Online Graphic Design Degrees

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If you have a creative mind that enjoys the challenges of working with quickly evolving technology, then online graphic design degrees may be worth exploring as they provide you with a solid foundation to build your professional career.

Online Graphic Design Degrees

With the convenience of online schooling, students now have the flexibility to juggle work and family obligations while still earning a graphic design degree that is well respected within the business world.

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There are several options now available through reputable online universities for graphic design degrees that you can earn from the comfort of your own home.

Graphic Design Degrees Online

Having a bachelor’s degree in graphic design will provide you with advanced-level skills that will help you stand out from the crowd of job applicants.

While you will cover a number of advanced topics in digital imaging, web design, and media arts, you will also develop a graphic design portfolio that will assist you in landing a job after graduation.

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Those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design have the option of a number of professional career paths that include:

  • Graphic designer
  • Advertising design
  • Web designer
  • Art director
  • Print and packaging design

Some online degree programs also have the option of choosing a concentration for your bachelor’s degree that will allow you to develop specialized skills. These options may include web design, general design, or media arts.

There are several topics that you will cover throughout the course of your graphic design degree program, including the following:

  • Graphic design and production
  • Photo image editing
  • Streaming technology
  • Multimedia development
  • Adobe software skills

The field of graphic design is constantly evolving, and those who wish to reach the top of their careers can choose to further their education with an online master’s degree in graphic design. Those who have a master’s degree in graphic design will be eligible to take on leadership and management-level positions within a company or start their own independent graphic design business.

After graduation, you will have the skills you need to create computer graphics, electronic images, and desktop designs for a variety of different organizations. Some graduates from programs offering online degrees in graphic design also go on to work for themselves as freelance designers.

Common Graphic Design Bachelor Degree Online Concentrations

All graphic design degrees focus on visual art, but some programs allow you to tailor your studies around an area of interest. These are common concentrations in online graphic design programs: 

  • UI and UX design: Students learn how to create easy-to-navigate interfaces for computer games, mobile apps, and websites. 
  • Sustainable design: This degree specialization focuses on reducing the environmental impact of design and using graphic design to address sustainability challenges. 
  • Web design: Many organizations interact with customers through websites, and a web design concentration teaches students how to build effective web layouts. 
  • Animation: In an animation concentration, students learn how to use 3D graphics in games, advertisements, and educational software. 
  • Advertising and marketing: The curriculum of an advertising and marketing concentration centers around rhetoric, persuasion, brand building, and corporate identity. 

If you have a particular career goal in mind, selecting a degree concentration may help you become more qualified and competitive when you apply for jobs.

Graphic Design Careers and Salaries

Now more than ever, organizations are looking for skilled professionals that can create stunning visual elements in advertising and brand recognition to help them get noticed in the competitive marketplace.

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As a graphic designer, you will have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including design studios, advertising agencies, and publishing houses. In the table below, we have listed a few popular career options and the annual salaries of those who have graduated with a degree in graphic design according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Art Directors $100,890
Special Effects Artists and Animators $78,790
Web Developers and Digital Designers $78,300
Graphic Design Professors $75,940
Calligraphers $61,580
Drafters $60,290
Graphic Designers $50,710
Art and Design Workers $48,220
Desktop Publishers $46,910
Digital Press Operators $37,770

Those who work in graphic design typically earn more than the national average across all occupations, as you can see in the information above. You may make more or less than the salaries listed based on your technical skills and experience within the workforce.

Please keep in mind that some employers look for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a few of these positions. 

With increasing technology and a constantly evolving business market, graphic designers continue to be an invaluable asset to companies that want to effectively market their brands, products, and services to the public.

According to the BLS, the overall employment of graphic designers is projected to grow by 3% over the next 10 years.

View our list of the top 40 graphic design careers to compare jobs and salaries in this field.

BA in Graphic Design Curriculum & Courses

The curriculum of a graphic design bachelor’s degree emphasize composing visual art that sends a message. These courses are commonly required: 

  • History of Graphic Design: In this class, students learn about the development of visual communication and how it has been influenced by technology, industry, and society. 
  • Principles of Graphic Design: This class focuses on using graphic design as a tool for communication and creative expression. 
  • Design Drawing: Students in this course learn how to use drawing as a language that clearly reflects ideas and concepts.
  • Typography: During this course, students explore different typographical applications, with an emphasis on spatial and textural qualities. 
  • Visual Communication: This class provides an overview of shape, drawing, and color. 
  • Interaction Design Theory: Students taking this class investigate the design of communication artifacts and interaction with different types of media. 
  • Technology for Design: This course centers on the use of technology in design work. 
  • Design Rhetoric: In this course, students learn how to create persuasive designs that are appropriate for marketing and advertising. 
  • Motion Graphics: This course typically has a lecture and studio component that allows students to understand the theory of motion graphics and practice with independent projects. 
  • Diversity in the Arts: In this class, students look at the visual arts from a global perspective and discover diverse artistic styles. 

Before graduating, you may have to create a portfolio with samples of your work that reflect everything you have learned.

How to Know if an Online Degree in Graphic Design is Right for Me

Woman studying graphic design online

When considering a degree in graphic design, you are likely wondering if an online degree program is a good option for you. While students who take college courses on-campus have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with their professors and classmates, online learning can be an excellent tool for motivated students to schedule their classes around their busy personal lives.

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There are several advantages that come with earning a graphic design degree online, including:

  • Access to a wide range of technological platforms
  • Online instruction from leading experts in graphic design across the country
  • Flexibility to complete your degree at a faster pace than traditional students

When choosing to earn your graphic design degree online, you will be receiving the same quality instruction as those who attend traditional programs. Once you have graduated, your degree will not show any distinction that indicates you earned your degree through online learning.

Choosing a Graphic Design Online Degree Program

Beyond a quality curriculum and degree options that match your long-term goals, below we will discuss several other factors that are important to consider when researching online graphic design degrees:

  • Accreditation: Accreditation is an essential aspect of a reputable online accounting degree program. Check to see if your chosen school is accredited by a regional accrediting agency.
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: With any degree program, small class sizes benefit both the professor and the student. As you are working towards learning the advanced skills in graphic design needed within a professional career, low student-to-faculty ratios will ensure that you get individualized attention and support that will help you reach your full potential.
  • Academic Advising and Student Services: Regardless of whether you are earning your graphic design degree online or at a traditional campus, many schools offer a variety of student services that provide their student body with additional support during the time they are in school.
  • Cost: The cost of each program is also an important factor. Compare various programs to see which one fits your budget.
  • Degrees Offered: Be sure to check with each school you are considering to ensure they offer your chosen degree program.

The choice of which degree program will suit you will depend on your personal situation, needs, and career goals.

Admissions Requirements

Every graphic design program has a specific set of criteria for admission. These are some common requirements for attending graphic design schools online: 

  • Recommendations: Ask people who know you well, such as former instructors, to describe your strengths. 
  • Transcripts: Request official transcripts from any schools you previously attended. 
  • Personal statement: In a short essay, explain why you’re interested in and prepared for the program. 
  • Test scores: If required, submit recent scores from standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. 

When you apply, you may also have to pay a fee and submit a resumé. 

Online Graphic Design Degrees Accreditation

University offering Graphic Design Degree Programs

Reputable online colleges and universities are often extensions of brick-and-mortar schools. When you are looking for a Graphic Design degree program that is right for you, it is essential to look at the accreditation of your prospective college to ensure that its curriculum is recognized within the professional arena.

There are many regional and national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. One of the most recognized accrediting agencies for graphic design degrees is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

If you are wondering if your school’s accreditation is professionally recognized, take a look at the full list of agencies on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Paying for a degree often deters students from going to college, but there are many sources of financial aid that help reduce your out-of-pocket costs. 

Filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is essential because it determines whether you’re eligible for federal loans, grants, or work studies. Your state government may have separate aid programs, particularly if you’re studying at an in-state school. 

A wide range of organizations offer scholarships to students pursuing degrees in graphic design. Use an online database to locate programs that align with your situation and career goals. 

Organizations often help their employees further their education and enhance their skills, particularly if the program is relevant to their current role. Speak to your supervisor or human resources department to learn about opportunities for tuition assistance or reimbursement. 

Graphic Design Professional Organizations

Becoming a member of a professional organization allows you to network and attend conferences. Consider joining these prominent graphic design groups:

Membership in a professional organization also demonstrates your dedication to the field. 

What is a Graphic Design Degree?

A graphic design degree is a bachelor’s degree program that helps students learn about the fundamentals of visual communication, including layout, typography, and motion graphics. 

As a graphic design student, you will discuss different art and design theories and apply them to the creation of unique artwork. Depending on the focus of your degree, you may also study digital design, web development, and interactive art. 

