If you’re a creative at heart who loves using technology, you might consider pursuing an online digital media degree.
This competitive field is ever-growing as more and more companies and individuals are utilizing digital media in everyday life.
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In this guide, we break down what there is to know about getting an online digital media degree.
Online Digital Media Degrees
Whereas online graphic design degree programs have been around for awhile, online digital media degrees have only emerged in the past few decades. But this field continues to thrive. After all, digital media is all around us. Here are some examples:
- Social media
- Video games
- Mobile apps
- Data visualization
- Virtual and augmented reality
Digital media is any form of media that is broadcasted through phones, computers, and other gadgets and digital devices. Getting a digital media bachelors can immerse you in the digital world and train you in analyzing and creating digital experiences.
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This degree program is well-rounded because you’ll be working with advanced technology as well as honing your imagination and artistic skills. While there’s a fair amount of theory involved, most classes are hands-on, with plenty of creative output all throughout.
Online degrees in digital media, whether it’s an associates, a bachelors, or even a masters in digital media online, often start out by giving you a diverse foundation. You can take introductory classes in photography, design, marketing, web development, and more. Later on, you’ll likely be given the option to focus on a specific type of media. Because of this flexibility, majoring in digital media arts can be a stepping stone to a range of careers.
Many graduates end up in creative industries, including digital multimedia, entertainment, advertising, and technology. Even sectors that aren’t traditionally creative, such as finance and healthcare, are in need of professionals with digital media skills.
Digital Media and Communications Careers & Salaries
A degree in digital media is highly versatile and can equip you for many possible career paths. For one, graduates with this degree can pursue roles in marketing, branding, and journalism. They might also become video game designers, film producers, web developers, photographers, and audio specialists, just to name a few.
It’s common for digital media graduates to work in corporations as well as marketing agencies and nonprofit organizations. Digital media professionals may also be self-employed.
Salaries for digital media positions can vary widely, depending on the exact role and level of seniority. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for a number of careers related to digital media.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers||$141,490|
|Special Effects Artists and Animators||$77,700|
|Web Developers and Digital Designers||$77,200|
|Film and Video Editors||$67,250|
|Writers and Authors||$67,120|
|Market Research Analysts||$65,810|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,810|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||$49,300|
Advertising managers and art directors rank at the top of the list in terms of average salary, but leadership positions usually require several years of experience. Digital media and communication jobs are generally on the rise, with some sectors growing much faster than others.
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For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average growth for film and video editors (33% growth rate), special effects artists and animators (16%), and web developers and digital designers (13%).
Digital Media Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
For a digital media bachelor’s degree, you can take a variety of classes in design, communication, and business. Many of the core classes teach technical skills, requiring you to use industry-level software and other tools. Digital media programs may offer further specializations in tracks such as journalism, media production, and web design.
Most digital media programs include the following courses:
- Fundamentals of Digital Media: This course gives an overview of the history and trends of the digital media industry and exposes you to working with different types of digital media.
- Introduction to Web Development: In this course, you’ll typically learn to design and create small-scale websites with HTML and CSS while following industry best practices.
- Digital Photography: This class tackles basic techniques in digital photography, such as composition, exposure control, and digital manipulation.
- Principles of Design: You’ll learn how to think like a designer and use design elements—such as lines, shapes, and textures—to make effective statements.
- Marketing and Digital Media: You’ll study how businesses approach digital marketing and then plan your own marketing campaign using various media channels.
- Design for User Experience: This class focuses on designing digital products, such as websites and mobile apps, with the user in mind.
- Fundamentals of Animation: You’ll dive into the entire production process for animations, from designing storyboards to editing short sequences and adding sounds.
- Creative Storytelling: In this course, you’ll explore how to produce powerful stories that resonate with people and how to apply this to different media.
- Media Ethics: This course delves into common ethical issues in digital media, such as privacy, free speech, and copyright.
- Portfolio Development: A portfolio is pretty much a requirement for most digital media careers, so you’ll build personal projects and participate in workshops where students give feedback to each other.
Aside from these courses, you will most likely have to work on a thesis or capstone project to complete your online digital media degree.
Online Digital Media Degree Admissions Requirements
As with traditional programs, you’ll still have to submit specific requirements to get into online digital media programs:
- High school transcripts. This is the main document schools will look for as proof that you graduated from high school.
- SAT or ACT scores (if required). Some online programs might not ask for this, but showing high SAT or ACT scores may boost your chances of getting in.
- Personal essay. To get to know more about you, schools might ask you to write an essay describing your experiences, achievements, and reasons for being interested in their program.
In addition, schools will typically ask you to fill out an application form online. Depending on the program, more application materials, such as letters of recommendation, may be required as well.
With several choices for online digital media programs out there, it can be strategic to check whether a school is regionally accredited.
Regional accreditation is awarded to colleges when they meet certain quality standards. You can think of it as quality control for education. This is determined by accrediting organizations that are approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If a school is regionally accredited, you may find it easier to transfer credits if you ever need to change schools.
