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Digital media is a challenging yet rewarding field with exciting opportunities for individuals with online associates in digital media degrees. The field integrates current technologies including digital media production and the creative processes behind digital art and design, as well as visual communication principles in informing and entertaining target audiences.
Digital media is in constant flux and, thus, the best online digital media degree programs keep up with the times. This is possible through changes in the curriculum content, the use of current technologies in hands-on learning, and updates to the students’ working knowledge of digital media.
Every outstanding online digital media degree program prepares learners for a wide range of career opportunities. Graduates find gainful employment in digital publishing, website design, and animation, even the art community, among other industries where visual communications are an integral part.
An associate in digital media degree is the first step in establishing a successful career in the ever-expanding digital media industry! The best online digital media associate degree programs prepare students for entry-level employment in a wide range of occupations, from graphic design to web development. These virtual programs are also excellent preparation for higher education, particularly a bachelor’s degree in digital media, visual communications, and other related fields.
Graduates of digital media programs must also strive for continuing education, particularly in skills development. With the ever-evolving nature of digital media distribution and media technologies, your technical skill sets must keep up with current technologies while your transferable skills must be further developed.
Check Out The Schools That Made the List Using These Quick Jumps!
- Texas State Technical College
- Milwaukee Area Technical College
- Sessions College for Professional Design
- Seminole State College of Florida
- Indiana Wesleyan University
- Northwest Vista College
- Wilmington University
- Madison Area Technical College
- Bates Technical College
- Central Ohio Technical College
Online Associates in Digital Media degrees are offered in numerous schools across the country, but the 10 programs on our list prove to be the most ideal choices, owing to these features:
- Classes are held online or in a hybrid format, delivered synchronously or asynchronously, with an aim to provide students with a convenient way to attend the associate program,
- Comprehensive coursework that highlights the many facets of Digital Media as a discipline to prepare students for a bachelor’s program, while emphasizing the digital media skills that future professionals are expected to possess to succeed in the workplace,
- Transfer Pathway Agreements with higher education institutions to provide students a seamless way to transition to the four-year undergraduate Digital Media degree,
- Virtual learning platform or Learning Management System that allows for easy access to academic coursework and other resources for students’ quality online learning experience at the associate degree level,
- Financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, and military aid are offered,
- Proper accreditation from academic organizations to prove that the online Digital Media program and the college that offers it are fully compliant with existing academic standards,
- Consistently positive reviews from industry organizations and students.
Read our Methodology page for more details.
10 Best Online Associate in Digital Media Degree Programs
Texas State Technical College
Learners in the online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media Design Technology program learn technical skills that enable them to design compelling visual web content for diverse industries. Their creative process will apply to diverse applications of digital media, too, from graphic design and videography to website design and development.
The hands-on training provided in the digital media design program covers diverse technical and creative art skill sets. These include:
- Graphic Media Production
- User Experience Design
Students use the current technologies, too, in the creative process, thus, bringing to life the technical-meets-creative nature of digital media. They use the Adobe Creative Suite in creating compelling content for digital media art purposes, including digital imaging, digital publishing, and modeling and rendering.
Learners pursuing the digital media major must complete the 63-credit program to be awarded the associate degree. The program is designed for completion in 20 months and its courses prepare students for digital media careers in business, government, and nonprofits.
Texas State Technical College, a public community college, with accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools, is also offering financial aid to qualifying students.
Milwaukee Area Technical College
The online Associate in Applied Science in Web and Digital Media Design program at MATC is among the best digital media degree programs because of its comprehensive coverage.
- Interface Design
- Website Design and Development
- User Experience
Both front-end web development and the website design are emphasized during hands-on learning. In fact, students who earn an associate in applied science in a digital media degree also earn a technical diploma as a front-end web developer! Digital media students also use current technologies in all web development and database website design courses.
Business skills combined with talent in the arts are a must in a successful digital media career, and it’s exactly what students develop in the online associate degree program. Business courses include math with business applications, psychology of human relations, and digital marketing.
