Department of Art and Art History Design

Undergraduate Degree Information

Core Curriculum

All baccalaureate degree programs at The University of Texas at Austin require fullfillment of a Core Curriculum. Beyond this core, some degree programs in the Department of Art and Art History include additional requirements in general education. For details, consult the Degree Guidelines found on the College of Fine Arts website.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Design

Course Requirements
Core Curriculum *
Studio Art
Art History


* The Core Corriculum requirement is comprised of courses in Rhetoric, English, Government, History, Social Sciences, Humanities, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences.

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Program Definition

Design as a complex cultural activity expresses the ideas and values of society while it contributes to the formulation of those ideas and values. The goal of the nontraditional design program within the Department of Art and Art History is to encourage students to use the design process as a method of understanding their culture and to effectively articulate this understanding to others.

Design is a pervasive term that envelops almost every aspect of contemporary culture from town planning and landscaping, to familiar products and web or software interfaces. It has been said that “design is a way of making sense of things” and this may ultimately be the best way to define such an all-encompassing practice. Designers studying in this program are taught to observe and respond to the cultural, socio/economic, material, political, geographic and temporal environment. During their course of study, students identify and refine a design process and methodology that is appropriate for application across a broad range of disciplines. This is a comprehensive education that allows our graduates to navigate the shifting requirements of the field with greater ease, and which invests them with a flexibility needed to practice successfully in a range of venues.

Students in this program typically function between the fields more commonly categorized as graphic design, product/industrial design, film/animation, and architecture, creating hybrid environments and artifacts. Though students may investigate these areas within the context of design history, methods and theory, the program itself does not focus on or offer specific curriculum in advertising, analog or digital animation, commercial art, gaming design, or illustration.

Undergraduate Curriculum

The curriculum supports the idea that design students need to comprehend the fundamental nature of their area, its boundaries, inquiry methods, criticism, history, technologies and practice before they can use design meaningfully to explore and contribute to the diverse facets of their culture. The sophomore year outlines the role of design in our culture, its history, and introduces basic tools and concepts necessary to actualize ideas. The junior year, while continuing to emphasize design as a cultural activity, introduces more complex ideas regarding systems, persuasion, representation and social action. The senior year includes a course which introduces perspectives from outside the faculty, a senior project, and a design praxis which covers ethics, legal aspects of design and provides professional practice experience.

Students who successfully complete the curriculum would be qualified to continue their studies through graduate programs in design, cultural studies or interdisciplinary studies. They also would be qualified to practice as designers in consultancies, in private or public institutions, or as entrepreneurs.

Design and Technology

Technology is both an important tool in design ideation and realization and a major and pervasive component of the fabric which constitutes contemporary culture. From this standpoint, students are asked to investigate a range of enabling technologies as they bear on culture and on the design process, and to question how technology affects their personal methodology. Although computers are used as a tool throughout the Design program, no course is specifically written to emphasize computers. Within the design area students have access to several well-equipped labs, each tailored to a specific technology. These are traditional letterpress printing, black and white photography, graphic arts photography, and the relatively new and constantly expanding digital technology.