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139 Cognitive Science Building

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice.


This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past twenty-five years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: health care and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all-encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences, and the arts.

Our goal is to create an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory, and making UC San Diego a world leader in design theory and integrative programs.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of thinking, observing, and making (TOM). We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach: thinking and making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

The Undergraduate Program

Minor in Design

The minor’s focus is on design as a way of thinking, one based on an iterative cycle of field observation, problem finding, and evaluating alternative solutions and trade-offs by prototyping and testing. The primary objective of the minor is to enable students from any division and major to diversify their studies and incorporate design-thinking skills into their academic experience.

To receive a minor in design, the student must complete at least twenty-eight units of which twenty must be upper division. All courses must be taken for letter grade, with at least a “C–” earned in each one, with the exception of DSGN 119 and 195, which are taken Pass/Not Pass. We suggest the following courses to give you the best understanding of the discipline of design:

Lower-Division Requirements

Choose one from this group:

  • DSGN 1. Design of Everyday Things (4)

And choose one from this group:

  • COGS 10. Cognitive Consequences of Technology (4)
  • COMM 10. Introduction to Communication (4)
  • MAE 3. Introduction to Engineering Graphics and Design (4)
  • VIS 30. Introduction to Speculative Design (4)

Upper-Division Requirements

Choose one of the studio sequences:

  • Cognitive Design: COGS 102B-C
  • Critical Design: COMM 124A-B
  • Design for Development: ENG 100D and 100L
  • Interaction Design: COGS 120 and 121
  • Information Design: COGS 187A-B
  • Speculative Design: VIS 100 and 100A or VIS 101 and 101A