Top Multimedia Schools in Washington: Your Guide to Digital Education

Searching for the best multimedia schools in Washington? You’re in the right place. This article will walk you through some of the top institutions in the state, each offering unique programs and opportunities in digital media, communication, and more. Read on to find the perfect fit for your educational and career aspirations in the multimedia field.

  • Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication offers extensive opportunities for practical experience in journalism and media, including managing The Daily Evergreen and engaging with professional media organizations.
  • Lake Washington Institute of Technology provides a unique Digital Gaming and Interactive Media program, offering both associate and applied bachelor’s degrees, which prepares students for diverse career paths in video game development, virtual reality, and interactive media.
  • The University of Washington’s Department of Digital Arts & Experimental Media (DXARTS) delivers cutting-edge education in digital art, integrating creative exploration with advanced technologies like mechatronics, 3D sound, and physical computing, preparing students for innovative careers across multiple sectors.

Washington State University – Murrow College of Communication

We commence our exploration with the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, a pillar of journalism and media education in the Pacific Northwest. Named after the legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, this college has been instrumental in shaping the careers of countless leading reporters, producers, and editors in the region. The Murrow College offers a comprehensive array of programs, including undergraduate sequences in Communication & Society, Journalism & Media Production, and Strategic Communication, as well as graduate-level emphases in Communication, Technology, & Social Influence and Media & Health Promotion.

The uniqueness of this institution stems from its dedication to both traditional and digital media, equipping students for the fast-paced evolution of communication. With the added flexibility of online degree options, the Murrow College ensures that education is accessible to a diverse range of students, regardless of their location or schedule constraints.

Student Opportunities

Central to the Murrow College experience is an abundance of practical opportunities, equipping students for real-world careers in media and communication. One of the most notable experiences is the chance to manage and write for The Daily Evergreen, the university’s student-run newspaper. This invaluable experience not only hones students’ journalistic skills but also provides them with a tangible portfolio of published work, setting them apart in a competitive job market.

However, the opportunities extend beyond this. Students at Murrow College can immerse themselves in the world of professional journalism through the Murrow News Service and by joining prestigious organizations like the Society for Professional Journalists and the Online News Association.

For those with a passion for sports media, the college offers a unique chance to create live sports productions in collaboration with WSU Athletics. Students can find themselves directing, producing, and even providing play-by-play commentary for select web streams, gaining unparalleled experience in sports broadcasting.

Additionally, the college’s innovative micro-internship program offers:

  • Short-term, paid, project-centered experiences
  • Opportunities that can be completed remotely
  • Flexible opportunities for students to gain professional experience while balancing their academic commitments.

Award-Winning Faculty

The quality of education at Washington’s multimedia schools is epitomized by their distinguished faculty, who infuse their vast industry experience and scholarly prowess into the classroom. At Pacific Lutheran University, for instance, the MediaLab has achieved national recognition, winning a College Emmy Award for its thought-provoking documentary ‘Eyes Above: Militarization of Sacred Land’. This achievement underscores the quality of instruction and mentorship available to students.

Likewise, in the University of Washington’s Department of Digital Arts & Experimental Media (DXARTS), faculty members are more than just educators – they are global leaders in their respective fields. These distinguished professionals frequently collaborate with nonprofits and corporations, bringing real-world insights and opportunities directly to their students. Moreover, DXARTS faculty regularly exhibit and perform their work at prestigious venues worldwide, demonstrating the cutting-edge nature of their research and creative output.

This level of faculty excellence across Washington’s multimedia schools ensures that students are learning from the best in the field, gaining invaluable knowledge and connections that will serve them well in their future careers.

Alumni Success Stories

The true measure of an educational institution’s success lies in the achievements of its alumni, and the Murrow College boasts an impressive roster of successful graduates who have made their mark in the media landscape. Notable alumni include:

  • Cindy Brunson
  • Kathi Goertzen
  • Gary Larson
  • Ana Cabrera

All of whom have achieved significant success in their respective fields. To celebrate these accomplishments and inspire current students, the college annually honors outstanding alumni and community contributors through its prestigious Hall of Achievement.

This tradition not only recognizes individual success but also strengthens the bonds between the college and its extensive network of professionals. In a testament to the college’s commitment to holistic excellence, the Hall of Achievement expanded in 2023 to include a service category alongside alumni awards, highlighting the importance of community engagement and social responsibility in the field of communication. These success stories serve as powerful motivation for current students, demonstrating the vast potential and diverse career paths available to Murrow College graduates.

