Department of Design

Message From the Interim Chair

Thinking about (and learning from) the Japanese ‘ma (間)’ as the “emptiness and energy” space - full of possibilities.

We are living in a space and through a time of great change. For designers, with a bias towards action, such an ‘in-between’ of change means opportunity as we adapt to thrive. The Department of Design offers you a place and space for that action.

The faculty of the Department of Design are amazing and experienced. They will surprise and impress you – as you will surprise and impress them. In Design, we are a team, and you, supported by the staff, the numerous university resources, and your peers, are on a journey to do things you cannot yet imagine. Here you will find a point of departure, a point to return to, space to experiment, and a catalytic place of learning by doing to create things yet unseen. We see design as a service: serving progress and inclusivity in society, serving the needs of others, serving the environment, and creating value through innovation.

Designers, when thinking, think first about empathy. Empathy for difference, empathy borne out of optimism that we can make the world a better place, in both big and small ways. When we move from thinking about design towards doing design, we begin with discovery – we discard assumptions and we question the question. This is the path to creative innovation.

As designers, our skills are built upon a foundation in art and artisanship, science, on an understanding of the human condition and human history – all enhanced by technology. Those skills are powerful tools of storytelling and ‘can make change irresistible’ for the future. We must employ those powerful tools with intention, aligning the stories we tell to our values as residents of a shared world. 

As designers, we have a great responsibility; our bias towards action leaves a mark on the world. We are accountable to people, to the planet, and to creating value. Everything we make, every system we develop, every space we shape, and every experience we create has a direct impact on our environment, on opportunity and inclusion, on accessibility, diversity, on well-being, and on joy. 

Join us in the Department of Design. You are part of a community that is shaping the future. At Cal State Long Beach, you will make an impact locally, globally, creating value for others and for yourself.  The Department of Design is your space full of possibilities, your home base, and place to grow, develop, and to test the innovative ideas of the future. 


Heather Barker, Interim Chair



The Department of Design offers four degree programs, a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design (BS), a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design (BFA), and a Bachelor of Arts in Design (BA), with a fourth beginning in the Fall of 2019 the Master of Arts in Human Experience Design Interactions (MA_HXDI). The faculty believe that an appropriate education for the professional designer must include a comprehensive body of technical knowledge involving historical sources, tools, techniques, and materials. In addition, a methodology for encouraging the creative problem solving process; and the attainment of the requisite level of skill to express visual ideas with clarity must be obtained. While being fully equipped to meet the objectives of the global marketplace, today’s designer must also achieve sufficient educational breadth to adapt successfully to the varying demands imposed on their work by economic, social and psychological factors. A competitive portfolio review is held each year to identify students whose work has reached a level of competence necessary to advance to junior and senior-level courses in Industrial Design and Interior Design. After passing portfolio requirements, selected students are officially admitted to the BS and BFA programs. The BA program is open to all students.

The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design is comprised of 120 semester units. The program prepares designers for professional practice, whose function will be to help shape the products and systems produced by industrial processes. The curriculum includes studies in rapid visualization, aesthetics, materials and processes, presentation techniques, design methodology, product development, human factors, product costing, and financing principles. Students often have an opportunity to work directly with industry professionals through internships or as team members on sponsored projects. Participating companies have included Oakley, Xerox, Unisys, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, NCR, Apple, Chrysler, General Motors, Hitachi, Toyota, Kawasaki, InFocus, Compaq and Nike. Graduates have found positions in a wide variety of industries, including motion picture special effects, medical and dental equipment, computer and microchip technology, small appliances, as well as air, water and land transportation.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design is comprised of 132 semester units. The program provides a framework within which students can fully immerse themselves in a critical examination of the social, cultural, and environmental awareness while giving visual form to their investigations. The program has an international reputation, attracting undergraduate students from around the world. It supports opportunities for employment in the professional practice of interior design and helps to prepare those who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree. A diverse curriculum of lecture and studio courses develops a student's cognitive ability to analyze design challenges of a complex nature. Issues of graphic communication, project analysis, programming, space planning, design and selection of interior components are presented in a logical sequence. Instruction emphasizes the three-dimensional possibilities of sculpting interior space from conceptual ideas. Courses consist of lectures, demonstrations, and critiques of works-in-progress. Professional designers and educators from outside the department visit regularly to lecture and review student projects.

The Bachelor of Arts in Design is comprised of 120 semester units and structured for students who seek a broad understanding and application of design with an opportunity to select a specific area of interest. The purpose of this degree is to provide a forward-thinking liberal arts degree where students will take a variety of core courses in design theory, art and design history, lighting design, display and exhibition design, interior design, graphic design, industrial design, and furniture design. In addition to receiving a foundation through the core courses, the curriculum enables students to focus in one of these areas: lighting design, furniture design,rendering and modeling, display and exhibition, or design history. The degree is advantageous to design students who would like a degree in an alternative design area, or who wish to pursue study in a graduate program.

The Master of Arts in Human Experience Design Interactions (MA_HXDI) is comprised of 33 semester units. The program prepares students and/or returning professionals from diverse undergraduate backgrounds for advanced multidisciplinary design work in careers of their choice. Through the MA_HXDI program, students will develop expertise in the tools and methods of experience design as a strategy for making and adding value to systems, products, spaces, and services. Through a diverse faculty and collaborations with leading organizations, students will use cutting-edge technology tools while developing novel solutions to complex challenges. These tools provide both the quantitative data to support the qualitative research of human-centered design, as well as the digital interactions of contemporary human communication and experience. This ‘theory plus practice’ approach prepares students to smoothly transition into the broad spectrum of professional design roles, from design research to interaction design. Through research labs in the department of design, students have the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary research, independently and through collaborations with business, government, education, entertainment, health care, and technology organizations. These collaborations provide students with highly sought after knowledge and skills for advanced design work.

The department’s academic facilities provide dedicated and controlled access semi-private studio workspaces. These studios are available twenty-four hours a day to all students who have passed portfolio review in the industrial and interior design programs. Each studio workspace provides Ethernet and wireless access to the Internet through the university server. In addition, several dedicated studios and design laboratories are provided for student use. These facilities include: two Computer Labs, a Multimedia Lab (with large format printing capabilities), a Metal/Plastic and Wood Shop, and three Materials Resource Libraries. The facilities also house a Rapid Prototyping machine (RP) and a Computer Numerical Control machine (CNC), for generating precise models.