A graphic design degree could help prepare you for a career in visual communication.
In the graphic design field, you can put your artistic eye and creative ideas to work as you design visual media for clients. Graphic designers work in a variety of exciting industries, including advertising, motion pictures, journalism, and product design.
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College studies could help set you apart as a candidate for projects and positions in this competitive field.
Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degrees
Are you passionate about art and hoping to make a career of it? If so, you might consider pursuing a graphic design online degree. In the field of graphic design, professionals use visual media to grab an audience’s attention, convey information, or stir emotional responses.
Graphic design majors often study:
- Art and design history
- Design software
- Digital coding
- Principles of visual design
- Professional conduct and practices
- Studio art
- User experience (UX)
- Website design
Some colleges have concentration options for their graphic design programs. Common options include illustration, interactive design, and marketing.
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A graphic design degree could be offered as a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). BS and BA options usually include more courses from general education fields, while a BFA has a stronger emphasis on the arts.
No matter the degree type, whether it’s an on-campus bachelors or an online masters in graphic design, these programs may include practicums or internships. These experiences allow students to learn from in-the-field professionals. As you go through your graphic design studies, you can assemble a portfolio that could potentially help you secure an internship or a job.
Graphic designers can work in publishing, advertising, television, technology, marketing, and other industries. This degree can also be useful for jobs in other types of design, such as interior, fashion, or product design. Some designers eventually become art directors.
Graphics Design Careers & Salaries
Graphic designer school can help you develop skills in communication, design, and creative thinking. Many graduates use that knowledge to secure jobs as graphic designers. Some are self-employed, while others work for design firms, publishers, or advertising agencies.
“Graphic designer” isn’t the only title that someone with this degree can hold, though. The skills acquired in a graphic arts degree program can also transfer to other design roles. Some professionals work as web designers who put together online media or as fine artists who illustrate books. Industrial designers contribute to the look and layout of products.
Other careers related to graphic design include fashion designer, animator, desktop publisher, and interior designer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for people who work in the arts and design sector is $48,210.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Web and Digital Interface Designers||$79,890|
|Special Effects Artists and Animators||$78,790|
|Commercial and Industrial Designers||$77,030|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$63,920|
A graphic designer degree can be quite versatile, so you may find that you’re qualified for additional job opportunities as well. Since graphic design is closely tied to marketing and advertising practices, some graduates go on to become marketing specialists.
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With experience, design professionals may be given increased responsibility. Art directors work in leadership capacities to oversee design team members and steer the direction of creative projects.
Bachelor of Graphic Design Curriculum & Courses
Your bachelor’s degree in graphic design program may include courses in studio art skills, design principles, art history, digital media, and other areas of study. Here are examples of courses you may come across:
- 2D Art: This course—or set of courses—may cover painting, drawing, photography, and printmaking.
- 3D Art: You might learn about sculpture, metalwork, architecture, and industrial design in this class.
- Communication and Symbolism: In this course, you’ll discuss principles for delivering messages and conveying ideas through visual media.
- Design Software: This tech-focused course teaches you to use popular programs for digital design.
- Digital Media and Design: You’ll learn about website layout, interactive online elements, and computer coding languages.
- History of Art: In a graphic design program, you’re likely to study the developments in art and design from the 18th century until the present time.
- Marketing Principles: This course discusses the importance of marketing as well as common strategies for conducting market research and building brand identity.
- Portfolio: Toward the end of your program, you might have a class that’s focused on preparing your professional portfolio.
- Typography: You’ll discuss how the size, shape, color, and placement of words in digital and printed media can affect your designs.
- User Interaction: Your studies in user experience and user interface can help you create products, particularly digital ones, that are easy and enjoyable to use.
You may have space in your curriculum for quite a few electives. By selecting elective courses that correlate with your career goals, you might be able to craft a degree program that fits well with your individual needs.
BA in Graphic Design Admissions Requirements
If you’re ready to enroll in a graphic arts program, then it’s time to start sending applications to colleges. For an online graphic design program, you might need to submit:
- Application form and processing fee
- Personal statement about your life or goals
- Transcripts from high school and any colleges you’ve attended
- Test scores from the ACT or SAT (not always required)
Some colleges will assign you an admissions representative to walk you through each step of the application process.
Online Graphic Design Programs Accreditation
There are a lot of graphic design colleges out there, so how can you know which ones are reputable? You can start by checking whether they hold regional accreditation. Accredited schools have been evaluated and approved by an outside body. To qualify for accreditation, colleges and universities must meet certain quality standards.
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Attending an accredited school is about more than just your peace of mind. It could be a requirement for receiving financial aid, transferring your coursework elsewhere, or getting into a credible graduate school. Employers, too, may prefer candidates who received high-quality educational training at an accredited school.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
As you start working through the college admissions process, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You might qualify for low-interest government loans as well as government grants. Your eligibility will depend largely on your financial circumstances. Both state and federal assistance could be available to you.
The college you choose could also offer scholarship opportunities. Outside organizations, such as design associations or community groups, may award you scholarship funds as well. Some workplaces have scholarship opportunities or a tuition-reimbursement program for employees.
What Do Graphic Designers Do?
Graphic designers influence the look of the products you use and the visual media you observe. Graphic design jobs can also involve creating attractive layouts and designs.
Graphic designers can work in many different settings, including the technology, publishing, and marketing industries. They most often use computer software to create their designs. A designer’s responsibilities can include communicating with clients and creating layouts to match a customer’s needs.
Depending on the scope of a project, they may design art or a layout to grab your attention, convey a message, stir an emotional response, or create a feeling of visual satisfaction.
