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The Nation's Top Multimedia Design Schools 2017

Multimedia design is sometimes confused with graphic design, but as graphic designers most commonly work in static design, such as in print and packaging design, multimedia designers typically work with animation and motion graphics for the web, PowerPoint and Flash presentations. For example, Flash is a multimedia program that allows for basic animation. You don’t need to be a programmer to use it, but having basic knowledge of the program will help you to do more with the program.

Multimedia design is one of the fastest-growing career fields in the arts. It is also one of the most exciting. A multimedia designer bridges the gap between a number of disciplines, making these designers an excellent choice for clients. From television and movies to websites and video games, multimedia designers use their talents and skills in animation, technology, and graphic design to create products that inform and entertain.

Multimedia design schools take tech savvy individuals and teach them how to create innovative projects like websites, games, apps, streaming video, and social networks. These highly-specialized schools prepare students for careers in advertising agencies, marketing departments, animation studios, and in film development; just to name a few. Students acquire skills in areas of web page creation, marketing collateral, advertising fundamentals, Adobe certification, enhancement and correction of digital images, and creating instructional and education presentations, as well as how to use blending tools, gradients, transparency, and various effects; model design and construction, motion design, visual communication, and type and typography. Individuals also learn soft skills like how to work in a team, communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving, and decision-making.

The field of multimedia design is competitive. Knowing and understanding that fact will help in your decision to research and find the best multimedia design program to match your career goals. On this page, we provide a list of the nation’s best multimedia design schools, along with guides and links to additional resources for students seeking education or training in a specific area of focus.

  • School Name

    8 schools ranked

  • The School of Design is one of the nation's only institutions to offer degrees at 3 levels: BA, MA and PhD, within a multi-disciplinary research context.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 12,963
  • NYU Steinhardt is famous for its intensive & systematic training of music students in their area of specialization. With superb academic resources, students receive an education of the highest caliber.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 50,027
  • The state of Georgia’s flagship program; the Lamar Dodd School of Art, believes art and design are essential to quality of life. The program develops both the scholarly and creative potential of students.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 36,130
  • Michigan State University - School of Art, Art History & Design (AAHD) offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Textile Design, Apparel, Studio Art, Art Education and Art History. Focusing on both the aesthetic and conceptual elements of education in the visual arts, the Department is committed to developing an appreciation for both its creative and historical aspects. Students are challenged to embark on the learning adventure of a lifetime by experiencing the cultural life of the community, student exhibitions and the visiting artist and scholar lecture series; just to name a few.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 50,538
  • The University of Oregon’s Department of Art is integral to a major research university, obviating the Department’s vast resources for its 500 majors. Located in the lush environment of the Northwest, the Department’s curricula embrace a wide range of media through which students learn: diverse practices, the inextricable link between thinking and making, material techniques, technical skills, and the modalities of conceptual thinking and critical understanding.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 24,032
    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 7,751
    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 40,830
  • In response to the widespread growth of imaging, media systems and high technology information; Texas A&M developed its Visualization Laboratory and the Visualization Academic Program. Degrees available are BS, MA, MFA-V and PhD.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 12,928

How to Choose a Multimedia Design School

Choosing the “right” school among the hundreds of accredited colleges and universities, as well as private art schools in the U.S., can be a daunting and time-consuming process. The fact that colleges that offer degree programs in multimedia design have become more selective over time has made the process of researching and applying to schools all the more difficult. Common questions often arise, such as: “Am I a good enough artist? How many schools do I need to apply to before I am accepted? What do schools look for in an applicant?” Rising costs of attendance and tuition along with the fact that more employers require job candidates to hold a degree in order to be considered for a job, means finding a multimedia design school (or a school with a multimedia design program) that will thoroughly prepare you with the skills needed to be employable is more important than ever before. How do you know you’ve found the right school?

