Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A.


New technologies have profoundly changed contemporary culture and inevitably altered the role of the arts in society. The Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program serves as a center for the development and study of digital media and the cultures that they have helped create. Faculty and students are drawn from a variety of backgrounds, such as the arts, computer engineering, humanities, the sciences, and social sciences, to pursue interdisciplinary artistic and scholarly research and production in the context of a broad examination of digital arts and cultures.

The Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A. Program is a two-year program organized into four interdependent and equally important pursuits:

New Praxis—The term “praxis” has many meanings, which include “translating ideas into action” and “action and reflection upon the world in order to change it.” New Praxis in DANM is comprised of “critique” and “practicum” which provide students with both the practical training and critical dialogue necessary to pursue their own individual goals as artists and cultural practitioners.

Studies—DANM “studies” include required core seminars that allow students first to explore an array of recent methods and approaches in digital arts and culture, and then to pursue the construction of specific genealogies and theories with a sustained focus on a particular topic, by engaging in various dialogues at the intersection of theory and practice while developing their thesis project and paper.

Collaborative Research—Students and faculty engage in research collaborations resulting in publications and exhibitions in various research areas. These collaborative research projects vary in topic each year, depending on participating faculty and may include topics such as critical and performative technologies, digital installations and performances, interactive and playable media.  Students collaborate on faculty-initiated and -directed research projects. This work is intended to provide the student with the opportunity to learn collaborative and practical research methodologies, and to participate in a professional-level research project. The collaborative-project group experience is intended to inform, but not necessarily contribute to, the student’s thesis project.

Pedagogy—DANM trains future arts academics through practical experience. Students may be awarded teaching assistantships as part of their overall support package as well as opportunities to assist faculty in workshops.


Prospective students in the Digital Arts and New Media program will have a foundation in the arts with some demonstrated interest in technology or a foundation in technology with demonstrated background in the arts. Many, but not all, entering students will have completed a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program in one or more of the arts disciplines (art or art history, film, multimedia, music, theater, video, etc.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program in computer science or computer or electrical engineering. Other successful applicants will have a B.A. or B.S. in another field but will be able to show substantial achievement in the arts, in technology, or in digital arts.

Prospective students are asked to identify their choice of research group in their application and statement of purpose. Admissions are tied to DANM project group foci. New students are admitted into a specific project group based on the quality and relevance of the student’s prior work and expertise to the group project in their chosen area of focus.

In certain cases, students who demonstrate excellent potential for the program but lack proficiency in a “cross discipline” will be admitted to the program with the understanding that they will take courses during their first two quarters of study to make up that deficiency. An arts student lacking sufficient programming experience, for example, will be expected to take one or two programming courses in their first two quarters in addition to the DANM program requirements.

Students will apply online through the Division of Graduate Studies website between October and January for the following fall quarter. In addition to submitting an online application, students will be expected to submit an online portfolio. Further information can be found at the Division of Graduate Studies website.


Course Requirements

The DANM M.F.A. Program requires 72 credits of academic course work. In the first year, students generally take three courses each term. In the second year, students primarily take elective courses, work with their thesis committees, and pursue independent and directed research leading to the completion of the thesis project and paper. Students may choose to take an elective offered by the program or choose an elective from a broad array of graduate courses offered on campus with the approval of their adviser.

Research group leaders are encouraged to customize the DANM curriculum for students admitted to their group in order to create a specialized "pathway" through the major that emphasizes courses and skills related to their area of research. For example a research group may replace the DANM 250 Collaborative Research Group course series with existing graduate courses in their home department, or require certain courses to fill elective slots. The pathways and course replacements are approved by the DANM director in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DANM and the chairs of any department whose courses are being used in the pathway. 

During the admissions process students will be directed to follow the standard DANM curriculum or a custom pathway depending on the research group they are admitted to.

New Praxis

New Praxis in DANM is comprised of “practicum” and “critique.” 


This area of praxis is designed to allow students to develop the conceptual, technical, and practical skills they need to successfully complete projects that realize their own individual goals as digital media artists. Complete all of the following courses:

DANM210Project Design Studio


DANM215MFA Exhibition Production


DANM299Thesis Research


DANM 299 is required to be taken twice.


This area of praxis is designed to allow students to present their own work and review the work of their fellow students as a means of engaging in the critical dialogue necessary to pursue their own individual goals as digital media artists. Complete both the following courses:



DANM 280 is required to be taken every quarter.


Complete the following courses:

DANM201Recent Methods and Approaches to Digital Arts and Culture


/MUSC 254Q
Dialogues and Questions in Digital Arts and Culture



Students take elective courses as needed to address areas of needed skill development or thesis topic specialization, meet the total 72-credit requirement, and/or maintain their full-time status in a given quarter. Some research group pathways will require certain courses in place of these elective credits.

The following courses are approved electives; any other available graduate-level courses or independent studies offered on campus may count for credit as approved by the student's adviser.

DANM219Introduction to Electronics for Artmaking


DANM220Introduction to Programming for the Arts


DANM281Special Topics in Digital Arts and New Media


Collaborative Research Group

Students participate in a three-quarter-long, collaborative-research project. This work is intended to provide the student with the opportunity to learn collaborative and practical research methodologies, and to participate in a professional-level research project.

Project group topics change each year, so the related project group courses will either be three courses in the DANM 250 series or a combination of other graduate courses as specified in a research group pathway.

Other Requirements

Thesis Requirement

Students are required to complete a thesis project and written paper under the supervision of their thesis committee. The thesis will be an arts project with digital documentation accompanied by a written paper. Thesis projects may be individual or collaborative and are expected to grow out of the research pursued in the project groups during the three quarters prior as well as work developed in new praxis courses. Each student will be expected to complete a 20- to 30-page paper discussing the student’s preparatory research as well as the theoretical significance of the project. In the case of collaborative projects, each student will be required to submit his or her own paper. During the thesis year, students will make at least two progress presentations to their thesis committee. A completed thesis project and paper must be submitted to and approved by the thesis committee before the degree can be awarded.


Student Planner

  Fall Winter Spring
Year 1 DANM 201 DANM 211 DANM 202
DANM 210 Research group course Research group course
Research group course DANM 280 DANM 280
DANM 280    
Year 2 DANM 280 DANM 215 DANM 280
Elective DANM 280 DANM 299
Elective DANM 299  Elective


*Students will be provided with a custom course planner if their research group has a specialized pathway in the major.

Applying for Graduation

By the end of the second week of the quarter of graduation, students complete the Application for Masters Degree form and submit to the DANM graduate adviser. After successfully completing an Oral Defense of their thesis, the student submits their completed thesis to ProQuest via upload, and a hard copy of their thesis title page, signed in ink by all thesis committee members, to the Graduate Division office.