Programs

Design

BDes SPECIALIZED HONOURS

Offered as:
Full-time (4-Year Program)

Entry in:
Fall





Design Program Video Description Transcript
Theatre Students

OVERVIEW

Design

For over two decades, York University’s Bachelor of Design Honours degree (DESN) has set the bar for learning the discipline of design within a university environment. Recognized throughout North America for our standards of academic, research and professional excellence, Design at York offers students a rich, multi-disciplinary experience and pathways to careers in an exciting, ever-evolving field.

At the heart of DESN is the studio environment, where students gain essential professional and technical skills and a strong foundation in design methods and conceptual processes. Students have access to state-of-the-art resources and tools and work placement opportunities via our strong industry connections. DESN alumni often go on to contribute to top design firms and agencies worldwide, enroll in national and international graduate study programs, and succeed as entrepreneurs.

HIGHLIGHTS

Top 6 reasons to apply

Stellar reputation
Our award-winning students are sought out by companies including Facebook, Google, Wikimedia, IBM and Shopify

Personalized attention
Smaller class sizes with intimate studio learning environments

Customizable pathways
Information Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Communication, enhanced by courses in design history, theory, and criticism

Professional orientation
Applied, studio-based learning that prepares graduates for professional design practice

Strong industry connections
Recruitment visits with leading design firms

Valuable work experiences
Placement in professional design settings

HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Active, applied studio-based learning experiences to reinforce professional hands-on skills with current technologies and tools

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HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Required placement in professional design studio between years three and four

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HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Opportunity to pursue design study abroad for up to one full year

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HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Workshops and talks with prominent designers, renowned design educators and industry leaders

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HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Opportunity to work in Design Lab, a full-service design studio that provides services to client partners across the York community

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HIGHLIGHTS

Experiential Education

Participate in research projects led by faculty in emerging areas of design- inclusive design, human-centred design, service design and digital product design

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Student student working with Design Professor

ASSEMBLING YOUR PORTFOLIO

Your portfolio should comprise 10 to 12 samples of original work that demonstrate a wide range of ideas and competency with different media and tools. At least one piece in your portfolio should present word(s) and image(s) that communicate a message.

In addition to the types of work listed below, 8-10 images from a sketchbook or concept/idea book are required.

Your portfolio should contain your best work from at least 3 of the areas below (1-6 are highly recommended for inclusion).

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PORTFOLIO

1. Two-dimensional design work e.g. designs for posters, logos, letterheads, book/magazine covers and interior page spreads.

2. Typography e.g. poetry or words using an expressive font or page layout, typeface designs, expressive lettering, projects with text settings designed for clear communication. Drawings and experiments with typographic form.

3. Interactive media e.g. web site design and/or other interactive work.

4. Motion graphics e.g. video or animation using images and typography. Short pieces with a strong message are preferred.

5. Drawing & Illustration e.g. direct observational drawings are preferred (not drawn from photographs). Imaginative drawing is also welcome. It is good to demonstrate the use of a wide variety of media (pen & ink, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil, marker pen, collage, digital drawings).

6. Photography e.g. B&W prints, colour prints, hand-tinted prints, digitally manipulated.

7. Painting e.g. representative and/or non-representative in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache.

8. 3D Design/Sculpture e.g. scale models from plan drawings, craft and fibre experiments.

The sketchbook or concept/idea book is a very important component of the portfolio. It should contain a variety of studies and examples of your media/tools experiments and demonstrate an exploration of visual and annotated ideas, comments and critiques. It will represent a variety of things that interest you and the ongoing development of ideas. Include 8-10 pages from your sketchbook as a single file.


Request Video Description Transcript



Have questions about the portfolio review for this program?
Ask us at evalampd@yorku.ca.

YOUR CHOICE OF THREE AREAS OF CONCENTRATION OR A MIX, COMPLEMENTED BY COURSES IN DESIGN STUDIES

Create your own pathway or specialize

Interaction Design

OVERVIEW

Interaction Design is a specialized field that intersects with visual communications, information design, human-computer interaction and computation. Students are exposed to emerging research in interface design (UI), user experience (UX) design, participatory research methods, inclusive design and usability studies. They also have the opportunity to hone their skills in systems thinking, creative problem-solving and design strategy.

