Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2021
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Graphic designers synthesize art and technology to communicate ideas visually.
By creating layouts that incorporate text and images, graphic designers help advertisers and marketers attract customers and sell products.
Earning an online graphic design degree prepares graduates for in-demand careers, as many jobs in the field require a bachelor's degree as a minimum education requirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned a median salary of over $50,000 in 2020.
The flexibility of an online graphic design degree helps students balance their studies with professional and personal needs. Prospective graphic design students can use our ranking of the best online graphic design programs to find the right online college for them.
What Is Graphic Design?
Graphic designers create image and text layouts to communicate ideas visually. They make advertisements, design book jackets, and develop graphs and charts to represent information.
Graphic design requires strong visual intelligence. Graphic designers must know how to select images, determine how images and text can best work together, and choose appropriate fonts and styles. In advertising agencies and publishing firms, graphic designers work with art directors to polish their designs.
Graphic design requires strong visual intelligence. Graphic designers must know how to select images, determine how images and text can best work together, and choose appropriate fonts and styles.
In addition to creativity and artistic ability, graphic designers need strong technical skills. Most graphic designers use software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Graphic designers also rely on communication skills when working with clients and art directors. Additionally, strong analytical skills help graphic designers communicate information to diverse audiences.
What Is an Online Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?
During an online bachelor's degree in graphic design, students learn layout techniques, typography, and visual communication. Courses cover design fundamentals, image creation, and digital advertising. Some programs also incorporate classes in web design and digital media design. Graphic design majors often complete a practicum or capstone course to build a portfolio.
In addition to completing online graphic design courses, students complete general education requirements to earn bachelor's degrees. These requirements may include humanities, social science, and natural science courses. A bachelor of fine arts may incorporate courses like photography, drawing, and sculpture.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Program?
The length of an online bachelor's degree in graphic design varies by program. However, most graphic design bachelor's students graduate within four years of full-time study.
Featured Graphic Design Degree Programs
What Can You Do With an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree?
An online bachelor's degree in graphic design prepares graduates for careers in art and design. In addition to working as graphic designers, graduates may work as production artists, graphic artists, and art directors. Many advertising agencies, marketing firms, and publishers offer graphic design jobs for bachelor's graduates, though some employers also require work experience.
In addition to full-time graphic design jobs, graphic designers can pursue freelance opportunities, including starting their own businesses. After completing an online graphic design bachelor's degree, graduates can also advance their education with an online master's in graphic design.
Ask a Graphic Designer
Alex Bryant is an Emmy-award-winning media relations director for children's media and educational publisher The Trevor Romain Company (TRC), based in Austin, Texas. Bryant has experience with social media, television production, and graphic design. Named a Modern Man of Distinction from Black Enterprise, Bryant has received four American Advertising Awards, a $100,000 graphics scholarship from General Motors, and a Sprout Spotlight Awards Best-in-Class nomination. He was also an official Guinness World Records participant at Podfest Expo. Previously, Bryant worked at CBS, Dick Clark Productions, the Daytime Emmys, and NBCUniversal. He has a BFA in graphic design from Angelo State University.
For someone growing up in a special needs program in primary school and told I won't make it to college, earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Angelo State University means a great deal. As well as also being a first-generation student to earn a college degree — [that] would have to be my favorite aspect.
For any student who wants to pursue graphic design with no-to-limited experience, I would share: If you're willing to put in the real hard work in harnessing your craft, learning from the masters, and being open to constructive feedback, I believe you have what it takes, for sure.
I think graphic design is growing in popularity because of its flexibility to be taken almost anywhere, unlike other professions that need to be fulfilled at the physical college or university.
A benefit to studying graphic design online instead of in person at an educational institution is the ability to learn design software and make creative projects from the comfort of your home, and not needing to navigate traffic and the weather getting to class.
When the world turned to digital in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the demand grew for companies and organizations to shift their marketing efforts to focus on creating more digital-friendly materials. These assets can include updating a website, creating social media graphics, or adding some animation to videos to attract an audience to a product or service. The desire is only going to grow, as we have adapted to remote and in-person working environments.
Graphic Design Careers
Because their skills are applicable to many fields and industries, graphic designers enjoy a variety of professional opportunities. Some examples of graphic design careers include:
- Art director
- Advertising designer
- Branding designer
- Creative director
- Desktop publisher
- Direct mail designer
- Digital media specialist
- Digital project manager
- Graphic designer
- Industrial/product designer
- Layout artist
- Logo designer
- Medical graphics specialist
- Motion graphics designer
- Multimedia artist/animator
- Multimedia specialist
- Packaging designer
- Photo software editor
- Print design specialist
- Production art manager
- Publication designer
- Social media graphics specialists
- User experience designers
- Video editor
- Web designer
Areas for Graphic Design Jobs
- Advertising, public relations, and related services
- Architectural fields
- Commercial printing
- Computer systems design
- Design studio
- Mobile app development
- Motion graphics
- Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishing
- Product packaging design
- Specialized design services
- Video game design
- Video production
- Web design
- Wholesale trade
Graphic Design Jobs
Earning a graphic design degree prepares graduates for jobs like graphic designer, art director, and marketing manager.
|Median Salary 2020: $97,270||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 11%|
Art directors determine the visual style of magazines, advertisements, videos, and other media. They create an overall design and manage a team of production artists who create artwork and layouts. Art directors then review and approve designs, which can include illustrations, graphics, charts, and sets.