Lake Washington Institute of Technology – Digital Gaming and Interactive Media

Delving deeper into Washington’s digital education landscape, we discover a standout program: the Digital Gaming and Interactive Media course at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech). This program stands out as the only public college offering in the Northwest that provides both an associate and an applied bachelor’s degree in this rapidly evolving field.

LWTech’s curriculum is a comprehensive journey through the multifaceted world of game development and interactive media. Students delve into a diverse range of subjects, including:

  • Traditional art
  • 3D modeling
  • Programming
  • Level design
  • Technical art
  • Animation
  • User interface design
  • Game mechanics
  • Project management

This holistic approach ensures that graduates are well-rounded professionals, equipped to tackle the various aspects of game development.

The program’s dual focus on preparing students for careers in professional studios while also nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit for those who aspire to create independent games makes it a versatile choice for aspiring game developers. Moreover, students have the exciting opportunity to showcase their creations at major industry events like PAX West, providing invaluable exposure and networking opportunities in the competitive gaming industry.

Career Opportunities

The Digital Gaming and Interactive Media program at LWTech paves the way to a multitude of career opportunities in the swiftly growing digital entertainment industry. Graduates find themselves well-prepared for roles in:

  • Video game development
  • Interactive media
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Industrial simulation
  • The burgeoning field of virtual reality

This diverse range of career paths reflects the program’s comprehensive curriculum and its alignment with industry needs.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, LWTech graduates are finding themselves in high demand across various sectors. Entry-level positions in virtual reality, marketing, advertising, educational media, and film and television are just the beginning. Specific roles that graduates can aspire to include 3D modelers, level builders, experience designers, project managers, and technical artists. The program’s success in preparing students for the industry is evidenced by the impressive list of companies where graduates have found employment, including tech giants and gaming industry leaders such as Bungie, Nintendo, Microsoft, Amazon, and Cartoon Network. This track record of placement in top-tier companies underscores the program’s effectiveness in equipping students with the skills and knowledge sought after by industry leaders.

Competitive Admission Process

The journey towards joining LWTech’s Digital Gaming and Interactive Media program is both challenging and rewarding. The applied bachelor’s degree program, in particular, maintains a competitive admission process, ensuring that only the most dedicated and talented students enter its ranks.

Prospective students must demonstrate their commitment and foundational knowledge by having completed an associate degree or equivalent, with a minimum of 60 quarter credits in a relevant technical area. This requirement not only ensures that students entering the program have a solid base of knowledge to build upon but also creates a cohort of peers who are passionate and experienced in the field.

The competitive nature of the admission process serves to maintain the program’s high standards and prepares students for the equally competitive job market they will enter upon graduation.

Virtual Information Sessions

In recognition of the need to provide extensive information to prospective students, LWTech organizes regular virtual information sessions for its Digital Gaming and Interactive Media degrees. These sessions serve as a valuable resource for those interested in learning more about the program, offering detailed insights into the curriculum, admission requirements, and career prospects. Attendees have the opportunity to ask questions directly to program representatives, gaining a clearer understanding of what the degrees entail and how they align with their career goals.

For those considering this exciting field of study, upcoming information sessions are scheduled for:

  • January 18, 2024
  • February 8, 2024
  • March 14, 2024
  • April 18, 2024
  • May 9, 2024

These virtual meetings provide a convenient and accessible way for prospective students to explore their options and make informed decisions about their educational journey in the world of digital gaming and interactive media.

University of Washington – Department of Digital Arts & Experimental Media

Leading the charge in digital innovation in education is the University of Washington’s Department of Digital Arts & Experimental Media (DXARTS). This cutting-edge department represents a bold fusion of art, science, and technology, bringing together creative minds from diverse disciplines to redefine the boundaries of digital art.

DXARTS is not just an academic department; it’s an incubator for the next generation of digital artists, offering both an undergraduate minor and a Ph.D. program that push the envelope of creative expression in the digital age.

The undergraduate minor offers students the opportunity to delve into a wide range of exciting fields, including:

  • video art
  • 3D sound
  • mechatronics
  • robotics
  • physical computing
  • fabrication

This allows them to gain a comprehensive understanding of these diverse areas.

Meanwhile, the Ph.D. program in graduate studies takes this exploration to new heights, preparing artists for groundbreaking research that pioneers novel art forms at the intersection of creativity and technology.

