Art & Design

Bachelor of Design (BDes)

Product design by Eliza Manzer for DES 496: The Image II

Our specialized and competitive Bachelor of Design (BDes) degree is the perfect way to start your journey towards a career in Design, whether that means starting your own design business, applying for positions within a larger firm, going on to do a degree in Architecture, or myriad other design-related careers.

Our BDes students can focus on Industrial Design, Visual Communication Design, or they may choose to do both. 

Each BDes student also chooses one of our 6 “routes,” a system which is unique to the University of Alberta's Department of Art & Design.  If you aren’t certain about your route, that's ok! You can change your route easily within the first few years of your degree.  The route you choose gives you the option to enhance Industrial Design and/or Visual Communication Design studies with an elective path of study in one of the following:

This route system gives you the opportunity to gain additional critical skills and knowledge to meet the evolving demands of the economy. Select the degree route which has the combination of courses in which you are most interested and for which you have the greatest aptitude. Future careers may be influenced by your route in the sense that your options courses will influence the work you make in your studio classes, and in the skills and perspectives you can offer to future clients, employers, or grad schools, when the time comes.

An Industrial Design project, in collaboration with the Drama Department, to produce props

Your Studies

First Year: Design Fundamentals

All BDes and BFA students share a common set of first year courses which will introduce you to the basic, foundational concepts of visual art and design. In studio courses you will develop skills in drawing, use of colour, and two and three-dimensional studies. During this year, you will also be introduced to the history of art and design. Courses in this subject area place specific works of art and design within their historical and social contexts. This knowledge is essential throughout your degree program.

Progression Through the Program

After completing your foundation year, you may choose to concentrate your studies in Visual Communication Design or Industrial Design, or continue to take courses in both disciplines. Not only will your study of design teach you technical skills and theory, it aims to stimulate intellectual and creative growth to develop advanced thought processes and conceptual skills. Throughout your studies you will discover the relationship between design and the ethical responsibilities associated with the discipline of design.

Program Requirements

The Bachelor of Design degree:

  • has a specialized portfolio admission requirement
  • is a full time program. Students must complete a minimum of 24 course weights (4 courses per term) in Fall/Winter Session to meet promotion requirements to the next year. The full normal course load is 30–33 course weights
  • can be completed in 4 or 5 years, depending on each student's preference
  • has a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement. Students in the program must achieve a minimum 2.7 GPA in all courses taken in Fall/Winter Session for promotion to the next year, and for graduation requirements.