What is DMA?

The Digital Media Art program at San José State University is a multidisciplinary BFA degree offering digital art and design curriculum in the areas of computer graphics, web development, creative programming, physical computing, 3D printing, digital fabrication, prototyping, interactivity and computer games. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the DMA program is dedicated to the advancement of contemporary technologies through research and experimentation at the intersection of art and science.

The BFA Concentration in Digital Media Art teaches technical, creative, and critical thinking skills to empower our students as problem solvers and innovators in the field of digital technology. Students graduating from the program develop real-world skills in graphics, programming, digital video, interaction design, and computer game design using a wide range of tools, technologies, and techniques. Our curriculum is hands-on, providing project-oriented learning in collaborative workshop environments.

DMA operates several labs including the CADRE Physical Computing Lab and the DMA Game Design Lab providing research based pedagogy in a wide range of digital media arts. We offer fabrication facilities through our comprehensive wood and metal shops including laser cutters, CNC routers, and vacuform, in addition to metal and large-scale sculptural fabrication.

What is CADRE?

CADRE stands for Computer in Art, Design, Research, and Education. Established in 1985, CADRE is the second oldest education art media lab in the US (MIT’s Media Lab was the first). CADRE currently consists of the Physical Computing Lab (Art 237) and the Game Development Lab (Art 241) on the campus of San José State University.

Applying to the DMA BFA

How do I become a DMA student? When should I apply to the DMA program?

To become a DMA BFA student, you must first enroll in our introductory courses - Art 74/ Introduction to Digital Media Art & Art 75/ Introduction to Video Art. During Art 74 you will be required to create a digital media art portfolio. In Art 75 you will continue to add class projects to your portfolio, refine the design, and submit for faculty review to be admitted into the DMA Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program area.

If you transfer into SJSU, and have an approved transfer course for Art 74 (see http://www.assist.org), you should create & submit your portfolio while taking Art 75.

How do I apply for the DMA major?

PROGRAM APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: You will need a B/ 3.0 minimum GPA or better in all art classes to be admitted to the DMA BFA. See the BFA Admission Application and Procedures form for more info. Please follow the departmental instruction to complete the required department forms and submit by the deadline along with the link to your portfolio.

Even if you have declared DMA as your intended major at SJSU, you still need to apply & be admitted to DMA to graduate with the degree

  • You should apply as soon as you have completed 21 Units of the Preparation for the Major Courses (upper box of major form). This is usually somewhere between your Sophomore and Junior years.
    • Make sure you have taken Art 74 & Art 75.
    • Apply early, if you don’t get in on your first try, you can get feedback on your application from the reviewers and apply again. Many Students need to apply more than once.
  • You will need to apply to the DMA BFA major with a portfolio; for DMA the portfolio consists of the website that you create in the Intro to Digital Media class (ART 74).
    • Must included 10 pieces (the assignments in ART 74 & ART 75).
      • Your portfolio should include at least 80% digital material. Note: If your primary focus is painting, drawing, illustration, photography, sculpture, clay, glass, metalwork, or other traditional mediums, we encourage you to apply to the Pictorial, Photo, or Spatial program areas.
    • The website should be built from scratch using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (JS optional).
      • Make sure your images are viewable at a high resolution (at least 1000 pixels on the long side)
      • You should include both still images as well as links/embeds for time-based or web-based media
      • In addition to the images, each piece should include a title and description of the work
      • Your artist statement should be included somewhere on your website
      • Make sure the Web Design reflects your best efforts; the website itself is kind of like the ’silent 11th project’ and will reflect poorly on your application if there are broken links and errors in the code etc

When do I submit my portfolio for admission to the DMA BFA program area?

The Art Department accepts applications each semester for review. The deadlines are in late October, and early April. Notification of upcoming deadlines will be posted throughout the art building & sent out via email to the DMA email list.

What are you looking for in the DMA BFA application portfolio?

You must include at least 10 pieces in your portfolio created using some form of digital media. The best way to present a broad range of digital media is through an online website featuring artworks created in software, code, and/ or digital fabrication mediums. You can include computer graphics, websites, software, code, 3d printing, digital fabrication and computers games, among other digital art forms. A good rule of thumb is to submit work that demonstrates the CLOs of Art 74 & Art 75:

Art 74 CLOs

  1. Introduction to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator image editing software.
  2. Introduction to Premiere Pro video editing software and Audacity sound editing software.
  3. Introduction to HTML 5/CSS.
  4. Introduction to additional free, open source, and demo software to expand software literacy.
  5. Develop an introductory understanding of the field of new media art.
  6. Practice critical thinking skills to address digital art and network cultures.
  7. Practice writing skills to articulate meaning and importance of digital art and networked cultures.
  8. Understand the role of copyright, remix culture, and the social graph.
  9. Develop a working understanding of software culture, open-source, and emergent social media with an emphasis on digital publics in the 21st century.
  10. Establish nomenclature and a working understanding of digital media artworks and processes used by contemporary practitioners in the field, including non-linear, networked, interactive, environmental, performance, projection, sound, physical computing and code-based methods of digital media art production.

Art 75 CLOs

  1. Be comfortable with DSLR camera and camera-phone recording techniques.
  2. Know basic concepts for creating both narrative and non-narrative videos.
  3. Use non-linear video editing software to edit digital video.
  4. Processes for creating original artwork from concept to completion.
  5. Be familiar with various practices for gallery installations of Video and New Media Art.
  6. Understanding of current movements in Digital Video and New Media Art.
  7. An introductory understanding of video as a language and how it is contextualized from other moving images like film.


