BA in Design Arts & Practices Curriculum, Emphasis Areas & Courses

Follow your passions for design and art to craft a better world.

The Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts and Practices is a four-year, 120-credit interdisciplinary undergraduate degree that offers a comprehensive understanding of design thinking and design making. The degree prepares you to collaboratively work across media, scales and disciplines to tackle the world's most complex problems.

In the BA DAPA, courses across art, design, information studies and technology shape your degree plan moving from foundations and skills over the first two years, to theories and issues, culminating in capstone project developed through transdisciplinary lenses that can tackle challenges spanning fields from social justice, design and the built environment.


Curriculum

A minimum of 120 units of coursework is required for the BA in Design Arts and Practices.

The BA DAP is comprised of Foundation courses, Core courses comprising your selected emphasis area, transdisciplinary electives, Upper-Division History and Theory courses and the Senior Capstone.

Students are required to select one of the following emphasis areas: Object Design, Spatial Design, Print Design or Screen Design. CAPLA offers the Object Design and Spatial Design emphasis areas. Learn more about BA DAP emphasis areas.

Review Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts and Practices curriculum by semester and year or view or download the BA DAP program overview and curriculum, which provides sample four-year plans for students in the Object Design and Spatial Design emphasis areas offered by CAPLA:

These are sample four-year curriculum paths only. There are multiple pathways students may take in this degree, and courses may often be taken out of sequence

FALL 1

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 195B Why Design Matters* 1
  Foundation Studio Practice 2
  Foundation Studio Practice 2
ENGL 101 First-Year Composition 3
  General Math (Social Science Math or Above) 3
  Second Language Semester 1 4
UNIV 101 Introduction to the General Education Experience 1
  TOTAL 16

SPRING 1**

Course # Course Title Units
  Foundation Studio Practice 2
  Foundation Studio Practice 2
ART 119 Contemporary Art and Theory* 3
ENGL 102 First-Year Composition 3
  Second Language Semester 2 4
  General Education: Exploring Perspectives 3
  TOTAL 17

FALL 2

Course # Course Title Units
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  Second Language Semester 3 4
  General Education: Exploring Perspectives 3
  General Education: Exploring Perspectives 3
  Minor Course 3
  TOTAL 16

SPRING 2

Course # Course Title Units
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  Second Language Semester 3 4
  General Education: Exploring Perspectives 3
  General Education: Exploring Perspectives 3
  TOTAL 13

FALL 3

Course # Course Title Units
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  History and Theory (Upper-Division) 3
  Transdisciplinary Elective (Upper-Division) 3
  General Education: Building Connections 3
  Minor Course 3
  TOTAL 15

SPRING 3

Course # Course Title Units
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  General Education: Building Connections 3
  Minor Course 3
  Minor Course (Upper Division) 3
  TOTAL 15

FALL 4

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 49-- How Design Matters* 3
  Emphasis: Object/Spatial 3
  Transdisciplinary Elective (Upper-Division) 3
  Transdisciplinary Elective (Upper-Division) 3
  Minor Course (Upper-Division) 3
UNIV 301 General Education Portfolio 1
  TOTAL 16

SPRING 4

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 498 Senior Capstone 3
  Minor Course (Upper-Division) 3
  Transdisciplinary Elective (Upper-Division) 3
  Transdisciplinary Elective (Upper-Division) 3
  TOTAL 12

* Required by all students.
** Spring 1: Seek and declare minor for Fall 2.

Additional 500-level courses may be taken to prepare for an accelerated master’s program (AMP).
 


Emphasis Areas

As a BA DAP student you will select an emphasis area that aligns with your academic interests and career goals. Each emphasis area is specifically designed to prepare you with both a theoretical understanding and practical set of skills. CAPLA offers the Object Design and Spatial Design emphasis areas, while the School of Art offers Print Design and School of Information offers Screen Design. Curriculum for those emphasis areas vary.

Object Design

Design studies with a focus on works in 3D, including hand-held and portable products, furnishings, furniture systems and more.

Spatial Design

Design studies with a focus on works that take place, including human-scale environments, situated events, interiors, exhibitions, urban spaces and more.

Print Design

Visual design studies with a focus on works on paper, such as publications, posters, games, comics, books, magazines and more.

