Online Motion Graphics Degree Program Information

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Many schools offer online degree programs that include courses in motion graphics. The programs go by a number of names, but all emphasize the use of computer technology to create visual effects. Many are available entirely through online study, with students completing lessons and assignments at their own convenience. A computer with a current operating system and a high-speed Internet connection is required. Some courses may call for special software.

An associate's degree generally requires two years of full-time study, while a bachelor's degree takes about four years. Students in both degree programs get fundamental knowledge in animation and visual effects. They learn about processes such as stop motion, miniatures and computer-generated special effects. Computer graphics for film and animation are explored as well.

A master's program contains a few online classes. Mainly, students work with advisors to create film projects using advanced production skills. This collaboration can be done online. Students learn about cinematography, traditional animation and digital animation. Applicants to a master's program should hold a bachelor's degree and submit a portfolio of their work. Most programs require about 2-3 years of study.

Associate of Arts in Animation and Visual Effects

Graduates of associate's degree programs are prepared in the basic techniques of visual effects, including motion graphics. Individuals may qualify for entry-level positions in various industries, including motion pictures, video production advertising or computer systems design. Some graduates opt to apply the credits earned toward a bachelor's degree. The only prerequisite for admission to the program is a high school diploma or GED.

Program Information and Requirements

The program is presented entirely online. Students generally complete all courses in about two years. Using textbooks and other materials, students participate in classes through web-based discussion rooms, e-mail, fax and telephone.

Technical requirements include a computer with high-speed Internet access, a recent operating system and a newer Web browser. Specialized software may be required for individual courses.

List of Common Animation and Visual Effects Courses

General education and art history courses are part of the curriculum requirements. Students interested in motion graphics can take the following courses.

Computer Graphics for Animation

This basic course introduces students to the terminology and fundamental concepts of computer graphics. Students explore computer graphics production in terms of film, animation, games and visual effects.

History of Visual Effects

Students study and analyze the history of special effects techniques and learn how they apply to contemporary processes. Topics covered include stop motion, models, miniatures, motion control, computer-generated special effects, compositing and animation.

Modeling and Animation

This course explores the basic principles of 3D modeling and animation. The fundamentals of computer geometry are explored as students learn about modeling, lighting, texture mapping and rendering as they apply to production.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects

Most students can complete this program in four years. Graduates are prepared to enter the field with a fundamental understanding of the principles of animation design and the concept of storytelling, movement, film-making theory and specialized computer software. Applicants to the program are required to hold a high school diploma or GED.

Program Information and Requirements

Online liberal arts and art history courses comprise a large portion of the curriculum. Students complete the program entirely online and communicate with each other and their instructors via discussion boards and email.

Technical requirements include a computer with DSL or cable Internet access and a current Web browser. Specialized software is required for courses such as 2D and 3D animation, compositing and Photoshop. Adobe Reader, Flash 10 and QuickTime are generally required.

List of Common Animation and Visual Effects Courses

As they complete the coursework, students accumulate a portfolio of work that can be presented to prospective employers. Courses related to motion graphics include:

Visual Effects Lighting

Students learn the duties of the photography director during the filming of visual effects. The theory and use of blue screen techniques are explored along with the differences between lighting for live acting and computer generated effects.

Animation Layout Design

With an emphasis on the value of perspective, students learn the structure of animated feature film production units. Topics include camera angles, set design, art direction and lighting.

2D Animation

Using a Flash program, students learn to create a short film. Elements of screenwriting, storyboarding and editing are examined as they apply to animation and the story narrative.

Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects

Graduates of this program are prepared to direct animated films and integrate all motion design aspects involved in the project. Students learn to supervise all facets of film production from conception through design to post-production, including the addition of after-effects. Applicants are required to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. They must also present a portfolio, a letter of intent and several letters of recommendation.

Program Information and Requirements

The online program can typically be completed in three years. Students communicate regularly with instructors through the use of discussion boards, e-mail and telephone. Instructors take an active advisory role with students as they monitor students' studio work and directed study.

In addition to a computer with fast Internet access, a sufficient operating system and up-to-date browser, technical requirements may include Quicktime, Flash 10 and Adobe Reader. Depending on course selection, students may need a DVD-ROM and specialized software.

List of Common Animation and Visual Effects Courses

Academic courses make up a small part of the degree program. Students spend most of their time in practical application of principles in studio courses. Graduate-level coursework includes:


Students learn how to integrate and develop the best possible images into visual effects. Topics include the proper selection of backgrounds, foregrounds and film stock, in addition to the advantages of film and various lighting practices.

Traditional Animation

Animation terminology and history are studied in this course. Students investigate animation principles, storyboarding, inbetweening, flipping and character design.

Digital Animation

Students learn the concepts of vector animation. The use of effects tools, motion tactics and nested symbols are explored as students make storyboards and design animatics.

Career Information for Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that employment opportunities for multimedia artists and animators will increase by 4% from 2018-2028 ( In October 2019, listed a median salary of $54,895 for multimedia artists and animators.

Students in a fine arts in animation and visual effects program learn about animation design, storytelling, and related computerized software. These programs are available online at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels.

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