Central to Interaction Design is the notion of digital connectivity, which today supports a full range of human activities within the educational, business, health, entertainment, environmental, industrial and artistic sectors. Interaction Design’s products are numerous, including mobile applications, interactive environments, web-based products, digital services, kiosk interfaces and networked devices.

Highlights

Immerse yourself in Design at AMPD

UX and UI

Explore interaction design through a human centric focus such as designing for users’ experience and UI (user interface) design.

CUTTING-EDGE

Learn to design interactive mobile applications, physical products and mixed reality interfaces.

DEVELOP

Conceptualize, design and evaluate engaging user experiences across digital, physical and blended or mixed systems.

TITLE

Develop user-centred design processes to inform the connection between people, technology and environment.

Sample courses

Prototyping and User-Centred Strategies

Prototyping and testing design concepts across a broad spectrum of real-world scenarios to better understand the people we are designing for and what is possible.

Designing for Human Interactions

Explores designed experiences that involve multiple levels of interaction and considers the relationships between human purpose, technology and the role of the designer.

Interactive Objects and Environments

Introduces students to communication design and physical computing through interfaces using sensors, projected video, graphics, and sound.

Designing for Future Systems

Students will explore the power of design to inspire and accelerate innovation working with outside partners to develop future looking design products and services.

Designing for Existing Systems

Collaborative innovative approach to an existing complex issue that engages a design solution with project partners include industry, government or NGOs, or local not-for-profit groups.

  • Interaction designer
  • User Experience (UX) researcher
  • User Interface (UI) designer
  • Information architect
  • Service design specialist
  • Digital strategist
  • Product design director
  • Sensory interactive designer
  • UX project manager
Information Design

OVERVIEW

In the field of Information Design, designers visually capture, organize and categorize quantitative and conceptual information, making it more understandable and meaningful for users. Information Design encompasses a range of practices, offering students ample opportunity to utilize cross-disciplinary approaches.

The program explores such subjects as graphical strategies for information design, design for virtual environments and large multi-user systems, human-computer interaction and the dynamic visualizations of live systems. Information Design projects include data-driven image generation (e.g., explanatory infographics), the creation of new symbols to represent data, and the development of interactive tools that facilitate users’ access to, and understanding of, information.

Highlights

Immerse yourself in Design at AMPD

Capture organize categorize and make meaning from visual information

Capture, organize, categorize and make meaning from visual information; translate data into usable and understandable visual displays, narratives and interfaces.

Practice visualization through mapping practices

Practice visualization through mapping practices, ranging from conceptual approaches to practical applications using print and digital media.

Gain experience with data reporting and design methodologies

Gain experience with data reporting and design methodologies to build engaging user experiences.

ALT TEXT

Explore how typography relates to information design in print and digital systems.

Sample courses

Information Design for Understanding

Introduction to the relevant theories and practices for designers to prioritize, simplify and creatively visualize a wide range of complex textual and visual information for engaging user experiences.

Information Mapping and Networks

A focus on visualization through mapping techniques, ranging from conceptual approaches to practical applications for print and digital environments.

Evolution of Information Design

Examines the origin of designed artifacts for understanding of social, technological and historical developments in the representation of information.

Data Visualization Design

Investigates the affordances of both print and digital media for the application of information design principles and techniques in a variety of outputs and real-time environments.

Typography for Information Design

Explores typography as it relates to information to explore how legible and readable text information can affect a users’ understanding of information. Students will be engaged in designing materials to enhance meaning where clarity of text information is critical for navigating and searching and conveying complex information

  • Data visualization designer
  • Design journalist
  • Environmental graphic designer
  • Knowledge visualization researcher
  • Infographic design specialist
  • Visual analytics expert
  • Health design strategist
Visual Communications

OVERVIEW

Visual Communication is a multidisciplinary field concerned primarily with the power and impact of visual messages to inform, instruct and persuade in today’s ever-changing world. Visual Communication designers work with diverse media, designing for both 2D and 3D print and digital applications. The field is the driving force behind the production of branding, signage and wayfinding systems, magazines, posters, print and kinetic typography, motion and broadcast graphics — to name just a few.

