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BFA in Communication Design

Design reaches nearly every part of life: from toothpaste tubes to cell phone screens, to magazines and books, to trademarks and logos, to websites. This diversity of design practice is reflected in the program of design studies offered at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Communication Design is the term we use to identify our program. Communication is the most fundamental human act and Communication Design expresses the fusion of semantics, pragmatics, and syntactics that our program embodies. At MSU Denver, Communication Design is part of a professional education that emphasizes oral, written, and visual communication. This approach, coupled with sound strategy in research, practice, and visual studies, gives students the opportunity to engage in a broad spectrum of today’s design practice.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design program underscores three distinct focal points: design fundamentals; traditions of the discipline (history/theory, strategy, research); and interactive, time-based content. As a student in this program, you will first learn how to use typography, imagery, space, and time to communicate ideas and create narratives or stories. You will expand on these fundamentals in intermediate studies, where you will engage in design problem solving through critical inquiry and research. At advanced levels, you will explore a wide range of design endeavors in projects that satisfy your personal interests as well as those that connect you with the Denver community and the world beyond the classroom.

MSU Denver’s Communication Design program challenges students to become informed, thinking designers. Through specific course work that fuses semantics, pragmatics and syntactics, students discover how to design for the people and contexts that require communication while learning to craft effective and culturally appropriate messages in a broad range of design media. The program positions five pedagogical pillars as significant to our mission: making meaning, furthering function, pursuing process, mediating messages, and fostering form. These pillars are underscored by a contemporary practice that integrates design fundamentals with emerging media, research, and history/theory. As a design student, you will come to rely upon these critical aspects in your course work and beyond. These are the very tools of the discipline that will enable you to be a successful designer.

Portfolio Review and Admission

All students entering the department as majors are admitted under either the B.A. in Art or the B.A. in Art History, Theory, and Criticism. After completing the foundation courses and one other course in ART, CDES (Communication Design), or ARTH (Art History), those wishing to pursue the B.F.A. in Art (either the professional studio art degree or the art education concentration) or the B.F.A. in Communication Design will be required to pass a formal portfolio review for admittance into those programs.

Portfolio Review Guidelines

Portfolio Review Guidelines

Portfolio Review

BFA in Communication Design: Portfolio Review and Admission
All students entering the Art Department as majors are admitted under either the B.A. in Art or the B.A. in Art History, Theory, and Criticism. After completing the foundation courses and one other course in ART, CDES, or ARTH, those wishing to pursue the B.F.A. in Art or the B.F.A. in Communication Design will be required to pass a formal portfolio review for admittance.

Portfolio submissions must be completed by the end of the 6th week of the fall and spring semesters. Faculty will conduct reviews and students will be notified of the results in time to make registration decisions for the following semester. Refer to portfolio submission deadlines below.

Spring 2015 Portfolio Review Deadline: Friday, February 27, 2015 at midnight

Portfolio Submission Guidelines:

Students who are ready to have their portfolios reviewed should go to to create an account and submit the following materials:

All portfolios are to be submitted electronically. A faculty jury will review portfolios without the student being present. The submitting student must complete all contents of the portfolio and students will be required to affirm their authorship when applying.

Statement of intent: Write an essay no longer than 250 words explaining your ambitions as a professional designer and why you are interested in pursuing a B.F.A. in Communication Design.

10 examples: Upload 10 examples of your best recent works. At least one of these works should be self‐directed, rather than the result of a course assignment. Visual examples should be labeled with course number and assignment title where appropriate.

Pages from a Sketchbook:  Upload 2 pages from a sketchbook that shows evidence of research behind final works represented above, and one sketchbook page showing a new idea for further research to explore. Annotate these pages with 2‐3 sentences each that explain your process of inquiry and how it led to your final piece.

Include short descriptions of each work.

Portfolio Submission Workshops:

Students interested in learning more about the Communication Design portfolio submission process are encouraged to attend a workshop or arrange an individual advising appointment with a Communication Design advisor.

Spring 2015 Portfolio Workshops: Feb 2, Feb 10, and Feb 12 from 11-12 in CN 311

Portfolios are to be submitted electronically to submission dates are no later than the end of the sixth week of the semester.

Applicants will be notified via their email accounts of their acceptance status.

Contact: Lisa M. Abendroth, CDES Program Coordinator with questions:


Download Degree Requirements:

Select the advising sheet for your catalog year:

2006 - 2011 BFA in Art - Communication Design

2012 to Present BFA In Communcation Design


Future Leaders of Design

Future Leaders of Design is MSU Denver's student chapter of AIGA, The Professional Association for Design. Dedicated to connecting Communication Design students with the design community at large, programming features a monthly Brown Bag lecture series and sponsorship of programming, events, and discussions. The student club makes a point of getting students involved in the biannual AIGA conference by applying for university-supported funding.



Lisa Abendroth
Communication Design Program Coordinator
303-556-3140 | CN 311D



Kelly Monico
Communication Design
Assistant Professor
303-556-3090 | CN 311C



Peter Miles Bergman
Communication Design
Assistant Professor
303-352-4943 | CN 311A



The Communication Design program is housed in the Central Building, on the southeast side of Auraria Campus. Here you will find approximately 4000 square feet of state-of-the-art digital technology, studio and lecture spaces, printing and production facilities, as well as faculty offices. This design hub offers the functions of a professional design studio. As a student, you will be free to work in any number of spaces based on your needs, interests, and coursework requirements, and thus have the opportunity to build a spirit of collaboration with other students in your discipline.

The studio features a design library and gallery for student reference; for in-depth research needs, the Auraria Library is just a building away. A collaborative learning lab features innovative strategies for team-based collaboration on design projects. An integrated print studio boasts an 1895 Columbia and Mitchell tabletop platen-press. New sentence about new printing press. As a student you will be able to work with faculty and/or trained studio assistants to produce a variety of printed ephemera. The historical significance of printing with movable type will connect you with your studies in design history and typography, among other subjects. Emphasizing the connection between history and modern technology, data projectors and white boards are strategically positioned in teaching spaces to allow for project demonstration and group critique of work. When faced with producing design solutions, you will have at your disposal industry-standard color and black-and-white laser printers as well as a large-format archival printer. These in-house options will make it easy for you to make your design solutions a reality very quickly. Additional resources in the studio include video and still digital cameras, microphones, tripods, data projectors, and headphones, all available for student checkout.


The Department of Art office is located in AR 187 on the Auraria Campus and is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The Communication Design Studio is located in Central Classroom, room 311.