Foundations for your first year

The undergraduate coursework in the College of Design is divided into two phases: the first-year Core Design Program and the professional or general degree program.

All first-year students – except pre-Scientific Illustration and Visualization (SIV) and pre-Community and Regional Planning (CRP) majors – complete the Core Design Program before advancing into any of the professional degree programs.

The Core Design Program is designed to allow you to make an informed degree choice, apply to multiple programs at the end of your first year, and experiment with interdisciplinary work, all while collaborating with peers from every area of the college.

Two male students working on Wearables project for Design 102 class.

Plan of study

The first-year Core Design Program consists of 13 credits of design coursework – distributed across the fall and spring semesters – and offers a broad spectrum of foundational knowledge. This coursework creates a shared experience and community that introduce students to all majors within the College of Design.

  • Learning Community Image

    Learning communities

    All Core students participate in one of our two learning communities: the year-long, residential Design Exchange in Friley and Helser halls, or the one-semester, nonresidential Design Collaborative. Our learning communities connect you with other students new to the College of Design to help you develop friendships with people who share and understand your experiences.

  • Student Projects and Exhibitions

    Student projects and exhibitions

    The Core Design Program leads students through hands-on projects that encourage collaboration, problem solving, innovative thinking, and creativity. Work generated is often displayed and celebrated through exhibitions.

Major application

Once students have completed the Core Design Program – earning a minimum 2.00 cumulative grade point average and having completed at least 31 credit hours – they may apply to a professional degree program. Community and Regional Planning and the BA in Art do not require an application; students can enroll directly in these programs.

College of Design student researching.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.