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Computer Graphics Degree and Certificate Program Summaries

Computer graphics programs involve learning about the translation of fine art into digital art and other forms of multimedia design, such as animation. Programs are available at the certificate, associate's, and bachelor's level of study.

Essential Information

Computer graphics skills can be applied to a variety of career fields, including graphic design, web design and animation. Programs of study involve a lot of hands-on work with computer software programs commonly used in the industry. All of these programs provide the skills necessary for entry-level work, but undergraduate degrees provide a more comprehensive curriculum that leads to better employment prospects. Applicant for these programs will generally need a high school diploma to apply.


Certificates in Computer Graphics

Certificate programs provide students with foundational knowledge of computer technology and design software. Some programs require the student to choose an area of focus such as electronic illustration or computer video and animation. Many of the certificate programs are based in graphic design software, such as Adobe or Autodesk creative software. Classes for these certificates range from beginning software and programming education to intermediate multimedia skills. Common courses include:

  • XML web design
  • Digital video editing skills
  • Special effects
  • Character design
  • Marketing in social media formats

Associate's Degree in Computer Graphics

Associate's degree programs provide students with the technical expertise and theoretical design and technology knowledge to find entry-level positions in the field or prepare for bachelor's degree program. Concentrations in animation or programming may be available. Animation concentrations are designed to give students an understanding of the video game industry. Associate's degree programs provide students with a broad view of computer graphics and their many applications. Students delve into desktop publishing, web design and animation. Some courses include:

  • 2-D technical design
  • Humor in motion
  • Physics in art
  • Web graphic design
  • Animation storyboards

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Graphics

The bachelor's degree program trains students to work with most computer graphics software and applications. The classes teach students how to integrate design skills, color and movement into different formats. Some schools incorporate internship opportunities while others are project based, and students typically create a portfolio in their senior year in order to graduate.

Along with general education requirements, students complete traditional art courses and computer graphics courses. Students may delve into design software applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Experimentation with digital and traditional media may also be encouraged. Some typical courses are:

  • Graphic production art
  • Electronic publishing systems
  • Design for communication
  • Digital audio and video
  • Raster and vector imaging
  • Spatial and animation graphics

Popular Careers

Holders of a Certificate in Computer Graphics have the knowledge to qualify for entry-level positions in design and animation industries. Careers available include:

  • Game animation artist
  • Interactive media artist
  • Desktop publishing artist

Graduates with an associate's degree possess the technical skills to qualify for entry-level and assist positions with design, animation and publishing industries. Positions available may include:

  • Video game animator
  • Assistant graphic designer
  • Graphic artist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for graphic designers in computer systems design are expected to increase by 21% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Computer graphic artists will continue to be in high demand as more businesses seek to expand their platforms through a variety of new media and technology. The median salary for graphic designers in general was reported as $46,900 annually in May 2015, stated the BLS.

Pursuing a degree or certificate in computer graphics could be the right choice for individuals interested in a variety of related careers, such as graphic designers, animators, and desktop publishing artists.


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