INDD 212Drawing for Industrial Design I3

Major Studies

INDD 284Basic Industrial Design Studio3
INDD 312Drawing for Industrial Design II3
INDD 302Intermediate Industrial Design Studio3
INDD 508Materials and Processes3
INDD 446Advanced Industrial Design Studio3
INDD 510Human Factors and Ergonomics3
INDD 448Professional Industrial Design Studio Practices3
INDD 555Portfolio3
INDD 580Senior Industrial Design Studio Will be 4 credit hours effective fall 2022.3
INDD 581Senior Industrial Design Studio II3

Supplementary Studies

ADS 325Design Thinking & Research Methodologies3
ADS 300Foundations in Interaction Design3
VISC 200Foundations in Typography3

Professional Studies

ADS 320Hallmark Symposium Series (or INDD 320 in exceptional circumstances. Must be taken 4 times.)4
9 credit hours from the options below:
Design Trends and Forecasting
Internship Credit
Study Abroad: _____
Study Abroad Documentation
Topics in Design: _____
Special Problems in Design
Problems in Industrial Design: _____
Studio Elective See note below.

Note for the Professional Studies requirement of the Industrial Design concentration of the Design BFA: A Studio Elective can be any studio course in the Departments of Design, Architecture, or Visual Art at the 300+ level.


Photography

Foundation Studies

BDS 101Design Thinking and Making3
PHTO 101Fundamentals of Photography (or course for KU Core Goal GE3H. See note below.)3
PHTO 200Foundations in Photography3
PHTO 210Understanding Photographs3

Note regarding PHTO 101 requirement: Exemption from PHTO 101 only at the discretion of the Department of Design. Contact our advisor to learn more.

Major Studies

PHTO 303Photography I4
PHTO 304Photography II4
PHTO 313Lighting Studio3
PHTO 314The Moving Image3
PHTO 315Experimental Processes3
PHTO 316Professional Practices3
PHTO 400Junior Seminar3
PHTO 450Senior Seminar3
PHTO 500Portfolio and Thesis4

Supplementary Studies

VISC 200Foundations in Typography3
Studio Elective See note below.3
Studio Elective See note below.3
Studio Elective See note below.3
Studio Elective See note below.3

Note for the Supplementary Studies requirement of the Photography concentration of the Design BFA: Studio Elective options are outlined at http://design.ku.edu/studio-electives/photography.

Professional Studies

ADS 320Hallmark Symposium Series (Must be taken 3 times.)3
One of the following courses:
Design Trends and Forecasting
Internship Credit
Study Abroad Documentation

Visual Communication Design

Foundation Studies

BDS 101Design Thinking and Making3
BDS 103Drawing for Design3
VISC 200Foundations in Typography3
ILLU 200Foundations in Image Making3

Major Studies

VISC 202Elements of Typography3
VISC 204Principles of Visual Communication3
VISC 302Typographic Systems3
VISC 304Designing Understanding3
VISC 402Designer as Author3
VISC 520Designing for Change4
VISC 530Portfolio Will be 4 credit hours effective fall 2022.3

Supplementary Studies

ADS 325Design Thinking & Research Methodologies3
ADS 300Foundations in Interaction Design3

Professional Studies

ADS 320Hallmark Symposium Series (Must be successfully taken 4 times.)4
21 credit hours from the options below:
Design Trends and Forecasting
Internship Credit
Study Abroad: _____
Study Abroad Documentation
Topics in Design: _____
Special Problems in Design
Letterpress
Digital Letterpress
Publication and Editorial
Book Arts
Bookmaking
Studio Elective See note below.

Note for the Professional Studies requirement of the Visual Communication Design concentration of the Design BFA: A Studio Elective can be any studio course in the Departments of Design, Architecture, or Visual Art at the 300+ level.