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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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

What was your favorite part of earning a bachelor's in graphic design degree?

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.

What advice do you have for a potential student of graphic design with no or limited experience in the design field?

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.

What makes graphic design a popular field for online study?

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.

Are there any advantages to studying graphic design online as opposed to in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting?

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.

What makes graphic design such an in-demand degree?

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
  • Editor
  • 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
  • Animation
  • Architectural fields
  • Commercial printing
  • Communications
  • Computer systems design
  • Design studio
  • Government
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Mobile app development
  • Motion graphics
  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishing
  • Nonprofits
  • Product packaging design
  • Signage
  • Specialized design services
  • Television
  • 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.

true Art Directors
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.

true Graphic Designers
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

Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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 University true View School Profile Lynchburg, VA 50% 60% 90% Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Kentucky Wesleyan College true View School Profile Owensboro, KY 42% 66% 20% Kentucky Wesleyan College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Lesley University true View School Profile Cambridge, MA 61% 69% 21% Lesley University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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.

California Baptist University true View School Profile Riverside, CA 55% 70% 54% California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

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.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

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.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Common Questions About Graphic Design Degrees

true What Is Graphic Design?

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.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

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.

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get With a Graphic Design Degree?

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.

How Long Does a Graphic Design Degree Take to Complete?

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.

What Is a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?

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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