Transferable skills are developed through general education courses. The program and its courses prepare students for real-world challenges, too, via an internship that provides hands-on experience. Students also develop their portfolios, many of which can be considered works of art.
Learners who want to earn an associate degree in digital media must complete the academic requirements for 61 credits. These credits can be transferred to a bachelor’s degree in four-year universities.
Among the program highlights of the associate degree is the diverse career opportunities that await graduates. These include website designers and website developers, UX designers and developers, and interface designers and developers.
Admission into the associate degree in digital media program requires demonstration of basic computer skills and familiarity with the Internet.
Milwaukee Area Technical College, a public vocational-technical college, offers financial aid to students in its associate degree programs. Federal financial aid is the most common.
Sessions College for Professional Design
The online Associate of Occupational Studies in Digital Media program at Sessions College prepares learners for entry-level jobs in animation, video production, and motion graphics, among other occupations. This is a demanding two-year digital media degree program that welcomes both adult learners and fresh high school graduates.
Regardless of their background, learners develop a strong foundation in digital media as well as a functional knowledge of digital media production technologies. Not surprisingly, many graduates become well-known video editors because of the hands-on experience!
Among the program highlights is the well-rounded curriculum wherein digital media students develop their fundamental art and design skills during their first year. The second-year coursework places the emphasis on time-based media techniques, as well as hands-on learning in Autodesk Maya, Animate, and Adobe Premiere.
The program in an associate degree in digital media has a 72-credit curriculum designed for completion in two years. But learners can lengthen their time-to-completion, if necessary, through part-time matriculation.
The coursework covers:
- Color Theory
- Digital Arts through drawing and Photoshop
- Video Editing
All are taught using current technologies. Business skills are developed via general education and elective courses like business and technical writing, creative businesses, and creative process.
Students must complete a capstone course in Digital Media and a guided portfolio review. The latter is crucial in the future career of students as potential employers may require a portfolio of works for consideration. They also develop professional competencies in video production, visual communication, and creative problem-solving.
Classes start at multiple times of the year – January, April, and August. But students may also choose the early start dates in February, June, and October.
Seminole State College of Florida
The online Associate in Science in Digital Media program at Seminole State prepares learners for higher education, particularly for transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at the state college or to the University of Central Florida. Many graduates of the associate of science in digital media degree program also choose to pursue immediate employment, and Seminole State has a 90% job placement rate.
Other reasons for the popularity of the associate of science in a digital media degree program are its affordable tuition – about half the cost of four-year universities’ tuition – and small class sizes.
Digital media students must complete 64 credits to earn the associate degree in digital media, and the courses are nearly evenly split between digital media major courses and electives.
- Introduction to Digital media
- Fundamentals of Interactive Design
- Social Media Tools
Among the notable program highlights are that digital media students not only develop technical skills but also explore theories behind information conveyance and audience response. Learners also learn to work as individuals and as part of a group while building their respective portfolios.
Indiana Wesleyan University
Classes start on multiple dates for the online Associate of Science in Creative Digital Media program at IndWes. Students must complete 20 courses over 29 months to earn the associate of science in digital media degree. Note that it’s a fairly fast-paced curriculum with academic demands that rival on-campus digital media degree programs.
Digital media students tackle coursework in graphic design for digital communication, strategic social media, and website design, among other digital media major courses. Students also use current technologies in developing skills in digital media content creation, strategic storytelling, videography, and photography.
Graduates of the associate of science in digital media degree program use their technical skill sets to establish careers as content specialists, UX/UI specialists, and digital storytellers. The admissions process for prospective students of the associate degree in digital media degree program includes submission of a high school diploma or GED certification.
Indiana Wesleyan University, a private Christian university, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Northwest Vista College
The online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media program at NVC offers digital media students three choices in concentration – instructional design, interactive media design, and web/graphic design.
The digital media degree also uses current technologies in a graphic, interface, and web design, as well as programming languages, Adobe Creative Suite, and content management systems. There’s an emphasis on website content production alongside website design and development.
Digital media learners build their portfolios, thus, enabling them to persuade potential employers to hire them. There’s a practicum course for hands-on learning and business-related courses like e-commerce marketing and Internet commerce.
Prospective students who want to be admitted to the associate degree in digital media program must possess basic computer, web browsing, and software skills.
Northwest Vista College, a public community college, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The online Associate of Science in Digital Media program at WilmU prepares students for the competitive world of digital media, particularly in creating creative and compelling content across several platforms. Graduates are job-ready with their proficient technical skills in digital media but can also pursue higher education with a bachelor’s degree in digital media or a preferred design program.
Students in the digital media degree program gain hands-on experience in page layout, photo editing, and illustration for mobile applications and other digital media platforms. Instructors also encourage the development of a solid foundation in business skills and in the use of current technologies. Meaningful peer-to-peer and faculty-to-student interactions are guaranteed, thanks to small class sizes.
Portfolio development is an important part of the online digital media program with students building their design portfolio via individual projects. Students tackle courses in the effective use of Adobe Creative Suite including Illustrator and Photoshop. Vector drawing, basic and intermediate InDesign, and concept development are also in the curriculum.
The program consists of 20 courses amounting to 60 credits, meaning it has a two-year completion period. But digital media learners may also earn the associate degree faster through the transfer of credits.
The admissions process includes the submission of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Standardized test scores aren’t required, but satisfactory scores may exempt prospective students from taking the placement tests in math and English.
Wilmington University, a private university, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Madison Area Technical College
The hybrid Associate in Web & Digital Media Design program at Madison College has some online classes and some in-person classes. Students earn an associate degree in digital media in two years of full-time study and earn 68 credits. The earned credits can also be transferred into a bachelor’s degree in digital media or other related programs.
In the web and digital media design program, students develop their digital media design and production skills, particularly in the user interface and user experience aspects. This is an outstanding digital media design program because students establish strong functional knowledge of the creative and technical processes behind creating effective websites and their content.
Aside from creating compelling content for digital or electronic devices, students also learn about effective project management skills. These skills are crucial in meeting deadlines and client expectations about the final output.
Students may also earn another associate degree, either in Graphic Design or in Visual Communications, when they are accepted into the web and digital media design program. Part-time and full-time matriculation is also available for digital media learners.
The digital media associate degree program emphasizes the use of current technology in courses like:
- Topographic Design
- UX design
- Advanced Website Page Design
- Motion Design
- Social Media Strategies
Admission into the associate degree in digital media program requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent, minimum. Graduates who earn the associate degree in digital media are proficient in digital communication and in project management, as well as possess business skills.
Bates Technical College
Bates Tech offers a hybrid Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media program with a length of six quarters. Students must possess creative skills as well as be willing to learn the technical skill sets necessary to put the associate degree in digital media to good use. The program emphasizes visual communications, too.
Small class sizes ensure that students have optimal learning conditions – the maximum class size is 40 students. The associate degree program offers a combination of online, hybrid, and in-person classes.
Students must learn the use of current technology, such as Mac computers, DSLR and Prosumer cameras, and Adobe Creative Suite applications. Digital media learners also tackle courses in pre-production and post-production processes, video and audio production, and compositing.
Graduates who earn an associate degree in digital media become graphic designers, video editors, and creative services editors.
Central Ohio Technical College
Yet another hybrid associate degree program is from COTC, the Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media Design Technology program with a comprehensive exploration of digital design and media. Students learn about color theory including color correction, typography, and social media strategies, as well as digital media production techniques and website development.
Students pursuing the associate degree in digital media choose from two concentrations – web design and graphic design; each is a subset of digital design. But it’s also possible for students to pursue both majors by adding more classes to their program of study.
This is among the more well-rounded associate degrees in digital media programs because of its emphasis on the balance between technical skills and creative approaches. Students showcase both their technical and creative sides through a portfolio that can be used for employment application purposes.
Part-time and full-time enrollment is possible, and it will affect the actual time to completion. Students who matriculate for 3-5 courses per semester (full-time) will earn an associate degree in digital media faster than part-time students.
