Last Updated on July 29, 2023
Within California, there are numerous opportunities to pursue digital media production degree programs. These programs tend to emphasize knowledge of industry software through workshop and production courses. Various specializations are available in many of these degree programs, including digital publishing and printing, video production, and Web media.
American River College
Located in Sacramento, American River College offers an Associate in Arts in Art New Media. Emphasizing design principles and techniques, this program facilitates the creation and critique of digital media. Students are required to complete courses in design fundamentals, color theory, modern art and graphic design history in addition to a portfolio course.
Other courses include digital video, design for publication, character design, digital painting, digital photo imagery and integrating digital media with traditional media. Graduating students may pursue career opportunities in graphic design, Web design, character design and print design. The fine and applied arts division of American River College also offers several certificate programs that include courses in digital media production, including programs in graphic design, 3D animation, 3D modeling and Web design.
California State University – Dominguez Hills
Carson‘s California State University – Dominguez Hills provides a program that awards a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Arts. Within this program, students may choose to pursue specializations in audio recording, music technology or television arts. Utilizing various digital media technologies, students create videos, music recordings, animation and webpages. The television arts and audio recording specializations require a minor in digital graphics, and students pursuing the music technology specialization need to minor in music.
Along with a production workshop and senior project, this degree program requires courses in digital technology and the arts, digital media techniques and digital media delivery strategies. Certificate programs in some of these areas of specialization are also available.
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco-based City College of San Francisco has a multidisciplinary associate’s degree program in graphic design in which students develop both traditional and digital design and production skills. Students produce digital media in courses that use Adobe programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. A portfolio course and a practicum are required. City College also offers a wide variety of certificate programs related to digital media production, including programs in production art, Web design using Dreamweaver, rich media production and animation.
East Los Angeles College
In Monterey Park, East Los Angeles College administers an Associate in Arts in Multimedia program. This program’s curriculum is designed to familiarize students with multimedia software while they build design and production skills. Required coursework includes audio and video post-production, 3D animation, interactive animation and color theory. As part of their degree requirements, students complete a portfolio development course. Students can also pursue a Certificate of Achievement in Multimedia, offered at two levels.
The college’s art department also has a program leading to an Associate in Arts in Animation. This degree program includes coursework that develops students’ knowledge of animation design and layout in addition to advancing drawing and video production skills. Along with a portfolio course, the degree program’s curriculum features courses in nature design, audio and video post-production, layout and background painting, life drawing and animal drawing. Additionally, a Certificate of Achievement in Animation is available at two levels.
San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College, located in San Diego, offers an Associate in Science in Multimedia program. Foundational courses familiarize students with Flash software and develop their digital imaging and video editing skills. Additional coursework includes multimedia production, 2D design, vector image editing, video game development and creating user-centered websites. An animation production studio provides students with further hands-on experience to develop the skill set necessary for careers in animation and 3D modeling. Students may also consider several certificate programs that have courses for developing skills in digital media production, including programs in digital video, new media publishing and interactive media production.
San Francisco State University
Located in San Francisco, San Francisco State University has a bachelor’s degree program in visual communication design, which includes several courses in digital media production. Students take three levels of courses in digital media and courses in graphic design. Among the requirements are a portfolio development course, an advanced projects course and a culminating research and development lab course. A 24-credit Digital Media Production Certificate program is another option, which develops students’ abilities to produce and edit digital video.
Santa Ana College
Students at Santa Ana College in Santa Ana can pursue an Associate in Arts in Digital Media Arts program. It focuses on concepts and skills central to graphic design and Web design. Students complete required coursework in 2D design, typography, graphic design, drawing and business strategies. Completion of a digital media portfolio is also required. Graduates may pursue digital media careers in advertising, design, printing and Web production, among other specialized fields. Students may also pursue related certificate programs in digital media arts and 3D modeling and animation.
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa-based Santa Rosa Junior College offers an Associate in Science in Digital Media with concentrations in 3D modeling and animation, digital filmmaking and game programming. The curricula of each concentration are unique, without shared core requirements. Students in the 3D modeling and animation program learn how to build and add texture to 3D characters and scenes. Merging historical aspects of film with field production experience, the digital filmmaking major features courses in film appreciation and digital media as well as courses in digital video post-production techniques. The game programming major focuses on a core of math and programming courses and includes topics in game design and development.
Associate in Arts in Digital Media programs in interactive media and audio are also offered. Focusing on the development and manipulation of graphics and sound, the interactive media major familiarizes students with relevant design and editing software while developing critical-thinking skills. The audio curriculum covers, among other topics, audio recording, multimedia sound design, music theory and sound synthesis.
University of California – Santa Cruz
A Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media is available at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California with concentrations in critical studies, production or integrated clinical practice. Core courses include television studies, production techniques and digital media. The production concentration requires students to develop a portfolio. A minor is also available.
Two master’s degree programs related to digital media production are also provided at the University of California – Santa Cruz. The MFA program in digital arts and new media focuses on both the theory and practice of digital media arts and requires a thesis. The Master of Arts in Social Documentation program emphasizes the creation of documentaries with social themes using digital video technologies.
The university additionally offers a Ph.D. program in film and digital media, which is designed for artists as well as scholars. This program includes hands-on and theory-based graduate courses in film and digital media. The program emphasizes the relationships between various media and technological change. In addition to completing coursework, candidates need to pass examinations, fulfill a foreign language requirement and write a dissertation.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California in Los Angeles adminsters a program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Practice. Requiring completion of 128 credits, this program combines theoretical studies with hands-on experience in using digital media technologies. Students are required to complete courses in media arts professionalism, digital research methods, tactical media, information visualization and two levels of digital media studio courses. The program culminates with a digital thesis project.
Students can also develop digital media production skills in degree programs leading to a BA in Interactive Entertainment and MFA in Interactive Media. The undergraduate program focuses on the development of hands-on skills in several digital media disciplines through courses that may include advanced game development, 3D animation and sound design. The project-based MFA program culminates with a thesis project. An internship is required to complete the MFA program.
The Ph.D. program in Media Arts and Practice provides access to modern digital facilities and research labs. Students can design much of their own curriculum following the completion of foundational courses. Students research and write a dissertation after taking courses in the practice of media arts and historical approaches to media arts and culture.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Digital Media Production Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|American River College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Arts in Art New Media||$1,104 (in-state); $8,712 (out-of-state)*|
|California State University – Dominguez Hills||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Arts||$6,942 (in-state); $18,822 (out-of-state)*|
|City College of San Francisco||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Arts in Graphic Design||$1,696 (in-state); $10,372 (out-of-state)*|
|East Los Angeles College||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Arts in Multimedia,|
Associate in Arts in Animation
|$1,220 (in-state); $7,746 (out-of-state)*|
|San Diego Mesa College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Multimedia||$1,144 (in-state); $7,024 (out-of-state)*|
|San Francisco State University||4-year, public; large city||Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design||$7,260 (in-state); $19,140 (out-of-state)*|
|Santa Ana College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Arts in Digital Media Arts||$1,160 (in-state); $8,960 (out-of-state)*|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||2-year, public; mid-size city||Associate in Science in Digital Media,|
Associate in Arts in Digital Media
|$1,328 (in-state); $8,174 (out-of-state)*|
|University of California – Santa Cruz||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media,|
Master of Arts in Social Documentation,
Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts and New Media,
Doctor of Philosophy in Film and Digital Media
|$13,960 (in-state); $42,952 (out-of-state)*|
|University of Southern California||4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city||Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Practice,|
Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Entertainment,
Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media,
Doctor of Philosophy in Media Arts and Practice
Source: *NCES College Navigator