What Can You Do with a Graphic Design Degree?
Graphic design majors often enter the workforce as graphic designers. Many of them create print or online layouts, while others may work on product packaging, film designs, or even museum displays.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that graphic designers commonly earn between $31,310 and $98,260 each year. Other possible jobs for graphic designers may be available in categories like desktop publishing, interior design, or book illustration. Design professionals can also join marketing or advertising teams.
Experienced professionals may receive promotions to art director roles. That position tends to pay $57,220 to $194,130 annually.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Graphic Design Degree?
Traditional, on-campus bachelors degree programs in graphic design generally take 4 years of full-time study to complete.
Online programs tend to offer more accelerated options, often with classes lasting 6 weeks to 8 weeks. If you want to get through school more quickly, you may want to select an online program that offers back-to-back classes throughout the year. Plus, a number of colleges offer an online associates degree in graphic design that many students are able to complete in about two years.
Transfer credits may shorten your time in school as well. At some online colleges, earning credit for professional experience is another possible time-saver.
Is a Bachelors in Graphic Design Degree Worth It?
Yes, a bachelors in graphic design degree is worth it for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for graphic designers are growing at a 3% rate over the next ten years. Since these positions aren’t increasing at a high rate, job searches could be quite competitive. It’s possible that holding an industry-specific degree could provide an advantage.
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Plus, a graphic design degree could be useful in fields that are experiencing much faster job growth. For example, over the next ten years, a 13% increase in jobs is expected in the sector of web development and digital interface design (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Graphic Design Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Academy of Art University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design that can be earned online. Coursework includes Introduction to Design Thinking, Composition for the Artist, History of Graphic Design, Web Design I and II, Branding Principles, and more. Students in the program are also given the opportunity to build professional portfolios.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Arizona State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Design in Graphic Design. The program consists of 26 classes that are each 7.5 weeks long. Courses include Designing Life, Graphic Design History I and II, Letterform, Drawing and Design, Principles for Graphic Design I and II, and more.
ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bellevue University’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program emphasizes creativity and hands-on skills. Students are given opportunities to build portfolios and develop expert skills in using the Adobe creative software suite.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Berkeley College offers a BFA in Graphic Design. The program is available entirely online, but online students may take some classes on campus if they choose. Class sizes are small to help provide individualized instruction. Applicants do not need a portfolio or any previous experience to apply.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
California Baptist University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media. Students in the program are given opportunities to build portfolios and learn to use professional tools and software. The program provides a hands-on approach to learning and includes internship opportunities. Coursework includes Basic Drawing, Fundamental Typography, History of Graphic Design, and more.
California Baptist University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Kentucky Wesleyan College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. The degree can be earned 100% online. Coursework includes Art Survey, Beginning Drawing, Digital Photographic Techniques, Digital Painting, and numerous elective choices.
Students are also given opportunities to participate in internships and create professional portfolios. The program is designed to give online students the same quality of instruction as those on campus.
Kentucky Wesleyan College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University has a 100% online program for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Classes are each 8 weeks long, and students take an average of 3.5 years to finish the full program. The program is designed to give online students opportunities to interact with classmates, but classes have no set login times so students can study entirely on their own schedules.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lindenwood University offers a BFA in Art and Design with an emphasis in Graphic Design. The program includes both art theory and hands-on studio courses. Students in the program are given opportunities to build digital and traditional portfolios. Lindenwood’s studios provide students with access to state-of-the-art equipment. Students are also given chances to connect with industry professionals through internships.
Lindenwood is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Midway University offers a Bachelor’s in Marketing Communications – Graphic Design. Courses include Digital Animation, Storytelling, Brand Management, Social Media Management, and more. Online classes are each 8 weeks long. On-campus classes follow a traditional semester calendar. The average class size is just fifteen students.
Midway University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Millersville University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive and Graphic Design. New cohorts start each fall and spring. Most of Millersville’s online courses are asynchronous, meaning there are no set meeting times. Each class is 14 weeks long. The program is designed to develop students’ artistic and technological skills.
Millersville University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Rasmussen University offers an online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design program. Students in the program are given opportunities to build portfolios and earn professional certification in the use of Adobe software. Coursework includes Collateral Design, Design Thinking, Interactive Publishing, and more. Courses are taught by industry experts, and the curriculum teaches up-to-date skills and emerging trends.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers an online program for a BFA in Graphic Design. The curriculum covers typography, UX and UI design, visual storytelling, design software, and communication. Online classes have an average of fourteen students. The program’s faculty members have real-world experience as practicing graphic designers.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Savannah College of Art and Design offers both a BA and a BFA in Graphic Design. Classes for both degree programs are available online and at two different campus locations. Both programs emphasize technological skill and entrepreneurship in addition to artistry. Students are also given internship opportunities and numerous elective options.
The Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts with concentrations in Web Design and 3D Modeling and Animation. Students in the program are given opportunities to learn from instructors with real-world experience and master skills with Adobe Creative Suite and other professional software.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Upper Iowa University offers a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design that can be earned online and at multiple campus locations. Students are given opportunities to develop portfolios of original work and learn from faculty with real-world experience. Students can begin major coursework as freshmen. Classes are 8 weeks long, and most students take two at a time.
Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelor in Graphic Design Degree Online
Choosing a graphic design major in college could help you develop skill sets in design and visual media. Graphic designers often work in publishing, advertising, television production, website design, and other related fields.
Credible degrees for graphic design are even available online. As an online student, you can expect to practice your artistic skills, build a portfolio, learn about design history, and work with digital drawing programs.
To learn more about getting your graphic design degree online, you can explore online program options from accredited colleges and universities.