Study Multimedia: Associates, Bachelors Degree & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in multimedia? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and multimedia training programs.
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Multimedia Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

Multimedia artists create graphics, visual effects and animations for television, commercials, advertisements, films and video games. To perform this work, you need to be technically skilled in computer animation programs and have strong creative and artistic skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers usually hire multimedia artists based on their creative portfolios and technical skills. Although a degree isn't typically a requirement, many aspiring multimedia artists enroll in undergraduate degree programs to hone their artistic abilities and develop their technical skills.

According to the BLS, employment for multimedia artists was projected to increase eight percent from 2010-2020, which is slower than average. The slow rate of job growth is largely attributed to companies exporting jobs oversees. Additionally, many creative individuals are interested in this career path so a strong portfolio or a high level of technical skill is usually necessary to obtain employment.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who seek basic training in multimedia applications - Those who want advanced training in multimedia
- Working professionals looking to broaden their artistic and technical skills
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Multimedia artist ($61,000)*
- Illustrator ($45,000 -figure includes other fine artists, such as painters and sculptors)*
- Art director ($81,000 - 3-5 years of experience is typically required)*
- Graphic designer ($44,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements About 20-24 courses, including general education courses and classes in art and multimedia development - Around 40-48 courses, including general education classes, multimedia courses, design classes and elective courses
- Thesis or final project
Prerequisites High school diploma or its equivalent High school diploma or its equivalent
Online Availability Online and hybrid programs available Online and online degree completion programs exist

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

Associate's in Multimedia

A multimedia associate's degree program can teach you the technical skills necessary to bring your creative visions to life. These 2-year programs require students to complete courses in a traditional classroom and in the lab. Classes may cover storyboard drawing, video editing, computer software usage and visual graphics creation. Students may also have the opportunity to improve their drawing and artistic skills and gain hands-on experience in digital image manipulation and illustration software.

Graduates can seek an entry-level position or continue their studies in a bachelor's degree program. However, even with an associate's degree, obtaining employment often depends on your portfolio, and you may have to compete with high school graduates for jobs.

Pros and Cons


  • Chance to improve your artistic abilities and build a portfolio
  • Ability to gain hands-on experience using sophisticated software
  • Degree can be completed in two years
  • Option to gain employment or continue education


  • May compete with high school graduates for jobs
  • Continual training required to stay up-to-date in the field*
  • High-level of competition for jobs*

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

Courses and Requirements

Students could take courses in drawing, Web development, scriptwriting and storytelling, 3D illustration and animation. These courses may cover color theory, typography, principles of design and computer software usage. Courses involving computer software may be taught in labs, providing the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Associate's degree programs also require you to complete general education courses in math, English, science and the humanities.

Online Course Options

Online associate's degree programs in multimedia are available in an entirely online or hybrid format. Hybrid programs allow you to complete some courses at-home and others on-campus. Online courses are usually offered through a school-sponsored website, where students can view lectures, submit assignments and communicate with other students and professors. Communication may take place through e-mail, message boards and chat rooms. While enrolled in a hybrid program, you'll typically gain the same technical, creative and artistic skills as students who complete the program on-campus.

How to Stand Out

It's important to develop a strong portfolio of your work that demonstrates your animation and multimedia skills. A portfolio is typically required to gain employment and may be required to gain entrance into selective bachelor's degree programs. By investing free time into developing your artistic abilities and technical skills, you can likely increase the quality of your portfolio.

You may also be able to strengthen your portfolio by honing your abilities in a particular area, such as graphics creation or Web development, or, conversely, by creating a well-rounded portfolio that demonstrates skill in a variety of areas. Additionally, because teamwork is often essential when working on a project, it's important to develop strong communication skills. You may be able to take communication courses or participate in extracurricular activities that enable you to work as part of a team.

Bachelor's in Multimedia

A bachelor's degree in multimedia can build on the knowledge and skills obtained in an associate's degree program. These 4-year programs often provide in-depth training and advanced coursework to prepare you for a career in the digital arts. Courses in the program may cover digital video, digital photography, layout design, digital illustration and 3D principles. Before graduating, you may be required to complete a final project or thesis that demonstrates your abilities.

Opportunities could also be available to take electives and specialize in a certain area, such as Web design or animation. Similar to graduates with an associate's degree, students should be aware that earning a bachelor's degree is not a guarantee of employment; a strong portfolio and technical ability are still the most important factors in gaining employment.

Pros and Cons


  • Self-employment opportunities (59% of multimedia artists were self-employed in 2010*)
  • Additional classes may offer students the chance to build a stronger portfolio
  • Opportunity to specialize in a particular area (video game background design, computer generated images (CGI), animated character creation, etc.)


  • No guarantee of employment
  • Earning a bachelor's degree doesn't reduce the competition
  • Having to meet deadlines may result in stress
  • May have to work long, irregular hours

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

Courses and Requirements

The first two years of the program often include general studies courses and foundational multimedia courses that can prepare you for more advanced courses during your junior and senior years. Upper-level courses may include legal and ethical issues in multimedia, emerging technologies, Web authoring, dynamic Web page creation and business principles. Additionally, you'll typically need to complete lab courses in several areas; this can enable you to apply your classroom knowledge in a practical environment.

Online Course Options

Students interested in earning an online bachelor's degree in multimedia have the option of enrolling in an entirely online 4-year degree program or a degree completion program. A degree completion program is a 2-year program that requires you to earn an associate's degree prior to enrollment. Earning an associate's degree in multimedia or a related field ensures that you have foundational knowledge of computer software and animation and are prepared for more advanced courses. This type of bachelor's degree may be ideal for working professionals who can't attend on-campus courses. To complete multimedia coursework, students need a computer with Internet access and an updated operating system.

How to Stand Out

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program may be at an advantage when applying for jobs. Not only do they have more formal training when compared to high school and associate's degree graduates, they also have the opportunity to develop a more comprehensive portfolio. Thus, it's important for students enrolled in 4-year degree programs to take advantage of this opportunity and to really focus on developing a strong portfolio of work in the area of multimedia that interests them. Because self-employment is so prevalent in the field, taking business courses may also be advantageous to your future career.

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