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Federal financial aid is also only available for degree programs at accredited schools. Some employers even find degrees from accredited schools more trustworthy.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
To help reduce the costs of getting an online degree in digital media, you can turn to various financial aid and scholarship options.
One of the main resources you can look into is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines your eligibility for government-funded loans and grants. Loans have to be paid back with interest after you graduate, while grants cover part or all of your tuition expenses for free.
Alternatively, you can go for scholarships. Since these aren’t directly from the government, they’re considered private aid. Scholarships are often awarded based on your personal achievements, relevant experience, grades, or level of financial need.
What Is a Digital Media Degree?
A digital media degree is an undergraduate degree that focuses on digitized content, such as graphics, multimedia, social media posts, and digital photography. It can train you to analyze and critique these forms of media and to develop an eye for visual communication.
As you progress, you can also learn how to produce digital media yourself, enabling you to build up a portfolio of work even before you graduate. A digital media degree is considered interdisciplinary because many of its classes blend art and technology. You may also have the option to specialize in a particular type of media.
Is Digital Media a Good Major?
Yes, digital media is a good major for many undergraduate students. For one, digital media is definitely a growing industry. As both people and businesses become more reliant on technology, the demand for digital media also increases.
Not surprisingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in media and communication to increase by 14% over the next ten years, which is faster than average. New job titles will likely be added every year as more new forms of digital media emerge amidst technological innovations.
You can exercise your creativity in a variety of digital media sectors, depending on your interests. Some graduates pursue entertainment industries, while others pursue marketing, healthcare, or education. Nearly every industry has a use for technology and media.
What Can You Do with a Digital Media Degree?
A digital media degree is a flexible degree that can lead to a wide range of job opportunities. Some digital media graduates work in technology. They might work as UX designers, web developers, interaction designers, and eCommerce specialists.
Others pursue careers in art and entertainment, working as digital photographers, graphic designers, and video editors. Marketing could be another potential career path. Many marketing analysts, social media marketers, and advertisers have degrees in digital media.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor in Digital Media Online?
A digital media bachelors usually consists of around 120 credit hours. The amount of time that it’ll take you to finish, though, often depends on the specific program as well as your own availability.
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Full-time digital media majors typically take 4 years to finish their degree. It will generally take longer if you enroll part-time, but this can also allow for a more flexible schedule. Many online digital media programs offer accelerated formats as well as more flexible, self-paced classes.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor Degree in Digital Media vs. Digital Marketing?
Bachelor degrees in digital media and digital marketing might seem very similar, but there are key differences:
- Digital media: A bachelors in digital media emphasizes media production, with several core courses on art and digital design. Because of this, it tends to teach creative techniques and technical skills in more depth.
- Digital marketing: A bachelors in digital marketing will have more business courses. More than media production, the emphasis is on promotion and increasing sales for businesses.
While both are fairly recent fields, digital media degrees tend to be more common than digital marketing degrees.
What’s the Difference Between Digital Media vs. Social Media Degree?
A digital media degree isn’t exactly the same as a social media degree. Here’s why:
- Digital media: A digital media degree has a much wider scope than a social media degree. Social media is only one form of digital media among many others, such as video games, apps, and websites.
- Social media: A social media degree will mostly tackle media that’s meant for social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Social media bachelor programs aren’t as widely available yet, but it’s possible to select a digital media degree and then specialize in social media.
What’s the Difference Between Graphic Design vs. Digital Media Bachelor Degree?
There are similarities between a graphic design degree and a digital media degree, but you won’t learn the same skills in both. Let’s break it down:
- Graphic design: A graphic design degree mostly deals with assets that are static, such as logos, posters, infographics, and email templates.
- Digital media: A digital media major deals with assets that are more interactive, involving not only visuals but also sounds, movement, and user responses.
Graphic design degrees have been around for longer than digital design degrees because they can also involve print and traditional publishing. Nearly all digital media programs feature graphic design classes, though, to help students strengthen their visual communication.
Is a Digital Media Degree Worth It?
Yes, a digital media degree is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the media and communication sector is growing faster than average, with 14% job growth and more than 150,000 new jobs expected over the next ten years.
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Pursuing a degree in digital media might help give you a competitive edge because you can gain experience with different kinds of media. You might also have a portfolio by the time you graduate. You may also pick up diverse skills that you can apply to various career paths. Regardless of what career you pursue, being proficient in storytelling, design, communication, and digital software can be very useful.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Digital Media Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
California Baptist University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Gulf Coast State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
JWU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lindenwood is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Minnesota State University Moorhead is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
North Central University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelor of Digital Media Degree Online
Digital media is an incredibly cutting-edge field where you can utilize your creativity and play around with the latest technology.
If this sounds interesting to you, then a digital media bachelors degree might align well with your passions and your vision for your future career.
There are multiple online programs available for digital media, so why not explore accredited schools and start building your portfolio of work?