Design Management (BA)

In Columbia College Chicago’s Design Management bachelor’s degree program, you’ll learn the business of design. Thousands of creative agencies work with clients to design inventive products, software, marketing, and more. This work requires research, strategy, and leadership. As a Design Management major, you’ll learn how to work with clients. You’ll take management courses tailored to the creative industries, and you’ll learn how various business models in the design industry are structured for freelancers, small companies, and large firms.


Collaboration is at the heart of good design. Working with students from different departments, you’ll implement design solutions for real clients. You’ll learn 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.

In the Classroom

In your first year, you’ll gain foundational knowledge that will be vital to your success in the creative industry. Your core business courses will be tailored to the arts and media fields and will cover topics such as marketing, management, and economics.

You’ll also take a 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 study 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.

By your last year, you’ll be building a resume and practicing what you’ve learned. You’ll put your knowledge to work in courses like Project Management and Negotiation Strategies.

Real-World Experience

Design Management majors learn by doing. They lead teams to create solutions for real companies and organizations. In the Creative Agency Practicum, you’ll work for a real client. You’ll collaborate on a creative communications campaign, honing your skills in client management, advertising, branding, graphic design, marketing, and research.


Your real-world experience won’t just be in 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 have opportunities to support the work of others and help foster a creative culture and design-minded environment with students on professional projects across campus.


Columbia College Chicago faculty members bring their expertise into the classroom. They not only study the latest management theory, they work as entrepreneurs, producers, agents, board members, and administrators. They know what students need to learn to get ahead, shaping their understanding of what’s next in the creative industries.

Chicago: A Cultural Hub


Chicago is home to hundreds of 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 your experience working with and leading dynamic teams will give you an edge as you network in and explore the field.

All Columbia College Chicago students have free access to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, so you’ll have opportunities to be inspired every day.


There are countless opportunities in design management. At Columbia, you’ll learn about the jobs that are available to you and that fit your interests. You’ll also visit 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 such as

  • Crate & Barrel
  • Greenhouse Loft
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Grey House Productions
  • Sprout Social
  • IDEO

Alumni Success

Columbia College Chicago alumni are on the forefront of rapidly changing creative industries. They work at theatre companies and talent agencies and world-class museums, galleries, and concert venues. They produce festivals and theatrical productions. They’re shaping not only the future of their fields but the very role of art in our society, and they’re always looking for Columbia grads to join their teams.

Jobs in Design Management

Wondering what you can do with a degree in Design Management? Here are just a few of the professional roles and entrepreneurial ventures our graduates succeed in:

  • Designer
  • Account manager 
  • Design manager
  • Art director
  • Project manager
  • Creative director

Graphic Design Minor
Although Design Management majors work in all kinds of industries, many of them pursue a minor in Graphic Design. The Graphic Design minor covers both digital and traditional graphic design. You’ll learn creative and conceptual processes and computer-based skills that will enable you to design powerful messages with typography, layout, image editing, illustration, color theory, and more. 

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