University Of Kansas

Established in 1891, the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts became one of the first national institutions to offer professional degrees in the arts. Since its introduction to the School of Fine Arts in 1920, the Department of Design has continued the tradition of excellence by offering its students one of the finest design educations in the nation. The Department of Design is the oldest of its kind in the United States.

Home to more than 450 students, the Department of Design at the University of Kansas offers eight concentrations for a B.F.A., three M.F.A. concentrations, Visual Arts Education degrees, and many other course areas of study.

Graduates from the Department of Design have gone on to design for the most innovative companies, open individual practices, and pursue paths of academia in the arts.


United States

1467 Jayhawk Blvd #300
Phone: (785)864-2955
Fax: (785)864-3771

College Photos (2)

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Our Aims

The Department of Design's mission is to embrace traditional design methods as well as pursue emerging paradigms that define design of the future.

The Department actively seeks to assist students in their academic and personal pursuits. The Department of Design helps students to gain hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge in their concentration. The Department seeks to prepare its students for career paths in academics, professional artistry, and application of their skills in appropriate industries.

Students can earn a BFA and MFA in industrial design, ceramics, metalsmithing/jewelry design and textile design, and can pursue a BFA in interiors, graphics/illustration, industrial and interaction design. Visual arts education offers a BAE and MAE degree, and the department will soon offer MA degrees in design management and interaction design. The department also offers classes in photography and furniture design, which will soon be areas of concentration.  

Sample Student Art Work (11)

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Location and Getting there

Lawrence is home to two universities: the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. Because it is a small city (about 88,000 people) with a large student population, Lawrence has a small-town friendly atmosphere with many of the attractions of the big city.

Lawrence has a reputation for attracting up-and-coming musical groups to play in its small theatres. The city is also known for its arts scene and for the specialty shops, coffeehouses, and restaurants that cater to students. The city has swimming pools, more than 30 public parks, a public library, a historical museum, arts center, and active community and recreation programs.

Topeka, the state capital, is 25 miles west of Lawrence. Kansas City, home to the KU Medical Center, is only a 40-minute drive from Lawrence. Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, is home to the KU Edwards Campus.

The Kansas City metropolitan area has a population of 1.8 million and many fine restaurants and shopping areas. The Kansas City International Airport, in Kansas City, Mo., is about 50 miles from Lawrence and can be reached in about an hour. Lawrence shuttle services...  [ Read All ]

Department and information about the department

Always striving to promote excellence and success among students and faculty, the Department of Design offers numerous opportunities for individual artistic and academic expression.

The Department of Design features the Hallmark Design Symposium Lecture Series. Each year, prominent designers and artists come to Lawrence from around the world to speak about their professions and crafts. Visit for a current schedule.

The Department of Design also offers students the chance to obtain real-world experience by participating in industry-sponsored projects with companies such as Nokia, Cingular/AT&T, Herman Miller, Huhtamaki and many more.

The Department also offers and encourages study abroad work and provides graduate research opportunities through the Center for Design Innovation.

Design students consistently win craft competitions and have displayed many works in exhibitions throughout the world.

Within the Department of Design at the University of Kansas, there are seven areas of concentration. Each of these areas provide additional opportunities for students. More ...  [ Read All ]

Academic Staff and Description

KU design faculty are recruited from nationally-prominent institutions and professional practices, representing a wide array of expertise in a variety of design and crafts. The faculty are among the best and brightest in their area of expertise. Faculty continue to enrich the classroom experience through the pursuit of their individual research and creation.

Additional information about KU design faculty and their work can be found at  

Academic Staff Art Work (7)

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News and Events

Never a dull moment at the Department of Design, students and faculty are always making headlines.

Design students, along with journalism and business students at the University of Kansas, have teamed up with Nokia to introduce its N73 phone. Read more at or

Chair of Design, Gregory Thomas, introduced his license plate design with Sen. Barbara Allen to the Kansas Senate to promote Breast Cancer Research at the University of Kansas. More information on this initiative is at

Faculty of Design initiated a Design for Wellness program, aimed at resolving health problems throughout Kansas with innovative design. See the full release at  

Information For  Undergraduates

Students in the Department of Design at the University of Kansas seeking a B.F.A. can choose from eight majors.