There are four full time faculty advisors in Digital Media Art (DMA); see the DMA advising schedule. We can advise you on the classes you need to take in the art department, but you will need to see a general advisor to make sure you are on-track with your General Education (GE) courses.

DMA Advisors


Please review the following forms and fill out the roadmap and major form before meeting with your Major Advisor. Be aware that the forms linked below are for reference and may be out of date, current Art forms are available online; you can do a web search for “Art Forms SJSU” and it should be the first link.

  • BFA DMA Roadmap
    • The roadmap will give you a sense of what courses should be taken for the major and what the recommended order is.
    • This is also the form that the SJSU administration uses to populate your ’My Progress’ report.
    • Be careful, Art 1 is listed out of order (we are fixing) and should be taken as soon as you know you want to major in DMA with a BFA.
  • BFA DMA Major Form
    • Shows you all of the art classes that you will need to take to graduate.
    • You will need to fill this form out before any advising appointment you make with the DMA advisors and will need to be submitted with your application to the major.
    • You will also need to submit this form with your application to graduate.
    • You should be aiming to complete all of the preparation for the major courses (the upper box of the major form) before enrolling in any of the Specialized DMA courses.
    • If the course was completed at another college, please indicate the college, the exact course prefix & number in the “Outside course or Substitution” space provided.
    • Here is an example of a properly filled out DMA Major Form Example


You will need to fill out a graduation form and submit it up to 3 semesters before you graduate, but typically one year/ two semesters before your planned graduation. It takes awhile to process your application in the department so make sure you turn it into the art office at least 1 week before the deadline to turn in to the Office of the Registrar: (usually Window R in the Student Services Center, for COVID you can turn into the art office for digital signatures). For more info see here: https://www.sjsu.edu/ha-advising/advising/graduation/index.html.

What about GE advising?

DMA Major Advisors do not advise for GE courses. Please visit the College of Humanities and the Arts (H&A) Student Success Center for GE advisinghttp://www.sjsu.edu/ha-advising/index.php. The College of Humanities and the Arts (H&A) Student Success Center is the central advising resource for students in the College. They can answer your questions about general education requirements, selecting or changing majors, filling out petitions and forms, and planning a course of study that leads to timely graduation.

Completing the DMA BFA Degree

Download the DMA BFA Major Form here: http://www.sjsu.edu/art/documents/forms/

SJSU Art and Art History requirements are located here: https://catalog.sjsu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=2&poid=481&returnto=96

How do I complete the DMA major?

Using the DMA Major Form, a fill-in-the-blank PDF document, complete the section entitled Preparation for the Major (24 Units), and then continue with Requirements in the Major (52 Units) – for a total of 76 units to complete the major (approximately 2.5 years assuming 15 units per semester in the major).

How do I use the DMA Major Form?

Use the electronic version of the current DMA Major form located here: http://www.sjsu.edu/art/documents/forms/ Updating the form electronically, and then print it out when you need advising or signatures.

Update the major form in Adobe Acrobat Reader only! https://get.adobe.com/reader/

(Note: The form will not work correctly in Mac Preview)


You can find descriptions for DMA classes here: http://cadre.sjsu.edu/courses/. If you are new to SJSU and have questions about what classes to take, I would suggest adding any of the classes from the following list of the Preparation for the Major Courses (upper box of major form):

  • Top Priority (absolute must before enrollment in 100 level DMA classes)
    • ART 1 (meant as an introduction to the art department at SJSU, useful early in your career at SJSU)
    • ART 74 (DMA class- intro to digital art)
    • ART 75 (DMA class- intro to video)
  • Second Priority (more flexible about enrollment in 100 level DMA classes), transferrable from other institutions
    • ART 12
    • ART 13
    • ART 24
    • ART 68
    • PHOT 40
    • ARTH 70 (A, B, or C)

What classes should I take?

This is a common advising question, but the answer is quite simple. You must take all of the classes on the DMA BFA major form. All courses on the DMA Major Form + completion of all GE requirements are required to receive the BFA degree. We generally don’t advise you to take more than 2 Upper Division DMA Studio Classes per semester. Please see your advisor if you plan to take more than 3 Upper Division DMA in a semester; some classes work better together than others.

Are all DMA courses offered in both both Fall and Spring semesters?


What courses transfer into DMA?

If you have courses that transferred into the DMA major from a community college, you can locate those courses here: http://www.assist.org. It will take some time for the transfer courses to show up on your official MySJSU transcript, but you can determine in advance which course will transfer using http://www.assist.org

What is Art 198?

Art 198/ Interdisciplinary BFA Seminar is required to be taken the semester prior to your planned graduation. For example, if you plan to graduate in the Spring you must take Art 198 in the Fall prior (and vice-versa).

What is Art 195?

Art 195 is your BFA Thesis project and gallery exhibition conducted in your final semester of study. It is conducted as a 3-unit course with one full-time DMA faculty member. Your thesis project must demonstrate professional competence in digital media art. A gallery exhibition with the approval of the student’s advisory faculty member is required.

How do I prepare a to take Art 195?

In Art 198 you are required to produce a one-page project description and a sketch of your proposed BFA thesis project. In Art 195 you will work with your professor who will review and approve your proposal.

What about reserving a gallery space for Art 195?

Once you have received approval for your project proposal in Art 195, you may reserve a gallery space at the beginning of the semester in which you will exhibit. Please contact SJSU Student Art Galleries regarding reserving a gallery space. Historically, Art 195 students have had the opportunity to exhibit as a group off-campus. Students who want to install solo exhibitions in student galleries AND participate in the group exhibition will need faculty approval.