Colorado Boulder Launches Advertising Graduate Degree Program

Those looking for jobs in the ad industry may want to head to University of Colorado, Boulder.

The school's College of Media, Communication and Information (CMCI) is launching IXDMA, a graduate degree program that is a spinoff of BDW, its design-based graduate certificate program that had a 100% placement rate at companies including R/GA, Google, Pinterest and Uber.

"We have an unique learning culture," says David Slayden, associate professor, CMCI, executive director, IXDMA. He says every project solves real-world problems through a partnership with BIGSHOP, an advance projects lab that works with companies, including Microsoft, R/GA, Allstate, and ESRI.



Professors also hail from the business world, rather than work solely in academia.  

Sixteen students will inaugurate this "experimental, collaborative" program beginning August 22. The structure retains the core curriculum of BDW, which is designed to adapt to the ever-changing ad world by always being ahead of the industry.

For instance, students aren't specifically taught Flash programming because it may be outdated by the time they graduate. Rather, students "learn how to learn," says Slayden. 

The major change between shifting from a certificate to degree program is evident in recruitment, says Slayden. It's a lot simpler to attract international students, since Visa requirements are easier to land with degree programs, adding that 90% of the 104 graduates applied only to this program.

The student body is also more diverse since BDW first launched in 2009.

The first class primarily "hit the ceiling in their careers," but now students seek skills that will enable them to jump from agencies to startups to brands. Graduates are "recruited from day one" and rise quickly in their careers often to leadership roles," says Slayden.

There are already expansion plans, says Slayden. "We always designed it to be three verticals: design, technology, and strategy."

Next year, the school will introduce the two other verticals -- brand design and design technology -- to eventually bump up its admitting class to around 60 students.


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