25 Best Online Web Design Degree Programs [2021 Guide]

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Here you can explore online web design degree programs for 2021. We’ll compare online bachelor’s in web design programs, careers, salaries, and job growth.

web designer working in his office

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In an economy dominated by the internet and online sales, taking an online web design degree program may lead to some lucrative career options. There are online options for web design degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and graduate levels, with the most common jobs being held by people with bachelor’s degrees.

Online Web Design Degrees

There are two main areas in which you may focus your attention with a web design degree:  web design and web development. Although the two job titles are often used interchangeably, there are actually quite a few differences between the two fields.

You can select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Although there may be some crossover between web design and web development careers, there are some important distinctions to consider.

Web Design

web designers working together on a mobile app

There’s typically a much more creative element to web design than there is to web development. Web designers are expected to be comfortable with programming, programming languages, and coding.

They still have some amount of responsibility for building/coding websites, but their key responsibilities lie in ensuring the sites look pleasing, memorable, and original.

Everything visible on the site, from the colors and fonts used to the images and overall layout, is a web designer’s territory. For this reason, web design often appeals to those who are more imaginative than analytical. If you’re an artist or enjoy visual or graphic design, you may do well as a web designer.

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Web designers also work to make sure websites make sense visually. They ensure each tab or link is where it should be, doesn’t lead to broken content, and navigates the viewer to pertinent information. For example, this might mean moving information about the company to an “About Us” page as opposed to leaving it somewhere in the middle of the “Shop Our Products” page.

Web Development

web developers working together in the office

While there’s still some need for creativity when pursuing an online web development degree, it’s typically a much more technical and systematic profession. The majority of programming, coding, and database building is completed by web developers.

Developers are far less concerned with how a site looks. Instead, their main focus is on how well it operates.

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Web developers need to be efficient in numerous programming languages. The most popular of these are currently HTML, Java, JavaScript, C++, and Python. They use these languages and others to build the core features of clients’ websites.

They also monitor sites’ speed, capacity, and performance. They may also design some of the visual aspects of a site, but that isn’t their main task.

Web Design Curriculum & Courses

web designers planning together on a white board

The courses you’ll take in a web design program will likely focus on programming, design, and other computer science topics.

These ten courses are ones you’ll likely be required to take as part of a web design degree program.

  • Interactive Web Design I & II: These courses provide HTML and CSS training. They can also help you learn how to take your visual and graphic art and turn it into interactive pieces for websites.
  • Survey of Programming Languages: This class covers a wide variety of popular programming languages used in web design and development.
  • JavaScript: Because JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages used, most web design programs will require you to take a dedicated JavaScript course that dives in-depth into the language and how to use it.
  • Introduction to Information Technology (IT): This course is an introduction to the IT field. It commonly covers topics such as information security, networking, and programming.
  • Full-Stack Development: This course covers both sides of web development—front-end and back-end. It covers hows to develop the core aspects of websites and design the visual aspects as well. If you haven’t already taken front-end and back-end courses at the associate level, you’ll likely be required to take each of those as well.
  • Business for Web Professionals: This class can help you learn about the business world, specifically as it relates to STEM professionals. Common topics covered include proposal management, accessibility, user experience, business skills (finance, management, HR, etc.), and communications.
  • Introduction to Scripting: This class covers scripting languages and how to build simple scripts and scripted lists.
  • Introduction to Software Development: Because software development and web development/design use so many of the same basic tools and skills, it’s not unusual to have a required software development class as part of your web design curriculum.
  • Basic Photoshop: Photoshop is a nearly indispensable photo editing tool that anyone working in digital media must be able to use. This class teaches you how to use it.
  • Business of Freelancing: Although careers in web design are booming, many people choose to work as independent, freelancing contractors. This class gives an overview of the business side of freelance work, including self-employment tax law, how to submit a competitive bid, and how to manage client relations.

Other topics you may be required to study include graphic and multimedia design, photography, principles of color theory, and typography. You’ll likely be required to take a few core classes not directly related to your major as well, especially if you’re just starting a program in web design or recently graduated from a web development associate’s degree online or campus program.

Web Design Careers & Salaries

Web Design Careers & Salaries

There are numerous potential careers for you to pursue if you earn your degree in web design or development. Entry-level positions typically require a mere certificate or associate’s degree in the field, and these positions usually pay decent money.

If you continue on with your education and earn your bachelor’s or a graduate-level degree, you may have many more career opportunities that pay even more.

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The most popular careers are in the web design and web development fields, but those aren’t your only options. You may also work in other fields related to computer science, such as software development, information technology (IT), computer programming, graphic design, digital publications, and online advertising.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the careers that those with web development or design degrees can pursue:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $141,490
Art Directors $97,270
Database Administrators and Architects $98,860
Computer Systems Analysts $93,730
Computer Programmers $89,190
Special Effects Artists and Animators $77,700
Web Developers and Digital Designers $77,200
Graphic Designers $53,380
Desktop Publishers $47,560

These are some jobs that could potentially be had if you earn your bachelor’s degree in website design. Several of them may actually be had with only an associate’s degree, but having a bachelor’s degree will usually get you paid more.

web designers collaborating on designing an app

Another great thing about earning your bachelor’s degree in this field is that you may have the option of becoming your own boss.

The field of web design and development is steadily growing. There are thousands of companies out there looking to hire talented people to manage their online storefronts and websites and work in their IT departments and other computer-related departments. Those are good options for many people.

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Others, though, prefer to work as independent, freelance contractors. This may also be an option for you if you choose to work in the web design field. If you don’t want to commit yourself to one company, you might hire yourself out to several different companies and build and manage their websites.

You may set your own hours, charge your own rates, and work for yourself. This is, in fact, one of the biggest draws to the tech field for many people.

Admissions Requirements for an Online Web Design Degree

web design degree student studying online at home

When you begin the enrollment process for any new college or university, whether it’s online or on-campus, there are always certain steps you have to take before the school will even consider accepting you. These steps are known as “admissions requirements.”

The admissions requirements for each college may vary slightly, with some colleges wanting very little information from you and others wanting comprehensive information about you, your goals, your academic achievements, and more. There are a few requirements, though, that you can safely assume most colleges will ask you to submit to them.

  • Completed application: Typically the first step in applying for any college is to fill out an application. These can almost always be found on the college’s website under the admissions tab and usually ask for basic information like your name, contact information, previous schools you’ve attended, emergency contacts, etc.
  • Essay: Many colleges will require you to write an essay in conjunction with your initial application. Some schools may ask you a specific question or give you a writing prompt on which to base your essay. Others may simply ask you to write about yourself. Essays are usually submitted as part of the application packet.
  • GPA: Many schools and programs require a specific GPA to be eligible. Even if a school doesn’t have a certain GPA requirement for acceptance, they’ll likely still want to know what your GPA is. This is also usually a requirement to be considered for scholarships.
  • Official transcripts: Most, if not all, colleges will want to know about any previous education experience you’ve had and require you to submit official transcripts from your high school and any previous colleges you’ve attended. This helps them determine whether or not you have transfer credits, what level of courses you should be ready to take, and whether or not you’ve met any prerequisites they require.
  • Exam scores: Like the GPA requirement, having certain exam scores is only required for some schools, but almost all schools still want to know what your scores were. This is also another frequent requirement for scholarship consideration.
  • Letters of recommendation: At the bachelor’s level, many schools don’t require letters of recommendation, but a few do. Schools typically want recommendations from people who know you through a professional or educational relationship and can attest to your work ethic and the likelihood of success at the college.
  • Application fee or fee waiver: Some colleges may require you to submit a fee with your application. This proves you’re serious about attending the college because most students won’t pay money to apply for a college they’re not seriously interested in attending. If this presents a genuine financial obstacle or hardship for you, though, you can likely request that your fee be waived. The admissions department may require you to submit some type of financial documentation showing you have a financial need, but they usually will waive the fee if you legitimately need them to do so.

