Aspect-orientation provides a new way of modularization by clearly separating crosscutting concerns from noncrosscutting ones. While aspect-orientation originally has emerged at the programming level, it now stretches also over other development phases. There are, for example, already several proposals for Aspect-Oriented Modeling (AOM), most of them pursuing distinguished goals, providing different concepts as well as notations, and showing various levels of maturity. Consequently, there is an urgent need to provide an in-depth survey, clearly identifying commonalities and differences between current AOM approaches. Existing surveys in this area focus more on comprehensibility with respect to development phases or evaluated approaches rather than on comparability on bases of a detailed evaluation framework. This article tries to fill this gap focusing on aspect-oriented design modeling. As a prerequisite for an in-depth evaluation, a conceptual reference model is presented as the article’s first contribution, centrally capturing the basic design concepts of AOM and their interrelationships in terms of a UML class diagram. Based on this conceptual reference model, an evaluation framework has been designed, resembling the second contribution, by deriving a detailed and well-defined catalogue of evaluation criteria, thereby operationalizing the conceptual reference model. This criteria catalogue is employed together with a running example in order to evaluate a carefully selected set of eight design-level AOM approaches representing the third contribution of the article. This per approach evaluation is complemented with an extensive report on lessons learned, summarizing the approaches’ strengths and shortcomings.