Study Multimedia: Masters, PhD & Online Degree Info

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Master's and Ph.D. programs in multimedia can lead to careers in production and journalism. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your multimedia degree.
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Multimedia Master's and Ph.D. Degrees at a Glance

A graduate degree prepares you to work in a variety of fields involving media management, Web design, journalism and new media. In a graduate program, students have an opportunity to specialize in a specific area, such as multimedia management, communications and journalism. A multimedia program gives you a background in the computer technology necessary to work with artists and create interactive pieces. However, you should be aware that there aren't degree requirements for this field, and the most common degree is a bachelor's degree.

With a master's degree in multimedia, you can become a graphic designer, production manager, sound and video editor, multimedia producer and database developer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for multimedia artists and animators were expected to increase eight percent from 2010-2020. Ph.D. programs open the door to professorships, which are projected to increase by 17% that same decade.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Bachelor's holders who want to work with multimedia applications Professionals who want to teach and consult in multimedia
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Multimedia artists ($68,000) *
-Graphic designers ($48,700) *
- Art, drama or music professor ($72,700) *
- Creative director ($99,000) **
Time to Completion 1-2 years, full-time 3-5 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 8-12 graduate level courses
- Thesis project
-About 12-16 graduate level courses
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree - Bachelor's or master's degree in a related field
- Portfolio may be required
Online Availability Rare None found at this time

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

Master's in Multimedia

A master's degree in multimedia gives you the technical background and artistic skills needed to pursue creative endeavors and work in production. Because production encompasses a wide variety of fields, you have the opportunity to specialize in a specific area that fits your interests. While some students may want to learn how to write, shoot and edit videos for broadcast, others will want to learn about creating graphics and content for the Internet. If you are interested in journalism, you can learn about using technological advances and digital media to develop and write a story.

Graduates of the program will become proficient in digital imaging, the latest trends in multimedia, interactive production and software programs. In addition to taking courses, students should be aware that a comprehensive thesis is also part of the program. Developing a thesis requires you to establish a research project, give quarterly reviews and present an oral presentation.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High mean salary for multimedia artists ($68,000 in 2011)*
  • Learn about the latest advancements in the field and gain practical knowledge using latest software and tools
  • Think creatively and develop original ideas
  • Experiment with new techniques

Cons

  • Limited job growth (eight percent from 2010-2020)*
  • Often have to work long hours (nights and weekends)
  • Must complete a comprehensive thesis, which can be rigorous and time consuming
  • Must possess strong technical skills and a portfolio to be competitive in the field

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

While a master's degree in multimedia will require you to complete core courses in the field, you also have an opportunity to take elective courses. For example, course requirements may cover topics involving digital multimedia, multimedia development, multimedia business and project development. Depending on your specialty, elective courses may include media law, investigative reporting, graphic design, audio production, communication ethics and Web animation. In addition to courses, students need to participate in seminars and complete a multimedia thesis project. The project will be presented to faculty members and demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the field, and it may be used to enhance or build your portfolio.

Online Course Options

Students who are looking to find online multimedia master's degree programs will find limited opportunities. Most courses are interactive and require students to be on-campus. However, courses that are offered online will be taught by university professors and may be ideal for working professionals who are unable to visit a campus on a regular basis. All lectures and assignments can be viewed online at a student's convenience, and communication often takes place through e-mail. Technical requirements include a computer with Internet access and an updated Web browser.

Stand Out With This Degree

In order to stand out in the field, it's important that students be up-to-date with the latest advancements in multimedia technology. You need to understand how to use software programs, editing tools and production equipment; therefore, you'll want to take classes and complete projects that utilize these applications and tools. Not only is a multimedia project required, but you can send out your video or design when applying for jobs to showcase your talent. While earning your degree, you may also want to select some of your best work and put together a portfolio for potential employers.

Ph.D. in Multimedia

A Ph.D. in Multimedia is not required to work in the field, but may be necessary to teach at the university level. Students can enroll with either a bachelor's or master's degree; however, those with just a bachelor's degree may need to complete a master's thesis. Courses may be research intensive and focus on multimedia theory and analysis. The program may also offer you an opportunity to study production history, as well as how it has developed in the 21st century. Before beginning a dissertation, students may need to complete a preliminary exam covering several multimedia areas. Additionally, you may need to demonstrate competency in digital media and programming by submitting to a portfolio for review.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Research intensive and affords the opportunity to experiment
  • Opportunity to work as a professor
  • Assistantships may be available to help with tuition

Cons

  • Ph.D.'s are time intensive and costly for minimal wage increase (art professors averaged only $5,000 more than multimedia artists annually)*
  • Ph.D. programs admit very few applicants
  • Limited program availability

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

Courses and Requirements

Like a master's degree program, students take courses that relate to their area of interest. Many of the courses will focus on the theoretical aspects of multimedia technology, along with how it relates to modern life. Examples of courses may include digital media history, new media issues, experimental media and human computer interaction. In addition to courses, students need to participate in seminars and perform research with faculty members. While working toward your degree, you may also have the opportunity to participate in an assistantship to help with the cost of tuition. The bulk of the program is typically focused on a dissertation that is an oral presentation and written proposal that is presented in front of faculty members.

Online Course and Program Information

Prospective students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. program online need to be aware that online programs may not be available. Because of the research requirements, students are required to complete their studies on campus. If you find that a school does offer an online Ph.D. program in multimedia, you need to make sure that it is accredited by an educational agency.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

Putting together a portfolio of your work can help you stand out in front of faculty members and with potential employers. You also need to have strong programming skills and understand various types of software programs. Because a Ph.D. is very research intensive, getting published in journals or making presentations in conferences and seminars can help separate you from the rest of the pack. Additionally, you may choose to participate in available internship opportunities to advance your practical skills and build contacts.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA in Communication: New Media & Marketing
      • MS in Marketing - Digital Marketing
      • MA in Communication
  • Seattle, WA

    University of Washington

  • Evanston, IL

    Northwestern University

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - New Media Journalism

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MA in Communication: New Media & Marketing
  • MS in Marketing - Digital Marketing
  • MA in Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology

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