Program History

We’ve come a long way from the program's humble beginnings. From 1996 to the present time, constitutes a twenty-seven year legacy of the Digital Media Program. It began first as Multimedia Communication Technology (MCT) officially in 1996 as an AAS degree; setting the foundational stage that would eventually become a four-year degree later in Spring semester 2002. The 20th Anniversary is to commemorate the bachelor's degree specifically. Of note, too, is the fact that there were no similar programs nationally in the beginning phases, but specifically a bachelor's degree which makes Utah Valley University’s offering so unique, then as well as now. Our program led the way in producing highly credentialed students, ready for industry, and to this day, remains a leader in the field.

As the program evolved from its humble AAS beginnings to a generalist bachelor's degree, various emphases were then added to provide a focus on specializations. Eventually these evolved into the current four degrees that include: Digital Cinema, Digital Audio, Animation and Game Development, Web Design and Development. Each degree provides hundreds of students

with a variety of skill development opportunities and a deep knowledge base to transition graduates into their professional careers, making them not only employable, but an asset to companies who value this rich heritage. Since the inception of the Bachelors program in 2002, over 2,300 students have graduated and moved onto industry. This is an incredible accomplishment. Considering the MCT began with a handful of students to the currently enrolled 920 declared students; there is much to celebrate.


1994 – Proposal of a New Degree: Tom McFarland, the lead originator of the program, proposed the need for Multimedia-focused degrees in higher education at a previous COMDEX Conference where he was a keynote speaker. His keynote caught the attention of then UVSC Vice President, Lucille Stoddard, and that folks, set the torch on fire with a conversation post address. From there the idea moved rapidly with Tom working with others on campus all the way up to Governor Michael Levitt’s desk, who supported the installment of the formation of a program legislatively as well as helping to find the funds to establish the actual AAS degree.

Fall of 1996 – The Beginning: This year marks the start of the Multimedia Communication Technology AAS degree — an entirely new program on campus built from the ground up. The program did not originate out of The Arts, Computer Science, or any other program – the entire concept was driven by the concept of industry-level multimedia creative development practices. During this time, the AAS degree offered very few courses, but played a supportive role for other degrees as well as a vital step for curriculum development that would shape the foundation for the eventual four-year degree. The first graduate of the MCT program occurred in 1998, with only one, but what a big step it was!

January of 2002 – Expanding: The pivotal moment in our program’s history was the official offering of a four-year bachelor's degree for Multimedia Communication Technology. Not only did this grant access to full department privileges, but a degree gave the program clout solidifying the validity of multimedia as a field of study being one of the first in the nation to obtain this unique qualification. Of special note, too, the Computer Science Building opened spring semester 2002, marking a unique chapter in the story of Utah Valley State College and the rise of technology-focused fields of study on campus.

Moreover, the program was very far ahead of its time, too, trailblazing skills acquisition to meet the ever expanding technical and creative proficiencies required by industry – and the program has delivered on this promise since the beginning. The first graduates of the Bachelors degree occurred in 2003, with sixteen graduates, who transitioned from the AAS program as the degree neared official status, and this began a new chapter in the young program history.

2006 – The Need for Multimedia: Much happened during the early years of the four-year program. Curriculum blossomed. An influx of students filled the ranks as the program swelled trying to meet student demand. The MCT footprint in the CS Building grew, too, from a small corner of the Dean’s Office as the Department desk and faculty spread all over the building, to its own space on the fifth floor where we presently reside. In addition to this, projects of all types flourished under a generalist degree supported by the beloved DGM 1110 intro course, to video production and editing, 3D modeling and animation, all the way to audio production and Web technologies – which built a sound structure for future developments in the degree.

It was at this time the Business and Marketing Education moved from IS&T and was integrated into the Multimedia program. This course of action provided MCT students with the opportunity to learn a particular skill set that could help in various professional backgrounds. More specifically, this move allowed Business/Marketing teachers in secondary education, who were asked to begin teaching introductory "multimedia" courses, as well as specialty courses such as Web Development, with the means to do so. This was critical as multimedia was exploding as a must-have skill and young students were excited about the new possibilities for a college education in the field.

In all, the MCT program, as well as UVSC, grew tremendously during this period. So much so that faculty and administration began planning for the next phase that would propel the program and College to new heights.

2008 – Big Changes: Both Utah Valley State College and the Multimedia Communication Technology Degree underwent name changes, becoming Utah Valley University and Digital Media respectively, and signaled a bold move to the academic community. What’s more, the ground work began for specializing within the generalist degree; emphases were starting to form as students were allowed an opportunity to focus in areas of their interest: Digital Video, Digital Audio, Animation, and Web for example became areas of emphasis. These opened up unique opportunities to train more deeply as well as explore emerging technologies more fully.

2012: With explosive growth within the Digital Media program, as well as in other disciplines, Business and Marketing Education moved from Digital Media and took their next step back into IS&T to fulfill a new role. Even though BMED moved back to IS&T, DGM courses remained available for Business Education to acquire multimedia focused skills.

2014 – Growth: At an extremely pivotal moment, UVU gained approval to move towards implementing four specialized degrees within the Digital Media program: Digital Cinema, Digital Audio, Animation and Game Development, as well as Web Design and Development.

2015 – Opportunities: All four degrees ‘officially’ became active with students’ being offered two options – stay in a generalist Digital Media degree, or move into a specialized degree, providing flexibility for students as the transition created new opportunities of study. Moreover, various tracks formed within the degrees over time as well; Web Design and Development was one of the first to have dual tracks, those being Web & App Development and Interaction Design, respectively.

2023 – The Future is Bright: Onward to the present. Our current state consists of four bachelor’s degrees with multiple tracks across all degrees offering a treasure trove of unique specializations. Digital Cinema has five tracks, Animation & Game Development has three, with Audio pushing across to three new divisions, and Web Design & Development remains with the original two tracks. Never to stand still, though, Digital Media is constant in the pursuit of new and emerging disciplines and continues our leadership in the space. Looking at the strengths that lie within the various degrees, a new degree is in the formation phase … Extended Realities & Simulations! Faculties are working diligently towards its approval with an anticipated rollout in Fall 2024. This will form the fifth degree and bring a unique umbrella that will embrace all current degrees for use in extremely unique delivery of interactive content.


More to Come

Even with all of this activity, Digital Media has even more planned. There is a desire to work towards our program to become the School of Digital Media within a few years. This would allow each of the degrees to become their own departments, as well as the formation of additional degrees within them. In addition, and quite an exciting prospect, we have been listening to our past graduates ask if there are plans for a future graduate program. Well….

Plans are still in the formulation process, and we don't know at this time what that will exactly look like, but these programs take much effort to develop, lobby administration and regents, and integrate into a system, let alone recruit candidates. So, we're looking for options that may result in a program opening sometime late 2027 at the earliest. Are you interested?

With growth inevitable, and our ongoing quest to provide the best possible education for our students, and this includes facilities. Currently, completion of the new Scott Smith Engineering Building is slated for spring semester of 2026. The new building will house a portion of Digital Cinema with a new cutting-edge Sound Stage and a premium Theater. With the new building, though, means the current CS Building is up for a renovation. So, Digital Media looks to upgrade space to state-of-the-art classroom and flexible learning space specifications during the year of 2026 and 2027.