What Is an Interactive Media Degree?

Emily Daw
Emily Daw
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Woman with hand on her hip

An interactive media degree is usually a four-year undergraduate degree that combines elements of art and design with computer science. It can be either a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interactive Media or a Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Interactive Media. Some universities also offer master's degrees in similar fields.

As with most four-year degrees, an undergraduate interactive media degree usually requires a block of general education or liberal arts courses in English, math, history and science. These may make up the bulk of the first two years of the program. Students may begin taking some interactive media courses during this time, however.

Some courses required for an interactive media degree may be similar to those in traditional art degrees, such as art history or principles of design. They may also include mass communications classes. These lay a foundation of knowledge that the student can build upon in specifically interactive media-related settings.

Other courses are specifically tailored to address technological aspects of interactive media. In these classes, students will generally become proficient in Java, HTML and possibly other programming languages as well as Web design programs like Flash. They will learn to apply these skills to create aesthetically appealing, user-friendly designs for both web and desktop use. Web design and interactive media degrees will have a stronger emphasis on Internet-specific aspects of design.

An undergraduate interactive media degree is designed to prepare students for careers in the ever-changing world of computer-related design. Jobs are available for animators, Web masters, Web designers, special effects designers and others who work on the visually creative end of technology. Estimates made in 2011 predicted that interactive media would have the best opportunities for job growth of any art related field through 2014.

Graduate level interactive media degrees may have slightly different focuses and goals from undergraduate degrees. A master's degree in interactive media is often an intensive one-year course that may emphasize art and design theory in addition to practical applications. The terminal degree in this field is the Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media. This degree is usually required for those wanting to teach interactive media at the undergraduate level and may be an advantage in the media industry itself.

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