Screen Design

Visual design studies with a focus on works in digital form, such as websites, games, animation, apps, kiosks and more.


Program Requirements & Courses

Click a course name below to view its description:

Foundation History and Theory

2 courses:

This colloquium introduces students to design in differing scales, media and applications, and to how design thinking and making produce different effects.

Main campus: Fall

This course will investigate contemporary art and theory as it relates to Modernity, "Avant Garde", Modernism, The other, Postmodern, international society and new technology.

Main campus: Fall, Spring, Summer
Online campus: Summer

Foundation Practice

6 units required:

Introduces fundamentals of design and architecture through drawing, modeling, and digital methods with an introduction to history + theory of the built environment.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Introduces fundamentals of design and architecture through drawing, modeling, and digital methods with an introduction to history + theory of the built environment.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Prerequisite: ARC 101A

Just as cartographers seek to plot our volumetric world onto flat surfaces, the eye of the artist is also compressing height, width and depth into the picture plane when drawing from observation.  Mapping will focus on drawing as an exploratory means of seeing and knowing the world.  This process-emphasis art studio workshop gauges cumulative experience rather than performance on individual drawings.  Progress and success will be evaluated through the assembly of portfolios gleaned from daily drawings; this structure encourages the essential risk-taking that drawing demands by de-emphasizing the criticality of any singular drawing.  Process-oriented studio classes encourage good studio practice by making dedicated in-class work ethic difficult to avoid.  This is an eight week course.

Main campus: Fall, Spring Summer

How can physical materials be transformed or arranged in space to convey an idea?  How can an idea be realized in the round?  What can exist as art in space?  Space is an introduction to the conception and execution of art in three-dimensions (height, width and depth).  Subtractive and additive approaches will be highlighted.  Space is a project-emphasis art studio workshop.  Form (the technical component of your artwork) and content (the conceptual/idea component of your artwork) receive equal emphasis, as they are the inseparable tools, which allow artworks to communicate.  Projects command the formal elements (volume, mass, texture, etc.) for their ability to contain and convey meaning.  This is an eight week course.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Is the camera an arbitrator between the eye of the artist and their environment?  When does an image transcend a snapshot and become an artwork?  Like drawing, photography can be a means of seeing and processing the world, or changing it.  Gaze is an introduction to the conception and execution of art through photographic processes.  Gaze is a project-emphasis art studio workshop.  Form (the technical component of your artwork) and content (the conceptual/idea component of your artwork) receive equal emphasis, as they are the inseparable tools, which allow artworks to communicate.  Projects command the formal elements (composition, line, value, positive and negative space, etc.) for their ability to contain and convey meaning.  A digital camera is required for this workshop (Point-and-Shoot or SLR, above 5 megapixels). This is an eight week course.

Main campus: Fall, Spring, Summer

Everything we perceive, we experience in time. Experience is an introduction to the conception and execution of art in 4-dimensions (height, width, depth and time).  What can occur as art in time?  Rituals, processes and narratives can occur in space and time, forms and sounds can affect our relationship to space.  The things you wear and the way you move affect space and time.  Will you transform space with action?  Video?  Sound?  Objects?  Smell?  Experience is a project-emphasis art studio workshop.  Form (the technical component of your artwork) and content (the conceptual/idea component of your artwork) receive equal emphasis, as they are the inseparable tools, which allow artworks to communicate.  Projects command the formal elements (duration, tempo, intensity, etc.) for their ability to contain and convey meaning.  This is an eight week course.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

The surface of a painting can operate towards many different ends.  Is the painting a window (the illusion of depth) or an object (the negation of depth)?  Or both?  Surface is an introduction to the conception and execution of art in two-dimensions (height and width).  Surface is a project-emphasis art studio workshop.  Form (the technical component of your artwork) and content (the conceptual/idea component of your artwork) receive equal emphasis, as they are the inseparable tools, which allow artworks to communicate.  Projects command the formal elements (composition, value, color, line, positive and negative space, etc.) for their ability to contain and convey meaning.  This is an eight week course.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Propaganda will explore artwork as a tool for communication in the public sphere. Critical investigations into this functional art form will be engaged through both a graphic design and illustration-oriented approaches. Propaganda is a project-emphasis studio art workshop. Form (the technical component of your artwork) and content (the conceptual/idea component of your artwork) receive equal emphasis, as they are the inseparable tools, which allow artworks to communicate. Projects command the formal elements (composition, value, color, line, positive and negative space, etc.) for their ability to contain and convey meaning. This is an eight week course.

