Denver Design Schools with Degree Program Descriptions

There are at least 10 schools within 20 miles of Denver that have design programs. Read an overview of three schools' programs, requirements and admission info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Design Schools in Denver

Design is a broad field of study, and the city of Denver is home to programs at several levels and specializations. This article examines three schools that are less than 25 minutes from downtown. It also includes a table of vital information about the schools, such as tuition, graduation rates and enrollment. A few other Denver-area schools with design programs are mentioned at the end of the article.

  • Located downtown on the Auraria Campus, Metropolitan State University of Denver offers industrial and communication design programs at the bachelor's degree level and as a minor.
  • At Red Rocks Community College, students can study graphic design and print production at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Red Rocks is about 13 miles from downtown Denver.
  • The University of Colorado Denver is also located downtown. This school offers bachelor's degree programs in digital and scientific design, a minor in digital design and a Master of Urban Design.

Comparison of Schools

Students who are looking for a school must consider many factors. The following table lets students evaluate important features for all three schools and make an informed decision about their education.

Metropolitan State University of Denver Red Rocks Community College University of Colorado Denver
School Type Four-year, public Four-year, public, primarily associate's Four-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017) 20,304* 7,355* 24,839*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $7,352 in-state; $20,149 out-of-state* $4,008 in-state; $14,773 out-of-state* $9,107 in-state; $25,259 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2017) 71%* 50%* 74%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 64%* N/A - Open admissions 65%*
Retention Rate for First-Time Students (2017) 63% for full-time students; 47% for part-time students* 49% for full-time students; 40% for part-time students* 67% for full-time students; 44% for part-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate 28% (Students began in 2011)* 26% (Students began in 2011)* 45% (Students began in 2011)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Students interested in pursuing design at Metropolitan State University of Denver can study industrial design through the Department of Industrial Design or focus on communication design through the Department of Art; both departments are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Minor in Industrial Design

Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a minor in industrial design that includes 22 semester hours. Students in the minor program study woods and plastics, industrial and perspective drawing and history of industrial and product design. This minor is recommended to business students but can also be studied by students in other majors.

Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design

Metropolitan State University of Denver offers the only industrial design program in Colorado that is accredited by NASAD. The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design requires a sophomore year portfolio review and senior year internship. Required courses cover drawing, two- and three-dimensional design, model making, design for production and portfolio development. Students also learn to work with a variety of materials through fabrication courses in wood, plastic and metals.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design

The Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design to students who are interested in learning the fundamentals of design, problem solving and visual communication. Initially, students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Art program. After completing art foundation and general studies requirements and passing a portfolio review, students are admitted to the BFA program. Art foundations cover drawing, world art and studio foundations. Post-foundation coursework includes 60 credits that cover typography, production techniques, research methods, Web interface and narrative design.

Red Rocks Community College

Red Rocks Community College offers programs for graphic design. Graduates of Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degree programs at Red Rocks Community College can go on to enter four-year programs at any public university or four-year college in Colorado.

Introduction to Graphic Design Certificate

Students looking to study design might want to consider this basic graphic design certificate. The program consists of six credits in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. Coursework can be used toward the graphic design and print production certificate.

Graphic Design and Print Production Certificate

The Graphic Design and Print Production Certificate program consists of 18 credits of required courses. Students learn about production design, packaging design and electronic prepress. Coursework also covers industry software, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. This program can be combined with one of the school's multimedia graphic design associate's degrees or taken as a stand-alone program.

Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design and Print Production

The AAS in Graphic Design and Print Production includes 60 credits of coursework. Students can take courses in drawing, 3-D design, typography, color theory, prepress and courses in Adobe software. Six elective courses, 15 credits of general education and a business. internship or capstone class must also be completed.

University of Colorado Denver

The College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Denver has programs for both digital design and scientific media design. Students can also pursue a Master of Urban Design through the College of Architecture and Planning.

Minor in Digital Design

While majoring in another field, students can earn a digital design minor by completing 21 credits of coursework. Classes cover digital design basics, typography, motion design, interactive media and design history. To be admitted to this program, students must complete foundation studio art classes, submit a portfolio containing 13-16 electronic work samples, a written statement and course transcripts.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Digital Design

Students wishing to earn the BFA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in digital design will start by fulfilling the same requirements as students entering the minor. Once admitted, students will complete coursework covering digital and motion design, interactive media and media history. Studio courses covering design are also required. Students must also take a design studio thesis course to complete the program.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Arts with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation

Students will need to successfully complete two courses in 3D foundations and animation before entrance into this program. Additionally, a portfolio will need to be submitted. Coursework includes topics like the modeling of surfaces, shading, textures, lighting, 2D and 3D design, and dynamic simulation.

Master of Urban Design (MUD)

The Master of Urban Design at the University of Colorado Denver is a one-year, 36-credit program, open to individuals who have completed a first professional degree in landscape architecture, urban planning or architecture. It can be combined with another master's program or taken alone. Courses cover urban form theory, sustainable design, design policy and urban design studios. Students must complete an independent study or internship.

Other School Options

At Arapahoe Community College, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in a variety of design fields or a Certificate in Residential Kitchen and Bath Design or in Web Design. This school is located 11.5 miles from downtown Denver. At Community College of Aurora, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic and Web Design on a campus located 11.3 miles from downtown Denver. Community College of Denver, located in downtown Denver, offers certificate and associate's degree programs in graphic design. Front Range Community College, a school located 16.4 miles from Denver's city center, offers a range of 2-year and certificate programs in design.

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