Rethinking the Capstone in a Graphic Design BFA Program

Regina Gardner Milan
Lecturer
Department of Art & Design
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Evolving the BFA capstone project to develop professional competencies for emerging designers.

Encouraging students to develop projects that address their competencies and those that they need to develop. A year-long course sequence encouraging extensive creative exploration while working within developed constraints that are specific to each student. These constraints are developed through a reflective process of research and critical analysis of their skill sets and portfolio. They then apply these skills and making to a defined set of projects.

Projects are developed across complex design systems encouraging personal design thinking and and challenging student’s skillsets. Projects include both analog and digital solutions including app design, web design, interactive installations and motion graphics.  Faculty encourage growth mind-set and conceptual development of projects that help define a student’s aesthetic and aspirations for their post-college practice.

Developed two years ago, this new capstone has proven successful in encouraging critical design thinking, content development, and putting students in the strongest possible position for entering their professional design practice. Students graduate with a strong social media presence, robust resumes and expanded portfolios.