Importance of Digital Media in Business Settings
The best online digital media degree programs prepare students for the challenging demands of the business world, particularly of e-commerce, among the fastest-rising industries. The series of business courses build business skills that are valued by potential employers in the business industry.
Both large corporations and small mom-and-pop businesses that want to establish, maintain and strengthen their active presence on digital media platforms are looking for digital media professionals.
But, why is digital media of crucial importance in business settings?
- Digital media encourages and facilitates social interactions between individuals and groups despite physical and geographical distance. Businesses can cash in on digital media and its social interactions by boosting brand recognition on its multiple platforms.
- Digital media aligns with the shopping habits of consumers. The average American can spend more than 24 hours every week online, many hours of which are spent on looking for products and services as well as shopping. Many consumers will even look at online sources for products and services before heading to a physical store.
- Digital media enables small businesses to compete with large corporations with the use of effective digital media and marketing practices. Mom-and-pop businesses will then have a need for digital media professionals to carve a niche for themselves!
Indeed, an associate degree in digital media can be part of your social advocacy aside from being your ticket to professional success!
Digital Media vs. Digital Marketing
Students pursuing an associate in digital media degree tackle business courses that touch on digital marketing principles and practices. But while digital media and digital marketing go hand in hand, these have a few differences.
The term “digital media” refers to the content and, thus, these are considered assets by an organization. Digital marketing refers to the act of content placement on digital media platforms, such as Facebook. The content may be in the form of posts, paid search ads, and banner ads, among other examples, which should be placed for maximum return on investment.
Careers and Salaries of Associates in Digital Media Graduates
Digital media graduates can become seasoned digital media pros with relevant work experience and, in the case of management positions, with higher education (e.g., bachelor’s degree and master’s degree). But potential employers are willing to hire individuals with an associate in digital media degree for entry-level or junior positions, such as in digital design firms.
Social Media Specialists ($47,727/year)
These professionals create and manage content on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Customer engagement and action are among their primary goals.
Web Analytics Specialists ($87,413/year)
Effective SEO management is the main job of web analytics specialists. Their day-to-day tasks include evaluation of website traffic, customer engagement, and leads.
Film and Video Editors ($56,167/year)
Editing raw video footage is among the major duties of film and video editors. Their primary places of employment are in the entertainment industry, such as in films and television shows, as well as in the advertisement industry.
Web Designers ($58,517/year)
Web designers are responsible for the functional design of websites, such as the color scheme, navigation, and buttons.
Graphic Designers ($50,227/year)
Graphic designers are experts at using software in creating graphics for web page design, advertisements, and other digital media images.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Associates in Digital Media degrees?
These are associate degrees wherein graduates possess a wide range of technical skill sets in digital media, from content creation to website design. Graduates are also skilled at digital media production for various types of digital media, from blogs to vlogs.
What’s the best degree to become Digital Media pros?
Potential employers prefer applicants with higher education – an associate in digital media degree and related fields is an excellent start. But you must go beyond an associate degree and consider continuing education combined with relevant work experiences chosen for their strategic value in your career advancement.
Is an associate degree in Digital Media worth it?
Yes, it is and thousands of digital media graduates can attest to it! Choose between being an art director or graphic designer, for example.
What’s the difference between Digital Media and Graphic Design degrees?
Digital media and graphic design have multiple similarities including their emphasis on the equal importance of technical skills and creative talent. But where graphic design can use traditional methods and distribution channels, digital media tend to be limited to digital devices. Both degrees can be used to pursue an art director career.
What’s the difference between Digital Media and Social Media degrees?
Both are related since digital media majors can choose a social media specialization. But a digital media degree has a wider coverage whereas a social media degree tends to be limited to social media topics.
Associates in digital media degrees are excellent tickets to entry-level jobs in the ever-changing, ever-growing digital media industry. Online programs prepare students for the challenges and rewards of being competitive digital media pros in the future.
But an associate degree in digital media is just the start of a journey toward professional success. Continuing education and skills development are a must for career advancement.