PhD in Digital Arts

Have your questions about Ph.D. in Digital Arts programs answered here, including those related to program availability, required skills, course topics and career options. Schools offering Digital Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Digital Arts?

Digital arts doctoral programs are rare; however, you might consider earning a doctoral degree in digital media, media arts and sciences or digital arts and experimental media. Ph.D. programs require rigorous research, close work with professors, and access to advanced technical equipment and software. For this reason, programs in this field are primarily campus-based.

Degree Options Doctoral degree in media arts and sciences, digital media or digital arts and experimental media
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in a related field, comfort learning new software programs and working with computers
Coursework Topics Programming for digital arts, animating virtual worlds, interactive environments, composition principles in media arts, digital culture
Median Annual Wage (2015) $65,340 (for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers)*; $46,900 (for graphic designers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% increase (for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers)*; 4% increase (for graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Skills Will I Need?

Most prospective students in this field have an aptitude for the arts. Because much of the work in this field takes place in a digital environment, you should be comfortable working with computers and learning new software programs. For this reason, many programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a related field, like graphic design, animation, web design, drawing or 3-D modeling.

What Will I Learn?

Courses in this degree program combine artistic, didactic and hands-on training. You might study topics like the history of media arts, interactive fiction or networked media. Some programs include coursework in intellectual property law. Additional topics might include:

  • Animating virtual worlds
  • Composition principles in media arts
  • Programming for digital arts
  • Interactive environments
  • Digital culture

You'll be expected to write a dissertation - an original research paper that is overseen by an advisor or advisory committee. Completion of comprehensive or qualifying exams may be required before beginning the dissertation process. Some programs also require completion of a final project or portfolio that demonstrates your mastery of artistic design and programming capabilities.

What Will I Be Qualified to Do?

A Ph.D. in this field could prepare you for work as a postsecondary instructor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed postsecondary teachers specializing in art, drama or music was expected to increase by 12% from 2016-2026 ( Postsecondary art, drama and music teachers earned a median annual salary of $69,960 in 2018, as reported by the BLS.

You could also find work as a graphic designer. The BLS notes that the number of employed graphic designers was predicted to rise by roughly 4% between 2016 and 2026. Job applicants with training in interactive media and website design may find the best job opportunities. According to the BLS, graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $50,370 in 2018.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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