Online Interactive Media Degrees: Program Overviews

Find out about online interactive media courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Online interactive media programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. While associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available in fully online formats, these programs can include an internship requirement or opportunity that will require in-person participation. Master's degree programs are available in fully online and hybrid formats and culminate in a final project or thesis; some may include an exhibition. Additionally, students within these programs must have access to specialty software, such as the Adobe Creative Suite. Scanners and digital cameras are also necessary.

Associate's Degree in Interactive Media

An online associate's degree program in interactive media prepares graduates for careers that will allow them to combine their creativity with design theory and technology. Students learn about digital video and audio, animation and Web-based applications. Graduates are prepared to work in web design, graphic design or film, among other areas.

Information and Requirements

Associate's degrees in interactive media can be completed entirely through online courses, although some schools may offer internships that must be completed in person. Students who are taking courses full time usually complete their studies in two years.

Students planning on entering an online degree program need reliable access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Some programs may also require students to have a basic understanding of computers and knowledge of HTML. Additionally, interactive media students may need image editing and design software, such as Adobe Creative Suite.

Course Topics

Students in an online associate's degree program in interactive media take general education courses in addition to core multimedia courses. Topics cover animation, digital imaging, information architecture, audio and video. Students use online course management systems such as WebCT to access lectures and assignments, in addition to communicating with instructors. Distance students also have access to additional resources, including online libraries and other learning tools.

Digital Imaging

In a digital imaging class, students learn to use image editing software along with equipment such as scanners, printers and cameras to manipulate images. Skills covered include retouching, restoring and compositing pictures. Students also discover how to work with light, color and composition to create different effects.

Typography

A course in typography introduces students to the applications of text for different uses, such as cards or ads. Students learn about different fonts and styles, along with what effect they have on an audience.

Web Development

Students in a web development course learn about the design concepts and techniques used to build websites. Topics also cover coding languages used in the construction of Web pages, such as HTML, XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets.

Animation

A course in animation covers the theories, practices and software used to create animated media. Students learn to develop ideas and create storyboards for animation projects. Courses also explain how to record and integrate audio into animated media.

Database

Websites use databases to store user input and other data. This course explains how to manage databases and apply them to website development. Other topics covered include security and data backup.


Bachelor's Degree in Interactive Media

Online interactive media bachelor's degree programs teach students how to create and evaluate websites, work with digital images and animation, and evaluate user accessibility for different types of multimedia. Classes feature more in-depth study of cinematic technique, design aesthetics and 3D animation. Students also study the business aspects of video and interactive media production.

Information and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program, either online or on campus, typically takes four years of full-time study. Depending on the school, students with an associate's degree may be able to transfer credits to complete the program faster. Many online bachelor's degree programs in interactive media consist entirely of online classes.

Some media classes may require specific design software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Dreamweaver. Students should ensure that they have access to a computer with the technical specifications capable of running these programs.

Course Topics

A bachelor's degree program includes general education courses, electives and core interactive media courses. Students can access coursework, lectures and assignments by signing into the school's website using content management programs, such as Blackboard. Students can also use these their accounts to participate in discussions with classmates and instructors.

Video

A course in digital video teaches students how to create and edit video productions for the Web. Class topics cover the use of cameras and lighting equipment, video composition and production planning.

Website Design

Students in a website design course learn how to organize information and use design techniques to create effective sites. Topics cover HTML, XHTML, Web navigation and website design software, such as Adobe Dreamweaver.

Database Management

Database management concerns the design and functionality of computer database systems and software, such as Oracle. Classes explain the use of database query languages, such as SQL, to organize and recall stored information.

Project Management

Because interactive media productions involve the overseeing and management of multiple tasks and resources, students studying the subject take courses in project management. Topics include time management, budgeting, quality control and team management.

Illustration

Students taking an illustration focus on drawing and design skills, along with form composition and style. Study covers both traditional drawing and digital illustration using software such as Adobe Illustrator.


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Master's Degree in Interactive Media

Master's degree programs in interactive media provide media professionals an opportunity to enhance their skills. Courses cover the latest technology and design theories for media used in digital platforms. Students may also have the opportunity to choose electives in their areas of interest, such as gaming or graphic design.

Information and Requirements

Some schools offer master's degree programs in interactive media entirely online, while others offer hybrid programs that can be completed partially online and on campus. Coursework generally takes two years to complete. A master's degree program ends in a capstone that can consist either of a final project or a thesis.

Students pursuing a degree online need a computer with high-speed Internet access and a Web browser. Students may also need specific software and peripheral equipment, such as Adobe design software and video and audio recording equipment.

Course Topics

In addition to the core audio and video production courses in an interactive media program, master's students can choose electives in focus areas such as game design or Web programming. Some programs also offer students the opportunity to complete internships at media and web development companies. Students completing online courses can communicate with instructors and access lectures and assignments online using their student accounts. Students may also have the opportunity to interact with each other and instructors using message boards, instant messaging and e-mail.

Writing for the Web

Students in an interactive media writing course learn about the differences between writing for the Web and print. Topics cover research methods, interactive content and non-fiction writing styles. The class also studies the process of writing scripts for animated videos and other media projects.

Media Law

Media law covers the legal and ethical issues found in broadcasting and publishing. Case studies are used to examine the First Amendment, copyright claims and privacy issues, in addition to exploring the effects of developing technology on laws.

Media and Society

Students in this course study the history of mass media and its effects on culture and societies both past and present. Class reading includes media journals and research papers on communication and information consumption.

User Interfaces

The goal of this course is to understand and improve how users interact with websites, software and other products. Students learn how to communicate information simply and effectively while making interaction easy to use.


Career Information

Graduates with an associate's degree in interactive media may pursue careers as Web or graphic designers among other job opportunities in multimedia. Employment opportunities for graphic designers are expected to grow at a rate of one percent, or little to no change, between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the best opportunities for those who have Web design and animation skills. As of May 2015, salaries for graphic designers ranged from $27,560 for the lowest-earning ten percent to $81,320 for the highest-earning ten percent, according to the BLS.

Graduates of an online bachelor's degree program in interactive media are prepared to work in careers as multimedia artists or animators. They may be employed by companies or work as freelancers. Job opportunities for artists in these fields are expected to grow at an average rate of six percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. As of May 2015, median salaries for multimedia artists and animators ranged from $36,930 for the lowest-earning ten percent to $113,600 for the highest-earning ten percent, according to the BLS.

Master's degree graduates in this field can go on to work in website creation as Web designers, or they may work as content producers for TV, film or the Web. Some graduates choose to start their own media companies, producing videos for clients or specializing in effects work. The BLS projects increased demand for multimedia artists as video effects and animation continue to become more realistic.

Online degree programs in interactive media can be found at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels for students interested in working as graphic designers, multimedia artists or animators. Courses vary at each degree level, but may include concepts such as media law, website design or animation.

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