Some colleges may ask for all of these admissions requirements before considering your application for enrollment. Others may ask for only a few. You can typically check out the admissions tab on your college’s website to find out the exact admissions requirements for your prospective college.

Many schools may even provide you with an admissions requirement checklist so you can easily keep track of everything to make sure you’ve done it all.

Accreditation

Online Web Degree Accreditation

When considering enrollment at a new college, it’s important to assess whether or not the college has accreditation and what kind of accreditation it has. The primary type you want to look for is regional accreditation.

You can usually find this information on a college’s website. Almost all colleges list their accreditation status there where it’s easy to find.

If you can’t locate it on the website, you can check the accreditation status of any US-based college or university by using the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

If the college you’re considering has regional accreditation from one of the seven regional accreditation agencies, you can feel more confident that your time and money will be well-spent. Regional accreditation means the college has met the rigorous standards set down by the accrediting organization.

Degrees from regionally accredited schools are more recognized by employers, and the credits from them are more easily transferred to other colleges and universities in the US.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Financial aid for web design degree students

When it comes to paying for your web design program, you typically don’t have to pay for it straight out of your pocket. There are many financial aid options you can apply for. Most people think of student loans when they think of financial aid, and that is one option. You can apply for student loans just about anywhere that provides people with loans.

Typically, the first place you should apply for loans, though, is through the US Department of Education by filling out the FAFSA. These federal loans generally have decent interest rates, and the subsidized ones don’t start accruing interest until you’ve completed or withdrawn from college, which can save you money.

If, after filling out your FAFSA, your income proves that you have a large enough financial need, you could also be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. Unlike a loan, this money doesn’t have to be repaid unless it is misused.

web design degree student studying online

Additionally, it is beneficial to apply for as many scholarships as you’re able. You never know which ones you’ll be selected to receive. Merit-based scholarships can typically be found on a college’s website under the financial aid tab. These are scholarships are often based solely on your GPA and standardized test scores and are usually awarded automatically if you’ve scored high enough.

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Other scholarships can be found on dedicated scholarship websites, through many employers, through local or community organizations, and even by doing a simple Google search. Like the Pell Grant, scholarships usually never have to be repaid, so the more of those you get, the better off you’ll be.

Web Design Career Paths

Web developers working together in the office

A bachelor’s degree in web design can potentially be a starting point for you to move into several different career paths within the field of computer science. Not all of these paths are exclusive to web design or development either, although those are two of the paths with typically the easiest transition.

  • Web Design and Development: The things learned in a bachelor’s program for web design can help you transition into a web design and/or development career field after graduation. It can help you become efficient in programming languages, use both HTML and CSS fluently, and learn a good deal about visual arts and graphic design.
  • Project Management: Earning a degree in web design can help prepare you for a career in project management because web design requires the typical steps needed in most project cycles. In web design, you start by meeting with your clients to see exactly what they’re looking for out of their websites. You then develop the website for them, test and troubleshoot it, and maintain it for maximum performance after it’s done. These are the steps need for project management as well, though not necessarily specific to web design.
  • Cyber Security: Part of learning to design and maintain a website is learning how to keep it safe from hackers and other malicious attacks. Many of the skills learned in web design programs needed for a career in cyber security as well.
  • Computer Programming: Many of the coding, programming, scripting, and programming language skills learned in web design and development are skills that computer programmers need to know for their jobs also. Instead of building websites, computer programmers use these skills to build computer programs and operating systems.
  • Technical Communication: Technical communication is mostly just explaining all the things web developers do in their jobs to non-STEM professionals. Often the hardest part of this career field is learning all of the technical jargon, techniques, skills, and knowledge. A web design program can help you learn these things and make it easier to explain them to others.

