What to do if Your School Doesn’t have a Design Major

A design major can encompass a number of different areas of study, including fine arts, graphic design, architecture and fashion design. Other fields of study related to design can include interior design and landscape design. Each is related to developing aesthetics that are designed to visually communicate an idea, regardless of whether the design is pleasing to the eye or a shock to the senses.

However, many colleges, especially those that offer online education opportunities, don’t feature any sort of design major, or they may limit their design majors to fine arts, architecture or graphic design. For students at these schools who aspire to careers in design, it is essential to proactively build a course of study that encompasses their career goals.

Class Selection

Even a college that does not offer a major in the design area in which you are interested will more than likely offer courses that will help you pursue your career goals. Just as students interested in international relations might supplement a business degree with a minor in political science, so too is it possible for those interested in design.

First, you should check to see if your school offers a minor in a program related to your field of interest. While a degree in fashion design might be impossible at your college, it’s possible you could minor in fine arts with an emphasis on textile design, fashion or even sculpture, which could be used to build skills in accessory design.

Secondly, skim the catalog for classes that catch your eye. You might be surprised by some of the courses offered in other degree programs. For instance, many interior designers majored in architecture. This additional educational background not only teaches them how to construct spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional, but also allows them to work side-by-side with engineers and construction crews to remodel clients’ homes. While it might not offer quite the creative freedom you were seeking in college, you’ll find that it offers a great deal of creative freedom professionally.

Finally, talk with your advisor about how to best craft your college educational experience to maximize your post-college success. He or she may be able to guide you in the right direction regarding classes to take that you didn’t suspect, botany classes for the aspiring landscape designer, and even point out programs your college offers that allow you to build your own major or minor. As CollegeBoard.com explains, building your academic year and your academic career takes careful planning. Utilizing every resource available to you will help to ensure that you are able to plan your education to fit your career goals.


Just as the classes you take are important, so are the internships you seek out. Aspiring graphic designers without a graphic design class to their name can go far if they find internships in an advertising firm’s art department. The same is true for fine arts students who intern with a small clothing manufacturer to further their understanding of fashion design or architectural students who intern with an interior designer. As CollegeBoard.com discusses, the internship is essential to bolstering your career goals.

Not only will an internship provide you with the chance to work in the field that most interests you, but it will also provide you with valuable real-world experience. If you are interested in graphic design but unable to take graphic design courses, finding an internship in the graphic design department of a firm would be a chance for you to learn if this career truly is the right fit for you. Just be prepared to show how your coursework relates to the internship’s responsibilities when you apply.

You’ll be surprised at the companies that hire interns, and it pays to proactively seek out companies that are not yet seeking interns on your college’s campus. There’ll be less competition for that coveted spot. Just don’t be disappointed if your internship is unpaid. Many are, but the experience you’ll gain will pay for itself in the future.

Clubs on Campus & Those that Aren’t

Most colleges have a wide variety of clubs and online classes for college available to students. Look for clubs emphasizing the arts, interior design, fashion, graphic design or design in general. Not only will you meet like-minded people and learn valuable information about what classes to take to help you along, but you’ll also participate in projects that can help you to build your resume and gain networking experience. At WhatINeedForCollege.com you’ll find insightful advice for how to find a club that fits your needs.

Exchange Programs

Sometimes, to really study your interest, you’ll need to venture beyond your college. In these cases, an exchange program could be beneficial to you. The Tuition Exchange offers students the chance to spend a semester or a year at a different school while still paying their current school’s tuition rates. Other programs offer students the chance to travel abroad. What’s important to take away from this is that, by attending another school for a semester or year, you’ll have the chance to attend classes that school offers. These can include a wide range of design classes that are not generally offered at your school. For instance, students interested in industrial design would find courses to suit their interest at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Likewise, those interested in graphic design would find excellent coursework related to this field at Boston University.

Regardless of the limitations of your college’s course offerings, it is possible to tailor a program to suit your needs. It only takes some flexibility, ingenuity and a willingness to keep an open mind. Just because your school does not offer a design major does not mean that you cannot effectively major in design.

You can. It will just take a willingness to experiment and occasionally taking a class that you’re not interested in to get to the one that you are. Can we say calculus, aspiring interior designers?