Digital Art Degree and Training Program Information

Students looking for entry-level digital art training can complete a bachelor's degree program, while those seeking to further their knowledge and skills can enroll in a master's program or graduate certificate program.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in digital art cover the fundamentals of art, such as color theory, art history and composition. They also introduce students to the process of creating digital images.

The curriculum for graduate certificate programs varies because some programs are aimed at students with experience, while others are designed for individuals who have no knowledge of the digital arts. Most certificate programs consist of fewer than 10 courses.

In a master's degree program, students generally are allowed to tailor their study plan to meet their career goals, concentrating in areas such as game design or multimedia projects. Master's programs vary in length, but often require about 60 credit hours, which equates to about two years of full-time study. Studio training is typically included. Students may be required to complete a thesis or art project.

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts

Programs in digital arts provide students with an introduction to art theory, art history, color theory and composition while also teaching them how to apply the principles to computer-generated art. Students learn about basic techniques in computing, physics and mathematics that go into creating three-dimensional images, animation and digital art. Students spend their first two years studying the basics of studio art and art history and their third and fourth years completing courses related to advanced design and animation. A high school diploma or GED is typically required for entry into the program. A sampling of the courses in the curriculum is listed below:

  • Imaging
  • Games studio
  • Games programming
  • Imaging and animation
  • Design for interactive media
  • Web design

Certificate in Digital Arts

Some schools offer these programs through their departments of continuing education and only accept students who have a bachelor's degree or some professional experience in the graphic arts or computer-related design. Other schools offer programs through their art departments and do not have strict educational prerequisites beyond a secondary education. Digital arts certificate programs allow students to hone their skills as graphic designers, animation artists and illustrators by providing specific training in the technologies and techniques related to the field of digital art. Courses cover concepts of digital art photography and multimedia while also including tutorials in Adobe Photoshop and digital art software. The courses included within a certificate program in the digital arts also cover specific techniques and tools related to animation, graphic design and digital imaging. Students may take courses in:

  • Electronic portfolio
  • Digital storyboard
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Composition studies
  • Color matching
  • Digital exhibition development

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Master of Arts in Digital Arts

Graduate degree programs in digital arts help students further develop their artistic and technical skills, providing them with the ability to eventually market and sell their work. Students often have a hand in their plan of study, focusing on those artistic electives that will best help them in their projected digital arts careers. They may focus on cinema animation, game animation, graphic design or multimedia art. A bachelor's degree is typically required along with letters of recommendation, a resume and transcripts. Some common seminar and studio courses might include:

  • Interactive animation
  • Contemporary topics in digital arts
  • Animation production
  • Production technologies
  • Digital imaging
  • Graphic programming

Popular Career Options

A baccalaureate degree in digital arts can prepare graduates for entry-level positions within the world of graphic design and computer-generated animation. A student may become a:

  • Graphic designer
  • Video game animator
  • Character designer
  • Digital art curator
  • Graphics programmer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A certificate in digital arts can prepare graduates for various careers, including that of a graphic designer. Employment in the field of graphic design is predicted to show little or no change between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2014, there were about 261,600 graphic designers working across the country. The median annual salary for these professionals was $46,900 as of 2015, according to the BLS.

A graduate degree in digital arts can open pathways to just as many careers as a bachelor's degree in the subject. One such career is in multimedia arts and animation. According to the BLS, these workers held about 64,400 jobs in the country in 2014. They also made a median annual wage of about $63,970 in 2015 and worked primarily for motion picture and video industries.

Continuing Education Information

Rarely must professionals working in creative and artistic industries present certifications to potential employers. Some organizations do offer certification options in 3D animation and digital art. However, individuals should be wary of paying for a certification that isn't first recommended by an employer. Professional resources can be found through various organizations, such as the International Digital Media and Arts Association and the Society of Digital Arts.

Digital arts programs may lead to bachelor's degrees, undergraduate and graduate certificates, or master's degrees. Through classroom sessions and computer lab training, students can gain skills in animation, graphic design, game design and more.

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