Design Foundations

Are you interested in exploring a career in design? Get started with the Design Foundations certificate program, where you’ll explore a variety of career options in the creative sector and graduate ready to pursue further studies in your chosen field. This one-year certificate program helps students identify career goals and lays a foundation for students in a variety of settings exploring a number of design disciplines.


Experience a year of goal-setting, learning new skills and refining existing skills with the guidance from industry experts through a variety of hands-on projects. The program centres on designing a sustainable future, and elements of this core value are integrated throughout the year.

Discover a range of design fields guided by our expert faculty, and build a design portfolio that stands out. This foundational study year introduces students to the fundamentals of 2D and 3D design principles, drawing and colour theory, idea development, research, presentation skills, portfolio development, design technologies, and communication skills. 

Design certificate graduates can use their portfolio and refined skills to move towards a career or pursue further studies in:

  • Interior Decorating
  • Fashion Design
  • Fashion Marketing and Management
  • Graphic Design
  • GIS and Urban Planning
  • Landscape Design
  • Horticulture Technician


Design Foundations - Student Work


Career Information

Fanshawe’s Design Foundations program will help creative students find their fit and choose a specialty to further their academic studies. Graduates may find employment in retail stores selling paint, apparel or art supplies.

Did you know Fanshawe consistently ranks high in graduation employment rates among large colleges in Ontario? 

Here are some examples of career opportunities for graduates of Fanshawe’s Design Foundations program:

Paint Store Sales Associate
Responsible for stocking inventory, answering questions about different products, tinting paint and helping customers select paint colours and wallpaper.

Showroom Consultant
Listen to customer needs and determine the best solution for their home and budget.

Sales Representative

Manage customer inquiries in regards to quoting, colour consulting and customer service.


This fun course really opened my creative side. This is what kick started my desire to potentially make the right career choice. I would recommend this course to anyone. Thank you for helping me build my portfolio and start me on a career path that I am so passionate and excited about.

Alexandria McFarlane
Learning Outcomes
  1. Create two and three-dimensional designs using a wide range of materials, processes, techniques and relevant computer technologies.
  2. Use the design process to develop and solve visual problems using sustainability concepts and various strategies for idea generation.
  3. Apply the formal elements and principles of design to creative work.
  4. Utilize a variety of presentation skills across a wide range of media appropriate to portfolios, public and private venues.
  5. Develop skills in portfolio presentation in a variety of media through studio-based projects.
  6. Articulate art and design concepts, history and the role of art and design in society to the general public.
  7. Create original and sustainable design solutions through the use of creative problem solving, idea mapping and research that supports the design project within given parameters, ensuring a positive impact on people and planet.
  8. Utilize strategies and tools to develop personal growth and career development.


Program Availability

Canadian Students

Start Dates

Full Time Offerings

2022 September

International Students

Start Dates

Full Time Offerings

2022 September

Program Details

Program Code
Academic School

Design Certificate Program Coordinator:

Leigh-Ann Waller

Day Time
Preparatory Program
Ontario College Certificate
30 weeks

Admission Requirements

OSSD with courses from the College (C), University (U), University/College (M), or Open (O) stream
Academic and Career Entrance Certificate (ACE) 
Ontario High School Equivalency Certificate (GED)
Mature Applicant with appropriate preparation
English Language Requirements

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in English by one of the following methods:

  • A Grade 12 College Stream or University Stream English credit from an Ontario Secondary School, or equivalent, depending on the program's Admission Requirements
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test with a minimum score of 79 for the Internet-based test (iBT), with test results within the last two years
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test with an overall score of 6.0 with no score less than 5.5 in any of the four bands, with test results within the last two years. SDS Program Requirements. 
  • Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test with an overall score of 60 with no score less than 50 in any of the four bands, with test results within the last two years
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE) with a minimum score of 53, with test results within the last two years
  • A Cambridge English Test (FCE/CAE/CPE) with an overall score on the Cambridge English Scale of 169 with no language skill less than 162, with test results within the last two years
  • An English Language Evaluation (ELE) at Fanshawe College with a minimum score of 70% in all sections of the test, with test results within the last two years
  • Fanshawe College ESL4/GAP5 students: Minimum grade of 80% in ESL4/GAP5 Level 8, 75% in ESL4/GAP5 Level 9, or 70% in ESL4/GAP5 Level 10
Recommended Academic Preparation

