students in sleek looking cafe

Department of Design

The Department of Design housed in Chalmers Hall prepares animators, illustrators, experience designers, graphic designers, marketing creatives, motion designers, photographers, product designers, UX/UI developers, and other multidisciplinary communicators to thrive as innovative practitioners and socially-engaged leaders in an ever-changing professional field. 

Design students have access to studio spaces, computer labs, a letterpress lab, a Riso lab, a robust photography area, and digital fabrication labs. 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.

The Design Department offers...

BFA in Design with programs in AnimationIllustration, Industrial Design, Visual Communication Design, Interaction Design, and Photography. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design is a four-year, 120-credit-hour degree program. All design students spend the first semester in foundation courses and in the second semester begin taking courses in their chosen major. 

Minors in Design, Photography, Design Entrepreneurship, and Certificates in Book Arts

Graduate programs in Design, M.A. in Interaction and User Experience Design, and M.A. in Management and Strategy. The Master of Arts in Design is 31 credit hours of coursework, a thesis that documents independent discovery and research, and an oral examination.

The University of Kansas is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1968.


The Animation program prepares students to solve complex, dynamic, and diverse design and communication problems with moving images. Courses begin by building a solid grounding in the principles of animation, visual problem solving, visual communication, strong drawing skills, and design thinking.

Characters made of paper


Illustrators illuminate ideas, enrich narratives, and build entire worlds through imaginative visual solutions. Students learn how to employ design fundamentals, problem-solving skills, and communication theory to develop an expert-level understanding of visual project development.

Students working on Riso prints

Industrial Design

Every manufactured object we interact with – from faucets to electronics, footwear to toys, medical devices to sports gear – is a product of design and industrial designers. At KU, ID students gain an in-depth understanding of all levels of product design, development, and manufacture through a human-centered and career-focused approach.

ID students in studio

Interaction Design

Focusing on user-centric design solutions, students will learn to innovate and empathize, equipping them with the skills needed to excel in the dynamic realm of digital products and interfaces. From websites and apps to AI and emerging technologies, students are primed to craft intuitive and impactful user interfaces across a diverse array of digital landscapes.

App design student holding a phone


In today's constantly-evolving media landscape, photography is still the most essential and universal visual medium for documenting the world and conveying ideas. We are currently not accepting freshman applicants to the Photography BFA for Fall 2024. Change of school and transfer applications are still being considered.

Photo students looking at work

Visual Communication Design

Visual Communication also known as Graphic Design permeates every aspect of our surroundings, whether it's the bustling city streets or peaceful park trails. It surrounds us, presenting ideas, providing instructions, influencing choices, and narrating stories.

Students working on a Mac

Graduate programs in Design

The MA in Design with a concentration in Management and Strategy at explores in depth the design function in business as an important integrative, and often interdisciplinary, area of work. M.A. in Design with a concentration in Interaction and User Experience Design equips students with comprehensive knowledge in the principles, methodologies, and applications of interaction design.

Fingerprint as identity card


Study Abroad

The Department of Design offers a variety of study abroad programs. These include internships abroad, semester-long programs, and summer or winter break options. The University offers programs in about 70 countries worldwide. (link needs to be about Design)

Student Organizations

Maximize your college experience by going on studio tours, creating projects, and connecting with peers and professionals who share your interests.

Design Lecture Series

For 40 years, the KU Professional Design Lecture Series has enriched educational experiences by introducing KU students to designers and artists working in a wide range of disciplines and professional fields.

Alumni Spotlight

Alumni from the Design BFA program are illustrators, storytellers, animators, TV writers, and designers working in a variety of industries. Read more about how they are putting their talents to use.