Digital Futures

As a student in the program you will acquire creative digital abilities that will ignite and safeguard your career.

Would you like to design the next hot app? Or make a super-cool indie game? Perhaps you would like to hang out with tech start-ups on a field trip to New York City? Maybe you want to make smart clothing that tells you about your health or gives you a massage when you are stressed? Or how about working in a team to create an interactive Sci-Fi movie to show at an IMAX theatre? Do you want to mine online data to make money or learn how to make 3D digital prints? All of this happens right here on the Digital Futures program at OCAD University.

Our graduates choose creative jobs in mobile app development, video games and transmedia, user experience design, eCommerce, communication and data visualisation, product, exhibition and event design, wearables, web, media and multimedia services.

"No one knows for sure what the careers of the future will look like. But the people at the cutting edge are already watching old jobs disappear – and experimenting with the technology that has begun to create new ones." (Tom Meltzer, Guardian June 15, 2014)

The curriculum
Many of our assignments are team based. The majority of our courses involve industry. All of our courses are at the digital cutting-edge.

First year
The first year of the program immerses students in a set of foundation courses that set the context and linkages across the fields of art, computer programing, design and business. Courses include game design, digital models and fabrication, art and code, cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Second and third years
In the second and third years of the program, students form teams to work in large Ateliers (collective studios) with specific themes. Each atelier runs for two or three semesters, can include individual and group work and is typically delivered by several instructors. The atelier themes vary each year. Previous themes included “Games Design and Enterprise” – with a field trip to New York City – and “The Future of Storytelling and 3D Open Worlds.”Students also take courses that complement the theme of the atelier, ranging from skills-based classes in software, smart phone app development and game design, through to new digital art forms, social media trend forecasting, computer science history classes and digital business.

Fourth year
The fourth year of the program revolves around the student thesis, which can be undertaken individually or collectively as a group. The thesis can be based at OCAD U, it may be a collaboration located in industry, it may be in another city, or it may even be in another country. This effectively initiates the careers of students through practice, collaborations or exposure to industry and work opportunities.

Many students choose to undertake internships with industry in the summer and earn program credits for these. Further options for students include taking elective courses at other universities or creating their own independent study courses. Students can also take electives from across OCAD U.

The collective foundation course in first year is Accio — that's right, it is named after a Harry Potter spell:

DIGF1B04 Accio 
Accio facebook - student reflections

You can also download a sample of other 2012/13 syllabuses (in the titles, 1=1st year, 2=3rd year, 3=3rd year):

DF Flipbook CoverHave a look at our Yearbook


Our collaborative multidisciplinary undergraduate program offers digital courses that combine the four points of an “X.” Each point represents the skills you will acquire in art, computer programing, design and business.

In Ontario, the digital sector is set to be the largest employer within 5 years, overtaking the auto industry which is currently number one. In North America, over three quarters of a million people now make a living in app design – up from zero 7 years ago – no other sector grew this fast during the global financial crisis. Globally, the digital sector is outpacing all others in terms of job growth.

But although digital jobs are growing fast, they are highly competitive. You need to get yourself digital skills to survive and thrive. Our program has been built on the basis of creating the best possible opportunities for our students to develop the most relevant skills and differentiate themselves in the digital workplace.

When we created this program we brought together some of the world’s top academics, corporations and start ups to work out what to do. Our advisory board includes Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Ubisoft, City of Toronto, Bell TSN, TVO broadcasting, Xenophile Media, Idea Couture, RBC Royal Bank, Toronto Arts Foundation, SAP, White Pine Pictures and Stone Canoe. Every year these companies and many others join us for an industry day and offer life changing internships for our students, often paid and all earning program credits.

This is what employers are saying: “I have been following the evolution of the Digital Futures Initiative for a number of years and every step of the way has impressed me more with each passing moment. Digital Future’s X-shaped Designers will be the thought leaders of the future. The ability to learn, rooted in a sound basis of fundamentals, is what attracts employers. This program is clearly providing exactly that background, teaching students the basics, helping them learn today’s tools but keeping them open to the inevitable evolution and change. They will be the leaders of a tomorrow which is coming faster every day, driving change and opportunity.” – Stephen Perelgut, Senior Relationship Manager, IBM Academic Partnerships

The backgrounds of our students are diverse and range from art to science. For admission to the program you will need to provide a visual portfolio, a science or technology project, or examples of creative writing.

2015/2016 Program Overview

Course Code Course Title Credits
DIGF-1002 Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration 0.5
DIGF-1003 Accio 0.5
VISC-1001 Global Visual & Material Culture: to 1800 0.5
VISC-1002 Global Visual & Material Culture: to Present 0.5
SCTM-2005 Introduction to Computer Science: Logic and Coding 0.5
ENGL-1003 The Essay and the Argument 0.5
ENGL-1004 The Essay and the Argument: ESL 0.5
DIGF-1001 Digital Models + Fabrication 0.5
DIGF-2003 Augmented Production 0.5
GART-1006 Time-Based Media 0.5
GART-1036 Creative Process: Art and Code 0.5
GDES-1028 Game Design 1 0.5
SCTM-2007 Digital Game Engine Environments and Mechanics 0.5
Course Code Course Title Credits
DIGF-2002 Physical Computing 0.5
DIGF-2004 Atelier I: Discovery 1.5
DIGF-2005 Atelier II: Collaboration 1.5
HUMN-2007 Computational History & Theory 0.5
INTM-2016 3D Modeling & Animation 0.5
VISM-2003 Introduction to Game Studies 0.5
DIGF-2008 Mobile & Web Cross Platform Design 0.5
INTM-2007 Compositing & Digital Animation 0.5
INTM-2017 Hybrid Media Lab 0.5
SCTM-2006 Introduction to Inclusive Design 0.5
Course Code Course Title Credits
DIGF-3002 Synthesis (Thesis Proposal) 0.5
DIGF-3003 Atelier III - Investigations 1.5
DIGF-3004 Atelier IV - Synthesis 1.5
VISM-3002 Visual Analytics and Data Visualization 0.5
2000 or 3000 Studio or Studio/Seminar Elective
(recommended DIGF-2006 & DIGF-2009, GDES-3015 or DIGF-3001)
3000 or 4000 1 course ENGL, HUMN, SCTM, SOSC, VISA, VISC, VISD, or VISM
(recommended SCTM-3001 or VISM-3001)
Course Code Course Title Credits
DIGF-4901 Thesis Project I 1.0
DIGF-4902 Thesis Project II 1.0
DIGF-5001 IP: Getting Value form Your Creativity 0.5
DIGF-4001 Leadership in the Digital Economy 0.5
BUSI-4001 Entrepreneurship 0.5
2000, 3000, or 4000 Open Electives
(must take 0.5 visual culture and 0.5 liberal studies breadth if you do not take VISM-2003 & SCTM-2006 in year 2)
3000, or 4000 1 course ENGL, HUMN, SCTM, SOSC, VISA, VISC, VISD, or VISM 0.5