Main campus, Fall, Spring

*** Must be taken together.

Transdisciplinary Electives

18 units (minimum of 13 units of upper-division):

Object

Course description placeholder: This course investigates analog and digital techniques for the development of design ideas in fabrication and representation.

Course description placeholder: This course teaches intermediate fabrication and design skills, related to wood, ceramics, and plastics, with a focus on digital fabrication.

Introduction to fundamentals of sculpture process through carving, fabrication and casting, to develop personal approaches to dimensional composition.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

This course surveys the use of modern digital tools and equipment that are used to fabricate physical objects. Tools studied may include but are not limited to 3D printers and scanners, CNC routers and millers, laser cutters, decal printers, and other computer guided devices. Students will gain hands-on experience with digital fabrication tools and develop techniques for artistic production. Conceptual focus emphasizes new forms made possible by the use of digital tools.

Main campus: Spring

This course introduces students to the essential methods of visual communication and ordering systems through a series of interrelated exercises. Techniques such as investigative sketching, freehand drawing, and digital design communication are considered in relation to their potential to reveal the world around us with a heightened sense of awareness. Issues such as place, material, structure and enclosure will be explored empirically and conceptually at a variety of scales and applications. Importantly, this is an interdisciplinary based studio; students enrolled in this course will have the ability to engage in a variety of different design strategies.

Main campus: Spring, Summer
Online campus: Spring, Summer

Spatial

Development of ordering systems skills via model building, technical drawing and the introduction of digital tools, to establish a critical framework for thinking and making.

Main campus: Spring, Summer
Prerequisite: ARC 101A and ARC 101B

Description coming soon.

Course description placeholder: This course investigates analog and digital techniques for the development of design ideas in fabrication and representation.

This course introduces students to the essential methods of visual communication and ordering systems through a series of interrelated exercises. Techniques such as investigative sketching, freehand drawing, and digital design communication are considered in relation to their potential to reveal the world around us with a heightened sense of awareness. Issues such as place, material, structure and enclosure will be explored empirically and conceptually at a variety of scales and applications. Importantly, this is an interdisciplinary based studio; students enrolled in this course will have the ability to engage in a variety of different design strategies.

Main campus: Spring, Summer
Online campus: Spring, Summer

Upper-Division History and Theory

6 units required:

The study of modern, postmodern, and contemporary architecture through examination of works and theories and their impact on the discipline of architecture.

Main campus: Fall

Survey of American architecture, painting, sculpture, photography and the decorative arts from colonial times to present.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Survey of contemporary art in the United States and Europe since the 1960s.

Main campus: Spring

This course will survey the history of photography as an art form and a means of visual communication.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

This course is a historical and theoretical survey of significant developments in modern architecture since the industrial revolution. It will consider the impact of changing philosophies and technologies that have impacted the modern view of the built environment. Special focus will be placed on 19th-century historicism, early 20th-century avant-gardes, and Post-WWII practices that embraced sociology and new types of technology.

Main campus: Fall, Spring

Survey of major artistic movements, including academicism, expressionism, cubism, and surrealism, and their influence on film in Germany, Italy, America and France.

Main campus: Spring

A history of design beginning with the industrial revolution including graphic design, industrial design, technological advances, mass communications, the consumer culture and its critique, avant-garde design, postmodernism and the cultural politics of design.

Main campus: Fall

Upper-Division Capstone

Development of a design project that embodies a student's design position, situated historically and addressing contemporary issues.

Main campus: Spring

A culminating experience for majors involving a substantive project that demonstrates a synthesis of learning accumulated in the major, including broadly comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and its methodologies. Senior standing required.

Main campus: Fall, Spring, Summer

Ready to design a changing world?

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts and Practices by contacting Cait Fitzpatrick, undergraduate recruitment coordinator, or review the admissions process and begin your application now:

Start Your Application