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Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design

York University/Sheridan College Program in Design

Become one of the creative design leaders of the future.

This program is not currently offered.

Learning Outcomes

Our students demonstrate their talent and dedication by consistently receiving recognition in regional, national and international competitions and awards programs. Our alumni reflect the excellence of the program by working in top design firms, agencies and organizations worldwide or through further studies in national and international graduate programs. Many also start their own businesses and engage in entrepreneurial initiatives.

The York/Sheridan Program in Design has seven areas of concentration in the curriculum, reflecting the rich scope of design activity in the graphic design industry:

  • Visual Communication Design
  • History, Theory and Criticism
  • Typography
  • Information Design
  • 3-Dimensional Design and Packaging
  • Interaction Design and Motion Graphics
  • Professional Practice

Visual Communication Design

Students begin by exploring the elements and principles of visual language in design. Different methods of generating and manipulating images are investigated with consideration given to form, content and communication potential. Various design theories and methodologies are integrated into the process assisting students in the development of effective communications involving different audiences and specific media. Students solve two-dimensional, three-dimensional and interactive design problems of increasing complexity as their skills and knowledge develop. By their final year, design students are expected to produce highly refined visual solutions and apply strategic thinking to the creation of research-based projects that address a variety of communication contexts and audiences.

History, Theory and Criticism

The integration of design studies courses in the program supports the development of critical thinking: students develop confidence in their ability to analyze text, imagery and various types of design artifacts; understand cultural and historical contexts, and use this understanding to inform the development and evaluation of their work.

Students are introduced to many of the central themes of critical theory as applied to visual culture in general, and to graphic design in particular. Functional objects, past and present, are examined in relation to the process of design, conditions of the time, the problems met, and important influences. In addition, theory and methods, and applications of both qualitative and quantitative design research are explored.


Students learn about the history and development of letter forms and the changing technologies that affect the crafting of messages leading up to and including contemporary print and digital design. Typographic vocabulary, systems of measurement, prioritization of information and issues of readability and legibility are examined. By their fourth year, students are able to design and customize letter forms, work with complex textual information to produce clear, accessible hierarchies of information and are able to work with typography in print contexts as well as in time-based and interactive media to add further dynamic qualities to typographic expression.

Information Design

Students are introduced to theories and methods to facilitate clarity and understanding using a wide range of complex textual and visual information. In projects, students learn processes for various modes of visualization and content including data, time-based sequences, networks and maps. With a series of four dedicated studio courses and a related history course, the York/Sheridan Program in Design has arguably the most comprehensive concentration on information design within a graphic design program in North America.

Interaction Design and Motion Graphics

Students explore various forms of interactivity by designing visual representations of human-computer interfaces, based on theories and models of interaction. They develop a conceptual and technical framework for approaching interactive design projects and have ample opportunities through projects to actively explore motion and interactivity across various platforms. They also can develop skills with video, animation and time-based narrative.

In Year 3, students undertake projects in mobile application design that include research, information architecture and visual design of websites that adapt to multiple screen resolutions, from smart phone to desktop. Innovations in our curriculum include Design in Interactive Environments, a Year 4 interactivity course which introduces students to principles of physical computing and experiments with electronics, sensors and programming environments.

3D Design

Students are introduced to fundamental principles and processes of three-dimensional design. The projects emphasize the role of three-dimensionality in visual communications disciplines such as packaging, environmental design and exhibit design.

Professional Practice

Students are introduced to current design business practices and ethics. Between Years 3 and 4, students are required to complete a three-week placement in an approved professional design environment. The areas of professional responsibility, accreditation, presentation techniques, portfolio preparation, branding and promotion, culminate in the planning and implementation of an annual graduation exhibition.

The program is closely related to current graphic design practice. All Year 3 and 4 students are members of the professional association for graphic designers in Ontario, the RGD, which holds a major annual conference, as well as other events throughout the year.