Undergraduate >> Areas >> Design

About the Area

It is the mission of the design area at the USC Roski School of Fine Arts to provide students with the best possible education—not only in design, but in the liberal arts as well. Like other academic and creative disciplines at USC, the design area pursues scholarly research through rigorous investigation, devoted study, and cutting-edge innovation. The design area at USC Roski recognizes design's wide-ranging—and ever growing—importance to a number of fields of work and study, including the fine arts (theatre, film, dance, and others) business, advertising and marketing, communications, engineering, and many more. The design faculty at Roski strive to establish in each student a strong foundation of design fundamentals and visual literacy, from which to develop excellence in creative problem solving.


With consistent dedication to studio practice and the design process, design students at USC Roski develop the critical abilities to solve problems objectively and to evaluate their own work, both in the context of artwork and through the view of a specific intended audience—and, perhaps most interestingly, in the space where such distinctions begin to blend and fade.

Recognizing their place in the global design community, and paying careful attention to the role of designers in society, students examine the ways in which design functions as a means of visual communication and as an influential force in the marketplace. Working together with faculty members and fellow students—though not always fellow designers—students are encouraged to explore, critique, and invent past, present, and future collaborative modes of design.

Design is very much a living language, constantly changing and evolving to solve new problems and adapt to new situations. At USC Roski, students have the opportunity to investigate the future of design, both on its own, as an artistic discipline, and with other areas of study, as a means to many ends.

The objectives of the design area are, at each level of courses, to:

100-level Design (FA 102)

  • establish a common language and create a gauge for criticism
  • instill the desire and interest to experiment, investigate, and research design and design-related issues
  • introduce studio practice for the designer, technically, theoretically, and critically
  • establish excellence in practice, creation, and presentation

200-level Design (FA 202, 203)

  • further explore technical skills
  • introduce the design process—brainstorming/thumbnails, comprehensive composites, etc.
  • advance critical discourse and professional practice(s), including excellence in practice, creation, and presentation

300-level Design (FADN 302, 303L, 333, 332a/b)

  • investigate and dissect design problems and the role of the designer
  • further the exploration of designer and audience
  • introduce design theory, design history, and semiotics
  • expand critical discourse
  • explore the interdisciplinary nature of design
  • explore design as a visual and cultural language
  • consider portfolio and collaboration

400-level Design (FADN 402, 432, FA450)

  • refine advanced design skills
  • engage in advanced critical discourse
  • explore design as a discipline and it's role within other fields
  • professional practice
  • portfolio development