The Complete Guide to Foundation in Design in Malaysia

Explore what you'll learn when you study a Foundation in Design course in Malaysia. Fees, pathway and requirements in this comprehensive guide.


It may not seem obvious at first but design is everything. From the sleek design of your AirPods to the posters and infographics you see on your Instagram feed, design touches every aspect of your life. So, if you’re looking for a future-proof field to focus on, you can’t go wrong with design.

But how exactly do you go into the design field? You can start with a Foundation in Design programme.

In this guide, learn everything you need to know about the Foundation in Design programme including what it is, its entry requirements, the subjects you'll learn and the top universities for Foundation in Design.

So if design has always been your passion, keep on reading for more insights.

#1. What is Foundation in Design?

cg-foundation-in-design-whatFoundation in Design is a post-secondary school programme that focuses on introductory subjects related to the field of design. It is structured to help prepare you for a direct entry into a design degree such as graphic design, multimedia design, interior design or animation.

With a Foundation in Design, you will learn various design topics to build your creativity, enhance your drawing and sketching skills, and hone your skills to visualise ideas. All of these will serve as fundamental blocks for your design degree, ensuring that you’re well prepared for its creative demands and challenges.

Similar to most foundation programmes, the Foundation in Design course will take approximately 12 months to complete. You can take this programme as soon as you complete SPM, IGCSE or an equivalent qualification. Upon completion, you can then pursue a design degree.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)

APU Foundation Programme (Design)

Direct pathway to dual-award design degrees at APU such as industrial design, visual effects and animation

#2. Entry Requirements for Foundation in Design

a) Subjects required

There are no specific subjects you must have studied at the SPM level to be eligible for a Foundation in Design programme. However, having a background in this subject is advisable:

  • Art (recommended by some universities)

b) Requirements for Foundation in Design

These are the general entry requirements for a Foundation in Design:

  • SPM (or equivalent): Minimum 5Cs
Take Note: Entry requirements for some universities may be higher, so do make sure you check the details carefully.

#3. Studying a Foundation in Design Course

a) What subjects will you study in Foundation in Design?

The Foundation in Design programme will prepare you for entry into a design degree. As such, the modules will focus on fundamental topics and skills you will need in your degree.

Depending on the university, here are some of the subjects that you may learn:

  • Design basics
  • Design and art history
  • Fundamental drawing
  • 3d design
  • Portfolio design
  • Introduction to photography
  • Social psychology
  • Introduction to marketing
  • Colour studies
  • Creative technologies

b) How will you be assessed in a Foundation in Design programme?

Most universities will grade you based on a combination of coursework and final exams. As part of your programme, you will spend a significant amount of time working on assignments and presentations, which can involve design and art projects.

In addition, you will also have opportunities to compete in design competitions and put together design showcases.

c) How long is a Foundation in Design course?

A Foundation in Design programme is typically about 12 months long.

d) How much does it cost to study Foundation in Design in Malaysia?

A Foundation in Design programme costs around RM6,500 – RM28,000.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)

APU Foundation Programme (Design)

Direct pathway to dual-award design degrees at APU such as industrial design, visual effects and animation

#4. Your Education Pathway for Foundation in Design

cg-foundation-in-design-edu-pathwayStep 1: First, complete a Foundation in Design programme. This will take you 1 year.

Step 2: Next, enrol into your chosen degree course. The Foundation in Design programme is a great stepping stone into many design degrees. You will have the option of choosing from a wide variety of specialisation within the design field including multimedia design, graphic design, digital animation, interior design and fashion design.

The degree will take you 3 years to complete. Afterwards, you can start applying for a job in your chosen field.

In summary, your entire journey from Foundation in Design to a design degree will take you about 4 years to finish.

Important: Like other foundation programmes, the Foundation in Design course is administered by the university itself. The programme is meant to make your transition into a degree programme at the same university easier. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot change into a different university for your degree.

#5. Should You Study Foundation in Design?

cg-foundation-in-design-is-it-right-for-youa) Is Foundation in Design right for you?

If you’re wondering whether you should study Foundation in Design, here are some questions to think about:

  • Do you consider yourself an artistic and creative person?
  • Do you enjoy expressing yourself either through art, photos, videos or music?
  • Do you have strong attention to detail?
  • Do you constantly keep an eye out for good designs, whether it’s the label on a product, the seamless interface of an app or the opening credits of a TV show?
  • Are you proficient in digital design tools and software?
  • Are you planning to pursue a degree in design and subsequently a career in the design field?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, Foundation in Design may be right for you!

b) Skills required to be a designer

Here are some key skills a good designer should have:

  • Proficient in digital design tools
  • Creative and artistic mind
  • Able to work long and extended hours
  • Able to adapt to ever-changing trends
  • Able to work well under pressure
  • Able to emulate design styles to cater to the employer’s needs

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)

APU Foundation Programme (Design)

Direct pathway to dual-award design degrees at APU such as industrial design, visual effects and animation

#6. Frequently Asked Questions About Foundation in Design

a) Can you switch universities after completing a Foundation in Design?

Contrary to popular belief, taking a Foundation in Design at one university does not mean that you’re stuck at the same university for your degree. In general, as long as your Foundation in Design is accredited by MQA, you should have no trouble switching universities.

However, it’s important to note that universities have the final say on whether or not to accept your Foundation in Design qualification. There’s also a possibility that they will want to conduct an assessment to see if the foundation that you studied meets their standards and requirements.

Therefore, it’s best to select a university that offers both a Foundation in Design and the design degree of your choice.

b) Can you switch to a non-design degree?

This would depend on the degree that you want to pursue and the university.

A Foundation in Design will allow you to pursue degrees such as business, communication, culinary arts and hospitality. However, with science degrees such as medicine, dentistry or engineering, you will likely be required to complete a Foundation in Science instead.

c) What’s the difference between Foundation in Design and other foundation programmes?

A Foundation in Design is structured to equip you with the skills and knowledge for a degree in design. Therefore, topics that you will cover may include design basics, design and art history, fundamental drawing and visual communication.

You may also choose a Foundation in Arts as a precursor to your design degree. However, as some Foundation in Arts programmes act as pathways to degrees such as business, communication or even psychology, it may not serve you as well if a design degree is your ultimate goal.

d) What’s the difference between Foundation in Design and pre-university programmes like A Level?

A Foundation in Design offers a straightforward path into a design degree programme. The subjects are often predetermined and you’ll only be required to choose a handful of elective subjects. This ensures that you’ll be well prepared for the challenges of your design degree.

Pre-university programmes such as A Level and SACEi or AUSMAT require you to choose a combination of subjects (e.g. mathematics, design technology, art) that you think will best prepare you for your intended undergraduate degree. The benefit to this is that you have a higher level of flexibility; however, the topics that you cover are more broad-based and may not be as tailored to your design degree.

#7. Best Universities for Foundation in Design in Malaysia

Interested in pursuing Foundation in Design? Check out some of the best universities offering the programme in Malaysia here.

Not sure which college to choose? Check out our Foundation in Design comparison page to compare across all colleges.