Bachelor’s in Digital Design Degree: Animation Emphasis

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation

Offered By: College of Arts and Media

Discover Competencies for the Exciting Field of Digital Design and Animation

Digital design and animation can be an exciting field of study for those who wish to use their artistic abilities while examining marketable technical skills. The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation at Grand Canyon University is a modern program that guides you in developing your technological knowledge and creative thinking skills in the field of digital design and animation. Offered online and on campus by the College of Arts and Media, these digital animation undergraduate courses are designed to instill a comprehensive framework of competencies for the next generation of multimedia artists. 

GCU Animation Students Show Portfolio at Senior Show
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Earn a BA in Digital Design Degree: Animation Emphasis From GCU

A degree in design with an emphasis in animation will teach you how to examine the interplay of light, color and texture in visual arts. You will also explore the technical capabilities and creative possibilities of motion graphics, typography, 2D and 3D animation. GCU’s design and animation courses foster peer collaboration on projects, while also encouraging you to join the Creative Herd Club, which explores creative practices and fosters the pre-professional development of visual communication. GCU is a creative and welcoming community, which strives to motivate you to pursue your passions.

GCU is pleased to provide flexible learning options for undergraduates, including online courses. Taking online digital animation courses may provide greater convenience and flexibility, while still benefitting from the same quality of instruction and curriculum as our on-campus students. You’ll access your course materials and discussion forums through our interactive e-learning platform, which is designed to foster collaboration and academic growth in our online student community. Online design and animation students can expect most classes to be seven weeks in length. 

 

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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Online: 7 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Digital Design Degree Program Requirements

This degree program requires 120 credits for completion. Due to the technical and hands-on nature of these animation undergraduate courses, you are required to have a working laptop available, along with an active subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Other supplies and software programs may be needed on a course-by-course basis.

Design Club and Professional Association for Design (AIGA)

At GCU, our commitment is to empower you with the skills and mindset needed to think critically and to unleash your creative potential, all in service of enhancing and enriching society. Furthermore, we aim to foster a vibrant creative community deeply interconnected with both the local and national design industry. 

To further this mission, our multifaceted student design organization, the GCU Creative Herd, and our student chapter of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), a renowned professional design association, can offer an array of opportunities. These opportunities may include your active participation in extracurricular design and animation events and a platform for career networking.

Design and Animation Skills Taught in This Degree Program

This digital design degree takes you through a progression of competencies from basic skills to advanced knowledge. You will explore all aspects of digital design and animation, including the principles of design, color, typography, motion graphics and animation. You will study advanced skills in sequential design and animation production while working through a hands-on curriculum. This program is designed to encourage you to become skilled communicators, ethical leaders, creative thinkers and efficient problem solvers in the field of design and animation. 

Throughout the design and animation courses, you will be taught a diverse range of skills, including:

  • The design process from concept development to completion
  • Visualization techniques
  • Stylistic trends
  • Static and sequential composition
  • Typography and color theory
  • Image creation
  • The use of industry-standard motion graphics software

Prepare to embark on a transformative journey where you will be meticulously guided through the creation of dynamic visual content in each course. It's crucial to recognize that motion graphics can play a fundamental role in digital advertising, permeate the landscape of social media videos and help define brand experiences.

Digital Animation Undergraduate Courses to Expect

The digital animation courses typically fall into three categories: foundational creative and skill development, motion graphics and portfolio development. This degree program is designed to help you graduate as a well-rounded, work-ready professional who has a keen understanding of business practices and the essential elements of motion graphic design. 

In this curriculum, the courses will lead you to explore a broad range of content areas, encompassing:

  • The use of motion to create prototype conceptualizations
  • The systems of production management, including the structure and preparation of digital files
  • The history of visual arts, graphic design and animation, and the genres and artistic influences of design
  • Artistic methods used to generate concepts and content

In the midst of your program, a mid-program portfolio can help you prepare for potential internships, while the fourth-year portfolio can serve as your gateway to pursuing employment or further education. These portfolios should not only exhibit industry-ready proficiency but also demonstrate innovation.

In your senior year, you'll create a professional portfolio to impress potential employers. Throughout the program, you'll refine your design, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills to incorporate into your portfolio. GCU's Christian values will guide your ethical leadership principles, keeping a Christian worldview in focus. 

