Bachelor of Science

The School of Design at San Francisco State University is committed to offering a contemporary design education in a liberal arts context. Our curricula fosters development of skills in tandom with design thinking. Based in San Francisco, students are able to delve deeply into their fields while exploring one of the world's most dynamic environments for their professional development.

The School of Design offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Industrial Design (Product Design and Development), and Visual Communication Design (formerly known as "Graphic Design").

Career Pathways for Industrial Design

  • Industrial Design
  • Product Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Furniture Design
  • User Experience (3D)

Career Pathways for Visual Communication Design

  • Branding and Agency Graphics
  • Interactive Design
  • Print Design
  • Data Visualization
  • User Experience (2D and Screen)

Design is no longer an Impacted Program. The School of Design has lifted impaction.

School of Design student

Declaring a Design Major

Students who have completed (or are close to) 60 semester units of coursework are able to start Design Major coursework in the fall of their Junior year.  Contact us by email at design@sfsu.edu with any questions.

The 58-unit Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design encompasses and integrates graphic design and digital media topics and offers additional study addressing advanced concepts and a changing technological landscape with new opportunities for education and profession. Students are prepared to collaborate with other design disciplines in technology, user experience and creative problem solving.

Instructor gesturing towards wall with design schematics on paper

Learn more about learning outcomes, admission, requirements and the roadmap on the SF State Bulletin site:

Advising Contract

Laptop Requirement

Students are required to purchase a laptop with required software when they begin the major. Students accepted into the Design program will receive hardware and software recommendations for their particular course of study. Please follow the specifications for each major: Visual Communication Design (BSVCD) or Industrial Design (BSID_PDD). Educational discounts on both hardware and software are available through the SF State Bookstore, and through various online vendors. If you qualify for federal financial aid and have not already been awarded the annual maximum in federal student loans, you may request an increase in the federal student loan to assist you with the purchase of the laptop. Note: All Design Majors and Minors are eligible for free Adobe Creative Cloud licenses. View additional details about the laptop initiative

The 59-unit Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design addresses the creation of industrial goods and services and concentrates on three principle aspects of design — process, people and product — and incorporates the study of user-centered needs, relative to the responsible and resourceful implementation of technology innovation, materials, marketing principles and aesthetic values.

Industrial Design student working on a lathe machine

Learn more about learning outcomes, admission, requirements and the roadmap on the SF State Bulletin site:

Advising Contract

Laptop Requirement

Students are required to purchase a laptop with required software when they begin the major. Students accepted into the Design program will receive hardware and software recommendations for their particular course of study. Please follow the specifications for each major: Visual Communication Design (BSVCD) or Industrial Design (BSID_PDD). Educational discounts on both hardware and software are available through the SF State Bookstore, and through various online vendors. If you qualify for federal financial aid and have not already been awarded the annual maximum in federal student loans, you may request an increase in the federal student loan to assist you with the purchase of the laptop. Note: All Design Majors and Minors are eligible for free Adobe Creative Cloud licenses. View additional details about the laptop initiative

Study abroad for a year or semester while earning resident credit towards your major, minor or general education requirements.

SF State Bilateral Programs

The Office of International Programs offers study abroad programs in over 20 countries throughout the world, in every academic discipline at SF State.

Visit SF State Study Abroad website

Outdoor market scene

Partner Institutions

  • Brunel University London, United Kingdom
  • Chung Yuan Christian University Taipei, Taiwan
  • Dublin Institute of Technology Dublin, Ireland
  • Swinburne University Melbourne, Australia
  • Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti (NABA) Milan, Italy
  • University of Technology Sydney Sydney, Australia

Study Abroad Curricula

Notes for Study Abroad Applicants

California State University International Programs

The International Programs (IP) was established by the CSU Board of Trustees in 1963 as the study abroad program of The California State University system.

Visit CSU International Programs Website

Partner Programs

  • The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Santiago, Chile

Non-Certified, Outside, or Vendor Exchange Partners

The following are universities we work with but do not yet have an “official” partnered study abroad option.

  • Hochschule Neu-Ulm University (HNU) Ulm, Germany
  • Holon Institute of Technology Holon, Israel
  • Les Ateliers-Paris Design Institute (ENSCI) Paris, France
  • National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST)
  • The Language Flagship

The SF State Chinese Flagship Program is an exciting initiative for undergraduate students seeking careers related to China and the Chinese-speaking world.

Visit SF State Chinese Flagship website

Contact

Hsiao-Yun Chu, Study Abroad Advisor
Phone: (415) 338-2430
E-mail: hychu@sfsu.edu

Ricardo Gomes, Study Abroad Co-Advisor
Phone: (415) 338-2229
E-mail: ricgomes@sfsu.edu

Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

Is the SF State School of Design the same thing as the former SF State Design and Industry Department?

Yes. The program decided to change its name to better reflect the current reality of our curriculum and students.

I know I am interested in design, but I don't know whether I should apply to Industrial Design or Visual Communication Design. What's the difference?

Industrial Design relates to the design of industrially manufactured, tangible goods (i.e. physical, concrete objects like furniture, lighting, bicycles, consumer electronics, toys, etc.) and related services. Visual Communication Design is the design of visual communications for a variety of platforms including print, web, mobile, motion, games, spatial graphics, etc. All design fields involve user needs research, user experience design, aesthetics, technology, and creative problem solving. View the bulletin for a list of classes.

If I am accepted to the University, will I be able to enroll in summer School of Design classes before the Fall semester I am applying for?

Each summer session can be different.

I already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Will I be able to apply to one of your undergraduate majors?

Yes. You must apply through the graduate studies program as this is considered a post-baccalaureate degree.

Does the School of Design offer internships?

The School of Design offers course credit for design internships with local companies and not-for-profit organizations. We offer workshops and opportunities to network with local companies through courses and our student chapters of AIGA and IDSA. We do not set up the internship for our students, you must apply for them on your own. But, we are building relationships with many companies, giving our students "first look" options in our very competitive fields.

What types of careers do School of Design graduates go on to pursue?

Because the Design majors offer grounding in design thinking and design principles within the context of an undergraduate liberal arts education, Design majors go on to find rewarding careers in diverse fields. Some graduates pursue design careers as graphic designers, web/mobile designers, UX designers, packaging designers, game graphics designers, model makers, or product designers and developers. From these areas, they move on to become Art Directors and Principle Designers. Other graduates find meaningful careers in marketing, advertising, or retail sales where their design background and problem solving skills are valuable assets. Still others find careers in the media, arts and entertainment fields. Some graduates even start their own businesses. Note that design is a dynamic field with new technologies and new professional opportunities emerging on a continuing basis.

What types of skills will be required in my field?

As a Design major, you will be introduced to the research, design thinking, problem solving, organizational, conceptual, and practical skills of the design trade. Strong sketching and ideation skills, and fabrication or development skills will be important for all design fields. Todayall entry-level designers are expected to have a high level of digital media skills. For Visual Communication Design students, this includes mastery of such programs as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Prototyping tools such as Invision and Axure, along with front-end web coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.). Experience with motion graphics programs such as After Effects and Unity are a plus. For industrial design, software skills might include SolidWorks, Rhino, and other modeling programs.

What is the salary outlook for designers?

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, here are some links to see in-depth information on vocational prospects for designers: