Online Degrees in Graphics and Multimedia

Gaming, advertising, Web development and video are just some of the industries that rely on digital graphics and multimedia specialists. Online degrees in graphics & multimedia cover the technical and design skills that bring digital media to life.

Digital media technology continues to transform the visual communications field, changing how creative professionals design and publish their work. The graphics and multimedia discipline encompasses all the possibilities for presenting word and image: video, typography, animation, digital graphics, photography and audio. Media professionals can expect training in:

  • Digital imaging software: digital image manipulation, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), illustration, Web and print publishing applications
  • Visual communications: Design principles, graphic communications, typography, color theory
  • Digital art techniques: Illustration, Web design, screen printing, layout and design, desktop publishing, digital photography and video, Web publishing, animation

In addition, graphics and multimedia programs cover business topics relevant to visual communications, preparing students to work in particular fields such as advertising, broadcast journalism, industrial design, e-commerce, video game design or Web development.

Online art and design degrees in graphics and multimedia offer a convenient format for accessing new media training. These digital programs offer not only accessibility, but also an object lesson in new media communications. Students learn via streamed video lectures and live demonstrations, and even share their digital design work by posting it to a virtual learning environment or digital drop box. The media of the online classroom are the same media students use to create and present their work.

Online degrees in graphics & multimedia are most commonly available at the undergraduate level. Degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A): This studio degree emphasizes creative instruction and hands-on studio practice. Since the media is digital, students need only have access to the necessary design software to complete project work.
  • Bachelor of Science or Arts (B.S. or B.A.): These four-year college degrees emphasize general education and design instruction. The B.S. may include more technical training than the B.A., which may emphasize visual arts training.
  • Associate of Science: The two-year associate degree is a more career-focused program that presents technical and creative training in the context of professional roles such as graphic designer, Web developer, drafter and more.

An advanced graduate degree, the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.), offers an opportunity for advanced coursework and a studio project. For continuing education in the field, designers rely on brief, targeted technical certificate programs. Certificate courses may be several weeks long, and generally focus on a particular technology or technique, such as Dreamweaver, Flash or graphic design production.

Online graphics and multimedia degrees may lead to careers in graphic design, Web development or multimedia production. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "an increasing reliance on artists to create digital or multimedia artwork will drive growth" in commercial art careers. Demand for multimedia artists and animators is growing in areas such as game design, movie animation, and special effects and mobile technology design. Graphic designers will also see steady job growth in areas such as Web development, print and digital advertising, marketing and publishing.

  • Hiring trends: Graphic designers and multimedia artists can look to online advertising for opportunity. The Pew Research Center's latest study pinpoints 2010 as the first year that online advertising revenue will overtake that of print newspapers.
  • Salary: Multimedia artists and animators earned a mean salary of $63,440, and graphic designers earned $48,140 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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