Online Web Design Programs

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The world is increasingly web-based,  from commerce to communication, and in every industry, so it’s no surprise that web design programs are a popular choice at colleges everywhere.

Online Web Design Degrees

In this field, an individual with a creative brain and some technical know-how can go far! Web design careers are lucrative and in demand.

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Let’s take a closer look at web design, and answer some common questions about the level of education you will need, what the career options are, and more, to help you decide whether it is a good fit for your future.

Do You Need a Degree to Be a Web Designer?

Web designer looking at color board selection for her project

In this field, the educational requirements vary widely. One of the best ways to ensure you will earn a competitive salary and continue to advance in the field is to earn a bachelor’s degree in web design.

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While earning your degree, you will build an extensive, varied portfolio, which is something all employers will expect to see. But earning a bachelor’s degree is not the only way to land a job in this field. Some companies accept applicants with associate’s degrees or web design certificates, those who have only taken a few web designing courses online, and even those with no formal training.

Without a degree, you will need relevant experience and an impressive portfolio to prove your expertise.

What Degree Is Best for Web Design?

Many schools today offer bachelor’s degree programs in web design, and that would be the most suitable option. However, some schools offer a similar education under a different name.

For example, some schools may call offer degrees in web development, web programming, graphic design, digital media, interactive media, software design, and development, or information technology. Because there are so many similar titles, it is especially important to review program descriptions to ensure that the web design program you choose will prepare you for the career you plan to pursue.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Web Design Degree Online?
Man getting a degree in web design online

This, of course, depends on the program, degree level, and how many web design courses online you can take at a time.

For an online bachelor’s in web design, expect to spend about 4 years as a full-time student. If your school offers accelerated programs, you can finish much faster. An associate’s or certificate program could be completed in much less time.

What Jobs are Available in Web Design?

After earning an online web design degree, you can pursue a number of different careers. Here are some examples:

  • Advertising/promotions/marketing professional
  • Applications developer
  • Computer programmer
  • Game developer
  • Graphic designer
  • Multimedia programmer
  • SEO specialist
  • Software developer
  • Web content manager
  • Web designer
  • Web developer

You may also find yourself working in any industry. You may work in a small marketing firm or for a large corporation; you could design websites for companies or for a healthcare system.

How Much Can I Make as a Web Designer?

The salary you can earn as a web designer depends heavily on your level of education, work experience, industry, and geographic location.

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While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t list data for web designers specifically, it does provide the median salaries for the following closely related professions:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Software Developers $110,140
Computer Programmers $93,000
Multimedia Artists and Animators $78,790
Web Developers $77,200
Graphic Designers $50,710

In addition to a competitive salary, web designers can look forward to long-term job security as well. The BLS projects employment of web developers will grow by 13% over the next 10 years. 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. 

What are the Best Online Web Design Programs?

The best degrees online for web design are the ones that help you meet your career goals, and are both accessible and affordable to you. That said, we have compiled a list of some of the top-ranking programs in the U.S. to help jumpstart your search.

Should I Consider a Web Design Certificate Instead of a Degree?

Designer preparing to get web design certificate

Earning a certificate in web design is an excellent option for those who cannot commit to a long degree program, or who are already working in the field but need to brush up on changing technology.

Certificate programs are highly focused and do not have the general education requirements that most degree programs have. They take less time to earn and cost less as well. If you have some work experience and a strong portfolio to show employers it could be enough to land you a job in web design.

Should I Just Take a Web Design Course or Two Instead of Earning a Certificate or Degree?

If you are interested in taking web design courses without pursuing a certificate or degree program, check out sites like Udemy or EdX. For around $100 per class, you will find beginner courses in popular design software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as advanced coding courses to help you make a page fully functional.

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Online web design programs can help you determine if this is the right path for you and provide some fundamentals before you dive in. For those who already have a certificate or degree, they can provide complementary education, perhaps introducing development (coding) abilities. Or, for those working in the field, these individual courses allow them to brush up on changes in the field.

Is Web Design the Same as Web Development? What Is the Difference?

Web designer working on her mockup

While there is often overlap, web designers and web developers are, in fact, different. Web designers are responsible for making websites attractive and user-friendly.

Through the use of graphics, color, art, and typography, they create hierarchy, draw emphasis to certain products, and ensure consistency and unity amongst the website’s various pages, for example. A well-designed website invites users in, engages them, and encourages them to buy a product or service.

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Web developers, on the other hand, make websites work. Using HTML, CSS, Javascript, and other programming languages, they convert a web designer’s creative layouts into a dynamic, operational site with working links, buttons, and other interactive elements.

Do I Need to Know How to Code as a Web Designer?

Web designer and web developer working together

Not necessarily. It is possible for a web designer to have a successful career without ever knowing HTML, CSS, or Javascript. However, it would be extremely advantageous for you to have some coding skills, for two reasons:

  1. Web designers who understand these languages (even at a basic level) can appreciate the limitations and constraints of the developer and can keep those in mind as they design. This would make working with the web developer much easier.
  2. If you ever plan to freelance, many clients will expect you to design and build their websites. They won’t want to pay two separate individuals.

Even if you are really only passionate about web design, it would be a great idea to at least take an introductory course or two.

Ready to start your journey?
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.