Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design 2021

Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design 2021

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Graphic designers synthesize art and technology to communicate ideas and concepts 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 earn an average salary of over $50,000 annually.

The flexibility of an online graphic design degree appeals to students seeking to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Prospective graphic design students can use our ranking of the best online graphic design programs to identify the right program for their interests and professional goals.

Top Online Bachelor's Programs in Graphic Design

#1 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#2 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#3 Kentucky Wesleyan College Owensboro, KY
#4 Lesley University Cambridge, MA
#5 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Graphic Design. Above anfle image of a graphic designer working at their desk with a tablet, computer, and papers.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic designers create image and text layouts that communicate ideas visually. They make advertisements, design book jackets, and develop graphs and charts to represent information. Graphic design requires strong visual intelligence since graphic designers must know how to select ideal images, determine how images and text can best work together, and choose appropriate fonts and styles for their designs. 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 to work with clients and art directors. Additionally, strong analytical skills help graphic designers communicate information to diverse audiences.

Graphic Design Versus Digital Media Design

Both graphic designers and digital media designers visually communicate information, but they use different approaches. While graphic designers create image-based designs, digital media designers create video, audio, and motion graphics. Training in digital media design often incorporates classes on web design, media production, and screenwriting. Although graphic designers often create work digitally, they may also produce print ads, magazines, and products. Digital media designers work solely in electronic formats.

Graphic designers rely on programs like Adobe Photoshop to complete their designs. In contrast, digital media designers use animation and motion graphic software. With experience, graphic designers can often pursue opportunities in digital media design. Prospective students can research whether online graphic design programs offer concentrations in digital media design.

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 several fields. 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 to candidates with a bachelor's degree, though some employers also require work experience.

In addition to full-time graphic design jobs, graphic designers can pursue freelance and specialized opportunities, including starting their own business. After completing an online graphic design bachelor's degree, graduates may also consider advancing their education with an online master's in graphic design.

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 graphic design jobs and related positions, such as art director and marketing manager.

Art Directors

Median Salary: $92,780 Projected Job Growth: 1%

Art directors determine the visual style of magazines, advertisements, video productions, 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 created by their team, which can include illustrations, graphics, charts, and sets.

As managers, art directors 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: $50,370 Projected Job Growth: 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 custom 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 hold a graphic design bachelor's degree and professional portfolio.

Graphic Design Professional Organizations

Graphic design students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations, which offer benefits like networking, professional development, and financial aid opportunities.

  • AIGA Founded in 1914, AIGA promotes the value and impact of design. Members gain access to discounts on services and products, an exclusive job board, the AIGA Designer Directory, and networking opportunities. AIGA also offers professional development resources, such as discounts on certificate courses and leadership workshops. Students can apply for educational support through the AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships program.
  • The Graphic Artist Guild The Graphic Artist Guild advocates for and represents graphic artists and design professionals. Members include graphic designers, illustrators, animators, and web developers. Members can access discounts on professional services and products and peer advice on client issues. Members also benefit from access to a professional monthly webinar series, monthly newsletter, and advice on negotiating with prospective clients.
  • Society for Experiential Graphic Design In addition to graphic designers, SEGD counts architects, industrial designers, brand strategies, and educators among its members. SEGD hosts an annual conference and multiple education events each year to connect members and provide professional development training. SEGD runs 34 local chapters. Members can sign up for workshops, webinars, and classes and can access SEGD's academic journal, white papers, and annual report.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Programs

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Lesley University 

Cambridge, MA Apply Now

About this school

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.

Graduation Rate
Percent Receiving Loans
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California Baptist University 

Riverside, CA Apply Now

About this school

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.

Graduation Rate
Percent Receiving Loans
Online Enrollment

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Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What is graphic design?

Graphic design blends creativity and technology to create visual representations of information. Graphic designers make brochures, logos, magazine 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 represents the entry-level education requirement for many graphic design jobs, including graphic designer and art director.

How long does a graphic design degree take to complete?

A graphic design bachelor's degree generally takes four years of full-time study to complete. Students with prior college credits or an associate degree can 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 represents the entry-level education requirement for graphic design jobs.

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