The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Bachelor of Science

B.S. Multidisciplinary Design

Using product design as a vehicle to investigate design research, human centered design principles, interface development, articulation of product forms, materials and digital manufacturing principles. The program will begin with two tracks. One that is more digitally related and one that is more on physical objects.

This new interdisciplinary program will train our students to compete in an ever increasingly complex work environment and a thorough understanding of ethical conduct and social responsibility through these specific concepts:

• inquiry and project-based learning

• critical thinking skills

• experimentation with multiple ways of problem solving

• visual literacy

• innovation and invention

• team building and collaboration

• identifying authentic real-world tasks and challenges

• design research

• human centered design principles

The Multi-disciplinary Bachelor of Science in Design encompasses a curriculum with four substantive areas applicable to all design education: Studio, Technical, History/Theory and Practice. In addition to the classes and faculty from the Design program, the proposed curriculum leverages and has been developed with existing University of Utah faculty and courses from Architecture, Fine Arts, Communication, Business, Bio-Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Psychology.

This program has at its core the shared fundamental understanding of the language, process and application of design and design thinking. This proposes to use design as a verb for activities rooted in 4 cornerstones: Engagement, Community, Collaboration and Responsibility. This broad perspective allows for students to see the connections between these design specialties and focus on the process of design as a creative idea and development framework. It expands students’ horizons by engaging with other design disciplines in strategic and collaborative ways. This approach can lead to exciting new design engagement that can deeply engage the world as it is and as it is becoming.


74 credit hours, 4 years

Curriculum categories: Studio, Technical, History/Theory and Practice.

Course offerings: Department of Design, the College of Architecture + Planning, the College of Fine Arts, Psychology, Business, Engineering and Communication.

For admittance to the program students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and submit a portfolio and letter of intent.

Prior to beginning studies in Design, students should have satisfied the University’s Lower Division Writing Requirement, the American Institutions Requirement, the Quantitative Reasoning Requirements, and most of the Intellectual Explorations Requirements. Transfer students should have or nearly have completed their general education requirements. Typically, the Design major can be completed in a two- year period. However, efficiently scheduling both required courses and desired electives demands care, forethought and consideration. Planning courses are usually offered once a year, and their scheduling is reasonably predictable. Continued enrollment in the major requires students to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA.


A designer bridges the gap between Art and Science through the intentional creation of items that are aesthetically pleasing and function for a specific purpose. However, in that last few years, Design has emerged as a discipline that has moved beyond form making with products and into the area of altering business practice, decision making and strategic planning.

The students in the Multi-disciplinary Design Minor program learn the processes, techniques and tools of Design in general and are exposed to different specific areas of Design such as architecture, industrial design, interface design, and print media. Using “design thinking” as a model, the curriculum and course projects are constructed to present the conceptual ideas such as emotion, desire and aesthetics in the context of the rational, systematic and scientific.

The students are introduced to the ‘studio’ concept that serves as a pedagogical model that fosters critical thinking, collaborative engagement and clear communication. The students are required to critique theirs and others work within the context of an interdisciplinary team. The students learn through doing and making rather than passively absorbing. The minor program focuses on preparing students for flexible careers that use “design thinking” to solve multi-disciplinary applied problems in different areas.

Students are required to earn a minimum of 17 credit hours of approved courses to complete the Minor in Multi-disciplinary Design. Students are required to take 3 foundation courses: Design 2615 “Design Thinking” Design 3100 “Design Studio”, and Design 4010 “Design Capstone Studio” project.

In addition students are required to take 2 exploration courses from the College of Architecture + Planning, College of Fine Arts or the Communication Department. Please see list of acceptable exploration courses.

Foundation: Design 2615 “Design Thinking”, 3 credit hours; Design 3600 “Design Studio”, 3 credit hours

Explorations: Minimum 6 credit hours

Capstone Studio: Design 4010 “Capstone Studio”, 5 upper division credit hours

Total number of hours: 17

Minor Class List


Design 2615 Design Thinking (3)

An introduction to design thinking strategies and processes that help shape our designed world.

Design 3600 Design Studio (3)

An exploration of the design process through a series of studio exercises employing various physical materials and visual ordering systems.

Design 4110 Capstone Design Studio (5)

A “deep dive” studio where students will explore real world problems and derive solutions based on an interdisciplinary perspective. Emphasis on synthesis, process, and intention that results in the development of the students’ own methodology.


Arch 2630 Design Workshop (3)

An exploration of the design process through a series of studio exercises.

Communication 3510 Intro to Web Design (3)

Introduces the basics of web site design with emphasis on the design process; visual communication principles; usability; and current web communication theory and criticism. Computer literacy is required.

Communication 3550 Principles of Visual Communication (3)

Survey course that looks at physio-psychological bases of perception of cognition, semiotics, aesthetics and historical references that lead to realization of visual messages. Includes discussions of ethical dimensions of visual image-making. Presentations incorporate criticism of contemporary visual images across all mass media.

Communication 3670 Principles of Advertising (3)

Introduction to advertising’s historical, social, and economic aspects. Marketing mix, communication theory, and advertising organizations. Designing persuasive messages for print and broadcast media.

Communication 5510 Advanced Web Design (3) Prerequisite: COMM 3510 or instructor’s consent.