What distinguishes DXARTS is its dedication to cultivating versatile creators, who can deploy their creativity and technical expertise across multiple sectors. Graduates of the program have gone on to make significant contributions in:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Government
  • The arts

This demonstrates the far-reaching impact of their DXARTS education.

Cutting-Edge Curriculum

The DXARTS curriculum, at the cutting edge of digital arts education, presents students with a distinctive blend of creative exploration and technical proficiency. In the undergraduate minor, students have the flexibility to tailor their learning experience to their interests and career goals. They can choose to focus intensively on one specific media area or take a more diverse approach by exploring courses across multiple formats. This adaptable structure allows students to develop a specialized skill set or gain a broader understanding of the digital arts landscape.

The curriculum covers a wide range of cutting-edge topics, including:

  • Video art
  • 3D sound
  • Mechatronics
  • Robotics
  • Physical computing
  • Fabrication

By engaging with these advanced technologies and artistic practices, students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to push the boundaries of digital creation and innovation.

Digital Fabrication Lab

Central to DXARTS’ innovative approach to digital arts education is the state-of-the-art Digital Fabrication Lab. This cutting-edge facility serves as a playground for creativity and technological exploration, providing students with access to an impressive array of advanced tools and machines. The lab is a comprehensive workspace, featuring a fully-equipped woodshop, metal shop, and electronics lab, allowing students to bring their digital creations into the physical world.

For those working on detailed design projects, the lab offers:

  • Advanced CAD workstations, introduced in 2019, enabling precise and sophisticated digital modeling
  • Integration of 3D printers and laser cutters, expanding the possibilities for prototyping and fabrication
  • The DXARTS Observatory, a flexible project space within the lab dedicated to installation research and exhibitions

This unique space allows students to experiment with large-scale projects and immersive experiences, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in digital art and media.

Career Paths of Alumni

The broad and innovative character of the DXARTS program is mirrored in the varied career trajectories of its alumni. Graduates from this cutting-edge department have gone on to make significant impacts across various industries, showcasing the versatility and relevance of their unique skill sets. Alumni have secured positions as chief innovation officers, bringing their creative problem-solving skills to the forefront of organizational strategy. Others have found success as creative strategists, leveraging their ability to blend artistic vision with technological know-how.

The program has also produced accomplished individuals in various fields, including:

  • Digital artists, who continue to push the boundaries of digital expression in galleries and installations worldwide
  • Product designers in the tech industry, shaping the user experiences of tomorrow’s digital tools
  • Game developers in the gaming industry, bringing imaginative virtual worlds to life

This impressive array of career outcomes demonstrates the program’s effectiveness in preparing students for the multifaceted and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Seattle Central College – Creative Academy

Continuing our journey through Washington’s top multimedia schools, we reach Seattle Central College’s Creative Academy, a beacon of innovation in multimedia education. The Creative Academy stands out for its comprehensive approach to digital arts and media, offering students a robust foundation through its Visual Media program. At the heart of this program is the Associate of Applied Arts (AAS) degree, which equips students with the following skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the rapidly evolving world of digital media:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Video production
  • Animation
  • Photography
  • Interactive media

What differentiates the Creative Academy is its dedication to remaining at the cutting edge of technology and industry trends. The academy operates a state-of-the-art facility, continuously updating both its technology and curriculum to ensure students are working with the latest tools and techniques. This dedication to remaining current not only provides students with a cutting-edge education but also ensures they graduate with skills that are immediately relevant and in-demand in the job market.

Multimedia Design Program

Seattle Central College’s Creative Academy’s Multimedia Design Program provides a holistic curriculum encompassing the entire breadth of digital media creation. At its core, the program focuses on essential skills such as web design, video production, and graphic design. These foundational courses provide students with a solid base in the fundamental principles of digital media creation and visual communication.

However, the program goes far beyond these basics, delving into more specialized and advanced areas of multimedia design. Students have the opportunity to explore UI/UX design, gaining insights into creating user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces. The curriculum also covers motion graphics and video editing, equipping students with the skills to create dynamic visual content.

The program offers a diverse range of courses, including:

  • Typography
  • Package design
  • Color theory
  • WordPress
  • Front-end development

These courses hone students’ aesthetic sensibilities and ensure they’re prepared for the technical demands of the digital world. The program also emphasizes the importance of branding, teaching students how to create cohesive visual identities for businesses and organizations. This ensures that graduates are well-rounded professionals, capable of tackling a variety of projects in the multimedia field.

