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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 2020

The Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Programs

1
Savannah College of Art and Design
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4

Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA

About this school

Established in 1971, Liberty University is an evangelical liberal arts institution that enrolls over 100,000 students in more than 600 programs across 17 schools and colleges. Distance learners can choose from over 400 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through Liberty University Online.

Liberty offers a 120-credit online graphic design bachelor's degree through the School of Visual and Performing Arts. Students complete general education, major, and elective courses. Graphic design courses include introduction to graphic design, history of art, and digital imaging. Learners must also take several courses rooted in Christianity. Students gain practical, hands-on experience through a practicum and internship.

Each online course spans eight weeks, and most students graduate within four years. Liberty offers free digital textbooks in lieu of traditional books, offering students significant savings on learning materials. Applicants may transfer up to 75% of the degree's required credits and begin on one of multiple start dates throughout the year.

Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
Online Enrollment
71%
5

Independence University 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

A member of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education since 1891, Independence University focuses solely on distance education programs. IU offers dozens of online undergraduate and graduate degrees in healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts. New undergraduate students qualify for a complimentary tablet and laptop during their first and fourth modules, respectively.

IU's online BS in graphic design comprises 137 credits and takes just over three years of full-time study to complete. The curriculum covers topics like web design, typography, and internet commerce. Courses include animation scripting, marketing strategies, and digital photography. Students also master common industry software, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and build a professional portfolio of their work during the course of the degree.

Students complete one four-week course at a time, beginning on one of multiple start dates per year. Online learners gain access to free services and resources, like online tutoring, learning equipment and materials, and an orientation course. IU also offers a variety of financial aid opportunities for students.

Graduation Rate
12%
Percent Receiving Loans
97%
Online Enrollment
100%
6

Midway University 

Midway, KY

About this school

Founded in 1847, Midway University enrolls more than 1,700 students in resident, evening, and online programs. Midway offers dozens of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in arts and sciences; health sciences; and business, equine, and sport studies. Though Midway maintains an affiliation with the Christian Church, the university welcomes students of all spiritual beliefs and faiths.

The 120-credit bachelor's degree in marketing and communications with a marketing and graphic design concentration includes general education, major, concentration, and elective courses. The online graphic design degree includes core coursework in four primary areas: communication, business, graphic design, and branding. Learners study topics like digital storytelling, animation, and brand management. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project.

Students take accelerated, eight-week courses, beginning on one of five start dates throughout the year. Online students gain access to virtual tutoring and counseling services. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Most online courses maintain a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. More than 90% of all students receive some form of financial aid.

Graduation Rate
37%
Percent Receiving Loans
72%
Online Enrollment
24%
7

Kentucky Wesleyan College 

Owensboro, KY

About this school

Located on the Ohio River, Kentucky Wesleyan College maintains an affiliation with the United Methodist Church and offers diverse online and on-campus programs. The liberal arts college offers more than 40 major and minor areas of study. Online students can complete a traditional four-year undergraduate degree or an accelerated three-year degree.

Wesleyan's online BA in graphic design includes general education, core, and elective courses. Core courses cover topics like branding design, computer literacy, digital photographic techniques, and beginning drawing. Learners also take one religion course as part of their general education requirements. Students complete a freshman seminar during their first year and an internship, ideally during the spring semester of their final year.

Distance learners can begin the online graphic design degree on one of several start dates throughout the year, with new terms beginning every two months. Online courses last for seven weeks. Wesleyan charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online students regardless of residency. The college offers institutional scholarships and monthly tuition payment plans for qualifying students.

Graduation Rate
42%
Percent Receiving Loans
75%
Online Enrollment
4%
8

Bellevue University 

Bellevue, NE

About this school

Founded in 1966, Bellevue University hosts nearly 9,000 students across four interstate campus locations and online. BU offers more than 80 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees and certificates through traditional and accelerated programs. Students can choose from a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including in an online bachelor's in graphic design.

The 127-credit bachelor of arts in graphic design combines major and Kirkpatrick Signature Series requirements, exploring freedom and responsibility, tradition and change, and American vision and values. Required courses cover topics like design basics, typography, and website development in addition to problem-solving and the history of contemporary graphic design. Students develop a professional portfolio during the course of the degree.

Distance learners gain access to an online writing center, tutoring services, and technology support. Students can also access academic advising and career services online. BU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online students regardless of residency. The university evaluates transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.

Graduation Rate
N/A%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
Online Enrollment
78%
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Ranking Methodology

Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on quality, curricula, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

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.

hat 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.

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.

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 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.

What Is a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?

During an online bachelor's degree in graphic design, students receive training in layout techniques, typography, and visual communication. Courses cover topics like 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 graphic design courses, students must complete general education requirements to earn their bachelor's degree. In a bachelor of arts program, these requirements may include humanities, social science, and natural science courses. A bachelor of fine arts may incorporate foundational art courses in areas 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.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree?

A 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 a 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

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.

Median Annual Salary

$92,780

Projected Growth Rate

1%

Art Directors

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.

Median Annual Salary

$92,780

Projected Growth Rate

1%

Graphic Designers

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.

Median Annual Salary

$50,370

Projected Growth Rate

3%

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.

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.

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