5 majors that can lead to careers in creation and design

a colorado state student colors and designs in her notes in a class

When you think about your career, do you see yourself in a studio wearing messy overalls, painting or sculpting? Maybe you see yourself in a concert hall, preparing to showcase the first full orchestra piece you’ve written, or in a bustling fabric store, selecting fine materials to complete your final runway look. Maybe you dream of taking a deep, fresh-air breath as you map out the multi-level landscape design you created for an office complex, or maybe you see yourself as the one who created the safe, stable infrastructure of the complex itself. If you can picture yourself in any of these design-minded careers, you’re in the right place. Here are five majors at CSU that can lead you to fulfilling careers in creation and design.

#1. Landscape Architecture

In the Landscape Architecture major, you’ll explore a variety of landscape projects as you study the relationship between design, nature, and society, each project offering opportunities for creativity and a unique perspective. Landscape architects work on projects that range from house landscaping all the way to corporate outdoor spaces, parks, and even national parks and forests — all with goals that go far beyond making a living space beautiful. In the major, you’ll learn to help with the ecological restoration of disturbed places as well as ensure a design is compatible with the area, analyzing the climate, soil, slope of the land, drainage, sunlight, and vegetation. When all is said and done, you’ll be licensed in all 50 states to dream up, design, and execute beautiful, sustainable outdoor landscapes.

#2. Music (B.M.), Composition concentration

Within CSU’s Bachelor of Music major, you’ll find the Composition concentration, a way focus your musical talent on the creation of original music for a wide variety of venues and career paths. You’ll study music theory, piano, voice, conducting, and arranging and orchestration, along with composition courses in genres like chamber, electronic, jazz, chorus, and more. Composers go on to create original musical pieces for television and film, for theater productions and live concerts, and even for video games or commercials, creating entire pieces of music that are beautiful, complex, and unique.

#3. Art (B.F.A.)

The sky is the creative limit with CSU’s Art (B.F.A.) major, a robust program offering 10 concentrations that represent different artistic mediums. Whether you choose to focus on more-traditional artwork, like drawing, painting, or pottery, or branch out to mediums like printmaking or metalsmithing, the program allows you to create meaningful, profound pieces, then go onto create or curate in galleries, museums, and other public spaces. Other concentrations allow you opportunities to extend your designs beyond the traditional physical spaces and work in graphic design, electronic arts like animation, and photography. Some art majors go on to start successful businesses or freelance in these mediums, oftentimes as their own boss, while others work in art communities or artistic nonprofits. Regardless of your choice of medium, you’ll explore them all and build a solid foundation in creative thinking, design, and technique.

#4. Apparel and Merchandising, Apparel Design and Production concentration

Want to take your design dreams to the runway (or the outdoor community, entertainment industry, the business world, and beyond)? CSU’s Apparel and Merchandising major offers a concentration in Apparel Design and Production that allows you to combine your design-minded nature with form, function, comfort, style, and art. In the concentration, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the apparel industry, working on technology for sketching, pattern drafting, making, and constructing. You’ll also explore conceptual design, technical production specifications communication, materials sourcing, and marketing — all leading up to a comprehensive knowledge and hands-on education that allows you to land in creative roles like a designer, computer-aided design manager, creative or design director, fashion illustrator, fashion/trend forecaster, and beyond.

#5. Civil Engineering

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about a major like engineering is that you won’t get to design anything that’s unique or creative. But, in fact, the core academic focus of CSU’s Civil Engineering major includes design and creativity right alongside math and science. Civil engineers design and build everything from buildings and bridges to roads and airports, aerospace structures, parts in cars, water supply systems, and far beyond. So, why is design such a big part of civil engineering? You’ll be faced with issues that require creative design throughout your entire time in the major, preparing you for careers that require that creativity every single day. You’ll learn the science and math behind structural design, and then build on that foundation to create things that help solve problems in the world with your unique solutions.

See other career paths and majors to get you there

Check out our other blogs on majors that lead to careers in helping professions, sustainability, and more.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.