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Field of Study: Desktop Publishing and Digital Imaging


Programs in desktop publishing and digital imaging prepare people to combine images and words into print and computer displays.



This program includes topics such as:

  • Desktop publishing software
  • Editing and manipulating photos, clip art, and designs
  • Illustration and layout techniques
  • Principles of design
  • Web page design

Students begin to develop their professional portfolio during college. This includes samples of work from team projects and independent projects. Projects completed during their senior year and internship are important to their portfolio.

Students can enroll in a computer training school, an art school, or a college or university to learn desktop publishing. Some universities offer desktop publishing as continuing education. They may offer digital imaging courses in departments of art or computer science.

Several community colleges and technical schools offer associate degree programs in desktop publishing and digital imaging. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete.

A few colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study. Very few schools offer a master's degree. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree.


College preparation

For this program, schools recommend that you know how to use a computer and the Internet.

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Mass Media, Communication
  • Computer Graphics
  • Art
  • Printmaking and Graphics
  • Computer-assisted Art
  • Exploration of Printing Careers
  • Graphic Arts and Printing


Typical course work

This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Ad Design
  • Animation (Motion Graphics)
  • Business Management
  • Color Theory
  • Communication Theory
  • Computer and Digital Graphics
  • Computer Animation and Imaging
  • Computer Art
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Digital Culture and Media
  • Digital Journalism
  • Drawing and Sketching
  • Electronic Arts Theory
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphic Photography
  • Illustration
  • Multimedia Projects
  • Multimedia Publishing
  • Printing and Publication Design
  • Specific Software Packages
  • Typography
  • Visual Design and Visual Effects


Things to know

Independent art and design schools focus more intensively on project work and career preparation. Colleges and universities typically require certain general courses in addition to studio art requirements. Most art programs teach computer techniques in the visual arts.

Many programs also include instruction in writing, proofreading, and editing so you can manage a publication from the initial draft to design and layout and ultimately, to publishing.

Many people with a certificate or degree in desktop publishing go on to work as graphic designers, editors, and writers. A typical place to work is for a large organization or company with communications and marketing departments. In addition, many administrative jobs require knowledge of desktop publishing software.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

Desktop Publishers
Prepress Technicians and Workers



American Institute of Graphic Arts

Printing Industries of America
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National Association of Schools of Art and Design
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NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies
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