Consider first what type of school you want to attend. Ask yourself the questions: “Do you want a larger university in-state or an out-of-state college in a small town? Would you rather study at a private institute that costs more but offers specialized classes in the multimedia design field, or would you like the flexibility of online coursework?” Whichever you choose, do so because you are convinced that the degree program meets high standards for student outcomes, and that you will be thoroughly prepared for the career you want to pursue.

PRIVATE OR PUBLIC SCHOOL?

Multimedia design schools are usually either specialized institutions or schools that have programs embedded within a liberal arts curriculum. Likewise, there are online, community, and technical colleges that offer classes in the arts for students who are not yet decided if they want a career in multimedia design, or who will use the knowledge they learn as a stepping stone into a bachelor’s program. Some schools offer a multimedia design degree within a digital communications program; other schools offer a visual communications degree, still, others offer a multimedia design and development degree, while other schools offer a graphic design program with a concentration in multimedia design. With all those choices, how can you be sure which schools – private or public – offer students’ the best opportunities after graduation? The quick answer is both.

Private colleges are the best choice for students seeking a highly-specialized learning environment. Some institutions offer exclusive curriculum for a few areas of study, such as painting or photography, but many offer a range of multimedia and design classes. For students entering a multimedia design program, the most common degrees offered by private art colleges is a bachelor’s degree program in animation, interactive media, video graphics, or digital and visual communications. Required coursework will likely focus on core areas within a students’ major, with some elective and required credits earned in general education courses. This approach is designed to provide an intensive, focused education resulting in graduates who are thoroughly prepared to enter a specific career field.

Students attending a private college usually know what direction they are heading upon graduation and what medium they wish to specialize in. Private colleges typically have smaller campuses, class sizes, and student-to-faculty ratio, which can often mean closer ties to classmates and faculty. While all true, costs to attend a private school can be much higher than costs to attend a liberal arts college. For the 2015-2016 school year, the average tuition for in-state students attending a public university was about $9,500. Students attending a public college out-of-state paid an average tuition of $24,000. Private school tuition, on the other hand, averaged about $33,000. If the cost to attend college is an issue, and you don’t want large school loans, then weigh your options regarding earning a private college degree.

Public colleges and universities are also an appealing option for many multimedia design students. Most liberal arts colleges offer the same degrees as private art colleges, although the focus on gen ed curriculum is typically greater. For example, a bachelor’s degree in digital and visual communications will have students spending about 2/3 of their time in visual communications courses and only about 1/3 of their time in general education or elective courses. Conversely, a bachelor of art (the most common undergraduate art degree) will require students take more general education classes with less time spent in art or design classes. Most liberal arts colleges, and those with multimedia design programs embedded into their curriculum offer an amazing education, engaging student communities, and superb preparation for the future, at a lower cost than at a private school, generally.

Unlike most private schools, liberal arts colleges also offer financial aid, housing, healthcare, a food program, and many student organizations and clubs for students who wish to be actively involved. You will also receive a more well-rounded education at a liberal arts college, and they tend to better prepare students for graduate school upon graduation. Are you more interested in a well-rounded education, or more intense and focused curriculum? Do you like smaller class sizes, or do larger studio classes appeal to you? Does the school you are interested in attending offer classes in the area of multimedia design or a closely-related field?

Do you know your career goals and which multimedia program you are most interested in pursuing? If not, you may want to take a few classes first, or attend community college and earn your associate degree before you take the leap into a private or public school. However, if you have a passion for multimedia design and are sure of your career goals, a private school that is focused on or related to your singular pursuit, is best.

SCHOOL & FACULTY REPUTATION

Although it may be true that attending an Ivy League university or private art school might look better on your resume, you can get a great education at a liberal arts college as well, and applying yourself to your studies and doing well is a lot more important than the college you attend. However, there are a few things to look for when researching colleges, especially since there is a great deal of competition in the world of multimedia design, and choosing a highly-regarded school where a degree will provide you an advantage over other applicants is just plain smart. Find out if the professors are trained in multimedia design or if they are professionals themselves in the field? What do alumni say about their class experiences?

