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What is Digital Arts?
Digital Arts is a field of study emphasizing the use of digital technology as a conduit for the creative and presentation process. Techniques of digital artists are used by large publishing houses and small businesses around the world in advertisements, commercials, print media, movies, and websites.
Digital arts can be solely created via a computer as seen in algorithmic art and fractals or from other sources like an image build with vector graphics. In either case, the degree path of Digital Arts teaches students the nuances and psychology behind effective visual messaging.
A professional digital artist can be expected to create pieces that engage the user, invoke a conversation, influence consumers, inspire individuals, and knit together organizations. Higher level coursework of Digital Arts may include elements of 2D art theory, 3D art theory, hardware manipulation, state-of-the-art software, digital art conventions, and aesthetics.
Top Digital Arts Degrees
For prospective students considering a degree in digital arts, you have never had as many choices to sift through. To illustrate, students can find undergraduate certificate programs and undergraduate degrees in addition to master degree programs.
In addition to classroom based courses, students can also enroll in online learning degrees in digital arts. The combination of degree programs plus learning modalities can be dizzying for students. In an effort to simplify the process for prospective students, we have summarized the degree programs below.
To ease the process of connecting with accredited programs, we have also created a complete portal with online college programs and top degree programs in the field of study.
Digital Arts Certificate Programs
Online certificate programs can come in two different flavors: undergraduate and graduate. Undergraduate degrees are foundational programs that provide new students with the basics to obtain a job in the field or move on to a degree program in the field.
Graduate certificate programs, on the other hand, are for experienced professionals and qualifying students. The clustering of classes provides targeted skills to help students remain competitive, upskill, enhance their career, or prepare for a vocational transition. Certificate programs may last a year to two years depending on the scope of the program and course load of each student.
Digital Arts Associate's Degrees
Associate degrees can be conferred as an Associate of Arts (AS) in the field or a subset such as game design, motion design, entertainment design, or animation. An associate’s degree can be earned in class or online and is designed to be a 2-year program for full time students. The AS degree program blends general education courses with core classes to provide students with a well-rounded education. General education courses may include classes such as statistics, communications, history, philosophy, psychology, and creative writing.
Core classes in an AS program will correlate to the area of specialization. For example, students studying animation will take classes in drawing, principles of design, visual culture, color and design, 3D animation, visual storytelling, studio arts, and writing in the digital age. On the other hand, if a student elects to specialize in motion design classes will be colored by studio arts, cinematography, studio visits, motion graphics, and math for designers.
Digital Arts Bachelor's Degrees
A bachelor’s degree in digital arts is conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). As the most popular degree chosen, the bachelor degree will take around 4-years to complete. BFA and BA programs fuse general education courses with core curricula to provide an integrative set of thinking skills for students. Core curriculum at this level will generally include classes such as:
- Motion Graphics
- Rapid Visualization
- 3D Design
- Motion Graphics
- Multimedia for Designers
- Innovation & Problem Solving
- Product Design
- Design Theory
- Advanced Sound and Audio
- Digital Audio Recording
- Professional Communications
- Web Design
- Managing Data
- Materials Behavior and Processing
Digital Arts Master's Degrees
Graduate degrees at this level in digital arts will typically be conferred as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Master degrees will take students 1-2 years to complete with a substantive portion of the program taking advanced classes and building a robust portfolio.
Some master’s degree programs will allow students to customize their curriculum by working closely with an academic advisor. Other programs provide students with a defined set of curricula with a prescribed set of known outcomes. In either case, graduate students will have access to top-tier professors in accredited institutions to prepare them for career enhancing material in the arts.
Employment in Digital Arts
For students that earn a college degree in Digital Arts, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from computer graphics, computer technologies, teaching, corporate communications, advertising, photography, web production, consulting, modeling, editor, production designer, and visual effects supervisor.
Top Employers of Digital Artists
- Motion Picture Studios 8,530
- Computer Design Firms 4,360
- Software Publishers 3,250
- Public Relations Firms 2,790
- Information Technology Consulting 1,650
States with the Highest Number of Digital Artists
- California 10,910
- New York 1,960
- Washington 1,800
- Texas 1,720
- Georgia 1,430
Top Paying States for Digital Artists
- California $82,680
- Connecticut $78,870
- Massachusetts $77,370
- District of Columbia $76,530
- Washington $76,130
How Much Do Digital Artists Make?
The BLS has estimated that the field will expand by 8% which will add some 15,900 jobs in the coming decade. The median annual income of a digital artist is $52,290 with the top 10% earning nearly $116,000 a year while the bottom ten percent average $38,520 a year.
Given the broad nature of the Digital Arts degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location. Related fields include teaching, curriculum design, research, consulting, production, editing, modeling, web production, and advertising.
List of Digital Arts Associations
- Inter-Society Color Council
- Society for Environmental Graphic Design
- ACM SIGGRAPH
- International Colour Association
- American Institute of Graphic Arts
- International Game Developers Association
- Association Typographic International
- Entertainment Software Association
- Graphic Artists Guild
- Society of Illustrators, Artists, and Designers