Undergraduate Fine Arts and Design

Design Major

The BA in Design is a 16-credit major available to students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. The major in Design innovatively explores the expansive nature of contemporary design and its relationship to the humanities, the sciences, and emerging technologies. The major’s curriculum emphasizes an integrated understanding of design that brings together different disciplinary approaches that respond to complex social, cultural, and environmental challenges. Students studying design acquire contemporary representation, prototyping, and fabrication skills, while engaging with theoretical frameworks yielding advanced research and knowledge production. These skill-sets are gained through exposure to diverse approaches to design methodologies, histories, and theories. Learning outcomes are evident through individual and collaborative projects utilizing conceptual, technological, and speculative approaches that emerge from the core and integrative studios. Design electives and seminars enrich, complicate, and expand disciplinary modalities, while engaging in deeper explorations of positionality within a global climate. Ultimately, the Design Major guides students through a process of learning to independently question, interpret, and analyze integrative design.

Core Studio Requirements (2)
Students are encouraged to take these classes their freshman and sophomore year.

DSGN 264  Art, Design & Digital Culture *
DSGN 306 Design 21: Design After the Digital

*Course fulfills a College of Arts and Sciences sector requirement (Sector IV: Humanities and Social Science).

Integrative Design Studio Requirements (4)
Select four out of the six options below.

DSGN 317 Cultures of Making
DSGN 268 Biological Design
DSGN 266 Graphic Design with Creative Technologies
DSGN 328 Functions for Form and Materials
DSGN 337 Information Design and Visualization
DSGN 378 Designing for Mobile, Web and Public Media

Art History & Theory Requirements (4)

Select one Art History Course:

ARTH 101 Art and Civilization Before 1400
ARTH 102 Renaissance to Contemporary: Introduction to World Art, 1400 - Now
ARTH 106 The Architect and History
ARTH 300 Undergraduate Methods Seminar

Select three Theory Courses:

DSGN 300 Contemporary Theories in Design
Students are encouraged to take this course in the fall or spring of their junior year.
DSGN343 Language of Design
DSGN 388 Creative Research
ARCH 411 Geometry in Design
VSLT 101 Eye, Mind and Image
URBS 205 Intro to Environmental Design

Design Seminar Requirements (2)

DSGN 488 Senior Seminar -  Fall
DSGN 489 Senior Seminar - Spring

Art and Design Electives (4)

Select any combination of four FNAR and DSGN courses to fulfill this requirement.


To declare a Design major, schedule an advising appointment with Matt Neff, Director Undergraduate Fine Arts & Design (mneff@design.upenn.edu) or Kristen Giannantonio, Assistant Director for Administration Undergraduate Fine Arts & Design (krgold@design.upenn.edu)

Transfer Credit & Study Abroad

The Undergraduate Program in Fine Arts & Design accepts transfer creditscredit away credits, as well as study abroad credits. To request a transfer, credit away, or study abroad credit to be reviewed by the Fine Arts Department, students must submit all course syllabi and other supporting materials from the respective institution using the College of Arts and Sciences External Course Approval Tool (XCAT). Credits will be evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis, and must align with current Undergraduate Fine Arts curriculum and course offerings. 

Students must confer with College of Arts and Sciences policies governing credits