In Visual Communications, DESN students learn how to effectively transform complex and abstract ideas into visual forms, responding to specific contexts and audiences and creating and incorporating diverse visual languages into their work.

Highlights

Immerse yourself in Design at AMPD

Learn about branding and identity systems

Learn about branding and identity systems, signage, packaging, editorial and publication design, and time-based communication.

Study techniques and experiment

Study techniques and experiment with methods of image-making, 2D composition, aesthetics and typography and motion design.

Develop graphic forms and visual systems

Develop new graphic forms and visual systems that communicate and delight for audience engagement.

ALT TEXT

Explore how meaning is shaped and interpreted with text and images, and in the creation of signs and symbols

Sample courses

Communication Design Foundation

Introduces foundational skills for graphic design and places an emphasis on experimenting with the raw visual language of design. Students develop and expand their vocabularies in visual communication design, exploring basic design elements and compositional principles used in design via drawing, collage and other methods of image and form-making.

Branding and Identity Systems

Focuses on branding and identity as an expression of the culture and values of organizations, products and services. Strategic positioning and communicating with audiences is emphasized through the design of branding systems to consider a variety of media and user experiences.

Typography: Letter and Word

Introduction to typographic practice, both as a technical skill and an expressive medium. This course is an introduction to the basic principles of typography, contemporary aesthetic practices (which includes print and screen-based applications), and user-centred practices.

Publication Design

Through the design of books, magazines, newspapers, ’zines, or other forms of publication, this course explores how typography, images and graphics behave across media. Students learn more advanced features of software for typography, image-making and interaction.

Motion Design

This course explores design concepts and studio techniques for combining images, typography, animation, video and audio for time-based communication. Projects range from experiments with physical materials, animation practices, to post-production motion graphics.

  • Creative director
  • Graphic designer
  • Motion graphics editor
  • Brand manager
  • Editorial and publication specialist
  • Design strategist
  • Product design director
Design Studies

OVERVIEW

Whichever DESN pathway students choose, Design Studies courses at York enhance and add breadth to their design education. Taken concurrently with one of the three areas of specialization during years three and four of the program, Design Studies courses serve to expand and deepen students’ understanding of communication theories, sociological discourse, creative strategies and design history.

Projects and coursework in Design Studies allow students to learn and practice a range of design research methods, supported by the program’s location in a large research university. Courses that investigate historical and culturally specific modes of design, contemporary design theory and criticism provide myriad opportunities for students to consider the deep histories, dynamic futures and current professional practices in design.

Highlights

Do you want to develop a deeper understanding of design discourse, expand your theoretical understanding and augment your learning across all three DESN pathways?

Prime Time

Learn design research skills that foster deeper engagement with the practice of design across all areas of specialization.

Play Ground

Deepen understanding of specific design histories, cultures and movements and their global social and political contexts.

Faculty Advisors

Critically examine the role that design and designers play in addressing complex visual and cultural problems.

Faculty Advisors

All of this is augmented by six electives taken from courses offered across York University in the humanities, social and natural sciences.

Sample courses

Design of the 20th Century: Icons, Movements and Contexts

Equips students with the critical thinking skills required to evaluate a range of icons and art movements of twentieth century design across the world. Students gain an understanding of the historical, social, political, cultural, and economic conditions in the development of design.

Design Advocacy

Focuses upon the contribution of design to public awareness of social issues to learn that designers also have social responsibilities and have the opportunity to be of service to marginalized populations. Introduction to graphic agitation, interventions, major and alternative modes of public address and culture jamming.

East Asian Design History and Material Culture in Transnational Perspectives

Focus on the history of twentieth century East Asian design and material culture in the contemporary context of globalization in transnational perspectives. Investigate how modern design in East Asia has been adapted, practiced, theorized and discussed as an interactive process between heritage rich cultures of East Asia and modernism in the West.

