Columbia College Chicago

Design Management, BA

Thousands of creative agencies work with clients to design inventive marketing, software, products and communications. This work requires research, strategy and leadership. As a Design Management major, you’ll learn how to interact effectively with clients to set goals, communicate and implement plans. You’ll take management courses that are tailored specifically to the creative industries, and you’ll learn how various business models are structured for freelancers, small businesses and large firms.

Collaboration is at the core of good design. Working with teams across campus, you’ll implement design solutions for real clients. You’ll learn how to research: how to conduct interviews and collect data to better understand the user experience. You’ll learn how to plan, track and launch projects—from idea to testing to implementation. And you’ll build a portfolio of experience that will give you a leg up in this growing and competitive field.

What to Expect Your First Year

In your first year, you’ll gain foundational knowledge that will be vital to your success in the creative industry. You’ll take core business courses in topics such as marketing, management and economics. But these aren’t your average business courses. We tailor them to the arts and media fields, so each example and scenario will make sense for the unique landscape of the creative industries.

You’ll also take a jam-packed survey course called Business of Design. This course will give you the lay of the land: current trends, opportunities, threats and themes emerging in the field. You’ll explore how different companies and agencies are structured and meet with guest speakers and Columbia alumni to get a sense of what the work looks like day to day.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your last year at Columbia, you’ll be honing your skill set and building a resume. You’ll put your knowledge to work in courses like Project Management and Negotiation Strategies. During your practicum course, you’ll run a creative agency project with other students and faculty. You’ll work with designers and clients to conceive, budget, model and present design solutions.

You’ll be encouraged to intern. Chicago is home to hundreds of design-focused companies and creative agencies that focus on technology, software, architecture, product design, photography production, entertainment, marketing and branding. Your understanding of the design process and experience working with and leading dynamic teams will give you an edge as you network in and explore the field.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia is home to a rich community of designers, makers and creatives. You’ll be in courses and student groups with graphic and web designers, illustrators, interior architects, photographers, musicians, writers and media artists. You’ll work closely with students in other disciplines, including Design, Photography, and Art and Art History. You’ll have the opportunity to join teams and support the work of others as you help foster a creative culture and design-minded environment as students across campus collaborate and produce professional work.

At Columbia, our campus is the city of Chicago. You’ll have many opportunities to interact with art and design projects, events and conferences. You’ll gain access to a community of professionals who are on the forefront of the industry. They’re committed to fostering a sense of inclusion among up-and-coming designers and strategic thinkers from Columbia and other institutions around the city.

What are my internship options?

There are countless opportunities in the growing and evolving design management field. You’ll learn about the jobs available to you—and which fields make sense for your interest. You’ll also go on site visits to some of Chicago’s top companies and get an in-the-studio look at the work that goes into design management. Columbia students have interned at companies including Crate & Barrel, Greenhouse Loft, Ogilvy & Mather, Grey House Productions, Sprout Social and IDEO.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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