Field of Study: Computer Graphics
Computer graphics programs prepare people to develop lifelike images on a computer screen. Students learn to use special computer programs and devices to manipulate or create images. They also learn math and graphic design.
A decade ago, digital cameras were a novelty. It was a cool idea that you could see your pictures right away, but how did you print them? And let's face it, many pictures looked, well, digital. Now, many digital cameras rival the quality of traditional film cameras. It's often impossible to look at a digital photo and a traditional photo and see the difference. Many people even prefer the clarity of digital.
Computer graphics programs are where technology such as digital photography and photo printing is born. If you liked the movies "A Bug's Life" and "Finding Nemo," you can also look to computer graphics for the source of that amazing animation. In addition, computer graphics technology is used in architecture and engineering. You can see a detailed 3-D model of a house before it's even built!
In computer graphics programs, you might be surprised to learn that you take a number of math courses, including advanced geometry, algebra, and calculus. This is because math is the basis for most computing languages. Of course, you take several computer science courses. This includes learning different programming languages, such as Java and C++. You also take courses about computer animation, digital photography, operating systems (think Mac OS X or Windows 2000), and database management. It may sound like you are simply learning how to use different technology. Actually, your classes focus on the science behind the technology. For example, this means you learn how digital photography was developed and how it works rather than how to use a digital camera.
Usually you study computer graphics as part of a computer science program. Most four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in computer science. A smaller number, about 60, offer bachelor's degrees specifically in computer graphics. Some two-year schools offer computer graphics programs that focus on photography and animation technology. Most two-year computer graphics degrees can be transferred to a four-year program.
About 25 schools offer graduate degree programs in computer graphics. These programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people who earn graduate degrees in computer graphics become computer graphics specialists or professors.