Online College Degrees in Media Arts: Program Overviews by Level

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

Media arts degree programs can be completed online at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels and can prepare graduates to seek employment in fields like graphic design, web design and animation. Programs often have a set of concentration options that can prepare students for certain niches, such as computer games or multimedia management. Master's degree programs are rare.

Programs generally require advanced software, including the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as hardware equipment, like a digital camera. Although the coursework can typically be completed online through a system such as Blackboard, the curriculum may include several opportunities for students to complete media arts projects and build their portfolios. Internship electives may also be available.

Associate's Degree Information and Requirements

An online associate's degree in media arts combines topics in Web design, animation, video and photography to prepare graduates for careers working in digital design or multimedia. Students learn to use the latest techniques and software for media production. Graduates can pursue entry-level jobs or a bachelor's degree.

Coursework for an associate's degree in media arts can be completed entirely online and typically takes two years of full-time study. Those interested in pursuing an online associate's degree in media arts need reliable access to a computer that meets specific hardware requirements, such as Mac OSX or Windows XP. Some programs also require specific software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Dreamweaver.


Coursework covers a host of media development topics, such as digital photography, writing for different mediums, color theory and information architecture. Students may be required to have some previous experience working with computers, applications or HTML.

Digital Imaging

Introduces students to the applications and techniques used in digital imaging to create different types of projects. Students learn to work with text, graphics and 3-D images, in addition to learning to use software databases.


Students in an animation course learn about the concepts and techniques used in animation. Topics cover the history of animation, uses for animation, multidimensional animation and Web animation.

Introduction to Video

Teaches about basic equipment and processes for creating video productions. Topics include different types of video, such as analog and digital, video streaming and different video formats.

Introduction to Audio

In this course, students discover the fundamentals of sound and the types of equipment used in recording and editing audio materials. Combining audio and visual work, mixing and processing finished work may also be discussed.

Website Design

This course teaches students the basics involved in creating and maintaining websites. Topics include design standards, building websites using HTML, scripting languages and CSS.

Bachelor's Degree Information and Requirements

An online bachelor's degree in media arts prepares students to combine their creativity with technical knowledge. Graduates get jobs in a number of industries that use interactive and multimedia communications, such as animation or broadcasting. Students in a bachelor's degree program learn to turn ideas into finished products using the latest software and design principles. They typically can be completed in four years or less, depending on the program.

Coursework for a bachelor's degree program in media arts can be completed entirely online. Program length varies, depending on the program and course scheduling options. Students who plan on enrolling in an online bachelor's degree in media arts need a computer with reliable Internet access and may also need to meet minimum computer technical requirements and obtain specific software.


Bachelor's degree programs require that students complete general education courses, such as English and math, in addition to multimedia coursework. Core coursework teaches students about a number of topics, such as visual effects, design theories, photography and production practices. Students create a portfolio of work to show prospective employers upon graduation.

Database Design

Students learn about the different models and techniques used to build database management systems. Topics covered include data administration, storage and query languages.

3-D Modeling

3-D modeling teaches about the techniques used to create digital 3-D images. Coursework covers the software used to work with shapes, add texture, create effects and use images in animation.

Digital Compositing

Discusses the methods used in working with digital and animated image compositing. Topics include working with 3-D space, scripting and combining, and working with motion graphics.

Web Animation

Web animation introduces students to software, such as Adobe Flash, used to create animated projects for the Web. Students also learn about creating Web interfaces and 2-D animation.


Explores working with digital images, as well as different techniques used for equipment and lighting. Common topics might be lighting for commercial photography, set design, and creating images for the Web and print.

Career Information

Since bachelor's degree programs in media arts cover a broad array of topics, graduates may have a number of different job opportunities, such as animator, filmmaker or Web designer. Employment in multimedia careers is expected to grow at an average rate (4% through 2028), and is expected to be competitive, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May 2018, the BLS reported the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators as $72,520 (

Continuing Education

An online associate's degree in media arts prepares graduates for a number of jobs, such as graphic designer, webmaster or project manager. Some may find opportunities for advancement to supervisory positions with experience, while others may transfer to a 4-year bachelor's degree program.

Online degrees in media arts are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels and may have technical requirements like certain software or a digital camera. These programs cover a range of competencies, such as animation, digital imaging, introduction to audio and video, web design and photography.

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