2 years ago
Admissions Advice

design and applied arts...is it a good major?

hi everyone! I am a rising junior and although I know I have a fair amount of time before I have to choose a major and school, I want to plan ahead and started looking a few months ago. before I continue, here's some things about me that might help answer my (sort of broad) question:

- I have always been interested in art (not necessarily "drawing" or "painting" per sae, but art in general).

- I am going to be a part of a graphic design program at my school this year (although, sadly it's fully virtual thru at least January 28).

- I am also interested in interior design or decorating.

- in school, I seem to lean more towards the humanities (like English and history) than science and math.

- I don't think I want to go to an art school (like Pratt, MICA, or SCAD) because I feel like that's not the type of college experience I want.

so, design and applied arts has come up a couple of times when I'm looking at majors that involve design in general. I've also come across graphic design and interior design separately/in general. from what I've read about design and applied arts, it allows students to explore many fields of design, including graphic and interior, but also things like game, product, and fashion design. it seems like this is a very versatile major and might allow me to find what field I'm the most passionate about, but also be (quote literally) applied to many careers.

one of the few negative things I've found in this major is that there are not very many schools that offer it in the region I want to be in (mid-Atlantic/eastern/northeast) that fit other aspects of a school I'd want to attend (like midsize-large and not necessarily a big name college, but not a small or lesser-known one either).

but, one of my top schools, Penn State, does offer this major which is a huge plus for me. I grew up in the area of the campus so it's like home to me.

does anyone have experience in any of these fields and have any advice or notes about it? is this a good major? does it seem like my interests would line up with this major? are there any similar majors that I haven't found yet that could be a good fit? any general advice in my college search or anything pertaining to admissions, etc.?

thanks, everyone!

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1 answer

2 years ago[edited]


I think your interests definitely seem to align with this major, so just make sure that your resume(your activities & classes) align with this. What are you looking to do with this kind of major? It definitely can be a wonderful major depending on your career goals! I think it would be fantastic as long as your

My personal view is that any major is of value as long as you enjoy and feel that it will have a use for you! Don't let anyone tell you that any major is not useful, because they all are, just for different things!

In terms of profile alignment try to take some of the following classes if your school offers them AND if they interest you, don't take them if they don't!(no big deal if they aren't offered though, it won't affect you negatively at all):

AP Drawing

AP 2-D Art & Design

AP 3-D Art & Design

AP Art History

AP Drawing

AP Research --> you could choose to do research on an arts related topic if arts research interests you.

If you are interested in these types of classes, but they are not offered at your school, take a look at Beyond the Five. They offer free AP/IB/ICGSCE & elective classes during the year until June. They have a few that I thought might interest you: Engineering Design, AP Art History, Web Development, Intro to Photoshop & Lightroom, Introduction to Video Game History, and Video Editing.

If you like graphic design you might have interest in user interface/experience design(making websites and other computer programs accessible for the public and easy for use as well as attractive to consumers), industrial product design(mostly design of products for functionality, aesthetic, appeal, etc.), maybe marketing(designing ads/campaign graphics or the storyboards), illustration (which can be for newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) computer aided design(very similar to user interface/experience design), fashion apparel design (can be anything from typical fashion as well as promotional garments, etc.), film animator(graphics & animation for movies/tv shows, etc.).

Also some careers that you could get with a graphic design major, just in case you are unsure how versatile it can be: art director, Creative Director

Drafter (Architecture and Engineering), Film and Video Editor, Graphic Designer, Logo designer, Industrial/Product Designer, Marketing Manager, Multimedia Artist/Animator, Technical Writer, Web Designer.

With an interior design major:

interior designer, architect, art director, floral designer

With an art, design & applied arts major:

museum curator/director, arts/architecture professor, art teacher, photographer, graphic designer, interior designer, art director, fashion designer, multimedia artist/animator

In terms of colleges, here are a few that are often highly regarded for their arts programs:

Carnegie Mellon

Northeastern University





Edited for more info.


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