8,900

Estimated number of new jobs to open for graphic designers from 2022 to 2032.1

$57,990

Average median annual wage for graphic designers as of May 20222

Career Opportunities for Digital Design and Animation Graduates

Many different industries use motion graphics for either informative or entertainment purposes.3 Digital design and animation specialists may pursue employment opportunities in industries such as:3,4,5

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Entertainment (TV and film)
  • Marketing and consumer products
  • Transportation and travel
  • Healthcare

Job candidates with a bachelor’s degree in digital design with an emphasis in animation may be prepared to pursue careers in a variety of outlets that require technical expertise combined with a creative flair. Graduates may pursue design and animation careers in settings that include:3

  • Advertising agencies
  • Marketing agencies
  • Social media companies
  • Corporate offices
     
  • Startups
  • Software services companies
  • Churches
  • Nonprofit groups    

Some design and animation jobs that may be available to graduates include the following: 

  • Postsecondary art educator  
  • Photographer 
  • Artist
     

GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Design Degrees

Prior to enrolling in a digital design degree, make certain the university is institutionally accredited — a hallmark of program excellence. GCU is proud to be an accredited school, as our mission is to thoroughly prepare our students to tackle modern challenges for the purpose of making positive contributions to their communities. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Arts and Media shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Design With an Emphasis in Animation FAQs

When reflecting upon your choice of degree programs and your future career path, it may be wise to do some research on your options. The following frequently asked questions and answers can provide a starting point for your research.

This digital design degree requires 120 credits for completion. Most of the on-campus classes are 15 weeks in length. If you are participating in the online program, the courses are generally seven weeks in length. To better understand how long it might take you to earn your degree, fill out the form on this page to speak with a university counselor.

Animation continues to entertain audiences of all ages, and advancements in technology and enhanced visual complexities may continue to contribute to new possibilities in the field.6 If you’re passionate about both technology and design and have a creative mindset, then this career path may be an ideal choice for you. Earning a degree in digital design and animation can provide valuable opportunities for skill development and professional portfolio creation, which may serve you well as you pursue employment after graduation. 

Additionally, as of September 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for graphic designers to increase by about 3% from 2022 to 2032, as fast as average, accounting for an estimated increase of 8,900 jobs in the field and have a median annual wage of $57,990, as of May 2022.1,2

Specific software is needed on a course-by-course basis, but once you are in GCU’s digital design and animation courses, you will be expected to use Adobe Creative Cloud and Maya, a 3D motion graphics application by Autodesk. You must provide your own laptop and subscription to both programs. Speak with a university counselor for specific program requirements. 

Digital design is a dynamic specialization that focuses on creating professional design solutions.3 GCU’s digital design courses can teach you to be a visual designer who uses their skills to enrich, engage and communicate in our information-driven society. You will be guided to become a digital design generalist, with the ability to further refine your career by choosing one of our degree paths, including an emphasis in animation.

It may be possible to find employment in motion graphics and animation without having any computer coding skills depending on the industry and employer. However, many professionals do use specialized computer programs to create their designs that include HTML, CSS and JavaScript development.7 Some do write programming code in the course of their work, and learning how to code may benefit an animator’s career, making it an important quality rather than a career requirement.8

Pursue an Education in Motion Graphics

If you’re interested in pursuing an education in motion graphics, this degree program may be the right choice for you!

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Graphic Designers, retrieved on Dec. 18, 2023. 

2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Graphic Designers as of May 2022, retrieved on Dec. 18, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as graphic designers, nor does it reflect the earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc. against a pool of candidates. 

3 Coursera (2023, June 16. What Does a Motion Graphics Designer Do? How to Become One. Retrieved on Nov. 7, 2023. 

4 Bowers, M. (n.d.). The widening impact of the motion design industry. Toptal. Retrieved on Nov. 3, 2023. 

5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, September 6). Work Environment. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Dec. 18, 2023. 

6 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, September 6). Job Outlook. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2023. 

7 Zippia (2023, July 21). How to become a motion graphics designer. Retrieved on Nov. 7, 2023. 

8 U.S.  Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, September 6). How to become a special effects artist or animator. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2023. 

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University’s General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

Requirements

Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
  • COM-263, Elements of Intercultural Communication: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments. Students are required to take 3 credits of college mathematics or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • INT-244, World Religions: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This survey course introduces students to basic design thinking, including principles and elements of design, and concepts of composition. This course includes reading, writing, and lab assignments and requires the creation and exhibition of student artwork. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop that is capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This foundational studio course focuses on developing visual style and production workflows in the creation of raster- and vector-based graphics using industry-standard technologies. Students apply color theory and composition skills to create complex illustrations and advertisements. Multiple input sources are combined to create both original and derivative content: camera, scanner, mouse, tablet, traditional media, and stock photography. Students practice acquiring work at the correct PPI, retouching, tonal correction, and color profiling to create images compliant with industry standards. Emphasis is placed on selecting appropriate imagery by analyzing audience needs, which is then applied to developing creative and original work. Students also learn how to legally acquire stock imagery and the ethical obligations in its manipulation. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This survey course reinforces the use of design elements and principles of composition to create compelling, marketable designs. Structures, grid systems, and more informal freeform techniques are investigated to solve hands-on design problems. The role of typography, color, and hierarchy for effective communication is explored. Students use rapid visualization to iterate and prototype multiple solutions using the design thinking process and learn how to document their processes for presentation. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments.. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-100 or DDN-101.