The program’s focus on practical skills enables students to create interactive and visually compelling multimedia content, while also developing their abilities in digital branding, marketing, and interactive media. By covering both artistic theory and modern photo/video technologies, the Multimedia Design Program prepares students for the multifaceted challenges of the digital media landscape.

Industry Connections

A significant strength of Seattle Central College’s Creative Academy stems from its solid industry partnerships. These connections play a crucial role in bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world application, providing students with invaluable practical, skill-reinforcing learning opportunities. By collaborating with industry partners, the Creative Academy ensures that its curriculum remains aligned with current industry standards and practices. This approach is critical in preparing students for their future careers, as it exposes them to real-world challenges and expectations.

Moreover, the academy goes beyond just providing learning opportunities; it actively fosters networks within the academy and with the broader community. These connections serve as a springboard for students, enhancing their career opportunities by providing access to internships, mentorship programs, and potential job placements. Through these industry partnerships, students gain not just theoretical knowledge but also practical experience and professional connections that can significantly boost their employability upon graduation.

Community Projects

Seattle Central College’s Creative Academy strongly advocates for community engagement, inspiring students to utilize their skills in real-world projects that have a significant impact. The academy promotes student involvement in community projects that focus on sustainability and local engagement, providing a unique opportunity for students to use their creative skills for social good.

One innovative aspect of these projects is the collaboration with local suppliers, where students integrate seasonal produce and sustainable practices into their designs. This not only teaches students about environmentally conscious design but also connects them with local businesses and community organizations.

The impact of these projects can be far-reaching, as demonstrated by first-year design student Gillian Levine, whose homework assignment became the back cover of the nationally recognized publication, Resist!, during the Women’s March in January. This example showcases how student work at the Creative Academy can transcend the classroom and make a real-world impact, providing students with portfolio-worthy pieces and the satisfaction of contributing to important social movements.

Eastern Washington University – Film and Media Studies

Eastern Washington University’s Film and Media Studies program distinguishes itself as an all-encompassing and immersive educational journey for budding filmmakers and media professionals. The program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media, encompassing a wide range of disciplines including:

  • Production
  • Screenwriting
  • Film history
  • Theory
  • Criticism

With a robust 79-credit curriculum, students are exposed to all key areas of film and media, ensuring a well-rounded education that prepares them for the multifaceted nature of the industry. One of the program’s unique features is its cohort model, where students progress through their courses as a tight-knit group each quarter. This approach fosters collaboration, peer learning, and the development of professional networks that can last well beyond graduation.

The program also offers exciting opportunities for students to gain real-world experience and showcase their work. Special events, such as a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, provide invaluable industry exposure, while the annual ‘The Best of EWU Film’ event celebrates and showcases the top student work from the year. These experiences not only enhance students’ learning but also provide them with tangible achievements to add to their portfolios as they enter the competitive world of film and media.

Hands-On Learning

Fundamental to EWU’s Film and Media Studies program is a pronounced focus on experiential learning and hands-on experience. The curriculum is designed to immerse students in the art and craft of filmmaking through intensive coursework that bridges theory with practice. Students engage in a series of advanced courses that cover the entire spectrum of film production, including Film Production, Film Directing and Producing, and Advanced Film Production. These courses provide students with the opportunity to work on real film projects, honing their skills in various aspects of the filmmaking process.

The program’s commitment to practical experience culminates in the senior capstone project, where students have the chance to bring their creative visions to life. In this project, students write, direct, and produce their own short films, applying all the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired throughout their studies. To support these ambitious projects, EWU provides students with access to industry-standard film equipment, including 4k production cameras and professional audio tools. This access to high-quality equipment ensures that students can produce work that meets professional standards, giving them a competitive edge as they enter the industry.

Additionally, the program offers:

  • Practicum opportunities that pair project-based study with employer-sponsored projects, both on and off-campus
  • Real-world challenges and the opportunity to build professional connections
  • Enhanced readiness for careers in film and media

These experiences provide valuable hands-on experience and help prepare students for their future careers.

Faculty Expertise

Eastern Washington University’s Film and Media Studies program prides itself on a devoted team of four full-time faculty members, who infuse their extensive expertise and industry experience into the classroom. These professionals play a crucial role in shaping the educational journey of each student, providing focused attention and specialized guidance throughout their academic career. The small faculty-to-student ratio allows for personalized mentorship, ensuring that students receive the support they need to develop their skills and creative vision.

