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Here, you won't learn one thing, you'll learn all the things.

We consider ourselves to be one of the best-kept secrets in design education. The Department of Design, housed in the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Washington University, has a robust and ever-evolving curriculum grounded in the tradition of producing thoughtful, creative, and discerning designers. Our students and faculty are routinely exposed to the latest trends in the design industry, sharing their work at international conferences, and bringing home top design awards for branding, UX, motion, publication, and illustration.

The Design program takes a holistic approach to our education with an emphasis on a personal, mentoring, and trustworthy studio experience. Students are guided in their exploration of the design process; identifying and analyzing problems, brainstorming unique and creative fixes, and ultimately implementing those solutions into impactful results. We promote the combination of personal expression with critical thinking, making connections between culture and design, and emphasize being responsible stewards of the industry.

BFA group critique looking at wall of projects
Aerial view of student workspace

For prospective Design majors

Design BFA Pre-Major

The Department of Design holds admissions into the Design BFA pre-major once a year, during the spring quarter. Each cohort of accepted candidates begins the program the following fall with the foundations of the design curriculum. These new pre-majors dive head-first into a rigorous lineup of ideation, design theory and history, typography, 2D and 3D fundamentals, and motion design. The first and second quarters immerse students in a culture of looking, listening, feeling, and expressing.

Design BFA Major

Following a second portfolio review, students accepted in the Design BFA Major begin their upper division classes. Students dive into a deeper exploration of specific design disciplines. The stakes are raised. The challenges elevated. And the pace quickens. Students learn the ins and outs of print and publication design, expressive typography, crafting packaging with shelf appeal, and building engaging interactive experiences. Students are entrusted with more autonomy to begin making decisions about how best to approach each design challenge, and even more importantly, how to make a convincing argument for defending and justifying their visions. They find themselves working on projects that are highly self-directed, collaborative, and multidisciplinary. From workshops, to portfolio development, to advanced topics in design, students will be prepared for their next steps into an exciting career in design.

Go to Admissions page →

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Program Requirements →

DSGN 197A Entry Portfolio Prep (3)* – not required
First/Second Year
DSGN 111 Design View (3)*
DSGN 211 Foundations of Visual Communication (3)*

(Pre-major application deadline March 31)

DSGN 210 Design Technology (5)
DSGN 212 Graphic Design 1 (5)
DSGN 213 Drawing (5)
DSGN 230 Introduction to Typography (5)

Once all of these courses are successfully completed, you may receive a design minor or apply to the design major.

*These courses are not major/minor restricted.

DESIGN, BFA (115-122 credits)

(Major application deadline March 9)

BFA Major Starts Spring Quarter
DSGN 312 Graphic Design in the 20th Century (4)
DSGN 351 Print and Finish (5)
DSGN 362 Motion 1 (5)

Third Year
DSGN 331 Type 2 (5)
DSGN 363 Motion 2 (5)
DSGN 310 Principles of Interaction Design (3)
DSGN 340 Graphic Design 2 (5)
DSGN 371 Digital Design 1 (5)
DSGN 372 Digital Design 2 (5)
DSGN 341 Graphic Design 3 (5)
DSGN 382 Professional Practices (4)
Summer (3-10 credits)
DSGN 375 Summer Design Abroad (5-7)
DSGN 489 Internship (1-10)
DSGN 490 Visual Lab (1-6)
DSGN 355 Graphic Novel & Sequential Storytelling (5)
DSGN 390 Topics in Design (3-5)
Fourth Year
DSGN 483 Senior Seminar (6 x 4 classes = 24)
DSGN 481 BFA Workshop (2)
DSGN 486 Portfolio (6)
Electives (3 credits)
A/HI 210 History of Architecture
A/HI 240 Visual Culture in Western Europe 19th Century
A/HI 241 Visual Culture in Western Europe and America 20th Century
A/HI 250 Arts of Africa pre-1900
A/HI 270 Visual Culture in South and Southeast Asia
A/HI 271 Visual Culture in East Asia

For current design BA majors

The BA degree is being phased out. Students who were accepted to start the program in Fall 2021 will need to complete the BA major in two years. These students will have the opportunity to apply to the legacy BFA program in Winter 2023. This will be the last cohort in the legacy program. All current BA majors must complete the DSGN requirements by Spring 2023. The last BFA cohort of the legacy program must complete all DSGN class requirements by Spring 2024.

Download Advising Sheet for legacy program →

Design BFA Application (current BA students)

Admission to the legacy Design BFA requires a second portfolio review that takes place near the end of winter quarter of the 300-level sequence. This degree option is limited to a maximum of 12 students. Students accepted to the legacy BFA are not required to take DSGN385 spring quarter. BFA Applicants are expected to complete a minimum of 11 credits of a minor as part of the application of this degree option but may choose to drop their minor upon acceptance into the program.

BFA Application Form for current BA students →

Who you are

You are an inquisitive, bold, and eager student, open to learning, experimenting, failing, and thriving in the design world. You have an undeniable creative streak and are hungry to develop your skills towards a career in any variety of design professions.