Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Digital Design – Animation

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation

Offered By: College of Arts and Media

Specialize Your Skillset With a Digital Animation Degree Emphasis Program

Digital design and animation is an exciting field of study for students who wish to use their artistic abilities while learning marketable technical skills. The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is a modern program that guides students in developing their 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, this digital animation degree provides a comprehensive framework for the next generation of multimedia artists.

A degree in design and animation allows students to examine the interplay of light, color and texture in visual arts. Explore the technical capabilities and creative possibilities of motion graphics, typography, 2D animation and 3D modeling. GCU is known for our creative and welcoming community. Digital animation students are encouraged to collaborate with their peers via the Digital Design Club, which fosters the pre-professional development of visual communication.

Earn Your Bachelor’s in Digital Design and Animation Degree from GCU

GCU is pleased to provide flexible learning options, including on-campus and online degree programs. This digital web design bachelor’s degree requires a total of 120 credits for completion. Students taking online courses can expect the average length of a class to be seven weeks. Due to the technical and hands-on nature of this degree program, digital design students 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 for the digital design and animation program.

The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation degree takes students through a progression of learning from basic skills to advanced knowledge. You will study all aspects of digital design including the principles of drawing, color, typography and animation. Students explore advanced elements of storytelling and animation production while working through a hands-on curriculum. Our digital animation students also learn to become skilled communicators, ethical leaders, creative thinkers and efficient problem solvers.

If you’re interested in pursuing a motion graphics degree, this well-rounded digital design program includes in-depth motion graphics and motion design courses. Students create many assets for their portfolio throughout the program.

Digital design is a dynamic specialization that focuses on creating professional, real-world design solutions. GCU’s digital design degree programs teach students to be visual designers who use their skills to enrich, engage and communicate in our information-driven society. Students will become digital design generalists, with the ability to further refine their career by choosing one of four degree paths, including an emphasis in animation.

Throughout the bachelor of animation program, students learn general digital design foundations and techniques, including research, strategy development and creative brief development. As students dive deeper into their areas of interest, projects become progressively more complex and self-driven.

Other core areas of instruction include production methods using industry standard software while applying the principles of design, color, composition and typography. The Design Thinking cycle emphasizes iteration through prototyping and responding to the feedback loop. Students learn how to "fail faster" while discovering creative and commercially viable design solutions. Additionally, the program includes a mid-program portfolio class to increase job-readiness skills, and a senior-level portfolio course to refine skills for a professional and successful job search.

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$77,700

Average median annual wage for special effects artists and animators as of May 20202

 

Learn Creative Design Skills and Theories in Your Digital Design and Animation Degree Program

The BA in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation program prepares students to work as entry-level designers in a variety of exciting industries that use motion graphics including advertising, marketing, social media, journalism and corporate communications. The job opportunities for students with these skills span all sectors of the economy and will offer growth opportunities well into the future.

Students learn the design process, including concept development, visualization techniques, stylistic trends, composition, typography, color theory, image creation, and static and sequential composition using industry-standard motion graphics software. While building all these skills, students create dynamic visual content in every studio course. Motion graphics pervade digital advertisements, social media videos and brand experiences.

The bachelor of animation and digital design courses fall into three categories: foundational creative and skill development, motion graphics, and portfolio development. A mid-program portfolio focuses on preparing students to pursue internships and the fourth-year portfolio prepares students for employment and continued education. Students are expected to make these portfolios both industry-ready and innovative in nature.

GCU is committed to teaching students to think critically and creatively about using their skills to improve and enrich society and to build a creative community that is connected to the local and national design industry. The GCU Design Club (a multifaceted student design organization) and the student chapter of AIGA (Professional Association for Design) both provide opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular design events and career networking.

GCU seeks to graduate well-rounded students who have a keen understanding of business practices and the essential elements of motion graphic design. Some of the courses in this degree program include:

  • Motion Graphics 1, 2, and 3
  • Motion Technologies
  • Typography 1 and 2
  • Advanced Motion Design 1, 2 and 3

During their senior year, students create their own professional portfolios to showcase their skills and talents to prospective employers. Throughout this BA in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation, students develop their design skills, communication skills, problem-solving abilities and critical thinking capabilities. They explore the fundamental principles of ethical leadership, keeping the Christian worldview in mind.

Find a Career in Digital Animation of Motion Graphics

Job candidates with a bachelor's in animation are prepared to pursue careers in a variety of digital design and animation outlets that require technical expertise combined with a creative flair. Digital design graduates can pursue careers in:

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

Some jobs that may be related to a digital animation degree include the following:

  • Graphic designer
  • Special effects artist and animator
  • Art director
  • Postsecondary art, drama and music teacher
  • Photographer

As of September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for special effects artists and animators to increase by about 16% from 2020 to 2030, faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 9,900 jobs in the field.1

BA in Digital Design and Animation Degree FAQs

If taken continuously without interruption, earning a digital animation degree at GCU will take about four years. There are 120 total credits in this degree program, 80 of which are specific to your major.

A bachelor’s degree in animation can absolutely be a worthwhile degree. Animation continues to entertain audiences of all ages and advance with newer technology. Earning a degree in animation can give you valuable experience in the same software film industries use, potentially allowing you to network with those in the entertainment industry. Additionally, special effects artists and animators have a median annual wage of $77,700 as of May 2020.2

Specific software is needed on a course-by-course basis, but students in GCU’s digital design and animation program will heavily use and learn programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud as well as Maya, a 3D motion graphics application by Autodesk. Students will provide their own laptop and subscription to both programs.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, the data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Special Effects Artists and Animators, retrieved in July 2022.

2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Special Effects Artists and Animators as of May 2020. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as special effects artists and animators. It does not reflect workers’ earnings in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. The 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. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path.

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks [More Info]

Online: 7 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester [More Info]
Online: $485 per credit [More Info]

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Total 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, mouse, and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. 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, 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: 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, 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: DDN-110 or DDN-115.

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, 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: DDN-125.

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, 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: 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, 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: 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, mouse, and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. 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, mouse, and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook, which is available on www.gcu.edu. Prerequisites: DDN-120 and Sophomore standing.

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 and subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud.

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, 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-260.

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, 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-260.

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, 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: 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, 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-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, 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. 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, 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 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. Prerequisites: DDN-405 and 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.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* 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.

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