Beyond a doubt, first-class academics are paramount to a school’s reputation. But, professors are also vitally important to a school’s overall standing. The connection you make with your professors can define your time on campus. Professors become mentors, and in many ways, help you make connections and advise you on the various career options post-graduation. And, although having a close relationship with your professors and faculty does not always mean you’ll be at the top of the class, students that do establish a student-professor bond typically perform better in school.

In addition to professors, it is smart to review the quality of the multimedia design program in general. Does the program offer opportunities to learn and gain experience, or does it have a mediocre reputation? Look at graduation and freshman retention rates. If you plan to intend to graduate and go on to further your education, find out what percentage of graduates pursue an advanced degree. Are the courses you most want to take available? Do you feel your professors will motivate you to learn and experiment with new technologies and techniques?

SCHOOL SIZE

The size of the college – both campus size and class size – should also be taken into consideration. Large colleges and universities typically offer a larger variety of majors and concentrations than smaller schools, whereas smaller schools usually focus on liberal arts courses. Larger universities also offer extensive student resources, like housing and athletics, whereas private schools typically do not. Many big public colleges and universities have a large student population, which can be attractive to some students, but overwhelming to others. Smaller colleges usually offer fewer distractions (like dorm parties) than larger colleges, and often provide a more intimate setting where students get to know each other more easily. Smaller colleges and most private institutes also typically have a smaller student-to-professor ratio, which offers students more one-on-one time and personal attention. You don’t want to feel lost in the crowd and left out no matter where you choose to go to college.

LOCATION

Along with everything else you need to consider, like academic reputation, faculty expertise, tuition cost, housing, transportation, etc., the location of the schools you are considering is also one of the most important aspects in choosing a college, university, or private school. Are you willing to move away from family and friends to receive the best possible education? Do you want to live in a big city or smaller community? Near the beach or in the cold tundra? Are you willing to pay out-of-state tuition? Keep in mind that some state’s offer state-to-state reciprocity programs, which allow you to live in one state but attend school in another state without paying out-of-state tuition. Or, are you open to the increasingly popular distance or online learning opportunities?

What to Expect from a Multimedia Design Program

DEGREE FIELD & COURSE CURRICULUM

Depending on the major or specific degree you are pursuing, curriculum will vary somewhat. Students pursuing an associate degree in multimedia design or a related field will likely take courses in media graphics, web and multimedia authoring, multimedia production, and photography – just to name a few.

Bachelor’s degree programs that prepare you for a career in multimedia design, include multimedia design, digital art, computer science, graphic design, or another related area and include coursework in digital and video production, photography, drawing, website design, animation, computer illustration, digital imaging fundaments, we animation and design, responsive web design, media portfolio, and more. Overall, classes teach students how to create electronic graphics, learn techniques in animation, and gain complete knowledge of software programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, Maya, InDesign, PremierPro, and Dreamweaver. You’ll study digital art, multimedia design, information design, emerging multimedia technologies, and multimedia authoring. You will master how to design for different media and learn to translate user needs into functionality. In school, you will also learn how to enhance and correct digital images and develop all kinds of graphic media, including marketing collateral, web pages, advertising, multimedia projects, and instructional materials.

Most programs also place a strong emphasis on traditional areas of art, creative development, experimental learning, and analytical thinking – pushing students to explore new areas in the world of multimedia design. Students who choose to attend a liberal arts college as a visual communications or art student (assuming the school does not have a specific program in multimedia design) will take a range of courses in the arts, along with general courses in English, math, science, etc. Liberal arts colleges that do offer a major in multimedia design will probably have a much more immersive program, which combines color theory, video, drawing, art appreciation classes, and much more. Ask yourself if the curriculum offers you the opportunity to take a range of art courses that you can use in your career? Are there areas of focus, such as 3D digital art and animation? Does the program offer students internship opportunities to gain hands-on experience and network?