Many graphic design programs culminate with a capstone project or practicum, during which you compile examples of your best work into a portfolio. This may also help you qualify for jobs after you graduate. 

Is Graphic Design a Good Major?

Yes, graphic design is a good major for many undergraduate students. Graphic design is versatile and applies to different careers, including special effects and animation, marketing, and web development. 

Graphic designers also earn above-average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for graphic designers is $50,710, which is higher than the salary for other art and design workers ($48,220) and the average for all occupations ($45,760). 

A graphic design degree may also help you advance into a management position with a higher salary. Art directors, for instance, have median salaries of $100,890 per year. 

What Can You Do With a Bachelor of Graphic Design?

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design may help you begin a career in your preferred form of art, including digital art, illustrations, and interactive art. 

As a graphic designer, you might build business websites, create logos, make infographics, or create the visual elements of advertisements. Some graphic design professionals apply their skills to animation or special effects. 

Many of these professions pay competitive salaries. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for graphic designers is $50,710, and web developers and digital designers have median earnings of $78,300 per year. 

Are Graphic Designers in Demand?

Graphic designers play an important role in different types of media, including apps, websites, and marketing materials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate for this profession is 3% over the next decade, which is slightly slower than average.

The growth rate for graphic designers is slightly higher than the rate for all other art and design workers, which underscores the importance of having skills in persuasion and rhetoric. 

Some related occupations that you may pursue with a graphic design degree have projected growth that’s much faster than average. For example, the growth rate for web developers and digital designers is 23%.  

What Jobs Can You Get With a Graphic Design Degree?

A graphic designer degree may help you qualify for a job as a graphic designer, digital designer, or art director. These positions all involve developing designs that connect and communicate effectively with audiences. 

Different types of employers hire graphic designers to create original artwork. They include advertising firms, software development companies, and government agencies. 

As a graphic design professional, you might also work independently as a freelancer who offers design services to a number of organizations rather than working for a single employer. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design Online?

The amount of time required to earn an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design depends on the specific program and your enrollment status. If you attend full-time and take courses in a 16-week semester, it generally takes four years to graduate. 

Some accelerated programs have 8-week semesters and year-round enrollment, including summers, which allows you to graduate in a shorter period of time. 

Students with additional obligations, such as work or caretaking responsibilities, may take courses on a part-time basis. In those situations, it’s not unusual for a graphic design degree to take five years or longer. 

What’s the Difference Between Web Design vs. Graphic Design Majors?

There is significant overlap between graphic designers and web designers, but understanding the differences between them may help clarify which degree is the best path for you. 

Graphic Design Major

Web Design Major

Involves a lower level of skill with technology Requires advanced technology skills in areas like programming 
Focuses primarily on art and design Focuses on computer and information technology as well as design
Includes courses in drawing, typography, and layout  Includes courses in motion design, production methods, and interface design

If you don’t enjoy working extensively with computers, a graphic design degree is likely a better option. 

What’s the Difference Between a Graphic Artist vs. Graphic Designer?

Although the titles are almost identical, graphic artists and graphic designers have slightly different jobs. 

Graphic Artists

Graphic Designers

Use a variety of techniques, including collages, painting, and photography Use less varied and abstract techniques 
Focus on telling a story Focus on conveying a message and being persuasive
Creates materials like book covers and video game animation Creates materials like print advertisements, branding materials, and flyers

Graphic designers and artists often work for similar types of employers, but designers are more likely to be employed within marketing or advertising teams. 

Is an Online Graphic Design Degree Worth It?

Yes, an online graphic design degree is worth it for many students. Graphic design is essential to any organization that uses visual art to reach customers and engage with their audience. 

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the growth rate for graphic designers is slightly slower than average, it is one of the most promising fields for artists. 

Graphic design is also applicable to a range of other careers. Many art directors, animators, and web developers have a background in graphic design. 

Getting Your Bachelors in Graphic Design Degree Online

Passion for art, a fine eye for detail, and an understanding of visual rhetoric are all crucial for graphic designers, and a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is an opportunity to develop and enhance your abilities in these areas. 

Whether you enjoy helping businesses establish their brands with distinctive logos or prefer to create complex interactive art for a website, a graphic design degree is a logical path toward meeting your goals. You will study subjects like typography, drawing, and motion graphics. 

Begin working toward a career in graphic design today by researching accredited bachelor’s in graphic design degrees online.  

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.