Design: Adult Education in the Design Professions

There are many different specialties in the design field for students to choose from: graphic design, fashion design, interior design, landscape design, floral design, or commercial and industrial design, among others. Whichever area of design you'd like to specialize in, you can find a program at a college, university, trade school, art school, or school of design that will fit your needs.

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Adults have several options for design education at colleges and universities across the country. Learn about three of these institutions to find out which kinds of programs each offers.

Schools and Programs

Adult education in the design professions will vary by program and area of study. Students can choose from a multitude of certificate programs, in addition to standalone courses. Find out more about your options for studying design by reading about the courses offered at three sample schools.

Schools At a Glance

Massachusetts College of Art & Design

  • This school is located in Boston, MA.
  • A 4-year public institution, it offers certificate programs in design.

Ferris State University

  • This school is located in Big Rapids, MI.
  • This 4-year public only offers standalone courses in design.

The New School

  • This university is located in New York, NY.
  • A 4-year private school, it offers several standalone design courses.

Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Massachusetts College of Art & Design offers a Graphic Design Certificate program that is intended for working adults who wish to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for a career in graphic design. In addition to the graphic design program, the school also offers certificates in fashion design, furniture design, and industrial design. A few of the graphic design courses are described below.

Typography Course

This course features a study of basic letter forms, and students learn about concepts such as information hierarchy, typographic contrast, significant type families, and the history of design and typographic grids. Students also focus on skills related to typesetting and typographic layout.

Graphic Design I Course

This introductory course provides an explanation of fundamental elements of graphic design, such as shape, composition, texture, and color.

Print Production Course

Students in this course will learn about the basics of print production, with course topics including terminology and methods, preflight work, font management, color use, and print cost estimates.

Ferris State University

Through its Kendall College of Art and Design, this school offers noncredit continuing studies courses for adults looking to learn about design. Offerings vary throughout the year; here are a few examples:

Digital Sound Design Course

This course introduces students to the basic concepts related to sound design and music creation. Students will interact with several digital media environments.

Interior Design Course

Aspiring interior designers can take this course and explore topics such as color principles, lighting, space planning, architecture, and furniture arrangement. This flexible course prepares students to work in both residential and commercial settings.

Adobe InDesign Course

Careers involving digital design use a number of software applications, and InDesign is one of the most prominent. Students can learn about this application through this course as they learn how to develop layouts, format text, create PDFs, add photos, and prepare files for print.

The New School

The New School has several courses available for students looking to enhance their knowledge of design through the Parsons School of Design. Both credit and noncredit options are available, as well as complimentary certificate programs for each. Courses are offered in several design fields, with options that include:

Digital Design Course

Digital design courses are designed to be flexible, allowing for adjustments to account for students of all skill levels. Focusing on technical training, the course builds foundational skills for this kind of design and emphasizes creativity.

Fashion Business Course

Merging business and fashion, fashion business courses teach elementary business principles through the perspective of the fashion industry. Students learn about marketing and have the skills to work in several roles within the industry upon completion. Certificates can be completed in an online or hybrid format in addition to traditional on-campus.

Fine Art, Foundation, and Photography Course

This course focuses on the art aspect of design, preparing them for many different roles within the field. Beginners and newcomers can learn valuable fundamental skills to help them in developing their own style. More experienced students can also benefit by building upon their knowledge and exploring new opportunities and experiences through the course.

The Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Ferris State College, and The New School are three options for adult design education, with options ranging from standalone courses to certificate programs.

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