Educational programs in digital communications explore the use of digital media in advertising, design, broadcasting and film. Undergraduate and graduate level degrees teach students how to effectively utilize digital transmissions in media communications. Degree programs in this field are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.
An associate's degree program includes general education coursework, along with courses in computer programming, web authoring and animation. These programs may feature opportunities for hands-on learning, as well as areas of concentration such as cinema or graphic design. Students of bachelor's-level programs may be able to complete some coursework online. Digital communications management, communications technology, and web design are areas of exploration. Internships and portfolio creation are typically included in the curriculum of these programs. Aspiring digital communications management professionals can hone their leadership skills and knowledge of news media in master's degree programs. Students in master's programs must conduct research for class projects or a final thesis presentation.
Prospective undergraduate students must have a high school diploma and those applying for the master's degree program are required to complete a bachelor's degree and obtain minimum GPA and GRE scores.
Associate's Degree in Digital Communications
Associate's degree programs in digital communications offer concentrations in photography, graphic design, cinema and multimedia. Programs explore the core fundamentals found in each specialty. Digital communications may also be known as digital media at this level of study. Digital media students complete coursework in general education, as well as classes in design, digital imaging and computer graphics. Students also gain practical experience working with tools and software used in their area of specialization. Common course titles include:
- Interface design
- Media programming
- Web authoring
- Computer programming
Bachelor's Degree in Digital Communications
Some schools offer a Bachelor of Arts, while others group digital communications with Bachelor of Science programs. Some schools offer distance learning coursework. Bachelor's degree programs study the current trends and technologies in digital communications while examining their social impact. Skills in digital communications management and collaboration are also gained. General education courses are taken along with specialized classes in mass communication, media ethics, multimedia and cinematography. Students complete internships to gain practical experience and complete a final portfolio project. Some typical classes include:
- Communications and technology
- Digital media
- Media convergence
- Web design
- Visual communications
Master's Degree in Digital Communications
Graduate degree programs examine current issues facing the communications profession and the changes occurring in this developing field. These programs provide students with leadership and management skills through advanced academic study and high-level research. Programs without a thesis requirement typically include additional coursework. Common topics discussed in the program include:
- New media
- Web design
- Public relations
- Social media
Careers in digital communications vary widely and can include visual forms of communication, as well as sound recording and transmission. Some possible career paths for undergraduates include:
- Camera operator
- Multimedia artist
- Graphic artist
Graduate students may find careers in several fields, including advertising, graphic communications and public relations. Job titles may include:
- Communications manager
- Public relations director
- Digital media producer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Depending on their area of specialty, digital communications graduates can find employment in film, graphic design, advertising and broadcasting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 1% increase in job growth for graphic designers between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $46,900 (www.bls.gov).
Undergraduates can complete a master's degree or continue on to specialize in various aspects of digital communications with professional development classes. Master's degree graduates have the experience to enter the work force immediately or go on to complete a Ph.D. program in visual arts or communications. All professionals will need to keep up with new technology and software upgrades in their segment of the digital communications industry. Professional development courses are also available at industry events and conferences.
Digital communications degree programs train students to utilize digital media in advertising, broadcasting and film. Graduates could opt to join the industry as multimedia artists or graphic designers, or they may pursue graduate degrees as well as attend conferences for further professional development.