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

  • Eligibility: CU Denver students in any discipline can enroll in the program at any point in their undergraduate studies.
  • For information and to apply, please contact the Director of Digital Initiatives. Students may download the application form here.

Program Requirements

  1. A minimum of 12 hours of approved credits with at least 6 upper-division credits. Note: Students are encouraged to 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.

***Course being offered in FALL 2021 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”
  • COMM 4610 (CLAS) "Communication, Media, and Sex"
    • Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Amy Hasinoff -- Course Summary: 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. Cross-listed with WGST 4610.
  • COMM 4660/5660 (CLAS) “Queer Media Studies”
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 12:30-1:45 (Campus), Prof. Mia Fischer -- Course Syllabus
  • COMM 4760/5760 (CLAS) “New Media and Society”
  • ENGL 2060 (CLAS) "Introduction to Writing and Digital Studies"
    • Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Joanne Addison -- Course Summary: Topics include writing studies (literacy, genre, research, and multimodality), rhetoric (history and theory), and the teaching of writing (pedagogy and practice).
  • GEOG 2080 (CLAS) “Mapping and Map Analysis”
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 2:00-3:15PM (Campus), Prof. Matthew Cross -- Course Summary: The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with basic concepts in all aspects of geo-spatial technologies, including cartography, remote sensing, statistics, global positioning systems, and geographic information systems (GIS). Students will also work with maps, practice basic map use and reading skills, and learn about the world of spatial thinking and geographic inquiry.
  • INTE 4320 (SEHD) “Games and Learning”
  • ISMG 3000 (Business) “Technology in Business”
  • PHIL 4920/5920 (CLAS) “Philosophy of Media and Technology”
    • Fall 2021: Tuesday 5:00-7:50PM (Campus), Prof. David Hildebrand -- Course SummaryAs we are constantly reminded, we live in an ever-accelerating “Information Age,” an era of rapidly shifting images and voluminous data. This is an age of apps, algorithms, and robots where social media and identity become increasingly difficult to disentangle. What is "knowledge" and "truth" in such an environment? What is "wisdom"? What is morality in this shifting technological era? What does it mean to be “human” and to live a meaningful life? Finally, what challenges are posed to our public life, our democracy? To pursue these questions, this course will investigate key approaches to the philosophy of technology and media along with critiques and alterations of those approaches. Readings will likely include Postman, Heidegger, Boorstin, VerBeek, Turkle, Dewey, Ellul, Borgmann, Latour, and more.
  • SOCY 1500 (CLAS) "From Killer Apps to Killer Bots: Technological Innovation and Social Change"

Digital Media Production Cluster

  • COMM 2071 (CLAS) “Media Writing Skills”
  • COMM 2081 (CLAS) “New Media Production and Management”
  • ENGL 3084 (CLAS) “Multimedia Composition"
    • Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Nicole Piasecki -- Course Syllabus
    • Fall 2021: Thurs 3:30-4:45PM (Hybrid), Prof. John Tinnell -- Course SummaryHow 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"
    •  Fall 2021: Tues/Thur 11:00-12:15 (Campus), Prof. Michelle Comstock -- Course SummaryLearn how to write, record, edit, and exchange a variety of podcast genres (narrative, interview, documentary). For more information, email Prof. Michelle Comstock.
  • ENGL 4701 (CLAS) "Multimedia in the Community"
  • FINE 2155 (CAM) “Introduction to Digital Photography”
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 12:30-2:30 (Campus), Prof. Trent Davis Bailey -- Course Summary: 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.
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 3:30-5:30 (Campus), Prof. Trent Davis Bailey
    • Fall 2021: Tues/Thurs 12:30-2:30 (Campus, Prof. Jasmine Colgan
  • FINE 2405 (CAM) “Introduction to Digital Design” (serveral sections, see catalogue)
  • FINE 3400 (CAM) "Designing for Web and Mobile"
    • Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Ben Eveloff -- Course Summary: This course provides an overview of the concepts, theories and principles of website design and front-end development. Topics include: Photoshop, Wireframing, HTML, CSS, JavaScript (jQuery), Bootstrap, Wordpress, search engine optimization, web analytics and website hosting.
  • GEOG 4080/5080 (CLAS) “Introduction to GIS”
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 9:30-10:45 (Campus), Prof. Matthew Cross -- Course SummaryIntroduces 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. 
    • Fall 2021: Friday 9:30-12:15 (Campus), Prof. Amanda Weaver -- Course SummaryIntroduces 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.
  • INTE 4680 (SEHD) “Producing Media for Learning”
  • INTE 4340 (SEHD) “Learning with Digital Stories”
  • IWKS 2300/5350 (Inworks) “Fundamentals of Computational Innovation”
    • Fall 2021: Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:45, Prof. Katherine Goodman -- Course Summary: Introduces fundamental principles of computing related to innovation. Students learn to utilize computational power by writing simple programs. They will learn the principles of computing through a combination of short lectures and guided exercises. Over the course of the semester, they will also become increasingly competent programmers. This iteration of the course uses the Python programming language, which has been shown to be an good learning language, and has also become a high-demand job skill for scientific, engineering, and data science applications. The course is cross listed as ENGR 1100, a required course for some engineering majors.
    • Fall 2021: Tues/Thurs 2:00-3:15, Prof. Katherine Goodman
  • IWKS 3100 / 5170 (Inworks) “3D Design & Prototyping”

