Associate in Applied Arts (AAA): Digital Graphic Arts Degree Overview

Oct 15, 2019

Associate degrees in digital graphic arts are offered as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in design and digital media, digital arts, or graphic design. Find out if one of these degrees is right for you.

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Essential Information

AAS programs in design and digital media, digital arts, and graphic design are designed to introduce students to basic design skills such as digital editing, electronic page layout, commercial printing, video production, and software design. These two-year programs are typically found at community colleges and art institutes. Many schools offer online degree programs in graphic design.

Applicants to the programs are required to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Prospective students may benefit from successfully completing high school courses in the liberal arts and computer literacy.


Associate in Applied Arts (AAA) in Digital Graphic Arts

The curriculum of these programs is comprised of traditional classroom instruction, studio training, and portfolio-building activities. Students practice specific skills, such as designing multimedia graphics, creating digital interfaces, altering and changing digital photographs, producing visual advertisements, and creating logos. They learn about a range of technologies, such as structured query language (SQL) and CorelDraw software, as well as Adobe Systems products like Illustrator, PageMaker, and Dreamweaver. They also learn a variety of important web development tools, such as hypertext markup language (HTML), JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Adobe ColdFusion. Some required course topics may include:

  • Drawing
  • 3-D design
  • Computer graphics and web design
  • Graphic design history
  • Typography
  • Color theory

Popular Career Options

Graduates of these programs often work in a variety of professional settings, such as photography studios, graphic design companies, ad agencies, and production companies. Possible occupations may include:

  • Graphic design assistant
  • Multimedia artist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of graphic designers is expected to increase by 3% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). Employment of multimedia artists and animators should grow by 4% during the same time period. May 2018 data from the BLS indicates that the median annual salaries of graphic designers and multimedia artists were $50,370 and $72,520, respectively.

Continuing Education Information

Although an associate degree may suffice for entry-level technical jobs in the graphic arts field, the BLS indicates that individuals aspiring to more creative careers often need to complete bachelor's degree programs in graphic design or a related area. Some four-year colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to transfer credits earned from two-year institutions. After the completion of a bachelor's degree program in graphic design, individuals may decide to further develop their skills and build their portfolios by pursuing a master's degree.

Overall, there are several associate degree options for students who are interested in digital graphic arts. These programs teach students both technical computer skills and design concepts, and they can prepare students for transfer to a four-year program or to enter the workforce as entry-level multimedia artists or graphic designers.

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