Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Alicia Bones
by
Updated April 16, 2024
Edited by
Kick-start your creative career with an online graphic design degree from one of these top-ranked programs.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Artistic people often pursue careers in graphic design. Many graphic designers combine their love for studio art with a mastery of online digital tools to develop sophisticated logos, billboards, flyers, and other projects. Graphic designers connect with clients, art directors, and writers to create and organize visual designs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the field will grow at an average rate of 3% from 2022 to 2032. According to 2023 BLS statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers was $58,910 — a number that can increase or decrease based on experience, geographic location, and job setting, among other factors. Graphic designers tend to earn more than other professionals in arts and design fields, which collectively averaged a median annual salary of $51,150 in 2022.

Entry-level graphic design jobs often require professionals to hold bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine art. So, many aspiring graphic designers pursue their undergraduate studies through online programs. Our rankings help you choose the best online graphic design degree for you.

Featured Online Graphic Design Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic designers create image and text layouts to visually communicate ideas. 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.

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.

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs

The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

#1 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location-markerManchester, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,000
  • Out-of-state$15,000
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled145,533
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment96%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

University of Maryland, Baltimore

  • Location-markerBaltimore, MD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,446
  • Out-of-state$38,822
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled7,244
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Location-markerScottsdale, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,710
  • Out-of-state$12,984
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled57,848
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Bellevue University

  • Location-markerBellevue, NE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,560
  • Out-of-state$7,560
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled11,902
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment95%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

California Baptist University

  • Location-markerRiverside, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$34,918
  • Out-of-state$34,918
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled11,489
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Lesley University

  • Location-markerCambridge, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$29,200
  • Out-of-state$29,200
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate87%
  • Students Enrolled4,010
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment27%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees

Kentucky Wesleyan College

  • Location-markerOwensboro, KY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$28,400
  • Out-of-state$28,400
  • Retention Rate55%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled811
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment32%
  • AccreditationYes

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Rankings Methodology

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.

Graphic Design Careers and Outlook

Graphic designers can work in a variety of areas, including marketing, advertising, publishing, and business. Successful graphic designers can later work as postsecondary teachers, instructing others in graphic design courses, or as art directors who develop design strategies and visions for organizations. Some graphic designers may also become marketing managers.

To start working as a graphic designer, you will need a portfolio to show to potential employers. You may also pursue an internship during or after your degree and seek certification in graphic design software programs.

Graphic Design Career Examples
CareersMedian Annual Wage
Art Directors$106,500
Graphic Designers$58,910
Postsecondary Art Teachers$80,360
Marketing Managers$157,620
Art and design workers$51,150
Sources: BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook and Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics

As the table above demonstrates, graphic designers can pursue careers in many different industries. As they advance, they may also be able to apply for several different high-paying roles.

Graphic Design Jobs

Earning a graphic design degree prepares graduates for jobs like graphic designer, art director, and marketing manager.

Art Directors

  • Median Salary:$106,500
  • Projected Job Growth 2022-2032:6%

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.

Graphic Designers

  • Median Salary:$58,910
  • Projected Job Growth 2022-2032:3%

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.

Ask a Graphic Designer About Pursuing a Degree

Portrait of Alex Bryant

Alex Bryant

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.

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.

Graphic Design Versus Digital Media Design

Graphic design and digital media design are similar but distinct fields. Graphic designers create visual, static media that may be part of virtual or physical projects.

Digital designers, on the other hand, develop interactive digital media, including video, audio, and animation.

Graphic designers may work for companies that produce digital and print materials, whereas digital designers may become web designers or animation designers.

Students in four-year bachelor’s degree programs in graphic design often take courses in studio art, design, web design, and graphics. Graphic design is a more-established field, with more than 360 postsecondary institutions offering programs in art and design. Fewer bachelor’s degree programs in digital design exist.

Graphic Design


  • Includes visual designs for both online platforms and physical objects.
  • Focus on drawing and design.
  • Learn tactile skills like printmaking and painting.
  • Produce static images with which users can’t interact.

Digital Design


  • Includes any type of media content, including video, animations, etc.
  • Focus on holistic web and media design.
  • Learning digital skills like video editing and audio production.
  • Produce animated designs for user interaction

Commonalities


  • Digital focus
  • Media careers
  • Visual elements
  • Software-oriented

Featured Online Graphic Design Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Common Questions About Graphic Design Degrees

Graphic design involves creating and laying out illustrations, logos, text, and other visual elements. Professionals create images using a variety of tools, including pens and pencils, software programs, and tablets. They also make decisions about which typefaces, colors, and artwork to include in their designs.

Typically, graphic designers work with clients, art directors, and writers to add interest to written text or communicate ideas through images. They may work in fields like advertising, publishing, or public relations.

Aspiring graphic designers should prepare to earn bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine arts. A graphic design major is more focused on preparing learners for a profession than a major in fine arts. Some graphic designers also complete bachelor’s degrees in other fields before pursuing graphic design training.

Few graphic designers enter the field without bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine arts. So, if you know you want to become a graphic designer, you likely need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design (or a related area) to enter the field. Otherwise, you will have to complete additional graphic design training to be competitive in this area.

Graphic design degrees require students to take courses in principles of design, web design, studio art, and commercial graphics production, among other subjects. Students may also take classes in marketing, business, and writing. Most bachelor’s programs in graphic design take four years to complete.


Page last reviewed April 16, 2024. All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the TBS Rankings Team.

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