Architecture, Education, and Technology

College launches digital art and design program

September 19, 2017
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KCAD digital design student
KCAD in downtown Grand Rapids says it prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history and art education. Courtesy KCAD

A local college has converted its former digital media major into a broader degree program.

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) said last month that it has launched a BFA in digital art and design, an evolution of the college’s former digital media program.

Brad Yarhouse, assistant professor and digital art and design program chair, said there’s one main difference between the old program and the new one.

“Previously, there was one program plan for all digital media students,” he said. “The new digital art and design program offers two distinct focus areas of study to better present students with a clear path to their degree and prepare them for professional careers in the industry.”

The two areas of focus in the new degree are entertainment arts and multimedia design. Four new courses also were developed for the program: Digital 3D Design, Digital Character Drawing, 2D Character Design and Interaction Design.

“The strength of this program is its malleability,” Yarhouse said. “It’s designed to allow students to shape their own learning so that they emerge with a clear career focus and a corresponding skill set. We want our students to graduate with a powerful understanding of industry-standard tools, processes and workflows so that they can adapt to the ever-shifting media landscape.”

The first half of the program’s curriculum blends the two focus areas together, exploring the intersection of graphic design, interaction design, animation, illustration, digital 3D and sound design. The second half gives students the opportunity to delve into the area that best aligns with their skills and interests.

The entertainment arts focus area is built on a drawing foundation and incorporates the Digital Character Drawing and 2D Character Design courses.

The multimedia design focus area is based on a graphic design foundation and includes classes on 3D Motion Design and Interaction Design, among others.

Each focus area culminates in two professional studio courses in which students work collaboratively with each other as well as with outside organizations in real-world learning experiences.

KCAD said although several of its other programs have digital components, such as graphic design, industrial design and interior design, this is the college’s first exclusively digital-focused degree program.


KCAD is located in downtown Grand Rapids.

The college aims to create lasting impact in West Michigan and beyond through partnerships, cultural innovation and an educational model that prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history and art education.

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