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Communication is the most fundamental human act. Design touches every form of communication in our lives, from our mobile apps and social media to informational websites and posters. The Metropolitan State University of Denver bachelor of fine arts degree in Communication Design is a professional degree program that will teach you how to use typography, imagery, space and time to communicate ideas in compelling ways.

Through specific courses, you will learn how to craft effective and culturally informed messages for people and organizations in a broad range of design media. This approach, supported by rigorous studies in research, practice and visual studies, gives you the opportunity to engage in a broad spectrum of contemporary design practice and prepares you for careers in design, communications, technology, the arts and other sectors. The bachelor of fine arts in Communication Design also provides you with outstanding preparation for graduate school.

Program Options

MSU Denver’s Art Department offers a wide variety of degree programs for undergraduate students:

B.F.A. in Communication Design
Select this degree if you are interested in the communication design profession and graphic design. A portfolio review is required for admission into the B.F.A. program after you complete your art foundation courses.

B.F.A. in Art
Choose this program if you want to develop a creative practice and prepare for a career as an artist or further studio art graduate study. A portfolio review is required for admission into the B.F.A. program after you complete your art foundation courses.

B.F.A. in Art Education
Select this degree to prepare to teach art in a K-12 classroom. Combining the extensive artistic training of the B.F.A. with educational theory, methods and field experiences required for teaching certification, this degree gives you the foundation to teach in elementary and secondary classrooms. A portfolio review is required for admission into the B.F.A. program after you complete your art foundation courses.

B.A. in Art
Choose this degree if you want a well-rounded education in creative problem-solving through visual art, complemented by a minor in another field.

B.A. in Art History, Theory and Criticism
Make this your degree program if you want to immerse yourself in the intellectual study of art. This program gives you a strong background in diverse traditions as well as contemporary theory and art criticism, and prepares you for a variety of careers in the arts as well as potential graduate study.




Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver

As an MSU Denver Communication Design student you will have the chance to:

  • Complete one or more internships working with a local design firm.
  • Acquire professional experience creating design solutions for underserved or marginalized communities locally, regionally or internationally through the classes, Community-Based Design I and II.
  • Study abroad through a community-service design course in Costa Rica or a new international design experience in Copenhagen.
  • Take advantage of opportunities available through MSU Denver’s off-campus gallery, the Center for Visual Art.
  • Contribute to Zeromile, MSU Denver’s print and web-based biannual design magazine.
  • Complete a professional portfolio of your work prior to graduation.
  • Take part in a capstone experience that includes a senior exhibition and thesis.
  • Learn from well-known artists through MSU Denver’s Visiting Artist, Scholar and Designer Program.
  • Get involved in Future Leaders of Design, MSU Denver's student chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design. Future Leaders of Design will help connect you to the design community at large, lectures and other events.


Career Opportunities for Our Graduates

four images: data visualization, environmental design, graphic design, and user experience

Graduates from MSU Denver’s Communication Design program go on to become graphic designers, graphic artists, creative directors or art directors. Specializations include typography, packaging, publication, corporate identity, brand strategy, environmental, interactive, web, data visualization, interface and user experience design, digital, multimedia, production management and public interest communication.


Lisa Abendroth_Communication DesignLisa Abendroth

Professor Lisa Abendroth coordinates MSU Denver’s Communication Design program. She is a founding member and regular contributor to the international design network, SEED®: Social Economic Environmental Design where she is a co-author of the SEED Evaluator design assessment tool and a reviewer for project certification. She currently serves on the SEED Advisory Board and was the recipient of the Award for Leadership in Public Interest Design. She is an expert in public interest design practices that use the SEED Evaluator tool.


Peter Bergman_Communication DesignPeter Bergman

Associate Professor Peter Bergman has a professional printing background and keeps a 1930 Chandler and Price letterpress in his garage. He teaches typography, print publishing and runs a letterpress assistantship.       




Learn more about MSU Denver Art faculty.

Featured Alumni

“It really feels great to be putting my degree to good use. I use the skills I gained over the course of the program at MSU Denver every day, and I am positive that the Communication Design portfolio class in particular is a big part of why I was able to obtain multiple job offers and gain employment before graduating.”

Greg Jesse (MSU Denver ’12)

Graphic designer at Sukle Advertising & Design.

Alumni at Work

 Organizations that have hired MSU Denver Art Department graduates with a B.F.A. in Communication Design include: 

  • IBM
  • Nickelodeon
  • Anchorage Museum
  • Deloitte Digital
  • Monigle Associates
  • Markit on Demand
  • Walter Thompson.

Other graduates have set out to start successful business ventures of their own or gone on to prestigious graduate programs including those at:

  • Cranbrook Academy of Art
  • Cornell University
  • Tufts University
  • The University of Colorado
  • The University of Denver

Sample Classes

lisa abendroth's communication design class

The Communication Design program underscores three distinct focal points: design systems, research strategy and emerging practices. Here are some Communication Design courses you might take:

Design Media
Identity and Systems Design
History of Communication Design
Creating Web Interfaces
User Interface Design
Professional Practices in Communication Design

Learn more about your Communication Design program curriculum.

Facilities and Resources

As an MSU Denver Communication Design B.F.A. student you will have the chance to work in our outstanding facilities that include the following:

Communication Design Studio features state-of-the-art digital technology, printing and production facilities, design library copy stand for photographing artwork along with digital equipment available for check-out including video cameras, digital cameras, microphones, tripods and headphones. The program also has a small letterpress printing facility, which boasts an 1895 Columbia and Mitchell tabletop platen-press and a Vandercook No. 3 press.

Learn more about MSU Denver Art program facilities.

Program Accreditation

MSU Denver’s Communication Design program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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