Best Online Master’s in Graphic Design Programs 2021
| TBS Staff
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Graduates with master's in graphic design online degrees can pursue leadership roles such as art director, marketing manager, and product designer. These professionals enjoy the possibility of earning good salaries.
For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that art directors earned a median annual salary of $97,270 in 2020.
Earning a master's in graphic design online gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Online learning also allows students to attend the top programs in the country without relocating.
The Best Online Master's in Graphic Design Programs
A private university founded in 1978, SCAD offers a master of arts in graphic design and visual experience through its innovative eLearning department. Students finish 45 credits and may require additional coursework depending on their background.
Required courses include ideation models and process, visual analysis of static content, professional practice of visual design, and typographic voice and visual narrative. Students also complete electives and can opt to complete an internship.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and a portfolio for review. Students do not need to send GRE scores to apply.
A private Christian university, Liberty offers an online master of fine arts in graphic design. Students complete 60 credits and can transfer in up to 50% of the credits required to graduate.
Required courses include visualization illustration, advanced digital photography, vector illustration, and digital imaging. Students take a course sequence in art history to ground their practice and a field experience for hands-on training.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a professional portfolio for review. The program also requires an artist statement.
Online Master'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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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
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Featured Online Master's in Graphic Design Programs
Choosing an Online Online Master's in Graphic Design Program
Why do you want to earn your online graphic design master's degree? To answer this question, first examine a the prospective programs' concentrations. Concentrations such as brand development appeal to students interested in managerial jobs at large marketing agencies. Others, such as exhibition design, attract students preparing for careers as independent artists. Choosing one or two concentrations that interest you automatically creates a shortlist, which you should later analyze in closer detail.
Once you create a shortlist, focus on each program's courses and educational experience. Most programs stress advanced design courses alongside those that teach interpersonal, leadership, and business skills. Finally, the online graphic design master's degree program you select should meet all your online learning needs. With so many online options, you do not need to sacrifice quality for convenience.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Graphic Design Program?
While virtually all online graphic design master's programs teach similar skills, they offer unique curricula. Some focus on one graphic design subfield, while others present a more holistic approach. Keep this in mind as you explore the sample courses below. Courses at programs you consider may use similar titles or course descriptions but a different curriculum.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Graphic Design
- Brand Redevelopment: Students learn about graphic design's role in advertising products and services. Class activities include analyzing famous brand development examples and developing graphics for new products. Students interested in marketing take one or more brand development courses.
- Design Integration: Students develop new ways to use design in their projects as they critique each other's work. Most master's students take this or a similar course during their first year.
- Defining Client Needs: This course conveys crucial interpersonal skills all graphic designers require to work with clients. Course topics include interview and communication skills and relationship–building.
- Design Research: To stay successful, graphic designers must learn new technologies and collaborate with peers. This course introduces students to research methods and latest graphic design tools.
- Thesis: Most master's programs include a thesis course wherein students research and craft their thesis. Some programs may require students to write a lengthy research essay, while others programs ask students to complete a design project that includes a presentation to faculty and peers.
Careers With a Master's in Graphic Design
Online graphic design master's degree programs prepare graduates for managerial–level positions that oversee entire projects. Some graduates use these skills as classroom teachers, while other graphic designers use their graduate educations to launch their art and design careers as self-employed artists. The three positions below represent a few jobs you can explore after earning your degree.
Postsecondary teachers instruct students at colleges and universities. They create lesson plans and rubrics, evaluate students' work, and mentor students' development as artists. Nearly all postsecondary teaching positions require a master's or doctoral degree. Most professionals who enter this position also have at least five years of work experience in the graphic design field.
Art directors lead teams of artists to create unique visual products for their clients. For example, they manage the development of movie posters, product packaging, and commercials. As managers, they control their projects' every aspect and mentor less-experienced graphic designers. A master's degree teaches the managerial and interpersonal skills required for this position.
Multimedia artists use digital tools to create original artwork and animations for advertisements, games, and movies. Many artists and animators specialize in fields like facial animation, making them highly valuable employees. A master's program allows students to develop specialized skills.
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