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Certificate in Design & Creative Technologies

The 19-credit Certificate in Design and Creative Technologies (DCT) is a new program to prepare undergraduate students for the innovative roles the visual arts and digital media play in shaping contemporary culture. This certificate integrates research-driven design thinking and digital media-making with the study of technologies used in professional creative industries.

Centering Design Thinking 

At the core of this certificate is “Design Thinking” a framework which students can adapt to their own creative work. 

  • Design Thinking is a cross-disciplinary creative problem-solving process which combines analytical thinking, creative thinking, and practical skills. 
  • Design Thinking is a mindset and approach to learning, collaboration, and problem solving. In practice, the design process is a structured framework for identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions. 
  • Design Thinking can be flexibly implemented, serving equally well as a framework for different kinds of technology-driven projects—communications, products, systems, and services.

It is important to stress that students in the certificate program not only learn about technology but are also able to apply a growing set of practical processes in design and media which will aid in preparing them to be professional problem solvers in the 21st Century.

Who is the Certificate for?

The intensive DCT Curriculum has been designed for individuals pursuing study in studio art and art education as well as other areas across the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and University at large. 

Ideal candidates for the certificate are undergraduate students who prefer the flexibility of pairing skill-building in digital image manipulation, visual communications, interactive media, and human centered-design processes, with other academic and visual art studies. 

Certificate candidates would ideally desire to position themselves as emerging artists, graphic designers, art educators, creative technologists, and other media makers who wish to incorporate design principles and digital technologies in various academic, community, and professional settings.

Why study Design and Creative Technologies?

The DCT certificate explores the relationship between the design process and use of accessible technology including but not limited to: raster and vector-based image editing, visual communications, 3D rendering, digital fabrication, motion media and animation, creative computing, and interactive media. 

In a world of increasing prominence of digital design, fabrication, and audience-engaged practice, it is more essential than ever to demonstrate proficiency in a range of digital skills as artists. The certificate provides this diverse training to students so that they may become leaders in the design thinking, creative direction, media design, and tech-centered maker movements.


Apply to the Program

The Certificate in Design & Creative Technologies offers undergraduate art majors in the BA and BFA programs an opportunity to focus on design and digital media. To apply, art majors must complete the following declaration form or application by the end of their sophomore year (57 credits).


If you are interested in becoming a DCT Certificate student, please review the information below and submit an application or contact the Department of Art at artadvisor@umass.edu. You will receive an email reply to indicate if your application has been accepted or denied. Accepted students will also receive detailed information about required courses.

Majors from across the university and are welcome to apply to join the program as a certificate student through the application below. Please note that limited space in the program is available.


Non-Art Major Application information:

  • Name
  • ID#
  • UMass email address
  • Phone
  • Current major/degree program
  • Expected graduation semester/year
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 1 Letter of Recommendation (Emailed to mainoffice@art.umass.edu by the deadline)


What is the deadline to submit this form?

  • October 15, 2023 (Spring), March 15, 2024 (Fall)
  • Late applications will not be considered


What are the eligibility requirements to apply:

In order to ensure successful completion of requirements prior to graduation, applicants must have less than 57 credits to apply for a Certificate in Design & Creative Technologies. Exceptions will only be considered if a student has already taken the Foundation Requirement and at least 3-credits of the Core Digital Media Requirements.


How do I enroll in Art classes once I am a Certificate student?

  • Art Majors should self-enroll in certificate requirements after speaking to their faculty advisor during advising week.
  • DCT Certificate students that are not art majors must attend the mandatory certificate and minor advising fairs held each April for Fall enrollment and December for Spring enrollments. Individual advising meetings are not available.
  • Non art majors are not able to self-enroll in art classes. Overrides to enroll Certificate students are only processed during the advising fair.
  • Students will receive an invitation via email to attend the Art Minor and Certificate Fair.
  • Students who are abroad should email artadvisor@umass.edu to make arrangements.

Important Notes:

  • The program has limited space for enrollment of applicants from majors other than art. Application to the program does not guarantee admission.
  • Although every effort is made to accommodate student interest, enrollment in desired courses is not guaranteed. Advisors recommend planning numerous semesters ahead by choosing a top-3 list of desired courses each semester and completing prerequisites before moving on to upper-level studio courses.
  • DCT Certificate courseworks does not replace a concentration in other BFA studio areas (painting, sculpture, animation, etc.), instead design and technology coursework is encouraged to be paired with studies across the visual arts. 
  • Students interested in studying design and technology as a primary studio area are encouraged to pair the BA with the DCT Certificate.
  • DCT Certificate students cannot request an override into full courses without instructor approval.
  • Students may not pursue both a DCT Certificate AND Art Minor.


What are the course requirements to complete the Certificate?

To qualify, students must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all courses for the certificate, listed below. All Certificate students must fulfill all of the Requirements. The DCT Certificate Requirements Checksheet also contains this information.

The curriculum will be composed of one “Foundation Requirements”, two “Core Digital Media requirements”, two “Studio Electives” in studio courses of interest that includes a digital media component, a “Design Studio Requirement”, and at least a 1-credit “Professional Development Requirement” as a capstone (19 credits minimum). 

Individuals who complete all seven courses will be awarded a certificate, conferred by the University of Massachusetts Amherst at the point of graduation.

Foundation Requirements (3-4 credits):
Choose one
ART 104, 110, 120, 131, 105, or 153

Core Digital Media Requirements (6 credits):
Take both

ART 275 Digital Imaging 3 credits
ART 264 Digital Design 3 credits

Possible Studio Electives (6-7 credits):
Choose two. Studio Electives can not count as Design Studio Requirements.