Integration Cluster

  • ANTH 4800/5800 (CLAS) "Digital Medical Anthropology"
  • COMM 2051 (CLAS) “Introduction to Strategic Communication”
  • COMM 3660 (CLAS) “Social Media for Social Change”
    • Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Megan Hurson -- Course Summary: Social media continues to be a disruptive force in communication, facilitating the creation of networks to foster broader connections and enable two-way communication across geographically dispersed locations. This is a special topics course designed to explore how social media has impacted our communication as a society and how it can be employed as a practical tool to aid in social change. In this course, we will examine social media from a sociological and historical perspective, analyze and critique social movements that have harnessed the power of social media, follow social media trends as they pertain to contemporary social justice movements, as well as critically assess current events to understand how social media have been used to facilitate social change.
  • COMM 4558/5558 (CLAS) “Digital Health Narratives”
  • ENGL 4190/5190 (CLAS) “Advanced Topics in Writing and Digital Studies: Usability and User Experience"
    •  Fall 2021: Online, Prof. Kari Campeau -- Course SummaryThis course will introduce you to the theories and practices of scholars and practitioners who work in usability, user experience (UX), and technical and professional communication. Usability is concerned with how people interact with design and technology. To explore the intersections of usability, UX, and technical communication, we will:
      1.) critically engage with usability theories, products, testing tools, and processes, including use cases, heuristic evaluation, and usability testing;
      2.) explore usability and UX research methods and learn technical skills to design more effective, inclusive, and accessible user experiences; and
      3.) conduct a remote usability test of an existing website for a client.
      In the final 10 weeks of class, we will apply usability, UX, and technical communication principles in a client-based team project. Teams will analyze and usability test a client’s web interface with target users. Each team will produce a use case, test plan, test report, and brief recommendations report.
  • HIST 3260/5260 (CLAS) “Digital Studies and Strategies”
  • HIST 4261/5261 (CLAS) "Data: A User Manual"
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 12:30-1:45 (Campus), Prof. Cameron Blevins -- Course Syllabus
  • IWKS 2100 (Inworks) “Human-Centered Design, Innovation, and Prototyping”
    • Fall 2021: Tues/Thurs 3:30PM-4:45PM (Remote), Prof. Monica Wittig -- Course Summary: Introduces students to a design methodology known as human-centered design, which can be harnessed to stimulate innovation in various career fields and industries. Through in-class activities and learning an array of prototyping tools, students will build up the skills necessary to develop their own projects in the second half of the course. Team projects apply the design process and culminate in a product, service, or system that is designed from scratch. All students from any major are welcome to take this course.
  • IWKS 3200/5200  (Inworks) “Data Sci for Innovators”
    • Fall 2021: Mon/Wed 11:00AM-12:15AM (Campus) -- Course Summary: 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”

For more information about this certificate program contact Dr. John Tinnell, Director of Digital Studies at CU Denver, 303-315-7339; e-mail: john.tinnell@ucdenver.edu.