The Best Online Master’s in Multimedia Design Programs

| TBS Staff

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Earning an online master’s degree in multimedia design can turn a hobby into a thriving career. Students who love to draw, design, and doodle can use their natural talents to become well–paid professionals. Graduates can become art directors, animators, or advertising managers. These professionals impact American culture and earn significantly higher salaries than the average of $37,690 for all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing managers make an average of $132,230 per year. With steady growth in the industry and the consistent development of groundbreaking technology, now is a great time to enter the field.

Online Master’s in Multimedia Design Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
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  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
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  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

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If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

The Best Online Master’s in Multimedia Design Degree Programs

Quinnipiac University View School Profile $$$$$ Hamden, CT 3% Quinnipiac University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must submit an online portfolio, two letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Arizona State University – ASU Online View School Profile $$ Tempe, AZ 47% Arizona State University – ASU Online is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The MS in graphic information technology at ASU requires 33 credit hours and each class lasts 15 weeks. This multimedia design master’s degree challenges professionals in the graphic information field to develop advanced administration skills. Students in the online program complete the applied project track, which includes 18 credits in a technical area of emphasis, nine credits in a supporting area, three credits in research, and three credits in an applied project.

The school offers six start dates per year. Applicants must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer or software engineering or a related field and a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit GRE scores and a statement of purpose.

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Choosing an Online Master’s in Multimedia Design Program

Because multimedia design is a broad area of study, students should carefully research each prospective program. Learners should first identify their career goals. For example, students who enjoy hands–on work with design techniques may wish to become art directors or animators. Meanwhile, learners who want to oversee big picture ideas may excel in management positions. After students choose a path, they should look for online programs with relevant coursework.

Students who want to become animators should ensure their programs offer courses in animation with the newest technology. Similarly, potential marketing managers may prefer programs that emphasize management and leadership courses. Future art directors should look for programs that balance the technical and business aspects of multimedia design.

Students in programs without planned specializations often create their own niches through elective courses. In addition to available concentrations and classes, students should consider program requirements such as portfolios and thesis projects. Because a master’s degree is a significant investment, students should only apply to programs with regional accreditation to ensure employers and other institutions will recognize their degree.

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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Multimedia Design Program?

Each student’s multimedia design master’s degree is unique. Learners customize the degree through thesis projects, portfolios, concentrations, and electives. However, some classes are relatively common requirements for students earning a master’s degree in multimedia design. Below are some of the most common courses in graduate–level multimedia design programs.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Multimedia Design

Brand Development
Students explore branding to prepare to design projects for corporations. Students learn how to create a brand with fonts, colors, and design rules.
Design Strategies
Students build on knowledge of design principles and learn to make their creations more effective. This course covers theories and research that prompts learners to think critically about design.
Multi–Platform Delivery
Students learn to create designs that work across a variety of mediums. Learners gain technical skills to make campaigns for websites, mobile apps, television, billboards, and flyers.
Measuring Design Effectiveness
Students discover aspects of an effective design and learn how to demonstrate the value of their work to clients. Learners create return–on–investment reports and gain analytical skills.
Thesis
Many master’s programs in multimedia design culminate in thesis projects that can span several semesters. Students conduct research, analyze data, and publish a report on their findings.
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Careers with a Master’s in Multimedia Design

Graduates with a master’s degree in multimedia design can turn their passion for design and media into leadership careers. Some graduates become art directors and manage teams of graphic designers. Others work as marketing managers, who oversee account executives, writers, and design professionals. Graduates who do not want to manage others often become animators.

Art Director
These visual design professionals work for agencies, television studios, newspapers, and magazines. They oversee the look and feel of each brand they manage and ensure consistency. A master’s degree can help candidates develop the leadership and design theory skills they need for these positions.
  • Median Annual Salary: $92,500
  • Projected Growth Rate: 5%
Multimedia Artist or Animator
These creative workers can produce art for animation studios, television stations, films, or video game productions. They use cutting-edge computer programs to create engaging designs. While some employers only require candidates to have bachelor’s degrees for these positions, specialized master’s degrees can help professionals land the most coveted jobs.
  • Median Annual Salary: $70,530
  • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Manager
Marketing, promotion, and advertising campaigns often have many moving parts. Copywriters, graphic designers, media buyers, and account executives work together to produce the final product; these managers oversee these projects and professionals. Master’s degrees can provide necessary management skills and technical knowledge.
  • Median Annual Salary: $129,380
  • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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