Dec 10, 2018  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Photography Emphasis, Fine Arts BFA

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs


Please click here  to see general Visual Arts information.

Students in the photography emphasis develop skills in traditional and digital photography while refining their creative and conceptual approaches to the medium. The photography curriculum emphasizes individual artistic development that integrates the history of photography, critical theory and contemporary practice. Through an exploration of photographic techniques, students are given the tools to create visually compelling images that communicate their artistic ideas.

Program Delivery

  • This is an on-campus program.

Declaring This Major

  • Click here  to go to information about declaring a major.
  • Students who are applying for entrance into the photography emphasis must submit a portfolio, as described below. The photography emphasis accepts applications twice a year. Students who meet the requirements and are accepted into the emphasis will be eligible to register for required upper-division studio photography courses.


University of Colorado Denver students and transfer students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 in fine art and art history courses. In order to apply to the photography emphasis, students must have completed, or be in the process of completing, the following courses:


Properly prepared application submissions must be uploaded to by November 1 or April 1 at 5:00 pm (Mountain Time). The November 1 application deadline is recommended. Applications are only accepted online and must be formatted to the specifications listed here.

It is strongly recommended that students visit the submission website early and begin uploads two weeks before the due date. Late submissions due to technical difficulties on the part of the applicant will not be accepted.

Step 1: Register and create an account in SlideRoom. Please go to the following website to complete this process: (Note that SlideRoom charges a $30.00 fee to process portfolio submissions.)

Step 2: When prompted answer all questions about the application.

Step 3: Upload documents, including the written statement and transcripts from the University of Colorado Denver and all previous post-secondary institutions. 

Step 4: Upload 10 image files of creative work.         

Portfolio of Images

  • The photography portfolio must include 10 image files of creative work. At least six portfolio images should be photographic, demonstrating the student’s understanding of concept, form, composition and technique. The remaining four portfolio pieces may be photographic or they may be examples of design, drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, installation and/or printmaking.
  • For each portfolio image, the student should write a brief description (150 words or less) that identifies the medium (silver gelatin print, ink jet print, charcoal drawing, etc.) and explains the student’s approach to the project.
  • Images must be submitted in jpeg format, 12 inches on the longer side, sized at 72 pixels per inch, and saved at the highest setting available (usually 10 or 12). Files should be named with the student’s last name, then first name and image title using underscores to separate. Example: Doe_Jane_ImageTitle.jpg.

Written Statement

Written statements should be limited to one page in length (400-500 words) and saved as a .pdf file. Statements should address the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study photography?
  • What goals and expectations do you have regarding a career as a photographer?
  • What are your creative strengths, and what areas need further development?
  • Are there additional accomplishments that you would like the committee to know about (such as Dean’s List, GPA, internships, art-related extracurricular activities or relevant professional experience)?

Course Transcripts

These may be official or unofficial transcripts from CU Denver and previous post-secondary institutions. The CU Denver transcript must show any current semester courses.


  • A committee of photography faculty members reviews the portfolio submissions. Acceptance into the photography emphasis is based on the portfolio images, written statement and GPA.
  • If not admitted into the photography emphasis, a student has the choice of attempting the review process again in a later semester or applying to another emphasis. Students not admitted into the photography emphasis are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the area head of photography to learn ways to improve their portfolios for future submissions.

The application is evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Technical Skill - The portfolio should demonstrate strong knowledge of the fundamental tools of photography, including camera functions, analog film development, darkroom printing and digital imaging, as well as an understanding of design, form, composition and color.
  • Creativity - The portfolio should demonstrate creative choices in content and aesthetics.
  • Conceptual Skill - The portfolio and written statements should reflect analytical thinking and conceptual exploration of the photographic medium.
  • Written Statement - The statement should outline academic and artistic goals, addressing any potential strengths and weaknesses.
  • Academic Performance - The grades must reflect a commitment to learning and growth.
  • Completeness of Application - All required documentation must be submitted (images, written statement and transcripts).


For more portfolio information, please contact or photography area head Carol Golemboski at

General Requirements

To earn a degree, students must satisfy all requirements in each of the areas below, in addition to their individual major requirements.

Program Requirements

  1. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required for each course applied toward a College of Arts & Media major, minor or certificate requirement. A grade of C- (1.7) or lower will not fulfill a major, minor or certificate requirement. A grade of P is acceptable for courses in which the only grade available is Pass or Fail.
  2. All upper-division visual arts courses must be taken at CU Denver unless approved otherwise by Department of Visual Arts faculty.
  3. At least 27 semester hours of visual arts credits (at any level) must be taken at CU Denver.
  4. At least 24 semester hours of total visual arts courses must be upper-division.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs