Digital Media Arts Catalog

Digital Media Arts (BS)

 Program Director: Jamie M. O'Neil, MFA


The Digital Media Arts (DMA) program, offered through the Department of Communication, focuses on converging fields of digital design, animation, video and interactive media. DMA majors take a core set of courses and choose one or more tracks to specialize in web design, graphic design, digital filmmaking and game design. Students often complete dual majors and minors that combine important cross-functional skill sets, including Communication, Business/Marketing, Computer Science, and others. 


Digital Media Arts majors must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00, including a minimum grade of C- in all digital media arts courses. It is expected that students in the program must have a GPA much higher than 2.0 to continue as a DMA major and all majors are subject to review relative to their continuation in the program. Transfer students and students changing their major to DMA should meet with the program director to develop an appropriate course of action based on transferred courses, previous coursework and student’s interests.


All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Digital Media Arts majors are assigned a Department of Communication faculty adviser in the fall of their freshman year.

A Unique Learning Environment

State-of-the-art facilities provide a 100% hands-on approach to learning. Students learn how to use cutting-edge software, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Final Cut Pro, Ableton Live, Maya, Mudbox, Unity game engine and a wide range of web development tools, including WordPress content management and blogging software — all running at with the most up-to-date versions available. Our HD (high definition) video equipment, green screen and media center allow student to create professional grade films and TV programs.

Double Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a double major. This decision may be based on career goals, planned graduate studies, and/or other student interests. Before a student declares a double major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement.  In order to declare a double major, the student must complete the Major/Minor Declaration form. This form will be submitted electronically and reviewed and approved by each department chairperson as well as the appropriate associate dean. 

Per university policy, each additional major requires a minimum of 15 credits that do not apply to the student's first or subsequent major.  Some double major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in other cases additional course work may be required. Please note that students will receive only one degree unless completing the dual degree requirement including at least 150 undergraduate credit hours, regardless of the number of majors they complete. Both (all) majors appear on a student’s transcript.

IMPORTANT: Students should carefully examine the rules for dual majors in the department handbook (available in the department office).

Students interested in declaring double majors within the Department of Communication (Strategic Communication, Digital Media Arts, Integrated Marketing Communication, or Journalism) will be allowed to share a maximum of 9 credits between the two majors. This requires 24 distinct credits for strategic communication, 27 distinct credits for digital media arts, 36 distinct credits for integrated marketing communication, and 24 distinct credits for journalism. Additionally, for students with a double major outside the Department of Communication, students may double count up to 9 credit hours of electives between the two majors. Please note, however, that the second major may not necessarily allow double counting of credits. For more information, please contact the department chair.

Learn Outside the Classroom

Students in the DMA program have numerous opportunities to engage in theoretical and applied research with faculty and third-party institutions. Our faculty is highly engaged in local community of designers, artists, developers and filmmakers, and as a result our students can take advantage of opportunities to learn and practice real-world skills and collaborate with professionals in their area of interest. Some of these opportunities include: Canisius University Video Institute, WordCamp Buffalo, Buffalo Game Space, DMA Student Club, Fusion Gaming Society, Communication Studies Internship Program, Canisius Earning Excellence Program, among others. For more information, please visit our Extended Learning Opportunities page.


DMA students are encouraged to participate in at least one internship within their area of interest. All internships require prior approval and are available to juniors and seniors who meet the criteria. Internships are a culminating opportunity to apply the theory and skills developed in the classroom, in a real-world setting. Some examples of companies where Canisius students have interned are: WGR-550, Snyacor Inc., Moog Inc., Moore Wallace, Perfect Parallel, Chameleon Communications, Eastco Multimedia Solutions, Buffalo Science Museum, Daily Post, Buffalo Spree magazine, Traffic East Magazine, The Martin Group, Computers for Children Inc., among others.

Minors in Other Disciplines

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. To receive a minor, the student must complete at least 9 credit hours of coursework distinct from their other credentials (i.e., majors, other minors). The complete list of minors is available on the Canisius website and in the catalog and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.


An Ignatian Foundation

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum. Many schools refer to their college-wide undergraduate requirements as "general education" requirements. We believe that the core curriculum and the honors curriculum are more than a series of required classes; they provide the basis for a Jesuit education both with content and with required knowledge and skills attributes that are central to our mission.

Free Electives

Students may graduate with a bachelor's degree with more but not less than 120 credit hours. Free electives are courses in addition to the Canisius Core Curriculum or All-College Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum number of credits required for graduation. The number of credits required to complete a bachelor's degree may vary depending on the student's major(s) and minor(s).

Major Requirements

The Digital Media Arts degree in the Communication Studies Department focuses on design for web and print, video production/post-production, 3D modeling, animation, interaction and game design in a 13-course, 39-credit major. The program is organized into 4 tracks to help students choose DMA elective courses that are most relevant to their area of study. These tracks are: graphic design, web design, digital filmmaking and game design. State-of-the-art facilities are featured at the Digital Media Arts’ home in Lyons Hall. 

DMA 201Introduction to Digital Media3
DMA 212Professional Practices and Portfolio3
DMA 2133D Graphics3
DMA 214Digital Design Concepts3
DMA 215Digital Media Culture3
DMA 216Digital Media Law3
DMA 217Interaction Design3
DMA 218Motion Graphics3
Total Credits24

DMA Elective Courses by Track

In addition to DMA major requirements, students complete 5 courses in a given track, one of which fulfills Senior Project and Portfolio requirement. A number of courses from other programs such as Fine Arts Studio (FAS) or Communication Studies (COM) or Computer Science (CSC) count as DMA electives, however, at least 3 out of 5 electives have to have a DMA prefix (e.g. DMA 395 - Digital Illustration)

Graphic Design

Graphic design is in integral component of communication studies and digital media arts. It’s how we present what we’re trying to say. Talented and skilled graphic designers are in demand in a wide range of areas, including advertising/marketing industries, education institutions, athletics departments, corporations, and non-profits. As a student in this track, you will complete projects focusing on typography, color theory, layout, and illustration in a wide-ranging field of applications and formats. You’ll become an expert in creativity-focused software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. You’ll learn to be a creative problem solver, designing unique, engaging and visually dynamic solutions to complex problems. And you’ll build a stunning portfolio that proves it.

For more information about the Graphic Design track, please e-mail Professor Ben Dunkle (@email).

Graphic Design Courses

DMA Courses
DMA 363Print Design3
DMA 384Typography3
DMA 395Digital Illustration3
Qualified Non-DMA Courses
COM 311Principles of Advertising3
COM 315Advertising and the Creative Process3
FAS 110Two-Dimensional Design3
FAS 130Three-Dimensional Design3
FAS 120Drawing I3
FAS 150Color3
FAS 170Studio Painting I3
PHI 291Philosophy of Art3

Web Design

The web design track will equip students with the skills and understanding needed to succeed in a constantly evolving field. Fluency in front-end technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript are supplemented with core design skills. Advanced topics include WordPress, PHP, MySQL, e-commerce, social media and server management. Graduates can expect to meet the growing industry demand for web designers with a degree, portfolio and resume uniquely positioned to help them succeed.

For more information about the Web Design track, please e-mail Professor Ben Dunkle (@email).

Web Design Courses

DMA Courses
DMA 342Introduction to Web Design3
DMA 370Designing for Mobile Devices3
DMA 442Advanced Web Design3
Qualified Non-DMA Courses
CSC 108Introduction to Web Computing3
CSC 111Introduction to Programming3
CSC 380Web Development3
FAS 141Digital Photography3

Digital Filmmaking

Advances in SRL, GoPro and 4K digital cinema cameras have brought filmmaking workflows to the computer lab. Digital Media Arts majors combine production skills of working with cameras, lighting, broadcast and audio equipment through the Digital Filmmaking Concentration. DMA filmmaking alums work as professional Independent Filmmakers, Commercial Video Producers, Editors, Motion Graphics and Special Effects Artists.

For more information about the Digital Filmmaking track, please e-mail Professor Jamie O’Neil (@email).

