Visual Effects Majors

Visual effects bachelor's degree programs can help you develop skills in character development, graphic design, computer animation and filmmaking. Continue reading for more details about majoring in visual effects, whether programs are available online and what prerequisites you would have to complete. Also, get information about employment prospects. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn as a Visual Effects Major?

Visual effects artists work in the television and movie industries creating attention-grabbing special effects that integrate character movement, text and sound. These artists specialize in making the impossible seem possible. As a visual effects student, you will learn to create these effects using industry standard software such as Motion Builder, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Z-Brush. The visual effects curriculum typically combines skills and concepts from video making, graphic design and animation and consists of classes such as the following:

  • Texture creation
  • Lighting and camera techniques
  • Character setup
  • Concept development
  • Pre-production methods
  • Cinematography
  • Traditional animation
  • Computer animation
  • Intellectual property law
  • 3D Modeling

Throughout your program, you will incorporate your visual effects projects into a professional portfolio to show to prospective employers. Some programs also offer you the opportunity to complete an internship in order to gain practical experience in the field.

Common CoursesComputer animation, texture creation, character setup, cinematography
Degree OptionsOnline bachelor's degrees available
Typical PrerequisitesAdvanced drawing skills, portfolio or drawing test, understanding of human anatomy, personal essay
Career OptionsCompositor, special effects designer, visual effects artist, motion designer
Median Salary (2018)$72,520 (Multimedia Artists and Animators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (Multimedia Artists and Animators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Can I Earn this Degree Online?

Visual effects bachelor's degrees are available as 100% online programs. You will take the same courses as in an on-campus program; however, the interactive classes, assignments and tests will be delivered via the Web. Class discussions and communication with instructors may occur through online conferencing, chat rooms and e-mail. You may be required to purchase additional software for your classes.

What Prerequisites Must I Meet?

In addition to an understanding of human anatomy and its relationship to movement, advanced drawing skills are helpful. It may also help you to understand composition, color and design prior to applying to a visual effects degree program. Some programs require you to submit a portfolio or perform an on-site drawing test as part of your admissions application, while other programs only recommend submitting a portfolio in order to waive certain foundation courses. Other prerequisites might include a minimum high school GPA of 2.0 and a personal essay describing your interest in this field and your educational goals.

What is the Career Outlook for this Industry?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for multimedia artists and animators will increase by 8% from 2016 to 2026 due to the growing consumer demand for more television and movie special effects, realistic video game graphics and 3D animation ( In May 2018, the annual median salary for multimedia and animation artists was $72,520. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in visual effects may work in the movie, television or video game industries in a variety of entry-level positions such as the following:

  • Special effects designer
  • Motion designer
  • Visual effects artist
  • Compositor
  • Broadcast design assistant

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Full Sail University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Liberty University

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  • American University

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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Ferris State University

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    • Michigan: Big Rapids
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    • New York: Rochester
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    • California: Chula Vista
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    • Texas: Huntsville