Course Description

This foundational motion course examines the basics of 2D motion design as it relates to graphic design. Students examine 2D motion in the context of the 12 Principles of Animation, the foundation of motion. This course teaches students how to view graphic design with the addition of a timeline. Students are introduced to the production pipeline as it relates to 2D graphic design in the context of motion. During preproduction, students strategize how to complete 2D motion graphics. Students then start crafting the assets and 2D motion of their projects in production and present a finalized motion graphic during post-production. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This course explores the fundamentals of User Experience as it applies to mobile applications through the use of prototyping and user testing. The historical context of User Experience is explored and as well as how it evolved into modern application design. During this course, students apply the Laws of UX to their designs. Various usability testing methods are implemented. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

During this course students will apply the concepts of production management, including structuring and preparing electronic files through production for a variety of mediums. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop that is capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-110 or DDN-115.

Course Description

This course expands upon 2D motion design concepts as they relate to graphic design. Students continue exploring the 12 Principles of Animation and the production pipeline as a whole. Students explore audio, video, graphics, and type as assets for 2D motion graphics, and research industry trends in 2D motion and use that research to drive their work forward. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments.. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-160.

Course Description

This course explores fundamentals and traditions for designing with type, as well as corporate design with an emphasis on typography with integration of vector designs and photography into promotional pieces. Students propose and create solutions for visual problems with type. This course includes reading, writing, and lab assignments and requires the creation and exhibition of student artwork. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-120. Co-Requisite: DDN-120.

Course Description

This course exposes students to a variety of artistic methods to generate concepts and content off-screen, using traditional rapid visualization and mixed media. Structures for experimentation -- both planned and spontaneous -- are explored. A focus on concept development and rigorous hands-on practice helps students develop their artistic voice. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This course requires students to research and build a self-marketing plan and curate a portfolio of work to use in a job search. Students examine their current work in order to accurately develop personal promotional assets, be introduced to design communities, identify industry networking opportunities, and begin to build a professional social network. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This writing intensive course focuses on the history of visual arts, graphic design, and animation; genres of design; and the influence of artists, graphic artists, and animators through the ages. Emphasis is placed on the history of and current developments in the digital and information age. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments.

Course Description

In this course, students examine how graphic designers can use motion to create prototype conceptualizations. Students research emerging technologies to plan and create graphic design motion-based presentations for how these technologies are used in design-based problem solving. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This course focuses on introducing the principles and production of 3D modeling and 3D motion using industry standard software and processes. Students demonstrate three-dimensional concepts, theories, design, and application while creating products for use in motion graphics. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-160.

Course Description

This studio-intensive course introduces a new dimension to typographic foundations through the inclusion of motion and interactivity in type. Students learn how to source web-compliant typography for inclusion in their own creative, strategy-driven design projects. Students explore grids, hierarchy, style, contrast, and basic animated transformations. Students apply the 12 Principles of Animation to kinetic typography compositions. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-210.

Course Description

This course focuses on building creative skillsets, with an emphasis on developing the principles and processes of 3D motion graphics using industry standard tools and techniques. Students demonstrate the design aesthetics and practical technical skills needed to enter the field of motion graphics. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-306.

Course Description

In this advanced studio course, students plan and produce graphic design-based portfolio pieces that demonstrate an understanding of motion. Students examine industry trends as they relate to advertising and client storytelling and learn to craft motion graphic solutions centered around client needs. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisites: DDN-260 and DDN-306.

Course Description

This writing-intensive course focuses on the essential business skills necessary for the design professional. Personal branding and marketing, networking, industry landscape, professional advancement and career scaffolding, ethical and legal issues, project management, teamwork, professional communication, and other industry issues are explored as they relate to the design profession. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop and mouse. Students will use industry-standard software to complete assignments. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: Senior standing.

Course Description

This course examines how to market oneself as a graphic designer who utilizes motion. Students examine their current portfolio of work and create supplemental graphic design pieces based in motion in order to enhance their portfolio. Students examine how to construct a demo reel and apply those concepts to the creation of their own demo reel. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop, mouse, subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, and Maya software. Maya software is available as a student download from the Autodesk website. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-366.

Course Description

This course requires students to implement a self-marketing plan and portfolio of work to launch a job search in their preferred industry. Students examine the current market, audit and improve past work to meet industry standards, then identify additional self-directed projects that help them reach their employment goals. Students refine their digital portfolio and publish all the assets needed to launch a personal brand complimented by a set of self-promotion materials, including a print portfolio. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop, mouse, and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: Senior standing.

Course Description

This course focuses on the creation of a semester-long project that reflects an industry production schedule. Students will research and develop a primarily 2D graphic design-based motion graphic. Students’ cumulative knowledge will be used to create a well-rounded portfolio piece for entry-level graphic design jobs that utilize motion. Students will also revisit their demo reel and make any necessary changes. Technology requirement: Students provide their own laptop, a graphics tablet, external hard drive, and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Maya software is available as a student download from the Autodesk website. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisite: DDN-421.

Locations

GCU Campus Student


Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.