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Design Courses in Seattle with School and Degree Overviews

Research design programs in Seattle, which currently has more than ten schools offering programs. Read an overview of certificate and degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three Seattle schools, all within 15 miles of downtown Seattle, and decide which program is right for you.

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Seattle Design Schools

Students in Seattle can find a broad range of design programs in the region. This article examines three schools that are no more than 15 minutes from downtown Seattle and looks at the certificate and degree programs they offer. Also included is a table of important information that students need to know when making a school choice. At the end of the article is a little information about several other Seattle-area schools with design programs.

  • Bellevue College, 10 miles from downtown, offers design programs at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Students at this school can study Web, graphic or interior design.
  • At Seattle Community College's Central Campus, in the heart of downtown, students can learn Web design through certificate and associate's degree studies. Programs at this school include professional work experience and cover the technical aspects of design.
  • At Seattle Pacific University, just four miles from the city center, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design degree while focusing in either interior design or interior merchandising. While attending this program, students have the option to study at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles through a partnership program.

Comparison of Schools

Individuals looking for a design school need to look at many factors, such as school costs, enrollment numbers and retention rates. The following table offers a quick way to compare these three schools.

Bellevue College Seattle Central College Seattle Pacific University
School Type 4-year, primarily associate's, public 4-year, primarily associate's, public 4-year, private nonprofit
Total Enrollment (2017) 13,322* 6,928* 3,783*
Campus Setting Midsize city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $3,699 in-state, $9,052 out-of-state* $3,795* $40,893*
% of Full-Time First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 49%* 64%* 98%*
Acceptance Rate (2017-2018) N/A - Open admissions N/A - Open admissions 91%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) N/A N/A 79% for full time students*
Graduation Rate with 150% of Normal Time (for students beginning in 2011) 24% (22% transfer-out rate)* 25% (24% transfer-out rate)* 69%*

Source: *College Navigator, NCES

Bellevue College

Bellevue College primarily offers 2-year degree programs. However, the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Interior Design degree program is among the 4-year choices available. Students can also earn an associate's degree in this field or a certificate in Web or graphic design.

Graphic Design Certificate

The 246.5-hour program offered through continuing education includes both art and technical courses. Students learn basic concepts and how to apply them using graphic design software tools. Students are required to take typography, business, portfolio review and Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop courses. Elective coursework covers drawing, digital techniques and portfolio classes for specialty work like logo, brochure, catalog, CD or direct mail projects.

Web Design Certificate

This program is also offered through continuing education. It requires 177 hours and can be completed in three quarters of full-time study or three years of part-time study. Required courses cover HTML, cascading style sheets, Web graphics, search engine optimization and scripting. Electives may include color, mobile design, WordPress or Adobe software. Electives include graphic design fundamentals, Web analytics and software programs like InDesign, Flash and Illustrator.

Associate in Arts in Interior Studies

The interior studies program includes foundational coursework, design studios, communication classes and hands-on work with technical applications. Students must complete general education, social science and logic-based courses in addition to core interior studies courses. Major coursework includes architecture, color, drawing, 2- and 3-dimensional design and contract documents. Five credits of art history must also be taken. While it's an open-door program as far as admission, some classes may have prerequisites.

Bachelor of Applied Arts in Interior Design

Students who have completed the associate's degree in interior studies at this school or possess an associate's degree in a related field can complete the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Interior Design degree program. This 2-year program builds upon the basic design and general education courses covered in an associate's degree program. Core courses explore interiors and furniture, lighting, design research, and professional practices and principles. Students must also complete capstone design studios and a practicum that provides professional work experience. Additional electives, design studios and non-major coursework are also required.

Seattle Central College

Seattle Central College is located in the heart of downtown Seattle. At this school, students can study apparel, graphic or Web design.

Web Design Certificate

The Web Design Certificate is a 72-credit program that includes technical and creative coursework. Students must take prerequisite coursework in information systems concepts and computer applications. Core courses include database development, Web authoring, typography for the Web, Adobe software, animation, theories of Web design and writing for the Web. Work experience and information technology electives are also required.

Associate of Applied Science Transfer in Web Design

This is a 102-credit degree program that is intended for students seeking to transfer after two years and complete a bachelor's degree program. The curriculum includes creative and technical coursework in topics such as database development, Web authoring, typography, Javascript, Internet law and user-centered Web design. Students must also complete a capstone course, technical classes covering industry software and social science, math and communications requirements.

Seattle Pacific University

At Seattle Pacific University, students can study design by completing the Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design program. Students must apply for admission to this major offered by the Family and Consumer Sciences Department.

Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design

This school's BA in Interior Design program offers two tracks: interior design or interior merchandising. Both include art, business and social science coursework. The interior design track includes design studios, textiles, CAD, art history and drawing courses, as well as an internship. The interior merchandising option incorporates financial accounting, spreadsheets and presentation skills. Marketing and management coursework and an internship are also required in this track. Those who complete the year at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising during their senior year through the Professional Designation Program can graduate with an AA degree from FIDM and their BA from Seattle Pacific University; they also qualify for associate membership in American Society of Interior Designers.

Other School Options

Cornish College of the Arts is located in downtown Seattle. The design department offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degree concentrations in interior, motion and visual communication design. At Edmonds Community College, students can study graphic design on a campus that is about 15 miles from Seattle. Everett Community College is located roughly 35 miles north of Seattle and offers an array of design programs in fields such as computer-aided design, graphic design and Web design. Highline Community College provides interior design programs and is located 18 miles outside of Seattle. Lake Washington Institute of Technology offers a variety of applied design programs and is located 15 miles outside of Seattle.

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