Strategic Design & Innovation Fellows

Apply to the Strategic Design & Innovation Fellows Program

In the Jan. 1, 2018, issue of Fortune magazine, the article entitled "Business By Design" begins with, "Technology and globalization are leading to more and faster disruption than ever. To stay ahead, smart companies are turning to design to better connect with customers and fine-tune their competitive advantage." The article continues by featuring 25 companies from a range of industries that are getting design “right.” Companies such as Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Starbucks, and Google, just to name a few.

Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows

Wearing Design Fellows completion cords at commencement
Wearing Design Fellows completion cords at commencement

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, fellows 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 Sketch 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.

Learn more about the courses, resources, projects, and alumni associated with Design Fellows.

Mary Harms is the faculty champion for this program.

Read about Strategic Design Fellows' Career Exploration to New York City in 2018.


  • 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)*
  • 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)

*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.

BMGT458Q — An introduction to computer graphics and visual communication principles. Students will explore fundamental design principles through digital visual communication projects. Technology content will include photo manipulation, digital illustration and page layout using InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. This course is intended for students new to the Adobe Creative Suite or with limited exposure to one of the three programs we will explore.

BMGT458R — A follow-up course to BMGT458Q or for more advanced design students. This course is designed to improve proficiency in computer graphics and visual communication principles. Technology content will include photo manipulation, digital illustration and page layout, plus web development and motion content using InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch, and InVision. Students who have not completed 458Q, but wish to enroll 458R should, at minimum be comfortable creating page layout in InDesign, using the pen tool in Illustrator and sizing images for print and web in Photoshop.


  • NYC two–night trip that includes alumni networking event, 6 hosted company visits and presentations
  • Multiple guest speakers from the advertising and marketing field
  • Annual graduation dinner in December
  • Additional site visits and field trips in DC, Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia
  • Help with securing internships and full-time positions in the field


Examples of companies where design fellows have interned or received full-time offers:
















  • Must be a marketing major or a 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.)


Applications for this fellows program with coursework beginning in fall 2020 will be open from late November 2019, until mid-February 2020. Please check back for details.

Questions? Read our Fellows FAQs or contact

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