Media Production Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Courses

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What will you learn in a media production degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of associate's and bachelor's degrees and potential careers.
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Studying Media Production: Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Producers use electronic media to create audio and visual messages in movies, television shows, radio programs and other media, such as websites and videogames. Obtaining an associate's degree in media production can provide you with the basic skills for entry-level production, technician or multimedia careers, as well as further education. A bachelor's degree in media production expands hands-on skills, as well as incorporates theoretical and business courses.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers prefer to hire professionals with at least a bachelor's degree and a solid portfolio or extensive experience. The BLS also projected that producers and directors would experience an 11% employment increase, while video editors would only see a 4% increase from 2010-2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who Is This Degree For? People seeking entry-level jobs or further education in media production Individuals who wish to pursue a more specific careers or leadership roles within the media production industry
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Camera operator ($49,000)*
- Film editor ($67,000)*
- Multimedia artist/animator ($68,000)*
Career paths are similar, although a bachelor's degree might increase earnings or improve advancement potential
- Producer\director ($92,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 60 credits
- Possible internship
- Roughly 120 credits
- Independent project
- Possible internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Limited Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Associate's in Media Production

An associate's degree program in media production will focus mostly on providing you with the practical skills needed to break into the field, such as camera operation, lighting, video and sound editing, animation and scriptwriting. Within the program, you learn about media production, law and policy, studio production and design, as well as gain hands-on knowledge in sound production, digital video and web design.

You may gain knowledge of broadcasting, movie making and/or directing techniques, depending on your program. Some programs may offer you a specialization, like graphic design, web design or motion graphics. In many cases, media production programs are combined with another area, such as video, digital media or mass communications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Entry-level jobs had relatively competitive salaries; for example, video editors earned an average of $67,000*
  • Programs provide a broad overview of production tools and mass communications
  • Real world training available through internships
  • Some programs can transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • Competition for camera operators and video editors is fierce*
  • Bachelor's degree is standard for careers in the field
  • Work experience is necessary for many careers in video or media production

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Courses and Requirements

The coursework examines concepts in photography, lighting, storytelling, visual arts, project management, multimedia and media programming. The curriculum covers some general education courses, such as history and math. An internship may also be required or facilitated by your school. Some courses you might find in such a program include:

  • Web design
  • Production and design
  • Video editing
  • Audio production
  • Motion graphics

Online Degree Info

Online associate's degree programs in media production are not generally available, due to the hands-on training on industry specific equipment. Online programs in related fields, such as interactive media, may be available. Additionally, you may be able to find online courses in storyboarding or digital media, such as web design and media graphics. However, coursework in broadcasting and video production are typically completed in an on-campus setting.

Stand Out With This Degree

Since media production is such a competitive field, you may want to consider gaining work experience in the field while still in your program. You can take advantage of internship opportunities or consider an assistant position. You can also choose to volunteer in an editing room or as a camera operator at your local college TV station. This experience would not only improve your resume, but it would also allow you to network with working professionals, which can be crucial to find employment on different projects. You might also consider joining trade associations, such as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which offer academic memberships for college students.

Bachelor's in Media Production

A media production degree program at the bachelor's level will hone your media-creation skills, such as editing and screenwriting, while also building your theoretical knowledge of field-related topics, including visual theory, the history of film and television and media law. In addition, you'll typically have the opportunity to take courses detailing the business aspects of media production. During your education, you'll collaborate with other students in audiovisual projects for your classes, thus building your portfolio. Many schools will also give you a chance to include an internship as part of your educational experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers career opportunities in several fields, such as web design, music production, sales management, television, audio production
  • Self-employment opportunities are available
  • Provides students with the experience to create a portfolio of professional work

Cons

  • You might have to start your career in an area different from your interest, most likely in an assistant role
  • Job growth for film and video editors is projected to be slower-than-average from 2010-2020*
  • While a bachelor's degree is standard, there aren't formal training programs for producers and work experience is required for job opportunities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

In addition to fundamental courses in media production, bachelor's degree programs may allow you to either specialize formally in areas such as directing or animation or take electives that are more advanced in your area of interest. You'll explore more theory-heavy topics, ranging from aesthetics to the societal impact of the media. Some programs may require you to complete an internship, while most programs will be designed for you to end your studies with a capstone project or a portfolio presentation. Some of the courses you might find in a bachelor's program are the following:

  • Postproduction
  • Screenwriting
  • Directing for film
  • Independent media production
  • Media management
  • Media distribution

Online Degree Info

Some schools offer bachelor's degree programs in media production in a completely online format. Students access course materials through web-based learning platforms, which are also used to communicate with faculty and other students. You'll need to have access to the right equipment and specialized software, such as computers or cameras, in order to complete your assignment and media projects.

Stand Out With This Degree

For careers in directing or producing, you must gain experience in the field. Experience can be gained through completing optional unpaid internships or through working as an assistant on a film set. Additionally, the BLS stated that nonprofit theatres might offer unpaid internship opportunities to prospective producers or directors.

Since the technologies used in the media production field are constantly evolving, you may want to consider certification. For instance, Adobe Systems, one of the lead media software providers, offers certification courses for their programs, including PremierePro, Photoshop and After Effects. Alternatively, you can keep up with the training in new software on your own with the help of books and training videos.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AA in Digital Photography
      • AA in Digital Photography
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
  • Morganton, NC

    Western Piedmont Community College

  • Saratoga, CA

    West Valley College

  • Ann Arbor, MI

    Washtenaw Community College

  • Orlando, FL

    Valencia College

  • Seattle, WA

    The Art Institute of Seattle

  • Knoxville, TN

    Pellissippi State Technical Community College

  • Philadelphia, PA

    The Art Institute of Philadelphia

Featured Schools

Southern New Hampshire University

  • AA in Digital Photography

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Western Piedmont Community College

West Valley College

Washtenaw Community College

Valencia College

The Art Institute of Seattle