Design Reaches Every Part of Life

From commercial packaging to mobile devices, to magazines and books, to trademarks and logos, to websites and physical environments, the 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.

This program underscores three distinct focal points:

  1. Design fundamentals
  2. Traditions of the discipline
    • History/theory
    • Strategy
    • Research
  3. Interactive, time-based content

MSU Denver’s Communication Design program challenges students to become informed, thinking designers.

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 design community and industry beyond the classroom.

Through specific coursework 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 coursework and beyond. These are the very tools of the discipline that will enable you to be a successful designer.

Communication Design Career Opportunities

Our MSU Denver Communication Design graduates find employment across diverse sectors within the design industry, showcasing their versatile skills and creativity in various professional roles:

  • Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Visual Designer
  • Product Designer
  • Digital Product Manager
  • UX / UI Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Web Developer
  • Motion Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Production Artist
  • Production Designer & Manager
  • Pre-press Technician
  • Communications Coordinator & Manager
  • Communications Director
  • Illustrator
  • Brand Designer
  • Environmental Graphic Designer

Download Degree Requirements:

Communication Design Major, BFA

Four Year Progression Plan

Portfolio Requirements and Admission

All students entering the Department of Art 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, B.F.A. in Art Education, or the B.F.A. in Communication Design will be required to pass a formal portfolio review for admittance.



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, and a Vandercook 3. 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 Communication Design  Office is temporarily located in AR 187 N, during Spring 2024.

The Department of Art office is located in the Arts Building, Suite 187 on the Auraria Campus.

Communication Design Office Hours

CDES Office Hours
Temporarily located in Arts Building AR 187 N, during Central Classroom building updates.

For Gear Checkout, Printing, and Tech Staff Support. Drop-in, No Bookings Needed. Studio Assistant hours may be subject to change.

AR 187N Office Hours
Mondays: 11 – 12:15pm, 2 – 5pm

Wednesdays: 11 – 12:15pm, 2 – 5pm

AR 173 Open Studio Hours
Fridays: 10 – 4 on 4/19 and 4/26

Open studio is for the purpose of using Communication Design space and equipment to do your course work. Use the printer and have access to CDES-specific software on the cart laptops. Ask the CDES Studio Assistant if you need to use a laptop from the cart. If room AR 173 is locked when you arrive, you can find the CDES Studio Assistant (Will) in the Art Office room 187 N, working on other printing projects, and he will let you into AR 173.

CN311K Letterpress Lab
Temporarily closed March 25 – May 10, 2024, for Central Classroom building updates.


Lisa Abendroth

Lisa Abendroth

Professor - Communication Design

[email protected] 303-615-0102
Peter Bergman

Peter Miles Bergman

Professor - Communication Design

[email protected] 303-615-0188
Shawn Meek

Shawn Meek

Associate Professor - Communication Design Program Coordinator

[email protected] 303-615-1437
Kelly Monico

Kelly Monico

Professor - Communication Design and Studio Art

[email protected] 303-615-0879

Professor Cies works with a student on a design project