ART 230 Image Capturing 3 credits
ART 234 Art & Code 3 credits
ART 290STA Introduction to Computer Animation 3 credits
ART 345 Digital Media: Printmaking 3 credits
ART 347 Digital Media Silkscreen 3 credits
ART 360 Sculpture 3-Mold Making & Casting 3 credits
ART 375 Moving Image 3 credits
ART 390STA Experimental 3D Animation 3 credits
ART 385 Media & Motion Graphics 4 credits
ART 364 Design Thinking for Social Innovation 3 credits
ART 490STA Advanced Animation Seminar 3 credits

Design Studio Requirement (3 credits):
Choose one after you have taken 12 credits. Courses may not be repeated.

ART 364 Design Thinking for Social Innovation 3 credits
ART 464 Design Projects & Production 3 credits

Professional Development Requirement (1 credit minimum):
Choose one in your final year. ART 389 can only be taken in spring of Junior or Senior year and cannot be taken in first semester of the certificate

ART 389 - Portfolio Practicum 1 credit 
ART 298 or ART 398 - Practicum 1 credit (minimum)

Total Credits: 19 credits (minimum)

Notes: No more than 6 credits may be transferred into the program. Prerequisites moving on to more advanced work. Department Practicum credits (e.g. internships) must be arts-related, sponsored by full-time Department faculty, and approved by the Undergraduate Program Director. Currently, we do not offer any summer or winter art courses but you can take courses at any of the other Five Colleges or Massachusetts community colleges and transfer in the credits. Internships/Practicums may be taken for credit in the summer semester through University Without Walls, contact Career Development and Professional Connections for more information. Please make sure you fill out and submit the Prior Approval Form. For the Senior Year in Absentia, please use this form.


I have finished my Certificate required courses, or I am about to graduate and am currently enrolled in the last required courses. What must I do to finalize my Certificate?

Upon completion of the required courses, or before the end of your final semester, submit the following materials to the Art Department Undergraduate Advisor at artadvisor@umass.edu or submit physical copies of these forms to the Art Department office, Studio Arts Building Room 222.

  1. DCT Certificate Requirements Checksheet, completed
  2. Declaration of DCT Certificate form
  3. A copy of your unofficial transcript from SPIRE, with required courses highlighted


Curriculum and Course Descriptions

This program is intended for students who desire a solid foundation in digital media, design, and creative production. 

Students begin by engaging with one of the department’s Foundational Courses in visual composition, drawing, and design, as a prerequisite for the Digital Core Requirements. Current BA-Studio Art or BFA-Studio Art students who pursue this certificate will have already completed the requisite foundation requirement in their first year.

Digital Core Requirements:

ART 275 Digital Imaging explores the creative possibilities of digital image creation and manipulation as well as using laser cutters and router-based digital fabrication and interactive media. Through demonstrations, creative technical assignments, students explore the digital workflow in independent projects and get experience in digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

ART 264 Digital Design engages students in a core study of how to communicate visually using digital technologies, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign to create integrated communications for both print and screen-based media. Classes are structured around individual and collaborative design assignments with a focus on project management, process documentation, digital composition, typography, and layout.

Studio Electives:

After the Foundation Requirements and Digital Core courses are complete students are then able to pursue elective studio courses that fit their interests by either getting specific in a particular area of design, art and digital media, and creative technologies, or trying different things. As more design course offerings become available students will have the opportunity to tailor their study.

Design Studio Requirements:

These intermediate and advanced design requirements encourage students to synthesize their studio explorations into an immersion into design thinking for the production of digital and hybrid media.

ART 364 Design Thinking for Social Innovation engages students in the design thinking process and making using digital tools. In collaboration with UMass Amherst Civic Engagement and Service-Learning, students and faculty work with partnering organizations to do original design research, prototyping, and testing for a real world socially engaged project. Semester and year long design engagements have recently been offered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Paperbark Magazine, Baystate Health, and Mass 4-H.

ART 464 Design Projects and Production is an intensive course that involves bringing integrated design projects from idea to production. Students work across the Adobe Creative Cloud (and other tools) to design visual identities, determine use and functionality of a product or campaign, and finalize components for print, fabrication, and development. Projects are reviewed by industry professionals and become part of portfolios that students can use for internships and job searches.

Professional Development Requirement:

The certificate is completed with either the opportunity to pursue a credited internship in a creative field of their choice, with options to pursue on-campus, off-campus, or remote internship and practicum opportunities, or take the Art 389 Portfolio Practicum course (1-credit) geared towards developing portfolio for post-graduation job-search. 


What kind of internships or career-focused opportunities are there?

Students may pursue internships on- or off-campus as part of their studies at UMass. A maximum of 12 Independent Study and/or Practicum credits can be applied toward studio art BA/BFA degree requirements. A minimum of 1-credit of internship or practicum is needed for the Professional Development Requirement of the DCT Certificate. 

Students have interned and collaborated with the University Museum of Contemporary Art, Herter Art Gallery, Department of Theater, and with cultural institutions, marketing and design firms, among others. Graduates are currently working in the non-profit, publishing, and technology sectors, as social media and communications associates, graphic and motion designers, project managers, user experience designers, makers, educators, and more!

Each semester the Arts Extension Service offers an Arts & Humanities Internship Fair. Visit the HFA Careers Office for more information about jobs and internships in the field.