Recommended Academic Preparation

  • Any Grade 12 English (C), (U), or (O)
  • Grade 12 Mathematics (C) or (U), preferably Grade 12 Mathematics for College Technology (C) or Grade 12 Foundations for College Mathematics (C)
  • Any Grade 11 Visual Arts (M) or (O) or Grade 12 Visual Arts (M)
  • Grade 12 Business and Technological Communications (O)
  • Any Grade 11 or Grade 12 Technological Design (M)
Applicant Selection Criteria

Applicant Selection Criteria

Where the number of eligible applicants exceeds the available spaces in the program, the Applicant Selection Criteria will be:
  1. Preference for Permanent Residents of Ontario
  2. Receipt of Application by February 1st (After this date, Fanshawe College will consider applicants on a first-come, first-served basis until the program is full)
  3. Achievement in the Admission Requirements

Tuition Summary


Canadian Costs
Total Cost of Program
International Costs
Total Cost of Program

*Total program costs are approximate, subject to change and do not include the health and dental plan fee, bus pass fee or program general expenses.



Level 1
Take all of the following Mandatory Courses:
COMP-1498Computers for Design3
This course is designed as an introduction and general overview of the most used programs in the industry; Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Students will also learn the basics of photography and video editing for use in the field of design. Through the use of these tools the students will develop the skills required to create digital illustrations, capture and manipulate images and create video presentations. Students will improve on and learn new computer skills by completing projects that reinforce their understanding of these projects.
ARTS-1087Drawing Basics3
This course is an introduction to drawing as it relates to applied design. Students will learn basic objective and subjective sketching techniques using various media to depict a variety of subjects. Formal concepts such as line, texture, value, gesture, movement and perspective will be explored and used to broaden the capacity to draw from observation, memory, and imagination.
DESG-1091Colour & Design Studio2.5
This is an introductory course to fundamental concepts and elements used in two-dimensional design. Students explore aspects of design including the procedures, principles, and elements of design, and the conceptual thought processes involved in design. Through a series of projects, students will explore colour theory, the combination of colours, the psychology of colour and its importance in industry. Critical evaluation skills will play a key part of individual class discussion and group critiques.
DEVL-1061Design Pathways & Success Strategies3
Students are introduced to the many career options in design by examining various design disciplines and how they function within the industry. Pathways will be explored through the use of guest lectures, industry tours, research, information sessions and hands-on experimentation. Reflection reports are used to uncover the aptitudes and interests of students to assist them in creating an action plan for properly choosing a career in a design related field.
DESG-1092Designing a Sustainable Future3
This is a course developed to help students understand the impact and critical role of sustainable design. Through a series of workshops and interactive learning students will explore topics such as responsible consumption, environmental concerns, social and cultural issues and the economic implication, of sustainable design relating to food, shelter, transportation and waste. Students will study new design philosophies such as: Industry Symbiosis, Circular Economy, Sharing Economy, Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle design. Students will be encouraged to use these concepts to developed ideas for new sustainable product, process and services that could become influencers for future design.
GRAF-1040Creative Concepts 13
This course is designed to develop and explore the innate creativity within the students. This course guides students through explorations of various media in order to reflect upon and express their unique personality and creativity within their cultural context.
WRIT-1036Reason & Writing 1-Art & Design3
This course introduces students to essential principles of reading, writing, and reasoning at the postsecondary level. Students will identify, summarize, analyze, and evaluate multiple short readings and write persuasive response essays to develop their vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking.
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