About us

With 5,365 + students, nearly 400 faculty members, 125 program options and a tradition of top-ranked programs, we are committed to redefining the 21st-century design and arts school.

Home / About / History


In 2009, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the merger of the ASU College of Design and the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts into the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

With the creation of the Herberger Institute, ASU shone a spotlight on the importance of design and the arts and on the critical role creativity plays in developing innovative solutions to the global challenges we face.

Comprised of a dynamic combination of disciplines, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is a leader in the investigation of creativity and creative practice shaping the 21st century.

As part of the Herberger Institute merger announcement in 2009, the department of dance became the School of Dance and the arts, media and engineering program became the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

In 2013, the School of Theatre and Film and the School of Dance merged to become the School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

Steven J. Tepper was appointed dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts December 2013, and officially began his tenure July 1, 2014. Tepper is one of the nation's founding thought leaders on the creative campus movement, which places creativity at the center of campus and academic life. He is also the associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and the nation's leading authority on the lives and careers of arts graduates.

History of design at ASU

During 1949–50, James Elmore, the founding dean of the architecture college at ASU, suggested that ASU develop a two-year technical architecture program to "play the role of a forceful pioneer" in Arizona, as there were no schools of architecture closer than Los Angeles, Berkeley or Salt Lake City.

The program grew to offer the bachelor of architecture degree in the fall of 1957. In its first 10 years, the student body grew from 45 to 142 and full-time faculty from two to five members. In 1958, the program became an associate member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the first bachelor of architecture degree was awarded in May 1960. In January 1961, the college’s first accreditation was granted. By the end of the second decade of architectural studies at ASU, the study body had grown to 407 with full-time faculty of 21 members.

The program became the Division of Architecture in 1957 and the School of Architecture in 1959, still within the brand-new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. On July 1, 1964, the program became the independent College of Architecture.

Through the next decade, the college grew and diversified in the study of architecture, urban design and design. In 1977-78, the college was officially reorganized in three separate departments: architecture, design sciences (interior design and industrial design) and planning. In 1983, the Arizona Board of Regents approved a change in name to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design to more accurately reflect the depth and breadth of design and planning studies within its programs.

The graphic design program joined the school in June 1996, moving from the ASU School of Art. The School of Planning was formerly the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture. In July 2004, the landscape architecture program moved to the School of Architecture.

As part of the Herberger Institute merger announced in 2009, the School of Planning moved to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences School of Geological Sciences and Urban Planning. The W. P. Carey School of Business now administers the MRED program.

In February 2011, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the renaming of the school as The Design School.

History of the arts at ASU

Founded in 1964, the College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University welcomed its first class of students at the beginning of fall semester 1965. The college consisted of the departments of art, music and speech and drama. A fourth unit, the University Art Museum, was dedicated to research and to the conservation and preservation of works of art.

Henry A. Bruinsma served as the first dean of fine arts. From 1955 to 1956, he served as chair of the Department of Music at ASU (then Arizona State College).

In 2000, the College of Fine Arts was named The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts, in honor of Valley arts philanthropist Katherine K. "Kax" Herberger. A longtime Phoenix resident, Herberger championed the support and growth of the College of Fine Arts and encouraged its community outreach programs. The schools of art, music, theatre and film, the department of dance and the arts, media and engineering program comprised the academic units of what was then known as the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts.