Digital Media Degrees and Career Education Programs

Degree programs in digital media are offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's level, covering the technical and creative skills necessary for careers in multimedia industries.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate and graduate programs in digital media provide hands-on training and independent project work in graphic design, video production and animation techniques. A high school diploma is generally required for admission to associate's and bachelor's degree programs, and a familiarity with computers and graphic design is very beneficial when beginning these programs. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to a master's degree program.

Associate's Degree in Digital Media

Digital media associate's degree programs focus on the technical skills used in designing and editing digital media. Basic skills in drawing techniques, editing videos and designing multimedia projects are covered throughout the coursework. Students may choose either an Associate of Arts in Digital Media or an Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media program. Both programs explore graphic design concepts and techniques, skills for working with electronic images and applications for digital media. Course topics might include:

  • Design and composition principles
  • Video production and editing
  • Web design
  • Digital media development
  • Computer illustration and animation
  • Art history

Bachelor's Degree in Digital Media

Bachelor's degree programs in digital media provide technical training and allow students to research the applications of digital media and the industries built around this technology. Some programs offer a focus on television or film, while others keep with a broader study of all digital media applications. Students learn about audio, video and multimedia production, design and editing. Programs also cover communication concepts and the history of digital media. Coursework might include:

  • Web development
  • Film production
  • Audio production
  • Communication technology
  • Animation

Master's Degree in Digital Media

Graduate degree programs in digital media draw upon a variety of fields like communications, art and programming to build upon the skills and techniques garnered from previous undergraduate education. Master's degree programs have intensified coursework in design or digital projects and typically culminate in a thesis or final project. These programs also help prepare students for future careers by teaching business and management skills necessary for working in the digital media field. Graduate programs usually include research and teaching opportunities. Some common coursework may include:

  • Visual design
  • Media studies
  • Internet communication
  • Interactive design

Popular Career Options

Undergraduate degrees prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers in the digital media field, including film and video production, game design, website design, visual effects and graphic design. Common job titles include:

  • Digital artist
  • Graphic designer
  • Animator
  • Sound technician
  • Web designer

Achieving a master's degree in digital media can provide students with the ability to work in higher education, although some schools could require instructors to have doctoral degrees. They may also have the abilities and skills to work as managers or directors on creative projects. Common job titles include:

  • Graduate teaching assistant
  • Postsecondary teacher
  • Programmer
  • Creative director
  • Production manager

Continuing Education Information

Some universities offer doctoral degree programs related to digital media. These programs delve into research and academia in the digital media industry. Ph.D. programs are also more theory-based on subjects like media and communications. Intense qualifying exams and thesis projects may be required from students.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

With a degree in digital media, students can seek employment in a variety of industries, including graphic and web design, broadcasting or audio and video production. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers made annual median salaries of $46,900 as of May 2015, with growth projected at 1% from 2014-2024. The annual median wage for broadcast technicians and audio/video equipment technicians was $37,490 and $41,440, respectively in 2015. Audio and video equipment technician jobs are expected to grow 12% from 2014-2024, while broadcast technicians can expect a 6% decline in job opportunities. As of May 2015, film and video editors earned a median annual wage of $61,750 with 18% expected job growth.

Digital media programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels. Program graduates can pursue various career options that include audio and video equipment technician and film and video editor, which are expected to see solid job growth over the 2014-2024 decade.

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