Integrates advanced web communication theory/criticism with a comprehensive exploration of the technologies used in web site development and design, including XHTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Communication 5530 Visual Communication (3) Pre-requisite: COMM 3550

Explores a broad range of theoretical and research literature that provide useful perspectives or foundations for the study of visual communication. The literature representing these perspectives draws from a variety of areas including perception, cognition, aesthetics, and film/visualization theory.

Fine Arts 3000 Design for the Net 1 (4) 

The course is an introduction to creating rich content for the Internet. Topics covered range from developing web site concepts, organizing content, creating sites, publishing, and updating content on the web. The focus of this course is to learn principles of web design, writing functional html and xhtml code.

Fine Arts 3700 Graphics for Multimedia (4)

The class focuses on making images that are meaningful, creative and communicate, through an exploration of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Art 3010 Language of Color (3)

Course examines global and regional use of color as a visual language and as a means of trans-cultural/transnational communication. Color is explored as a cultural indicator of beauty, status, and group identity in a comparative study among geographically and culturally diverse locations. Course material takes a discipline-correlated approach where twentieth and twenty-first century visual artworks are used to present examples of color in a cultural context and to begin a dialog of contemporary issues and philosophies to include aesthetics, life style, religion, race, gender, global economics and politics. Collapse of cultural identity is addressed through a review of color as a function of global marketing strategies and Internet communications.

Art 3065 Bookbinding (3)

This class explores the basic elements of bookbinding, including design and construction of the traditional book as well as materials and their properties. Students construct and take away a variety of bookbinding models. A brief introduction to the history of the book, using examples from the rare book collection and focusing in particular on historical and contemporary book binding, is part of the course.

Art 3600 History of Graphic Design (3) Instructor approval

An overview of the history of graphic communication. Topics covered include: the invention of the written language, the origin of printing, graphic design in the Renaissance and Victorian eras, Art Nouveau, Pictorial Modernism, International Typographic Style, Post-Modernism, contemporary conceptual and “new wave” movements. Emphasis is on the Post-Art Nouveau eras.

Undergraduate Degree

This application process is for students who have completed (or will complete this spring semester) the pre-design courses and all, or nearly all, the general education requirements at the University of Utah. Applications to the major in multi-disciplinary design are accepted during the spring semester.

Applicants are notified in May for admission to the next fall semester. The Admissions Office may be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (801) 585-5354.

Please note the following guidelines:

  1. The application form is available online until April 29, 2014.
  2. xApplications must be completed online by April 29, 2014.
  3. You may complete the application by clicking on this link ( ) when you have completed the form on this page, forward it directly to the Department of Design as directed via the web.
  4. You will need to submit a portfolio. It must be received in the School office not before 8:00 AM on Monday, April 28, 2014 nor after 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Instructions for the portfolio, including delivery instructions, may be found on this web page under Portfolio Requirements.
  5. You will be required to submit a letter of interest for the Design Program. Such a letter should not exceed 500 words and should tell something of yourself, your interest in the study of design and what you hope to gain from the degree. The letter, addressed to Undergraduate Admission Committee, may be sent by e-mail to or delivered to the School of Architecture office.
  6. You will not need to ask for any letters of recommendation.
  7. If not presently attending the University of Utah:
    1. In addition to completing the application form, a complete transcript including the last spring semester grades from your current school must be submitted to the University Admissions Office. An unofficial completed transcript should be emailed to, no later than May 1st.
    2. Students must also apply to the University of Utah,


Portfolio Requirements

Admission to the undergraduate major in Multi-Disciplinary Design requires submission of a portfolio. An optional, informal discussion and question period will be held during spring semester for interested students. Please call the office for the date and time.

Portfolio Purpose

Your portfolio for application to the Design Program is an important opportunity for you to craft an artifact that communicates your design ability. You should consider the design of the portfolio as yet another design problem. There are some guidelines, but we are interested in the format and materials that you choose to express the narrative of your work.

You should begin the process of designing your portfolio by writing the required letter of intent. This will help you identify what it is that you want to communicate with work you select and the design of the portfolio.


1. Title page. The title page, a separate sheet, should include your name, address, phone number, and University of Utah identification number (if you have one).

2. Samples of your Creative/Visual Work. The contents may include anything you feel conveys your abilities: architecture, graphics, industrial design, paintings, drawings, sketches, photography, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, engineering studies, creative writing, poems, essays, choreography, musical scores, etc.

3. You are encouraged to include the best work from your design, pre-architecture courses, drawing, visual or other classes as well as extracurricular creative projects.

4. If you include work done in a professional office or studio, please identify the professional’s name, your specific contribution to the project and your level of involvement.

5. Please include your process of work. We are very interested in seeing how you move from initial thought to final artifact.

5. Plagiarized work automatically disqualifies your application.

Portfolio Specifications

1. Portfolios should be clearly marked with your name on the exterior.

2. Include a title page with your name, University ID, contact information and program of interest (Design Major)

3. Please submit reproductions of your work as we cannot guarantee the safety of originals. Use high quality black and white or color print photography, computer images or photo-reproductions. Slides and CDs are not accepted.

Submission and Return of Portfolio

Portfolios must be submitted to office personnel in the main office of the School of Architecture (Room 332). If you wish the portfolio returned, you may include a self-addressed, adequately stamped container to insure return by mail in the early fall. The Design Department will take prudent care of your portfolio; however, it cannot be responsible for lost or damaged materials.