Design for Creative Entrepreneurship

Equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to articulate a strategy for design entrepreneurship and formulate a plan for targeted market segments. In addition, the course will cover fundraising basics, crowdsourcing, team-development and techniques for brand building and marketing in an age of social media, niche markets and intellectual capital.

  • Design educator
  • Design strategist
  • Design critic/writer
  • Graphic design researcher
  • Design archivist
  • Museum/gallery curator
  • Independent design publisher

YEAR BY YEAR OVERVIEW

Learning Outcomes

Year 1

Lay the Foundation

  • Expand your awareness through foundational courses on the techniques, theories, and histories of design
  • Develop new design skills, principles and methods for project-based learning
  • Broaden your perspective with design studies, and university-wide courses
Year 2

Sharpen Your Focus

  • Delve deeper into the fundamentals of design thinking, processes and practices
  • Advance your technical skills for both digital and print techniques
  • Extend your theoretical and critical understanding of design
Year 3

Deepen Your Understanding

  • Specialize in Visual Communication, Information Design or Interaction Design, or create a personalized blend
  • Enhance your skills as a designer, using industry-standard tools and technologies
  • Gain real-world design experience in a required professional work placement
Year 4

Integrate Your Knowledge

  • Refine practical expertise and critical design skills
  • Curate, organize, publicize, and mount an exhibition of graduate design work
  • Develop strategies and networking opportunities to enter professional design practice

APPLICATION PROCESS

How to Apply

Please note that the supplementary application procedures may change due to Covid-19. Please check back to learn about interim measures. If you have any questions please contact ampd@yorku.ca.

A. Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) Application

Use this application if:
  • You want to apply to degree studies for any session (Ontario high-school students should see their guidance office). Fee Information.
  • You’re a mature or university/college applicant (if you’re applying to more than one university). Fee Information.

Apply Now

B. York University Application

Use this application if:
  • You are a mature, international or university/college transfer applicant (if you’re only applying to York), OR
  • You want to take courses as a Visiting Student, OR
  • You want to apply to a certificate, OR
  • You are currently taking a York pre-University/”Bridging” course or YUELI course

Fees: $130, payable by Visa, Visa Debit or MasterCard (non-refundable)

Apply Now

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email containing your York reference ID. This email will be sent approximately 5-10 business days after you submit your application. Please complete step 4 once you have your York Reference ID.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email containing your York reference ID. This email will be sent approximately 5-10 business days after you submit your application. Please complete step 4 once you have your York Reference ID.

  • Make sure you have your York Reference ID on hand.
  • Complete the questionnaire and upload at least one (ideally two) letter/s of recommendation. This will help us get to know you a little better.
  • Pay the administration fee of: $60 CAD. You will then be able to proceed with uploading your materials online.
  • Read through the instructions below on Assembling Your Portfolio.
  • If further follow-up is required, select students may be invited for a zoom interview.

Good luck!

Assembling Your Portfolio

Your portfolio should comprise 10 to 12 samples of original work that demonstrate a wide range of ideas and competency with different media and tools. At least one piece in your portfolio should present word(s) and image(s) that communicate a message.

In addition to the types of work listed below, 8-10 images from a sketchbook or concept/idea book are required.

Your portfolio should contain your best work from at least 3 of the following areas (areas 1-6 are highly recommended for inclusion):

  1. Two-dimensional design work e.g. designs for posters, logos, letterheads, book/magazine covers and interior page spreads.
  2. Typography e.g. poetry or words using an expressive font or page layout, typeface designs, expressive lettering, projects with text settings designed for clear communication. Drawings and experiments with typographic form.
  3. Interactive media e.g. web site design and/or other interactive work.
  4. Motion graphics e.g. video or animation using images and typography. Short pieces with a strong message are preferred.
  5. Drawing & Illustration e.g. direct observational drawings are preferred (not drawn from photographs). Imaginative drawing is also welcome. It is good to demonstrate the use of a wide variety of media (pen & ink, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil, marker pen, collage, digital drawings).
  6. Photography e.g. B&W prints, colour prints, hand-tinted prints, digitally manipulated.
  7. Painting e.g. representative and/or non-representative in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache.
  8. 3D Design/Sculpture e.g. scale models from plan drawings, craft and fibre experiments.

