Otis Extension courses and certificate programs have enabled generations of students to explore their creativity and launch new careers.

By Anna Raya

Otis Extension at Otis College of Art and Design has something for every artist and designer looking to enhance a current practice or explore new professional possibilities. Drop into any one of Extension’s virtual or in-person classes in fine arts, digital media, fashion design, and interior design—to name just a few of the disciplines—and you’ll meet students who are established in their careers and others with little to no art and design experience. There are costume designers working on the latest DC Studios blockbuster and high school art teachers; choreographers looking to segue into interior design and lawyers needing a creative outlet. No matter their skill level, every student is guided in a supportive and inclusive classroom environment by exceptional faculty who are working professionals in their fields.

Ranging from a few hours to multi-week sessions, Otis Extension courses allow students to explore topics on a schedule that works for them. There also are 12 certificate programs that enable students to develop their skills in a variety of disciplines, the courses for which are available online, in the evenings, and on weekends so students can learn at their own pace and time.

The resulting work is often stellar, with students making creative breakthroughs and even launching new careers over the course of a term, all of which is apparent in the following examples from across Otis Extension’s programming.

Otis Extension student Mike Munich video still

Mike Munich

Currently working on a certificate in Interior Design after spending years as a dancer and choreographer in Los Angeles 

Course: Color Theory and Design, a required course for several certificate programs

In this course, knowledge and understanding of color are developed through weekly exercises and homework projects using a range of digital and physical media. Through lecture, demonstration, critique, and practical experience, students investigate color theory, design fundamentals, color in the environment, and more.

Project: Final Project: “Colorblind,” a video (above) exploring the contrast of black, white, and grayscale against saturated colors.


Witches Crossing video game home screen

Joanne LeCocq

Recent graduate of the Game Design Certificate Program 

Course: Game Level Design Capstone 

Students prepare a professional presentation of their final games, and present to visiting industry professionals for critical review and feedback. Students learn business practices central to the game design profession, including resume, portfolio, correspondence, and professional presentation.

Project: Capstone Project: Witches Crossing video game

Witches Crossing video game design screen Restaurant concept


Robert McLaughlin

Recent graduate of the Interior Design Certificate Program 

Course: Interior Design Studio II

In this continuation of Design Studio I, students gain a deeper understanding of architectural floor plans, space plans, and color palettes by designing a retail store concept. Students develop floor plans and layouts and create client color photo board presentations. Topics include selecting of materials, code compliance, and appropriate use of design elements.

Project: Restaurant Concept and Floor Plans


Otis Extension photography examples from student

Alexis Kuno and Lisa Joy Walton

(Left: Kuno shot at Disneyland, Anaheim, California; Right: Walton shot at Dana Point, California)

Course: Introduction to Photography

Foundational knowledge of photography is a critical building block for a photographer’s development of basic shooting and lighting techniques. In this hands-on course, students investigate black and white and color film and digital photographic images as they develop technical and conceptual skills. They achieve their own photographs that consider composition, lighting techniques, and camera usage.

Project: Motion Shutter Speed Assignment


Otis Student animation student work

Bailey Wyatt

Recent graduate of the Animation Certificate program, with an interest in pursuing a career in 2D animation

Course: 2D Animation II

Students continue to explore 2D Animation principles and techniques using industry standard tools. This advanced course focuses on character animation and storytelling as students apply principles of timing, weight, anticipation, posing, silhouette, and mood. The course also examines animation shorts and films for critique and to train the “animator’s eye.”

Project: Character Exploration

Course listings and registration information can be found on the Otis Extension website. Be sure to check out our Certificate Programs. You can also register to attend an upcoming information session on youth and pre-college summer programming.