In addition to coursework, the Design Department offers internship programs for students in graphic design, illustration, industrial design and interior design. Each year, 14 internationally-renowned designers visit campus to present their professional experiences and work with students and faculty through the Hallmark Symposium. This lecture series is complemented by the Hallmark Fellow and Scholar. In addition, the Department of Design hosts the Professional Practice Series, which brings internationally-known designers to Lawrence for in-depth workshops.

A degree in Ceramics at the University of Kansas will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to the ceramic medium and processes. Specialized surfaces are also a fundamental element of the curriculum. Both contemporary and historical ceramic and art history is incorporated in studio classes as well as regular group and individual critiques. Advanced classes are not project-based to allow students to focus on their work and personal expl...  [ Read All ]

Information For  Postgraduates

"U.S. News and World Report" ranks the Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Kansas 54th among the nation's 300-plus accredited institutions. Weekly, graduate students and faculty in all disciplines of Art and Design meet in graduate seminar to have critiques, discussions and presentations.

The M.F.A. program in ceramics at the University of Kansas emphasizes individual growth through independent work in an atmosphere of ongoing critical discussion. We provide our graduate students with rigorous studio and academic experiences. Students work closely with faculty, offering a diverse and specialized learning experience. Each student receives their own studio space, separate, yet near, the main ceramic studio. Graduate students can obtain teaching experience in ceramics and the foundation program, in addition to financial support, with a graduate teaching assistantship. Scholarships are also available to outstanding students. More information at

Since 1941, KU has offered a Master of Fine Arts in Industrial design. The program is app...  [ Read All ]

Information For  International Students

The Department of Design currently has established exchange programs with universities in Taiwan, Sweden and Germany.

Additional study abroad agreements are being reviewed for universities in Australia, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

Relationships for a graduate program in Germany are also underway.

The Department of Design also welcomes students from across the world to study at the University of Kansas, either in pursuing a degree or seeking a shorter, unique experience abroad.  


A degree from the Department of Design at the University of Kansas carries prestige. Thousands of alumni and faculty have gone on to achieve great success. A few great innovators of design from the University of Kansas include:

A distinguished and innovative potter, Sheldon Carey was a true pioneer for ceramics. Preferring to create tall, slender pots, Carey invented the Upside-Down Wheel. The Upside-Down Wheel eased the creation of his art by using the force of gravity instead of working against it. Carey also was an innovator in clay lubricant, abandoning the traditional water, preferring Separan 20, a synthetic polymer. A professor for 32 years at the Department of Design, Carey was revered for his intellectual curiosity and professional innovation and creation. This reputation still survives him, as he passed away in November 2000.

An influential jeweler, Robert Ebendorf has his works exhibited in more than 30 musuems throughout the world. So influential, Ebendorf was chosen as one of 100 American artists for the "Smithsonian's Archives of American Art Oral History Program." A Tope...  [ Read All ]

Student Facilities

The Art and Design Building, completed in 1977, is centrally located on KU's main campus. The building has about 130,000 square feet of floor space, providing well-equipped and spacious work areas. The Art and Design Building also boasts spacious print and computer labs available seven days a week.

The Art and Design Building houses all major areas of art and design study and production, including studio facilities, photography and film-making labs, central shops, an exhibition gallery for student work, a snack bar, art supply store and administrative offices.

Over the past three years, four new state-of-the-art computer labs with over 150 high end Apple stations, running current programs have been installed. Each of the seven areas of study are provided their individual computer facilities as well.

Although not in the located in the Art and Design Building, the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art provides an excellent resource for art students. The Spencer Museum is acknowledged nationally as one of the finest university museums in the country.  

Student Support

There are three types of design scholarships. Incoming freshmen may apply for the Creative and Performing Arts (CPA) Scholarship. Students near completion of Foundations may be nominated for scholarships by faculty. Design students may also submit works in an annual scholarship show.  


The City of Lawrence is easily managed with an abundance of historic Victorian homes as well as an abundance of affordable housing close to campus. The University also provides many well-appointed dorms.

Public transportation is thorough and timely, and many Lawrence residents choose to walk, bike, or ride the T around Lawrence. Many also choose to drive to their destinations, as parking is usually available.  

Visit us (open days)

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Take a virtual tour of beautiful Jayhawk Boulevard at  

Request a prospectus (Number, e-mail or follow link)

Gregory Thomas, Chair
Department of Design
School of Fine Arts
phone (785)864-2955