Graphic Design and Multimedia Associate Degree

Graphic design and multimedia associate degree programs mix art with computers. Learn more about this field, what to expect from degree programs, courses in illustration and design, and possible career paths including freelance work.

What Can I Expect from an Associate's Degree in this Field?

Associate's degree programs in multimedia and graphic design are not as common as regular graphic design programs, although these programs commonly include study in multimedia. To some extent, this depends on the definitions used by the school. A graphic design degree program takes about two years to finish and can be completed online as well as on traditional college campuses. Online programs could include Internet-based discussion forums, interactive correspondence with professors and artistic collaborations.

Program Types Programs available in-person or online.
Common Courses Coloration, illustration, design theory, digital design, and design for the Internet.
Graphic Design vs. Multimedia Graphic design focuses on visuals, multimedia focuses on mediums like animation
Career Options Graphic designer, advertiser, freelance artist/designer, and graphic design assistant.
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 4% (for graphic designers)
Median Salary (2018)* $50,370 (for graphic designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Classes Could I Take?

If you enroll in an associate's degree program in graphic design and multimedia, you can expect to take general education classes in addition to classes in graphic design. Other areas of study could include digital photography, animation, drawing or Web design. Many courses of study also help you develop a creative portfolio that can be shown to potential employers or admissions committees. The following are examples of classes you might find in the curriculum:

  • Illustration
  • Coloration
  • Design layouts
  • History of design
  • Design theory
  • Digital design
  • Design for the Internet

What Is Graphic Design and Multimedia?

Graphic design is the practice of communicating information visually, usually in the context of advertising or public relations. This practice can incorporate techniques like typography, illustration, animation, coloring or graphic layout. Graphic design may be used for promotions, advertisements, brochures, packaging or marketing campaigns. Additionally, graphic design is becoming more heavily incorporated into websites and blogs. The design process often includes planning, sketching, collaborating with other artists and writers, executing a design and pitching it to executives. Many professionals in this field use specialized design software and computers.

The field of multimedia typically includes elements of graphic design, but it may be focused more specifically on animation, computer graphics and media production. College programs may center on graphic design or multimedia separately; some programs cover both.

What Kinds of Jobs Can I Get?

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that you typically need a bachelor's degree to work as a graphic designer, you could be eligible for a number of other careers ( For example, you could work at newspapers, magazines, artistic departments or advertising agencies. You could also work as a freelance artist or designer. You can also find work as an assistant to other graphic designers.