What is a Design Major and is it Right for Me?

Are all of your Instagram posts works of art? Do you love going above and beyond when drawing on Snapchat photos? Is Photoshop your second home?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider becoming a design major, where you’ll be able to learn about the principles of design, the mediums people use to create those designs and the history of art as a whole.

What is a design major?

Contrary to popular belief, being a design major is about more than just creating pretty things. It’s both an art and science, and many of your classes will deal with both of these over the course of your college career.

Design majors take courses in several different areas of study including art history, modeling, drafting, computer programming, studio art, typography and more.

Is it right for me?

If you’re still trying to decide if a design major is the right path for you, here are several key questions to ask yourself.

  • Am I able to receive and incorporate constructive criticism from my professors as well as my peers? Am I excited to share my work with others, or do I dread it? Do I have a thick skin?
  • Am I a team player when I have to work with peers on projects?
  • Do I like spending a lot of time alone working on my designs?
  • Am I ready and willing to still spend time on academic parts of the major and put as much time and effort into them as my art?
  • Do I have a keen eye for design and know when art looks “good” and when it doesn’t?
  • What can I do with a design degree?

For art-minded students, graduating with a design degree can open up a huge number of potential career options, including positions like illustrator, animator, art director, graphic designer, fashion designer, photographer, marketing professional, textile maker, programmer, web designer, video game designer and theater/set designer.

What do designers earn?

Because they’re in a creative field, design careers vary greatly, and therefore so do their salaries. A typical entry-level graphic designer earns around $40,000 but this could vary based on where you live (for instance, in New York City versus St. Louis) and if you’re working for a larger firm or independently as a freelancer.

Moreover, many people who major in design (especially recent grads) often take on lots of freelance projects at the beginning of their careers, which means income may be inconsistent from month to month. That doesn’t mean your total earnings will be low; it just means they could vary over time.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Design Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job.