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What Are the Courses in an Online College Degree in Media Arts?

Media arts is an interdisciplinary field that can encompass web design, animation, film studies, online video journalism and multimedia production. This article examines the typical core courses found in an online media arts degree program.

Courses in an Online Degree Program in Media Arts

Degree programs in media arts can go by several names, such as Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Design or Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies. Most of these programs focus on how students can express themselves artistically through a variety of mediums, ranging from film to radio to web technology. Some schools offer these programs online to accommodate students who live far from campus or work full-time. Central topics include web design and accessibility, digital imaging, multimedia programming and animation.

Important Facts About Online Media Arts Degrees

Degree Levels Master's degrees and post-baccalaureate certificates are also offered
Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent
Concentrations Web graphic design; graphic and multimedia design; web design and development
Possible Careers 2D animator; 3D animator; assistant project manager; storyboard artist; digital illustrator

Introduction to Media Arts

This course generally begins with media arts history and progresses to a discussion of film, video and audio production, computerized digital imaging and emerging media arts technologies. Most courses combine theoretical and practical applications and require students to produce projects in several specialized areas of concentration.

Web Design

Learning to create well-designed, user-friendly web pages is fundamental to all media arts studies. This course typically introduces students to web design software, HTML (hypertext markup language) and XHTML (extensible hypertext markup language) programming, CMS (content management systems), CSS (cascading style sheets), design theory and elements, editing and scripting.

Web Accessibility

Some schools incorporate accessibility instruction into basic web design courses, but most offer this as a separate course. A media arts course in Web accessibility shows students how to incorporate into a website the needs of users with hearing and sight impairments and how to make sure the site's design adheres to legal requirements and industry standards.

Digital Imaging

Instruction covers an introduction to digital imaging software, file formats, editing and online image delivery. Practical content focuses on artistic and technical skill in color, optimization, special effects, resolution and compression, layering, masking, filtering and painting. Color and design theory is also covered, as is the history of digital representations.

Multimedia Programming

This online media arts course may cover such applications as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign and CorelDraw. Students are taught to create dynamic web pages that incorporate images, animation, movie clips and sound effects. Basic instruction may be provided in streaming technology, video game design and production, web content management and Internet security.

Animation

Animation courses may be found in some media arts degree programs. These courses include instruction in drawing, designing characters and backgrounds, color, story development, 2D and 3D animation, special effects and various computer applications.

Possible Careers

Media arts courses may lead to careers in digital animation or graphic design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $50,370 as of May 2018. Art and design workers made $46,660, while multimedia artists and animators earned $72,520.