From social media and mobile phones to the algorithms in self-driving cars, digital and information technologies are part of our everyday lives. The Digital Studies Certificate provides you with the opportunity to explore the relationships between new communication technologies and society as well as to develop skills creating digital media messages and products.

Who is this for?

Regardless of your academic or professional focus, completing this certificate can broaden your skill set and awareness. Social sciences and humanities majors can develop their technical skills, while science and engineering students can build expertise in understanding the social and cultural aspects of new technologies. Students from any CU Denver school or college may build a portfolio to demonstrate their technical skills and abilities to critically analyze new media to potential employers or graduate schools.

Students who complete the Digital Studies Certificate will be able to:

  • Critically assess the relationships between digital media and society, as well as analyze online platforms and content using a range of disciplinary perspectives associated with the humanities and/or the social sciences
  • Build hands-on skills in the use of digital communication technologies with a variety of tools, such as digital video and photography, mapping, and social media management

How to apply

Program Requirements

  1. A minimum of 12 hours of approved credits distributed across the course clusters described below. Note: At least 6 credits must be in upper-division clases and students must take courses from at least two departments -- all 12 credits should not be earned in just one department.
  2. Career-focus requirement: Students must attend at least 3 Career Center activities, which can include events, workshops, or 1-on-1 appointments (offered remotely). See the CLAS Director of Digital Initiatives for the signature sheet. The Career Center Activity form is available for download. Please contact the Director of Digital Initiatives with any questions or concerns.
  3. Students must achieve a 3.0 GPA average in all approved Digital Studies courses.
  4. Credits applied to the certificate must be earned at CU Denver.

Digital Studies Certificate Course Clusters

Students select a 3-credit course from each cluster, plus one more course from any cluster. At least 6 credits must be upper-division.

  • Theory and Analysis: Courses focus on theorizing, explaining, and describing the relationships between digital, communication, and media technologies and society. They enable students to critically assess and analyze digital media and information, such as understanding the biases in seemingly neutral Google search results or examining how people use Twitter to build social movements.
  • Digital Media Production: Courses focus on developing hands-on skills in the use of digital, communication, and media technologies. They provide opportunities for students to develop their skills with a variety of digital tools, such as photography, mapping, and social media management.
  • Integration: Courses combine both understanding and practice in digital, communication, and media technologies.

Other courses may apply to the certificate with the approval of the Director of Digital Initiatives. This is a hybrid program, with courses on-campus and online.

The following is a representative listing of Digital Studies-related courses that may be taken toward the certificate; it is not comprehensive. Please note that some of these courses may be taught sporadically. Students should meet with their advisor and the Director of Digital Studies to plan their course of study.

**Courses offered in the Spring 2023 semester are in bold below.**

Theory and Analysis Cluster

  • ANTH 2400 (CLAS) “Exploring Culture through Social Media”
  • COMM 2030 (CLAS) “Digital Democracy”
  • COMM 3650 (CLAS) “Media and Society" (Fall 2021 Course Syllabus)
  • COMM 4610 (CLAS) "Communication, Media, and Sex" (Cross-listed with WGST 4610)
    • Develop the tools to think critically about representations of sexuality and to understand the social construction of sexuality, the role of sexual representations in mass media and society, and the complex relationships between sexual acts, identities, and desires. Restriction: Restricted to class level Junior, Senior, or permission of instructor.
  • COMM 4660/5660 (CLAS) “Queer Media Studies” (Fall 2021 Course Syllabus)
  • COMM 4760/5760 (CLAS) “New Media and Society”
  • ENGL 2060 (CLAS) "Introduction to Writing and Digital Studies"
    • Introduces students to the topics of study in the English Writing major. Topics include writing studies (literacy, genre, research, and multimodality), rhetoric (history and theory), and the teaching of writing (pedagogy and practice). Prereq: ENGL 1020. 
  • GEOG 2080 (CLAS) “Mapping and Map Analysis”
    • Studies major elements in the preparation of thematic maps, including sources of data collection and manipulation of data, and cartographic techniques for display of data. 
  • INTE 4320 (SEHD) “Games and Learning”
  • ISMG 3000 (Business) “Technology in Business”
    • Provides an introduction on how various technologies are utilized by organizations to drive business decisions and gain a competitive advantage. Students will learn how organizations can leverage information technology to streamline operations and become more efficient & effective. Students will be exposed to the concepts of: artificial intelligence, business intelligence, cybersecurity, data and information, e-business, ethical use of data, enterprise information systems, organizational responsibilities related to information technology, project management, systems development life cycle, and wireless communications. Restriction: Restricted to undergraduate students at a junior standing or higher.
  • PHIL 4920/5920 (CLAS) “Philosophy of Media and Technology”
    • A philosophical examination of interrelationships between contemporary media, technology, and their impacts upon character of contemporary life and values. Topics may include ethics, epistemology, democracy, advertising, media literacy and criticism. Cross-listed with PHIL 5920, HUMN 5920, SSCI 5920.  
  • SOCY 1011 (CLAS) "From Killer Apps to Killer Bots: Technological Innovation and Social Change"
    • A young college student updates her social media page to stay in touch with family and high school friends while making new friends on campus. An upstart automobile manufacturer builds a factory manned by robots to produce electronic vehicles designed to reduce the environmental impact of automobiles. The military deploys battalions of unmanned drones to engage with adversaries without risking the lives of their soldiers. Technology mediates nearly all aspects of social life, from reproduction and parenting to crime control and heath care. This course is designed to provide students an introduction to the different social dimensions of technological innovation as well as the theoretical and methodological tools sociologists use to study them. 