Faculty members are deeply involved in the students’ learning process, offering rigorous feedback on senior projects, including screenwriting and advanced production projects. This level of engagement from experienced professionals helps students refine their work to meet industry standards and pushes them to reach their full potential. The faculty’s expertise spans various aspects of film and media, from technical production skills to theoretical analysis, providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for the diverse challenges of the industry.

Internship Opportunities

Eastern Washington University’s Film and Media Studies program acknowledges the pivotal role of practical experience in equipping students for successful careers in the creative arts. To this end, the program offers a range of internship opportunities that help students gain valuable industry experience, preparing them for creative roles in the filmic arts and digital media. These internships serve as a bridge between academic learning and professional practice, allowing students to apply their skills in real-world settings and build crucial industry connections.

The program’s location near Spokane provides a unique advantage, offering diverse internship and work opportunities in motion picture production. Students have the chance to intern on local film and media productions, gaining hands-on experience in various aspects of the filmmaking process. Additionally, the program encourages students to volunteer and submit their work to The Spokane International Film Festival, providing exposure to a wider audience and networking opportunities within the industry.

For those looking to earn academic credit while gaining professional experience, the program allows students to complete paid or unpaid internships as part of their communication electives. To further support students in their career exploration, the university’s Career Exploration Center facilitates connections between students and potential employers, allowing companies to post job or internship opportunities and engage with students on campus. These comprehensive internship and career development resources ensure that EWU Film and Media Studies graduates are well-prepared to launch successful careers in the competitive world of film and digital media.

Pacific Lutheran University – Communication and Theatre

As we conclude our exploration of Washington’s top multimedia schools, we reach Pacific Lutheran University’s Communication and Theatre department. This program stands out for its strong emphasis on multimedia and digital communication, preparing students for the rapidly evolving landscape of media and technology. The department’s approach is rooted in hands-on, collaborative learning, allowing students to develop a diverse skill set across various media and means of expression.

This practical focus ensures that graduates are not just theoretically knowledgeable but also proficient in the tools and techniques used in the industry. At the heart of the department’s mission is the Center for Media Studies, which serves as a hub for promoting excellence in teaching, research, and student skill application. This center plays a crucial role in keeping the curriculum cutting-edge and relevant, ensuring that students are always working with the latest technologies and methodologies in the field.

Digital Media Courses

The digital media curriculum at Pacific Lutheran University’s Communication and Theatre department provides a holistic and varied range of courses, aimed at equipping students with the skills required in the contemporary digital environment. The program covers essential areas such as graphic design, providing students with a strong foundation in visual communication principles. Video production courses offer hands-on experience in creating compelling visual content, from conceptualization to final editing.

The curriculum also delves into the art of digital storytelling, teaching students how to craft narratives that engage audiences across various digital platforms. Interactive media courses push students to explore the boundaries of user engagement and immersive experiences. What sets this program apart is its holistic approach, integrating:

  • art
  • graphic design
  • visual literacy
  • convergent media studies

This multidisciplinary approach ensures that graduates are versatile creators, capable of adapting to the ever-changing demands of the digital media industry.

Student Media Organizations

Pacific Lutheran University presents a vibrant ecosystem of student-led media organizations, offering priceless practical experience in digital communication. These organizations serve as practical laboratories where students can apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world media production. The university boasts a comprehensive range of media outlets, including a student newspaper, a radio station, and a television station. These platforms allow students to explore various aspects of media production, from writing and reporting to audio production and video broadcasting.

Moreover, PLU’s Student Media and MediaLab go beyond traditional media formats, engaging in community outreach and fostering relationships with local organizations. This community engagement not only enhances students’ professional skills but also instills a sense of social responsibility and community connection. By participating in these organizations, students gain practical experience in content creation, team collaboration, and media management – all crucial skills for their future careers in the digital media landscape.

Alumni Network

The influence of Pacific Lutheran University’s Communication and Theatre department reaches far beyond graduation, courtesy of its active and strong alumni network. This network serves as a powerful resource for current students and recent graduates, offering mentorship, career guidance, and professional connections. The alumni community includes accomplished professionals across various fields, including law, public policy, and communication. This diverse range of expertise provides students with insights into different career paths and industry trends.

What sets PLU’s alumni network apart is its strong culture of giving back. Alumni are known for their active involvement in helping students with career placements, offering internships, job leads, and valuable advice on navigating the professional world. This support system significantly enhances students’ career prospects, providing them with a competitive edge as they enter the job market. The ongoing engagement between alumni and current students creates a cycle of support and mentorship that continues to strengthen the program and its graduates year after year.