Digital Filmmaking Courses

DMA Courses
DMA 385Digital Filmmaking3
DMA 387Commercial Filmmaking & Video3
DMA 399Social Documentary3
DMA 309Music Technology3
DMA 310Digital Audio/Music Production3
DMA 380Social Media Production3
Qualified Non-DMA Courses
COM 325Audience Analysis & Media Message Design3
COM 361Introduction to TV Production3
COM 374Film History3
COM 375Film Classics3
COM 376Film Genres3
ENT 201Entrepreneurial Mind-Set and Foundations3
SOC 324Visual Sociology3

Game Design

Why study game design? The video game industry has been driven by phenomenal technological innovation and creativity. It’s a constantly growing field and is expanding into areas such as simulation (e.g. medical, sports and product simulations), advertising, training and education, moving well beyond pure entertainment. As a Digital Media Arts major focusing in Game Design, you will learn game design theory and history, character design, character animation, level design and mobile game development, using cutting-edge, industry standard tools. Students are also encouraged to take courses in Fine Arts Studio to strengthen their artistic skills as well as in Computer Science to learn more about the programming aspect of game development.

For more information about the Game Design track, please e-mail Professor Ben Dunkle (

Game Design Courses

DMA Courses
DMA 346Video Games History & Technique I3
DMA 3482D Animation for Games3
DMA 356Video Games History & Technique II3
DMA 351Game Level Design3
DMA 352Character Design3
DMA 354Game Development3
DMA 355Character Animation3
DMA 3573D Modeling3
DMA 371Game Design for Mobile Devices3
DMA 450Serious Games3
Qualified Non-DMA Courses
CSC 111
Introduction to Programming
and Introduction to Programming Laboratory
CSC 112
Data Structures
and Data Structures Laboratory
CSC 360
Intelligent Systems
and Intelligent Systems Laboratory
FAS 120Drawing I3
FAS 131Sculpture I3
FAH 109History of Architecture3
PHI 291Philosophy of Art3


DMA 201DMA 212
 DMA Elective
Pick two courses from below:1Pick two courses from below:
DMA 213
DMA 215
DMA 214
DMA 216
DMA 218
DMA 217
DMA Elective
DMA Elective
Pick two DMA 200 level coursesPick two courses from below:
DMA 215
DMA 216
DMA Elective
DMA ElectiveDMA Elective

Game design track: DMA 213; Graphic design track: DMA 214; Web design track: DMA 217 Filmmaking track: DMA 218. PLUS one other DMA 200 level course. 

Learning Goals and Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

Student portfolios will be relevant to the demands of the DMA industry and accessible

Students will produce work that is:

  • Objective A: related to student's concentration;
  • Objective B: accessible by target audience and presented professionally;

Student Learning Goal 2

Student portfolios will be of high quality

Student will produce work that:

  • Objective A: exhibits technical prowess and digital skills with software or hardware;
  • Objective B: is original and creative;


DMA 201 Introduction to Digital Media 3 Credits

Introduces the fundamentals of digital systems and technologies through class lecture and hands-on approaches. Software and hardware used for web design, multimedia, video production, graphics and audio production.

Fulfills College Core: Field 3 (Literature and the Arts)

Offered: every fall & spring.

DMA 212 Professional Practices and Portfolio 3 Credits

In this course, students will develop the necessary materials and strategies to apply for internships, jobs, or graduate programs in Digital Media Arts. Students create an online presence, learn about career opportunities in their field, and strengthen skills for networking with professionals in their areas of interest. They will then work one-on-one with industry-experienced faculty to create a targeted resume, cover letter, demo reel, and/or portfolio for their chosen specialization in Digital Media Arts, whether it is Web Design, Graphic Design, Digital Film, or Game Design.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

Offered: every spring.

DMA 213 3D Graphics 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to digital 3D graphics for illustration, simulation, animation and game design. Students using Autodesk Maya, Mudbox and Unity game engine software will learn basic techniques of modeling, texturing, lighting and animation as they draw inspiration for their projects from the rich history of visual arts.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

Fulfills College Core: Field 3 (Literature and the Arts)

Offered: every fall.

DMA 214 Digital Design Concepts 3 Credits

Introduces the conceptual, perceptual and manual skills in traditional graphic design. Topics include typography and visual communication, color theory, the principles of form, structure, spatial design and photo manipulation.

Fulfills College Core: Field 3 (Literature and the Arts)

Offered: on campus every fall, and online summer occasionally.

DMA 215 Digital Media Culture 3 Credits

Explores how digitization impacts our personal, business, cultural, institutional and international lives. Also examines the ways in which digital media transform communication and expression.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: every spring.

DMA 216 Digital Media Law 3 Credits

Introduces a wide range of legal and ethical issues in cyberspace, including: the First Amendment, copyright, fair use, libel, hate speech, pornography, obscenity, privacy, commercial speech and national security.

Offered: every spring.

DMA 217 Interaction Design 3 Credits

Introduces students to user interface design, interactive applications, and user experience. Students develop prototypes that express the look and behavior of data-driven content.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

Offered: every spring.

DMA 218 Motion Graphics 3 Credits

This course covers the fundamentals of key-frame based animation in Adobe After Effects. Students produce motion graphics for informational presentations, such as commercials and PSAs, as well as typographic effects and logo spins for movie trailers, video intros and promotional digital marketing projects.

Offered: every fall.

DMA 309 Music Technology 3 Credits

Explore music sequencing, midi, audio plug-ins and other tools used by professional musicians, sound designers and multimedia specialists. No music background required.

DMA 310 Digital Audio/Music Production 3 Credits

Learn fundamental techniques of digital audio and music production using current technologies in digital recording, software and audio post-production. Discuss current trends in audio production and the tools used for composing electronic music. No music background required.

Fulfills College Core: Field 3 (Literature and the Arts)

DMA 342 Introduction to Web Design 3 Credits

Introduction to the state of the art, on-line multimedia publishing. Working individually and in teams, students learn to publish well-designed World Wide Web documents that communicate effectively.

DMA 346 Video Games History & Technique I 3 Credits

This course provides an analytical and historical approach to the advancement of entertainment software. Encompassing cultural, professional, business, and scientific and technical evolution, the History of Video Games will communicate the socio-cultural impact of interactive entertainment on society.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

DMA 348 2D Animation for Games 3 Credits

This course explores 2D animation for games, which is in high demand across every gaming platform. Students will be introduced to proven principles of animation and apply learned techniques within industry-standard software. Character and VFX animation cycles will be exported as movies as well as polished sprite sheets for game engines. Skills developed in this course will also lay the foundation for future study of 3D animation.

Offered: occasionally.

DMA 351 Game Level Design 3 Credits

Creating a game level takes planning, artistic and technical skill, user testing, and understanding of the designer's vision. In this course students learn how to design game levels that provide challenges, support the story and are exciting to explore and interact with.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Offered: occasionally.

DMA 352 Character Design 3 Credits

This course is a comprehensive overview of character design and development for games, simulations, and film. Students learn the fundamentals of strong character design, including basic anatomy, personality development, concept sketching with digital tablets, orthographic drawings for 3D, fully-realized character sheets, and the basics of modeling characters in 3D. Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 & DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 & DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

DMA 354 Game Development 3 Credits

This course is a hands-on overview of interactive techniques and game design approaches for development of games and simulations. Students explore concepts of procedural rhetoric, interactive storytelling, iterative design and teamwork as they develop a working prototype of a game or simulation.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Offered: fall of even-numbered years.

DMA 355 Character Animation 3 Credits

Character animation is one of the most important elements of game design. Students learn essential techniques and principles to create convincing, interactive character animations for games and simulations.

Prerequisite: DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Offered: occasionally.

DMA 356 Video Games History & Technique II 3 Credits

How did the video game industry earn more revenue than the movie and music industries combined to become the largest entertainment? This course provides the answers and insights into the cause and effects of game design evolution and how it relates to culture and society. Video game history and topics from the mid 1990's to the modern day are covered. While this course continues where DMA 346 (Video Game History & Technique) left off, 346 is not required to take this course.

Offered: every third semester.

DMA 357 3D Modeling 3 Credits

3D Modeling will teach students both organic and hard-surface modeling techniques, which can be used to develop a portfolio for a wide variety of industries including game design, product design, vehicle design, feature film, architectural visualization, and more. Students will learn how to build, UV map, texture, render and export projects to Unity. They will also learn how to export models to Unity for use in 3D games and interactive art. DMA Majors should receive priority, however any student with the prerequisite would be equipped to take this course.

Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C- in DMA 213 or permission of instructor.

Offered: occasionally.

DMA 363 Print Design 3 Credits

Focuses on critical topics in layout, folding, binding and printing, as well as critical/creative issues in magazine, publication and high-end corporate design.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 212 or DMA 214.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

DMA 370 Designing for Mobile Devices 3 Credits

Proliferation of mobile devices in our society has had great effect on how information is distributed, how content is produced and how people interact with digital content. In this course students learn how to create and design content targeted for mobile screens, and how to take advantage of mobile specific functionality such as touch, multi- touch, GPS and accelerometer.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

DMA 371 Game Design for Mobile Devices 3 Credits

Mobile platforms have become very popular for distribution of games. In this course students learn how to design and develop 2D and 3D mobile games with user-centric approach. Students explore game design techniques that take advantage of mobile specific hardware functionality such as: accelerometer, multi-touch and GPS.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 380 Social Media Production 3 Credits

Students will learn a variety of hands-on production skills that can be utilized for communicating on social media with photography, video, audio podcasting, motion graphics, and the design of email promotions, landing pages, coupons etc. Students will develop narrative strategies for both individual and organizational social media branding, as well as explore app-based tools that extend the use of digital media software.

Offered: every fall.

DMA 384 Typography 3 Credits

This course will focus on typography as an element of graphic design. Through assignments, class discussion, and reading, students can expect a greater understanding of how typography can enhance creativity and communication.

DMA 385 Digital Filmmaking 3 Credits

This course introduces advanced SLR and digital cinema camera lens techniques for narrative filmmaking (shooting dramatic and comedic scenes). Production demos include lighting for filmmaking, boom mics, and camera support systems for dolly, crane and steady-cam shots. Final Cut and Adobe Premiere software is used to learn the techniques of narrative film editing.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 387 Commercial Filmmaking & Video 3 Credits

Students create short-form TV and Web video commercials, learn camera and lens techniques for shooting action B-roll (sports, how-to, music video etc.) promotional videos, and branded films. This course also covers wireless audio and LED lighting equipment for run-and-gun interview shooting, a crucial skill for broadcast, advertising or documentary work.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 395 Digital Illustration 3 Credits

Don't violate copyrighted imagery off the web -- create your own! You don't have to know how to draw to create stunning graphics. Use Adobe CS to learn approaches, techniques and current trends of professional illustrators.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 399 Social Documentary 3 Credits

Students examine a survey of important documentary photographers and filmmakers in order to understand the social function and ethical issues of documentary images. With the skills of the filmmaker, students realize how engagement with social issues is a key ingredient to their professional success in the industry.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 201, JRN 201, or permission of instructor.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

Offered: every spring.

DMA 442 Advanced Web Design 3 Credits

This course is for students with a serious interest in web design. It aims to explore the current state of web design techniques and trends including responsive web design, custom WordPress themes, and e-commerce development. This course fulfills Senior Project and Portfolio requirement for Web Design concentration.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 342, or CSC 108, or DMA 217, or permission of instructor.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

DMA 450 Serious Games 3 Credits

This course is an overview of a growing genre of Serious Games or games for purposes other than entertainment. Students learn about games for education, health, social change, marketing and training. The course concludes with a working prototype of a serious game, developed by small teams of students.

Prerequisite: minimum grade of C- in DMA 351, or DMA 354, or DMA 371, or permission of instructor.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

DMA 488 Internship I Seminar 1-12 Credits

Student experientially learns communication functions in compatibility matched professional setting, locally or out-of- town. Faculty and on-site supervision. Seminar required. Pass/fail. May be repeated as DMA 498, 12-credit limit for DMA 488 and DMA 498 combined. Applications on Communication Studies Department website.

Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, minimum overall GPA of 2.50, minimum digital media arts average of 2.70, & approval by department faculty.

Offered: every fall & spring.

DMA 491 Video Institute I 1-3 Credits

Students produce significant projects in video, film, and television. See Dr. Irwin or Professor O'Neil for additional information.

DMA 499 Independent Study 3 Credits

Independent studies require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, department chair, & associate dean.