University’s first Design BFA degree set for fall 2015

Degree will serve growing job sector

Mason Gross School of the Arts is set to launch Rutgers University’s first Design BFA degree in fall 2015.

The undergraduate design degree is open to incoming and prospective Visual Arts Department BFA students. Interested students and their families may learn more about the degree and other Visual Arts offerings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the Civic Square Building.

“This new degree is significant in that it allows undergraduate students to gain from the rich fine arts curriculum at Mason Gross while also developing a rigorous design practice,” says Jacqueline Thaw, Associate Professor in Design. “We’ve seen that this combination leads dedicated students to multi-faceted, creative, and satisfying design careers.”

The aim, Thaw says, is for design students to develop “innovative and meaningful ways of communicating ideas in a wide range of media and engage critically in contemporary culture,” via print and digital platforms.  

The new degree provides a broad foundation in the liberal arts as well as intensive training in the field of design, an area of the economy that continues to flourish in New York and New Jersey. According to O*Net Online, the design sector will experience continued growth in New Jersey alone, with an estimated 8,520 jobs by 2022.

Design studio courses will focus on context and audience in formats that include books, branding, and interactive design.

At upper levels, students will work on real-world assignments that are meant to hone their sense of design in the everyday, via an internship or other practice-based projects. In addition, they will study the history of design and key issues in contemporary practice. In their final year, students undertake a thesis, in which they create a project that becomes public, in the form of a website, book, an app, or other format. 

Gerry Beegan, Visual Arts Chair and Design faculty, adds “We’re very excited about this new BFA, which will enable students to navigate an ever-changing landscape of design production over a lifetime of practice.”

The Mason Gross Visual Arts Department now offers four degrees: BFA in Design, a BFA in Visual Arts, a BA in Art, and an MFA in Visual Arts.

More information about the October 24 Visual Arts Open House, which features an information session with faculty as well as student-led facility tours at the Civic Square Building, 33 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, is available by calling 848-932-5399 or by emailing Open Studios will take place that day from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Civic Square Building, as current grad students open their work spaces to the public. More information about the program is available by calling Mason Gross Admissions at 848-932-5269 or by emailing

To view current MFA in Visual Arts students' design work (as well as works in photography, painting, sculpture, multi-media and more), visit our student work page.

Photo by Matt Rainey for Mason Gross School of the Arts

Posted August 2015