Online multimedia design programs are relatively easy to find at both the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. These programs can go by a variety of names, including interactive media or web design. Given the technical nature of the field, students typically need access to powerful computers outfitted with the most up-to-date design software.
Associate's in Web Design and New Media
The hands-on curriculum of this associate's degree program teaches students to create content for the Web using audio, photography, text and video elements. Candidates also learn to work with industry-standard design software. The degree may also go by titles like multimedia design or interactive media. Applicants for associate's degrees generally need to have high school diplomas or the equivalent.
Program Information and Requirements
An online associate's degree program typically takes two years to complete. Technical courses and general education classes comprise the curriculum. Most schools provide a virtual campus or online portal through which students check and submit their weekly assignments and interact with instructors and peers. The degree can be earned entirely online. Students tend to take courses in 6-8 week intervals.
The degree program is computer intensive and requires equipment with a current operating system, extensive hard-drive capacity and plenty of memory. Students also need peripherals, such as scanners, speakers, printers and digital cameras, as well as a suite of Adobe design software. Many design programs favor the Mac platform so students should check the program requirements before enrolling.
The coursework focuses on both the creative side of design and the technical skills needed to produce Web content.
Introduction to Web Design
The course teaches interactive Web design primarily through an understanding of Adobe Flash software. Students learn to plan, author and add audio and video elements to Web pages.
Principles of Design
The fundamentals of design are explored in this class. Students learn how to develop projects for print, Web and other media. The course covers color elements, typography and basic drawing techniques.
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Bachelor's in Multimedia Design
These programs may lead to Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design or Bachelor of Multimedia Design degrees. Students learn to create and design content for the Web, whether that be animation, audio, photos or video. The program also covers more complex concepts like interactivity and Web development applications. Because of the technical requirements of the degree program, it generally leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. Programs with a more artistic bend lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Program Information and Requirements
An online bachelor's degree program in multimedia design takes about four years to finish. Many colleges follow the traditional semester model, but others offer accelerated classes that span 4-6 weeks. Students can complete their coursework remotely and typically communicate with instructors and classmates through their college's online portal system. The program can also be found under the moniker of Web design and new media or interactive design.
Students need a computer with a relatively new processor, plenty of hard-drive space and extensive memory. Some colleges do not constrain students to a platform, but many design schools prefer the Macintosh operating system. Candidates also need design software -- typically the Adobe suite -- to create their projects. Additional required computer equipment typically includes a flatbed scanner, digital camera and speakers.
Building upon a foundation of design, students acquire the skills to not only produce Web pages but also make them interactive and interesting.
Students learn the basics of interactive design production, focusing on user interface and usability. The course covers scripting with multimedia authoring software.
The course introduces students to design for the Web, including design standards, site structure and navigation. Students learn primary coding forms like HTML and Cascading Style Sheets or CSS.
Animation in 2D and 3D is taught in this course. Using animation software like Adobe Flash, students learn to create moving images that comprise text, graphics and still images.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), multimedia artists and animators do not necessarily need formal postsecondary education, though employers may prefer students with a college degree. A degree program may also help multimedia artists develop their technical skills and build a portfolio.
An associate's degree in Web design can lead to work as a graphic designer. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of graphic designers was $46,900 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). This career field is predicted to see little or no change in job demand during the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.
Those who hold a bachelor's degree in multimedia design can find work as multimedia artists and animators. According to the BLS, multimedia artists earned a median salary of $63,970 a year as of May 2015. The BLS projected average job growth of 6% for multimedia artists and animators from 2014-2024.
Continuing Education Information
To advance in the field, students may enroll in a bachelor's degree program in multimedia design. Options for online study at the baccalaureate level are available in this field.
Students who choose to enroll in an associate's degree program in web design and new media will learn all of the relevant technological and design skills that are necessary to produce effective and clear web content. Those who choose to complete a bachelor's degree in multimedia design will learn more complex concepts that relate to web development, giving them enhanced career opportunities.