Digital Media Production Cluster

  • COMM 2071 (CLAS) “Media Writing Skills" Fall 2021 Course Video
    • A survey course covering the major media writing types including: hard or straight news, features, review, editorials, web content, and social media, plus notetaking, interviewing, and editing skills, and an examination of media bias.
  • COMM 2081 (CLAS) “New Media Production and Management”
  • ENGL 3084 (CLAS) “Multimedia Composition" Fall 2021 Course Syllabus
    • How have computers, the Internet, and smartphones affected the role of writers in contemporary culture? While the ability to compose sentences remains paramount, writers working in online environments must also learn to integrate audiovisual components into the texts they craft. In turn, a writer’s rhetorical training in argumentation, exposition, and narrative may be applied to the design of digital artifacts. The goal of this course is to prepare students to work critically and creatively in multimedia genres that demand a cross-disciplinary facility with words, images, sounds, and software. In this hybrid section, students will perform archival research and rhetorical analysis as they produce their own video essays and collaborate on a brief podcast series.
  • ENGL 4190/5190 (CLAS) “Advanced Topics in Writing and Digital Studies: Podcasting"
  • ENGL 4701 (CLAS) "Multimedia in the Community"
    • Produce dossier-quality multimedia shorts by researching and writing digital compositions for selected community organizations. Topics for research range across numerous social issues and involve all disciplines. Prereq: ENGL 20303154, and 3170 with a C- or higher or permission of instructor. 
  • FINE 2155 (CAM) “Introduction to Digital Photography”
    • Students establish a foundation in digital photography by learning technical skills, such as how to operate a digital SLR or mirrorless camera, and theoretic skills, such as how to research, conceptualize, and think critically about contemporary photography. Through presentations, readings, projects, and class discussions, students gain a greater self-awareness of their artistic decision-making and knowledge of photography. A key aim of this course is for students to develop an individual photographic practice that demonstrates a proficiency with digital photographic tools and software, and an awareness of contemporary art.
  • FINE 2405 (CAM) “Introduction to Digital Design”
    • A project-based exploration of the design potentials of vector, raster and motion based digital media. Through project critiques, discussion and demonstration students will create projects that examine technology as an art medium and a design strategy.
  • FINE 3400 (CAM) "Designing for Web and Mobile"
    • In a design laboratory, students learn how to design for the web and mobile devices. Through lectures, writings, readings, discussion and critiques, students will learn about HTML, CSS, CMS, web hosting, analytics and the principles of UX/UI. Restriction: Restricted to sophomore standing or above.
  • GEOG 4080/5080 (CLAS) “Introduction to GIS”
    • Introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS), including justification, hardware/software, database design, and data conversion. GIS is a computer-based mapping system providing a graphical interface to locational and relational attribute data. Includes hands-on use of a GIS workstation.  Prereq: GEOG 2080 or LDAR 4432/5532 with a C or higher.
  • INTE 4340 (SEHD) “Learning with Digital Stories”
    • This course reviews the uses of digital storytelling for learning. Develop and publish a short digital story that tells something important about you and your interests. Explore ways that creating or using digital stories can aid learning and personal growth. 
  • INTE 4680 (SEHD) “Producing Media for Learning”
    • Students develop and integrate media resources into eLearning environments, applying principles of media selection and multimedia learning. Students explore a variety of tools for producing audio, video, and multimedia content and examine ways to enhance eLearning courses through multimedia presentation and engagement resources.
    • IWKS 2300/5350 (Inworks) “Fundamentals of Computational Innovation”

