What is Design?

Design is the visual communication of ideas. Western's Design program emphasizes the process of problem solving and encourages students to make connections between culture and design, and their role as visual communicators. Students learn to combine personal expression and critical thinking as they create solutions that connect industry to an audience and themselves to the world. 

Design Degree(s)

Design, BFA

The BFA professional degree is a highly competitive degree limited to a maximum of 36 students per year. Courses in the senior year focus on the integration of graphic, production and digital media design in the solution of visual communication problems. 


Design Major Information,
Design@wwu.edu |

Please Note:

The department is currently undergoing curricular revisions, including changes in its admissions portfolio review process. For the latest updates on how to apply, please refer to the department website: https://www.wwu.edu/design/admissions.html

Design at Western

Western's program is unique in its size and depth of curriculum. Students have significant opportunities to work with their faculty outside of class. Western’s Design faculty members are active in the profession, but place teaching first and foremost in their activities. Because industry expects designers to be fluid in both traditional print based graphic design and interaction design (web/app), the Design program does not offer areas of specialization within its curriculum. 

Explore courses

DSGN 111 - Design View

DSGN 211 - Foundations of Visual Communication

DSGN 249 - Graphic Design Concepts

DSGN 310 - Principles of Interaction Design

DSGN 355 - Graphic Novels & Sequential Storytelling

DSGN 390 - Topics in Design

Illustration Certificate

This Illustration Certificate is the only one of its kind in the Northwest. The combination of courses is intended to give students the knowledge and skill set to augment their major and/or consider a career as a freelance illustrator.

Read more about the Illustration certificate


Design Production Lab 

Western's design production lab provides students access to equipment found in the industry and establishes a learning environment that allows for hands-on education. Through the lab, students have access to: a laser cutter, swing arm and hydraulic paper cutters, various bindery machines including perfect binding units, medium and large format color printers, and two Vandercook proofing letterpresses.


Design students can earn professional development credit working as interns for design firms, receiving support and professional connections as they pursue internships that match their interests. Students also have the opportunity to earn professional development credit while studying abroad over a summer.

Recent BFA Student Internship Firms: 

  • Acrylicize
  • Disney
  • Elva
  • Indigo Slate
  • Mentor
  • Modern Species
  • Smashing Ideas
  • Starbucks
  • Ten Gun Design
  • Toolhouse

Work as a designer while in school

Through coursework and a variety of on- and off-campus opportunities, Western Design students build on their skills while adding to their portfolios. Campus-wide opportunities are available through the VU Publicity Center, Klipsun Magazine, The Planet Magazine, Jeopardy Magazine, Labyrinth Literary and Fine Arts Magazine, and more. The department also receives a large number of requests from off-campus partners for design work.

Field Trips

The Design BFA seniors travel to Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco for the annual Design field trip. Recently, the students visited the following firms: Chronicle Books, Elixir, Hatch, Highlight, Hybrid, Manual, McSweeney's Publishing, Neo, Public, Salesforce, and Volume.

I have had the best professors who have taught me, guided me and prepared me to enter the professional world of design. The confidence and skills I have learned at Western have allowed me to feel that I can make a significant impact in the world of design.

Anelese Webster

Design Major

What can you do with Design?

93% of Design, BFA graduates found field related employment within six months of graduation, of those who responded to the 2018-19 Office of Institutional Effectiveness Graduate Outcomes Report.

Career opportunities are found in all segments of industry, both in the private and public sector. Western Design graduates go on to work in advertising agencies, design firms, in-house departments, paper companies, printing firms, and serve as private consultants in corporate identity, environmental graphic design, packaging, publication, and web design. Many graduates work as Visual Designers, Production Managers, UX/UI Designers, and Digital Image Makers.

Some employers of recent Western graduates include:

  • Amazon (Seattle, WA): Interactive Designer 
  • Alaska Airlines (Seattle, WA): Digital Designer 
  • Facebook (San Francisco, CA): Product Designer
  • Nordstrom (Seattle, WA): Web Designer 
  • Seattle Sounders (Seattle, WA): Design Manager
  • Cinco (Portland, OR): Brand Designer 
  • Starbucks Technology (Seattle, WA): Designer
  • Artefact (Seattle, WA): Designer
  • Teague (Seattle, WA): Visual Designer
  • Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA): Junior Designer 
  • Microsoft (Bellevue, WA): UX / Product Designer
  • Ticketfly (San Francisco, CA): Visual Design Associate
  • WECU (Bellingham, WA): Graphic Designer

Design careers

  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Project Manager
  • Art Director
  • Digital Image Maker 
  • Creative Director
  • Interactive Designer
  • UX/UI

Start Your Career at Western