5 Creative Technology Undergrad Programs Your Students Should Know About

BY Melissa Felderman 2/20/18 6:31 AM

As programmable electronics become more widespread in schools, students are becoming interested in pursuing creative technology in college studies and beyond. The academic field of Creative Technology is becoming more robust, and new programs are popping up every year. It’s an exciting field in which students can continue to pursue their creative passions while developing valuable engineering skills. Students interested in pursuing this degree have more options than ever when applying to colleges, and we thought we'd share a few of our favorite Creative Technology undergraduate programs so they are on your radar.

Technology, Arts & Media Program, Atlas Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

Image courtesy Atlas Institute website

“Invent. Design. Create. The Technology, Arts & Media Program [TAM] is part of the ATLAS Institute on the University of Colorado at Boulder Campus. ATLAS is an innovative campus-wide initiative in education, research, creative work and outreach in which information and communication technology is the enabling force. The Technology, Arts & Media Program offers several programs: a Bachelor of Science in Technology, Arts & Media (BSTAM), a Minor in Technology, Arts & Media (MTAM) and a Certificate in Technology, Arts & Media (CDM). Our programs are designed to teach students creative thinking, technical skills, and visual communication within creative studio-based environments.”

This program offers excellent courses that will prepare students to think creatively and execute ideas with engineering and fabrication. Learn more about the classes offered in TAM here. Be sure to check out the BTU (Blow Things Up) Lab, a makerspace and classroom within the program that SparkFun sponsors.


Interactive Media Arts [IMA], Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Photo courtesy ITP blog

“At the program’s core is the conviction that digital expression is an essential skill for all — artists, writers and designers as well as programmers and engineers. Students will learn to think about the relationship between digital tools, physical objects and environments, human interaction and technology’s impact on the world. The practical work involves creating and critiquing everything from networked software and apps to objects with embedded interactions — games, wearable devices, computational clothing, social tools, novel controllers, the whole range of objects and interfaces that have at their core interaction with a user.”

IMA is an undergraduate born out of NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), of which I am an alumna. I can personally vouch for IMA and its faculty — an exceptional cadre of artists, technologists and critical thinkers. Attending ITP led me to my position at SparkFun, where I have the opportunity to be creative and practice engineering every day.

Backed by 30 years of academic experimentation, expertise and experience through ITP, IMA's curriculum is thoughtful and sets each student up to explore exciting technical creative tools and define their own path.


Design and Technology: BFA, Parsons School of Design

 Photo courtesy Parsons website

“Choose a pathway — Game Design or Creative Technology — and solve design problems by remixing software, hardware, art, and design creatively. In this program, code becomes your second language and expressive means of connecting with others. You develop a sustainable process for researching, experimenting, designing, prototyping, iterating, and producing projects that keeps pace with evolving technology.”

This is a competitive program to NYU’s IMA that has been running longer and at a more reasonable price. Students will walk away with strong design thinking, married with engineering skills, making them fantastic job candidates after graduation.

If this sounds interesting, check out the related Art, Media and Technology program at Parsons as well!


Arts and Entertainment Technologies

School of Design and Creative Technologies, College of Fine Arts, University of Texas at Austin

Students demo games they've created at Digital Demo Day.

Photo courtesy University of Texas at Austin 

“The Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies in the UT College of Fine Arts is designed to facilitate the creation of new works and inventions that explore, expand and transform the arts and technology. The centerpiece of the program is the Bachelor of Science degree in Arts and Entertainment Technologies, an interdisciplinary major where students will learn in an environment that emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning with creative technologies.”

With an emphasis on project-based courses, students who attend the Arts and Entertainment Technologies program at UT will walk away with a Bachelor of Science. In this interdisciplinary major, creative expression and technological innovation meet. What stands out to me is that all students are required to pursue a second area of study, infusing their creative and technical practice with the context of another area of discipline. When I teach, I always make a point of telling my students that with creative technology skills, you can make projects relating to personal passions and interests. This program gets that, and supports the concept by engineering the curriculum to lend itself to outside ideas.


Art and Technology Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Art & Technology Studies School

Photo courtesy School of the Arts Institute of Technology

“Complex technological systems comprise much of the support structure and communications environment we rely on in daily life. We artists are relentlessly appropriating, repurposing, and subverting these systems in order to critique their provenance, reveal their hidden potentials, unlock experiential possibilities, or suggest alternative social frameworks. Often the seeds of new creative behaviors are hidden within the very complexity and instability of modern technological systems, waiting to be released. While technology can be applied in traditional disciplines, in Art and Technology Studies our discipline is one of invention through the generation, hacking, and subversion of systems.”

This program views engineering skills as creative tools at the tips of artists' fingers, elevating art into new forms as new technology emerges. Students interested in technology as a creative medium can plot their own curricular pathway through the Department of Art and Technology Studies.

Learn More About Electronics in Higher Ed

There are many more programs out there, and even more popping up all the time! Let us know in the comments below if we missed a program that you know or are interested in learning more about.

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