Strategic Design Fellows

This program is also open to Studio Art majors. Learn more about the program.

Do you want to:

  • Explore your creative side while taking classes in the business school?
  • Enjoy the challenge of solving problems by empathizing with the customer?
  • Develop design literacy by learning how to identify good design?
  • Strengthen crucial business skills such as creative problem solving through design thinking?
  • Connect with SDF alumni return to campus, in-person and virtually, to share their expertise and remain as networking connections for the undergraduates?

Design thinking is a hot topic in today’s business world. Design thinkers focus on five steps: empathizing with the customer to learn what the real issues are that need to be solved, defining the problem, ideating by brainstorming, making lists, writing down ideas and generating possible solutions, creating a plan and then testing the idea and seeking feedback from others. This is what Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows is all about.

Teams of juniors in BMGT458A will create retail concepts and pitch their ideas to a set of real estate developers. In the senior year, SDF students will rebrand existing companies or products and develop campaigns for promoting the rebranding efforts. They, too, will pitch their ideas to seasoned businesspersons for feedback.

In addition, during the fall of their junior year, students will receive instruction on the Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop) and complete a personal branding project among other projects worthy of a portfolio. The program also offers an advanced course in computer graphics where students learn Figma and InVision. Juniors complete BMGT458A with an online portfolio to help them obtain internships and full-time employment.

Design literacy, the ability to identify and appreciate good design, also plays a prominent role in the program. Students will learn design principles and best practices that can be applied to the design of products, packaging, interactive websites, UX, wayfinding, retail stores, workplaces, presentations, graphics, and fashion.

The program’s curriculum and co-curricular activities are designed to produce business leaders who can generate strategically sound and creative design decisions. Strategic Design Fellows will master the creative problem-solving and innovative thinking skills and experiences along with marketing strategy and design techniques needed to be competitive in today’s job market. This program is intentionally interdisciplinary, with mutual benefit to be gained by collaboration between marketing students and design students in developing creative business solutions.

Mary Harms is the faculty champion for this program.

Curriculum: Two-Year Program

Please note that there is no spring coursework for this Fellows program. Required curriculum is scheduled during consecutive fall semesters.

  • BMGT350 Principles of Marketing (fall of year 1 unless already completed)
  • BMGT458A Design and Innovation in Marketing (fall of year 1)
  • BMGT458Q Special Topics in Marketing: Computer Graphics Workshop (fall of year 1; business majors only) OR BMGT458R Special Topics in Marketing: Advanced Computer Graphics Workshop (fall of year 1)*
    This course is intended for students new/minimally proficient in graphic design programs. Students will:
    • Be introduced to computer graphics and visual communication principles.
    • Explore fundamental design principles through digital visual communication projects.
    • Use the technology tools of InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop for photo manipulation, digital illustration and page layout
    • *Incoming design fellows with a basic knowledge of creating page layout in InDesign, using the pen tool in Illustrator and sizing images for print and web in Photoshop may opt to take BMGT458R, which provides more advanced training in these programs, instead of BMGT458Q. Second-year design fellows and incoming studio art majors may opt to take BMGT458R, but it is not required.
  • BMGT458B Design Applications in Marketing and Branding (fall of Year 2)
  • OPTIONAL BMGT458R Special Topics in Marketing: Advanced Computer Graphics Workshop (fall of Year 2)
    • This course is a follow-up to BMGT458Q or for more advanced design students who are comfortable creating page layout in InDesign, using the pen tool in Illustrator and sizing images for print and web in Photoshop. Students will:
    • Improve proficiency in computer graphics and visual communication principles.
    • Use the technology tools of InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Figma, and InVision.

Co-Curricular Activities/Events

Overnight and one-day excursions to New York City, DC, Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, as well as alumni dinners and the annual graduation banquet are an integral and exciting part of this program and are scheduled as often as possible.

Guest speakers representing a wide array of industry professionals are often invited to share career advice and oftentimes, extend mentorship and internship opportunities at companies such as:

  • VCU's BrandCenter
  • Discovery
  • YouTube
  • Hilton
  • Urban - Anthropologie
  • Lippincott
  • Pearlfisher
  • User Works, Inc.
  • CapitalOne
  • Granicus
  • GreenBuzz
  • AdWeek
  • Microsoft

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be a marketing major or a Studio Art design major (Note: Students will be selected by faculty champion. Design students will be chosen on the basis of their portfolio submissions, as part of their declaration of the art design major.)
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.
  • As this is a two-year program, preference is given to rising sophomores (advanced-standing with 53 credits completed by end of spring semester) and rising juniors.
  • Completion of BMGT350 by the start of the program (preferred, but may take BMGT350, BMGT458Q, and BMGT458A concurrently in the fall semester.)

Note that there is no spring semester coursework for this program.

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