Digital Media Communications Diploma Programs in Boston

Research digital media communications programs in the Boston area, which currently has over 20 colleges and universities offering relevant degree or certificate programs. Read an overview of courses, tuition info and program options for these schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Programs in digital communications can usually be found at schools that offer formal training in graphic design, interactive media, or even journalism. While no diploma programs are offered, students in the Boston area may choose to earn certificates directly related to digital media communications by a variety of titles, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate admission requirements are typically minimal but will require a measure of understanding regarding computers and technology. Such programs do not usually include general education requirements, but focus instead on career-oriented skills, developed through hands-on training.

Following are short overviews of Boston's nine largest schools that have digital media communications training, as well as a comparison table illustrating individual school offerings and tuition info.

Bristol Community College

The furthest away from Boston, this Fall River community college offers in excess of 120 academic transfer and career programs. Among the college's many certificate programs are those in computer-aided design and graphic design.

The graphic design program requires 27 credits to complete, and its purpose is to prepare aspiring professionals for a career in electronic or print-based media. Of particular relevance is training in using visual language to communicate information. In addition to college writing and drawing, requirements include courses in computer graphics, publication design and typography. Students can also choose electives in digital imaging, design for multimedia and Web design.

Emerson College

Emerson College is an independent college located in Boston's Theater District. The school is known for its art, communication and liberal studies programs. Through the Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs, students can pursue a non-credit certificate in digital media production as well as in areas like writing and marketing.

Students who pursue the 5-course certificate program in digital media production become familiar with a number of software programs, including, Final Cut X, Maya and Photoshop. Training topics include animation, digital graphics, video production and Web design. Instruction is provided by, among other professionals, a multimedia artist and Web developer and a documentary filmmaker.

Lesley University

In addition to the Boston location, Lesley University houses the Brattle, Doble and Porter campuses in historic Cambridge (about four miles from downtown Boston). The school emphasizes experiential learning and social relevance, and the for-credit certificate programs are designed for artists, educators and mental health specialists.

The Art Institute of Boston is part of the university, and the school offers a 60-credit certificate in graphic design for students who already hold a 4-year degree in another area. This course of study takes two years to complete and includes topics in typography, visual communication and Web design. Currently, the 10-member faculty includes graphic design, brand and design professionals. Students can train in state-of-the-art computer studios, and they have access to a full complement of common industry software programs like Maya and Adobe Creative Suite.

Massachusetts Bay Community College

An open enrollment community college, MassBay offers academic transfer and career training programs through its Wellesley Hills location. In particular, the Division of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering offers certificates in web design and development, computer-aided design and technology.

The purpose of the 24-credit certificate program in Web design is to help students acquire the authoring and scripting skills they need to produce aesthetically pleasing presentations for commercial clients. In addition to introductory topics in computer science and Internet technology, students take sequential courses in Web page development and pursue topics in design, digital imaging and interactive media.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston was founded in 1873, and, as the first public art and design school in America, it was also the first to award a degree. Through the college's Professional and Continuing Education Program, students can pursue for-credit certificates in areas like fashion, furniture, graphic and industrial design.

The 38-credit graphic design program is intended for working adults who have prior experience with Adobe Creative Suite and/or QuarkXPress, as well as 60 credits of undergraduate coursework. Through a series of 13 courses, students study design elements, images and typography to communicate verbal and visual information, and the program typically requires three years of part-time study.

In particular, courses in interactive design can help students find digital solutions for contemporary communication issues. Relevant facilities include the Computer Arts Center, where students have access to current software programs for electronic design and interactive multimedia.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University is a private research school in Boston. The College of Professional Studies offers graduate certificates in digital media, including those in game or interactive design, 3-D animation and digital video. Students can access the Snell Library Mac labs, where each workstation includes a flat Apple Cinema Display screen, a drawing tablet, a Mac Pro workstation and up-to-date software programs.

The Graduate Certificate in Interactive Design requires 22-quarter-credit hours (approximately 15 semester hours) to complete. In addition to an introduction to visual communication, students take courses in digital media programming, interactive information design, typography and usability. In particular, the courses in information design and interactive typography can teach future professionals to create content relationships, organize information and work with screen-friendly letterforms and styles.

Credits earned through the certificate programs are fully transferable, and can be applied to the school's Master of Professional Studies degree program.

Salem State University

This is one of the largest universities in the state system, and it is located near the seacoast in the historic town of Salem. Currently, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a number of credit-bearing certificate programs, including those in graphic design, interactive multimedia and public relations. The Art Department at Salem State is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and training resources include up-to-date Macintosh computer labs and design studios, as well as access to the most recent design software.

Students in both the graphic and multimedia design programs complete 27 credits of coursework and pursue common topics in electronic media, illustration and imaging. Requirements for the certificate in graphic design include a course in electronic publishing, as well as electives in typography, multimedia production and Web design. In addition to advanced Web design, the multimedia curriculum includes topics in animation and video. Students in both programs complete a 3-credit internship.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was founded in 1876, and the school offers continuing education certificate programs in graphic design and illustration. Currently, the 9-member faculty includes a professional graphic designer with more than 10 years of experience.

The graphic design program is designed for inexperienced beginners, fine artists and seasoned professionals. It takes approximately two years of part-time study to complete. Courses include beginning and intermediate graphic design, 2-D design and typography. Students can also choose four electives in areas such as digital imaging and video art. To fulfill one of the elective requirements, aspiring professionals can complete a 2-credit internship.

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

The historic city of Lowell is located approximately 40 minutes away from Boston. Through the Division of Online and Continuing Education, students can earn a Certificate in Website Design and Development, and the 6-course program can be completed online or through a combination of Internet- and campus-based training.

Students who pursue the track in Web design take courses in advanced design and development, multimedia graphics and Web authoring with Flash. They can also choose electives in digital imaging and media delivery. Those who specialize in Web development receive an introduction to DHTML and XML and develop data-driven, interactive sites. Some of the electives associated with this option include Java programming, Java Script, advanced Flash and Cold Fusion MX.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Digital Media Communications Certificates Offered Cost Per Credit or Per Course
Bristol Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Graphic Design $24 per credit for state residents; $230 per credit for non-residents in 2016-2017 (undergraduate; excluding fees)*
Emerson College 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Digital Media Production Certificate $1,095.00 per course (as of Summer 2016)*
Lesley University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city Graphic Design Advanced Professional Certificate $850 per credit in 2016-2017 (undergraduate; excluding fees)*
Massachusetts Bay Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Web Designer Certificate $24 per credit for MA residents; $230 for non-residents in 2016-2017 (undergraduate; excluding fees)*
Massachusetts College of Art and Design 4-year, public; large city Graphic Design Certificate $410 per credit hour in 2016-2017 (certificate program; excluding fees)*
Northeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Graduate Certificate in Interactive Design $646 per quarter credit hour in 2016-2017 (graduate; excluding fees)*
Salem State University 4-year, public; large suburb Graphic Design Certificate,
Interactive Multimedia Design Certificate
$115 per credit for state residents; $200 per credit for non-residents in 2015-2016 (undergraduate; excluding fees)*
School of the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Graphic Design Certificate $940 per 2-credit CE course in Summer 2016 (excluding fees; costs vary by course)*
University of Massachusetts - Lowell 4-year, public; large suburb Certificate in Website Design and Development $340 per on-campus credit; $370 per online credit in Summer 2016 (undergraduate; excluding fees)*

Source: *Schools' websites

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