The sketchbook or concept/idea book is a very important component of the portfolio. It should contain a variety of studies and examples of your media/tools experiments and demonstrate an exploration of visual and annotated ideas, comments and critiques. It will represent a variety of things that interest you and the ongoing development of ideas. Include 8-10 pages from your sketchbook as single file.

Portfolio Review

    Have questions about the portfolio review for this program? Ask us at evalampd@yorku.ca.

*During the coronavirus pandemic public events on campus have been cancelled.

Portfolio FAQS

York Bachelor of Design 2021/22 applicants

Show only work which reflects your strengths – both creative and technical. After you upload your portfolio files, add a title to each piece. This will help the reviewer in understanding your portfolio work. Please limit your titles to a maximum of thirty (30) characters.
Yes. We ask all applicants to submit their work through the online portfolio system for review.
Include 10-12 portfolio pieces. Additionally, upload scanned or photos of 8-10 pages from your sketchbook as a single file.
Your portfolio score is based upon a 100 point system as follows:
  1. Quality of the work: 60 points
  2. Ability to embrace process: 40 points
Still image files may be sent in pdf, jpg, png, or gif formats. Each still image file should be no larger than 5 MB. Do not include more than one work per file. Videos will be accepted in mpg, mp4, mov, avi, wmv, m4v formats. Video files should be no longer than two minutes in length and the size of each video upload is limited to 60 MB. Please note that videos are considered part of your selection and should not be used as a method of showing examples of additional still images. It is recommended that the sketchbook be a multipage (8-10 pages) document (e.g. pdf)
During your portfolio review, the faculty will be looking for the following:
  1. The breadth and quality of investigation in your work (as demonstrated in the selected pieces shown, your idea/concept books, and your design process documentation),
  2. Evidence of the various creative thinking processes employed in your work,
  3. Demonstrated visual abilities in your work (typography, colour, composition, perspective, drawing),
  4. Technical skill in a diverse range of media and tools used,
  5. Communication skills as demonstrated by your ability to discuss your work and thought processes in your writing
  6. Care in the selection and presentation of your work.
Assembling Your Portfolio Your portfolio should comprise 10 to 12 samples of original work that demonstrate a wide range of ideas and competency with different media and tools. At least one piece in your portfolio should present word(s) and image(s) that communicate a message. In addition to the types of work listed below, 8-10 scanned pages from your sketchbook or concept/idea book are required. Your portfolio should contain your best work from at least 3 of the following areas (areas 1-6 are highly recommended for inclusion):
  1. Two-dimensional design work e.g. designs for posters, logos, letterheads, book/magazine covers and interior page spreads.
  2. Typography e.g. poetry or words using an expressive font or page layout, typeface designs, expressive lettering, projects with text settings designed for clear communication. Drawings and experiments with typographic form.
  3. Interactive media e.g. web site design and/or other interactive work.
  4. Motion graphics e.g. video or animation using images and typography. Short pieces with a strong message are preferred.
  5. Drawing & Illustration e.g. direct observational drawings are preferred (not drawn from photographs). Imaginative drawing is also welcome. It is good to demonstrate the use of a wide variety of media (pen & ink, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil, marker pen, collage, digital drawings).
  6. Photography e.g. B&W prints, colour prints, hand-tinted prints, digitally manipulated.
  7. Painting e.g. representative and/or non-representative in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache.
  8. 3D Design/Sculpture e.g. scale models from plan drawings, craft and fibre experiments.
The sketchbook or concept/idea book is a very important component of the portfolio. It should contain a variety of studies and examples of your media/tools experiments and demonstrate an exploration of visual and annotated ideas, comments and critiques. It will represent a variety of things that interest you and the ongoing development of ideas. Include 8-10 scanned pages from your sketchbook as a single file.
Typically, the applicant selects their pieces to show in their portfolio from school assigned projects, personal interest projects (e.g. a book cover you designed on your own for your favourite novel), ideas (sketchbook, concept/idea book, etc.), development/variations of ideas (design process documentation), extra curricular art/design classes and professional work where appropriate.