      • Provides a foundation in computational thinking and practices. Students learn to take advantage of computational power in problem solving by writing simple programs, studying the underlying logic of hardware, and working with a variety of technologies. Cross-listed with ENGR 1100.
    • IWKS 3100 / 5170 (Inworks) “3D Design & Prototyping”

    Integration Cluster

    • ANTH 4800/5800 (CLAS) "Digital Medical Anthropology"
    • COMM 2051 (CLAS) “Introduction to Strategic Communication”
    • COMM 3081/5081 // HIST 3260/5260 (CLAS) “Introduction to Digital Studies,” Prof. Cameron Blevins -  Spring 2022 Course Syllabus
      • Develop marketable skills such as building websites, editing videos, making interactive maps, recording podcasts, and analyzing data while also studying the cultural and ethical dimensions of these technologies. 
    • COMM 3660 (CLAS) “Social Media for Social Change”
      • Students analyze new social media platforms in terms of their textual and visual content, their software structure, and their interactive features, thus learning how to analyze and produce online content intended to spur social change. Prereq: Students must have completed COMM 1011 and COMM 2020 with a C- or higher, or receive permission from the instructor, to enroll in this course. 
    • COMM 4558/5558 (CLAS) “Digital Health Narratives”
      • This course blends readings, discussions and activities about health narratives with digital media production skills to teach students how to create compelling digital stories about health-related topics. Note: this course fulfills the communication department's exit class requirement. Cross-listed with COMM 5558. Restriction: Restricted to students with junior standing or higher or permission from the instructor. 
    • ENGL 4190/5190 (CLAS) “Advanced Topics in Writing and Digital Studies: Usability and User Experience"
    • HIST 3260/5260 // COMM 3081/5081 (CLAS) “Introduction to Digital Studies,” Prof. Cameron Blevins -  Spring 2022 Course Website (next offered Spring 2023)
      • Develop marketable skills such as building websites, editing videos, making interactive maps, recording podcasts, and analyzing data while also studying the cultural and ethical dimensions of these technologies. 
    • HIST 4261/5261 (CLAS) "Working With Data" (Fall 2021 Course Syllabus)
    • IWKS 2100 (Inworks) “Human-Centered Design, Innovation, and Prototyping”
      • Introduces collaborative interdisciplinary design and innovation from a human perspective. Using the wide array of Inworks prototyping facilities, teams of students will design and implement human-oriented projects of increasing scale and complexity, in the process acquiring essential innovation and problem-solving skills. Cross-listed with ARCH 3705.
    • IWKS 3200/5200  (Inworks) “Data Sci for Innovators”
      • Introduces techniques for capturing, processing, visualizing, and making meaning out of large health-focused datasets. With the exponential growth and decreasing cost of data collection tools such as genome sequencing, mobile phone health trackers, remote sensors, and electronic and personal medical records to name a few, the demand for data scientists to help find meaning in a sea of data has never been greater. This course will provide the fundamentals of working with large data sets, introduce widely-used data analysis and visualization tools, and culminate in a data project using a data set of the student’s choice.
    • IWKS 3700/5700  (Inworks) “Innovation and Society” 
    • PUAD 4003 (SPA) “Effective Communication for Public Service”
      • Cultivate skills in making a well-reasoned argument, locating supporting evidence, speaking and writing persuasively, and effectively fostering partnerships across sectors and media. Address varied audiences with presentations that communicate diverse viewpoints in the public service context. 

    For more information about this certificate program contact: Dr. John Tinnell (through Fall 2022), Director of Digital Studies at CU Denver (john.tinnell@ucdenver.edu) or Dr. Cameron Blevins, Interim Director of Digital Studies at CU Denver (cameron.blevins@ucdenver.edu) (beginning Spring 2023).