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Visual Media Degree Programs and Jobs

Visual media degrees cover a variety of fields, including graphic design, communication and media arts. Find out what is offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and learn what career options you'll have with a degree in visual media.

What You Need to Know

Visual media is a broad term, and relevant degrees can come in many forms. You can study visual media at the undergraduate or graduate level in programs related to communication, graphic design, illustration or new media. Many schools offer programs that you can complete on-campus or online.

Degrees Bachelor of Science in Media, Culture and Communication, Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Bachelor of Arts Digital Media Design, Master of Science in Communications Design, Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
Certificates Digital Media Specialist Certificate, Visual Studies Graduate Certificate
Courses Media and cultural studies, corporate image planning, color theory and typography, media writing, new and interactive media

What Can I Expect From a Visual Media Degree Program?

At universities, 4-year bachelor's degree programs typically include a large amount of general education and liberal arts requirements in addition to visual media or communication studies. On the other hand, art school programs tend to emphasize studio courses, letting you practice the visual media you are studying. A Digital Media Specialist certificate program might also be offered, and this can lead to a bachelor's degree.

What About Visual Media Graduate Degree Programs?

Master's degree programs, which generally take 2 to 3 years of study to complete, require you to specialize, either with an academic or a studio-arts emphasis. A Visual Studies Graduate Certificate could also be available in addition to a Master of Science in Communications Design or a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

What Will I Study?

Visual media courses and programs focus on the techniques, theories and social effects of creating and disseminating visual media and communications. Academic courses typically involve the study of communications theory and the histories of art, design or television. Many visual media-oriented programs require you to complete a professional internship in the field, as well as a capstone or thesis project. These topics may be explored:

  • Graphic design
  • Digital imaging
  • Animation
  • Photography
  • Media software

What Careers Can I Pursue?

With training in graphic design and new media, you could work with advertising companies, newspapers or design firms. With a master's degree in visual communication coupled with a teaching license, you could pursue a career in art education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a large number of artists and designers are self-employed, earning a living by freelancing for clients on a full- or part-time basis (www.bls.gov). Other relevant job titles include the following:

  • Scientific illustrator
  • Animator
  • Art director
  • Website developer