Digital Broadcasting Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

About this article
What will you learn in a digital broadcasting degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
View available schools

Studying Digital Broadcasting: Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Digital broadcasting degree programs are designed to prepare students for careers as producers, technicians, engineers, announcers or reporters in radio, television and motion picture broadcasting. Digital broadcasting programs are different from traditional broadcasting programs, as the digital programs focus more on newer methods of media distribution, such as the Internet and mobile devices.

Because a digital broadcasting degree can lead to careers in a variety of fields, occupational outlooks vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of broadcast news analysts was expected to grow by 10% between 2010 and 2020, while employment of reporters and correspondents was forecasted to decline by 8% during this time frame. Although some employment decline was due to the consolidation of news and media organizations, the increasing demand for online news was also expected to cause slow growth. The increasing demand for online news may give digital broadcasting degree holders an edge over people with a traditional broadcasting degree.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People pursuing entry-level broadcasting jobs or hoping to continue on to a bachelor's program Individuals looking to work in reporting, camera operation or other mid-level broadcasting jobs
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Broadcast technician ($37,000)*
- Production assistant ($28,000)**
- Broadcast news analyst ($56,000)*
- Film and video editor ($53,000)*
- Television/motion picture camera operator ($40,000)*
- Radio/television announcer ($27,000)*
Time to Completion About 2 years (full-time) 4 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - General education courses
- About 15 courses in broadcasting
- General education courses
- About 20-25 courses in broadcasting
- Internship
- Practicum/senior project
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability No No

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (August 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Digital Broadcasting

An associate's degree program can teach you how to write and present stories, operate digital media equipment and produce shows. Some associate's programs are intended to prepare students for continuing their education at the bachelor's level. Schools may offer concentration options as well, allowing you to focus your studies on digital audio, digital video or television productions. Associate's degree programs in digital broadcasting usually cover a variety of topics, so even if you're concentrating in a specific area, you won't ever get too deep into any particular broadcasting specialty.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can lead to a variety of entry-level careers (production assistant, broadcast technician, assistant director or scriptwriter)
  • An associate's degree can reduce the amount of experience you need to become certified
  • Pursuing a degree in digital broadcasting can make you stand out from other individuals who have a general broadcasting degree, since podcasts and other forms of digital media are becoming popular

Cons

  • Many of the jobs this degree program prepares you for require long or irregular hours
  • You may face stiff competition with bachelor's degree holders for entry- and mid-level positions
  • Many of the high-paying broadcasting jobs require a bachelor's degree (reporters, news analysts)

Common Courses and Requirements

An associate's program in digital broadcasting includes a variety of courses in communications, technology and media. In addition to classroom lectures, students usually obtain hands-on experience in a media lab. Schools that do not have an on-campus media lab may encourage or require students to complete an internship at local radio, print, multimedia or television broadcasting studios. Keep in mind that internship opportunities may be limited, as the number of options you have often depends on which media outlets are near your school. Here are some courses you might take in an associate's program:

  • Camera operations
  • Field production
  • Broadcast news writing
  • Elements of broadcasting
  • Radio and television programming
  • Audio-visual workshop
  • Video editing

Online Course Options

Since many of your courses require hands-on learning with cameras, recording devices and other broadcasting equipment, you won't be able to find this program completely online. However, introductory and prerequisite courses are sometimes available online.

Distance education courses covering the basics of broadcasting may be available from some institutions and can lead to a diploma. The credits you earn in a program like this may be able to be applied towards an associate's degree later on, so although you can't get a full degree online, you can start working towards one through distance learning courses.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you're interested in pursuing a technical career within the digital broadcasting industry, consider obtaining a voluntary certification, such as the Certified Broadcast Technologist or the Certified Video Engineer designations from the Society of Broadcast Engineers. While voluntary certification may not be required by a prospective employer, it is a great way to stand out from other applicants since it shows that you can use new broadcasting technologies. You'll need to pass an exam and have a certain amount of experience before you can become certified.

If your school has any digital media labs, make sure to take advantage of the technologies that are available in these labs. When looking for a school, you may want to check out what broadcasting-related organizations are in the area. You can search for local news stations, radio stations or other media businesses that report content over the Internet. The more media outlets in the area where you're going to school, the more opportunities you may have to get an internship or an entry-level assistant position while you're in school.

Bachelor's Degree in Digital Broadcasting

A digital broadcasting bachelor's degree program aims to educate students on the theory and practice of journalism, the application of digital platforms and the impact of media on society. A bachelor's program typically includes a combination of classroom lectures and lab projects designed to expose you to the different types of media platforms used in digital broadcasting, such as television, radio, online podcasts and mobile devices. Although you can still learn how to use broadcasting equipment, bachelor's programs may focus more on production and reporting aspects than associate's programs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Obtaining a degree in digital broadcasting may be more desirable to employers than a traditional broadcasting degree since the industry is moving towards digital media technologies
  • A bachelor's degree can lead to higher-paying jobs that aren't available to associate's degree holders (film and video editors, camera operators)*
  • More elective options than an associate's program, which allows you to select more courses that pertain to your interests in broadcasting

Cons

  • May face competition for internships (which are sometimes required), especially in a smaller area with few media outlets
  • You're likely to face strong competition for most of the jobs you'd qualify for with a bachelor's degree (film editors, camera operators, announcers, reporters)*
  • Most bachelor's degree programs cover a diverse range of broadcasting subjects, which could mean that you'll have to spend extra time outside of school to learn about specific technologies you plan on using in your career

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

You'll generally take a diverse range of required courses that cover Internet, television and radio broadcasting. Some schools allow you to select a concentration, such as news broadcasting, film, video production and audio production. Your electives may vary depending on the particular concentration you choose, but your options may include multimedia production, digital media writing, program production and news editing. Some programs may require an internship and a practicum, while others only call for the completion of a senior project or seminar.

Online Course Options

Although some schools may offer a general broadcasting degree completely online, digital broadcasting programs are not currently available. Your prerequisite and general education courses may be offered in a distance learning format, but you'll need to head to the campus for most of your digital broadcasting courses. Even if you do happen to find a program that claims to be offered online, you won't receive the same experience as you would in an on-campus program. Video production, equipment handling and reporting are common topics in a broadcasting program that require hands-on learning experiences, which would not be the same in an online program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Students can set themselves apart from other job applicants by gaining exposure and experience through several avenues, including:

  • Joining relevant student activity groups, including a campus newspaper, radio station or television studio. There may also be internship opportunities available at local media outlets.
  • Pursuing an additional major or minor in another field. For example, a minor in political science can lead to career opportunities in news or political media.
  • Joining professional associations such as the Society of Professional Journalists or the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Associations and organizations may offer online tutorials, training videos, conferences and certification opportunities that can enhance your career.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
  • Levelland, TX

    South Plains College

  • Santa Barbara, CA

    Santa Barbara City College

  • Santa Ana, CA

    Santa Ana College

  • Ann Arbor, MI

    Washtenaw Community College

  • San Diego, CA

    San Diego City College

  • Saint Louis, MO

    Saint Louis Community College

  • Midwest City, OK

    Rose State College

  • Senatobia, MS

    Northwest Mississippi Community College

  • Long Beach, CA

    Long Beach City College

Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Communications

What is your highest level of education?

South Plains College

Santa Barbara City College

Santa Ana College

Washtenaw Community College

San Diego City College

Saint Louis Community College

Rose State College