Art directors also oversee staff, work directly with clients on projects, and create budgets and timelines. They often work in advertising agencies, public relations firms, and publishing companies. Theater, television, and movie productions also hire art directors. Most art directors hold a bachelor's degree in an art or design field.
|Median Salary 2020: $53,380||Projected Job Growth 2020-2030: 3%|
Graphic designers visually communicate ideas, working with images and text to create designs. Graphic designers may develop the visual style of advertisements or work with art directors or clients to design layouts for magazines, brochures, book jackets, or product packaging.
Graphic designers rely on software to create designs, including digital illustration programs and photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Most graphic designers have a graphic design bachelor's degree and a professional portfolio.
Graphic Design Versus Digital Media Design
Both graphic designers and digital media designers visually communicate information, but they use different approaches. Graphic designers create image-based designs, while digital media designers create video, audio, and motion graphics. Training in digital media design often incorporates classes in web design, media production, and screenwriting. Although graphic designers often work digitally, they may also produce print ads, magazines, and products. Digital media designers work solely in electronic formats.
With enough relevant experience, graphic designers can often pursue opportunities in digital media design. Interested design students should research whether their online graphic design programs offer concentrations in digital media design.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Programs
SNHU was founded in 1932 and now serves nearly 140,000 students worldwide every year. The university offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.
Its bachelor of arts in graphic design and media arts includes 120 credits and is one of the best graphic design schools available online. The curriculum trains students to design, develop, and present visual storytelling through photo, video, and digital media platforms. Learners can specialize in 3D modeling and animation or web design.
Applicants can transfer up to 90 credits into this online graphic design and media arts degree. SNHU does not require ACT or SAT scores and offers flat-rate tuition for all learners.
Liberty is a Christian college founded in 1971. It now houses 15 academic schools and colleges and enrolls more than 100,000 students each year.
Learners can complete Liberty's online bachelor of fine arts in graphic design in under four years. The 120-credit graphic design degree integrates coursework with practicum and internship requirements to prepare students for careers across creative fields.
To apply, candidates must submit transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants can transfer up to 90 credits of previous coursework into the online graphic design degree.
Partnered with the United Methodist Church, Wesleyan moved from its initial home in Millersburg, Kentucky, to its current campus in 1890. Wesleyan offers nearly 50 undergraduate programs to its roughly 800 enrollees each year.
Wesleyan's online bachelor of arts in graphic design emphasizes foundational principles of art and design. Core classes in the 120-credit degree focus on web design, animation, and publishing, all of which students can apply to advanced projects and internships.
Applicants to Wesleyan's online graphic design degree must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores for consideration.
Founded by its namesake, Edith Lesley, in 1909, Lesley now offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 6,500 students attend Lesley every year.
Online programs at Lesley include a bachelor of science in design for user experience. The degree includes 120 credits of coursework and emphasizes the human side of digital design. Core classes include elements of interface, sketching for interactive design, and user experience business design. The program also offer opportunities to work in practical settings with design professionals.
Applicants must submit transcripts for consideration. Lesley does not require ACT or SAT scores for online admission.
Founded by the California Southern Baptist Convention in 1950, CBU enrolls over 11,300 students each year. This university offers more than 110 undergraduate and graduate programs, including 40 online degrees.
Designed for individuals looking to either advance or transition into graphic design careers, CBU's online bachelor of arts in graphic design and digital media includes 48 credits of required major courses. The curriculum builds foundational design knowledge through project-based learning, covering topics like typography, image development, and web design.
Preferred applicants have a minimum of 24 transferable credits with a 2.0 GPA.
Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
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Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
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Common Questions About Graphic Design Degrees
Graphic design blends creativity and technology to create visual representations of information. Graphic designers make brochures, logos, magazine and web layouts, infographics, and other visual media.
A graphic designer visually communicates ideas by arranging text and images in user-friendly layouts. They work with art directors and clients to create advertisements, product packaging, and other designs.
A graphic design bachelor's degree is the entry-level education requirement for many graphic design jobs, including graphic designer and art director. Some roles require a graduate degree or previous work experience.
A graphic design bachelor's degree takes four years of full-time study to complete. However, students with prior college credits or an associate degree can often complete the degree in less time.
A bachelor's degree in graphic design trains students in design software, visual techniques, and the graphic arts. It is the entry-level education requirement for most graphic design jobs.
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