Mar 19, 2018  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog

Digital Design Emphasis, Fine Arts BFA

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Please click here  to see general Visual Arts information.

The digital design emphasis integrates aesthetic, creative and critical thought with expertise in electronic media and graphic design. Configured as an interdisciplinary arts and design laboratory, digital design offers a hands-on education combining new art technologies and design research to promote an understanding of the cultural impact and use of digital technology to solve human, social and business problems. Through this interdisciplinary approach combining arts and communication, digital design strives to produce artists and designers who will use technology in innovative ways in both commercial and artistic spheres.

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 digital design emphasis must submit a portfolio, as described below. The digital design emphasis accepts applications only once a year. Students who meet the requirements and are accepted will be able to register for upper-division digital design courses.


The student has completed, or is in the process of completing, the following courses with a grade of C (2.0) or better in each:

FINE 2405 and 2415 are both offered in the fall at CU Denver.


To properly prepare the application, refer to the digital design website for detailed instructions. Applications are due by November 1 at 5:00pm (Mountain Time) or on the following business day if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday. 

Applications are only accepted online via the portfolio service and must be formatted to the specifications listed on the digital design website. The portfolio samples should consist of images (.jpgs) and embedded video. Written work should be integrated into the submission. It is VERY important for students to visit the submission page 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.

Portfolio of Images

The portfolio must include 13-16 electronic examples of the student’s creative work, consisting of a Design Project (including a writing sample) and works from FINE 1400 Two Dimensional Design, FINE 2405 Introduction to Digital Design and FINE 2415 Typography. Two to five additional creative works may also be included within the maximum of 16 works altogether. 

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 design faculty members reviews the portfolio and grades. For acceptance, the committee looks for an understanding of 2D design, writing and presentation skills.
  • If not admitted into the digital design emphasis, a student has the choice of attempting the review process again the following year or applying to another emphasis outside of digital design.  Students not admitted into the digital design emphasis are encouraged to schedule a meeting with a digital design faculty member to learn of ways to improve portfolios for future submissions. 

Broad criteria for the portfolio evaluation are as follows:

  • Process Research and Analysis - Does the portfolio demonstrate an ability to compile relevant information by identifying resources necessary to formulate a deeper understanding of context(s)?
  • Design Principles - Does the portfolio demonstrate awareness of design principles through various means of technical production and successful color experimentation?
  • Visual Literacy - Does the portfolio reflect sensitivity to design concepts and visual logic, and does it demonstrate fundamental understanding of composition? Does the work communicate effectively?
  • Use of Imagery - Does the portfolio demonstrate a student’s potential ability to create and develop visual form in response to communication problems?
  • Expressive Typography - Does the portfolio demonstrate a burgeoning awareness of the importance of risk-taking while solving typographic design problems?
  • Generating and Selecting Ideas - Does the portfolio demonstrate the student’s ability to generate multiple solutions to artistic problems and utilize process to select the most effective solutions?
  • Technical Skill - Does the portfolio reflect a strong knowledge of tools and materials and an aptitude for digital design skills?
  • Conceptual Skills - Do the portfolio and writing samples demonstrate analytical thinking as it applies to visual art and design? Is there a developing conceptual exploration of the digital medium?
  • Writing Sample - Does the writing demonstrate the student’s critical thinking skills regarding the work and ability to address an assignment in a notable way?
  • Presentation - Is the portfolio well-crafted and well organized in content and presentation? Are all of the required components included?
  • Academic Performance - Do the student’s grades reflect a commitment to learning and growth?


For more portfolio information, please contact or digital design area head Bryan Leister 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.

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