Nearly all the skills you’d need to do the above-listed jobs are covered in typical web design degree programs, which can potentially make moving into these career fields a fairly simple process.

There may be a few extra courses or workshops you’d want to take to stay at the top of your field, but for the most part, you could pursue these careers by the time you graduate with your bachelor’s degree.

Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Web Design

web design student studying at home

Before enrolling in a new college, there are a few things you may want to compare between prospective schools to find the best fit for you.

  • Cost: Cost is a major factor when choosing the best online program for yourself. It is important to make sure the tuition, books, and additional fees are all within your budget for college.
  • Degree program length: It is important to consider how long you want to spend in college earning your degree and compare this goal to how long the web design program at your prospective school will take. You can also check to see if the school offers additional summer courses or accelerated programs that might let you finish more quickly.
  • Size of classes: You may want to research how many students are usually enrolled in your particular program. If the typical class size is large, is that something you’re okay with, or would you prefer to have smaller classes so you get more one-on-one time with the teacher? Depending on your learning style, this could be an important factor to consider.
  • College credit transfer policies: Checking to see if your new school will honor any previous college credits you’ve earned can save you money and time.
  • Campus requirements: You may think that an online program wouldn’t have campus requirements, but that’s not always the case. If your program isn’t 100%, it is important to find out how often you have to visit the campus and whether the requirement will fit into your schedule.

There is no such thing as a perfect online program, but take your time to research online programs can help you find the one that best fits your needs.

web design degree students studying together in a cafe

What Degree Is Best for Web Design?

Unless you want to spend quite a bit of additional time and money on a graduate-level degree, many believe the best degree you can get for web design is a Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Development. The bachelor’s level degree is often the most cost- and time-efficient for many and may open up many more careers for you than an associate’s degree.

That said, the best degree for you will the one that fits your interests, budget, schedule, career goals, and other factors that are important to you.

How Long Is School for Web Design?

There are many different online programs out there with different timeframes and schedules. On average, when starting from scratch, it takes about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in web design, but there are options out there that can speed this process up for you.

If you enroll in accelerated programs, you can potentially finish much faster. Additionally, if you take a full course load each summer on top of your normal fall and spring semesters, you can potentially finish faster.

Do You Need a Degree for Web Design?

While some people who are self-taught or have certificates from “boot camp” style programs can sometimes find jobs in the web design field, it often isn’t the easiest way to do it. The web design field is hugely competitive right now, and companies and employers want the best.

Having a degree listed on your resume can help set you apart from other applicants.

Is Web Designer a Good Career?

web designer working on the design of a website

Nearly anything in the fields of technology or computer science is a potentially good career choice right now. Web design is an especially in-demand field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for web developers has a 13% expected growth rate over the next decade, which is quite a bit faster than the growth rate for almost any other career.

What Are the Best Online Web Design Certificate Programs?

There is no single “best” online web design certificate program, but you can research to find the one that is best for you. Finding the program that fits into your budget and desired graduation time frame, covers all the topics you want and need to study, and fits into your busy schedule is a great start.

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Once you’ve found a program that meets all of your desires, interests, and needs, you’ll have found an online web development certificate program that works well for you.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Web Development?

In addition to becoming a web designer or web developer, there are a lot of other things you may be able to do with a degree in web development.

You may also work in the fields of software development, software engineering, information technology (IT), computer programming, graphic design, multimedia design, or technical communication. It’s a pretty diverse degree.

What Should I Major in to Become a Web Developer?

web developers working in the office

If you want to become a web developer, your best bet may be to major in web development and design. A degree program in web development and design can help you develop all the skills and tools you need because it’s specific to the field.

If you can’t find a web development and design program that suits you, though, you may also major in computer science, computer programming, or software development and likely still get most of the skills you need to become a web developer.

What Courses Will I Take for an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Web Design and Development?

The courses you’ll take in a web design and development program will probably mostly center around programming, programming languages, coding, scripting, full-stack development, and design.

You may also take some courses in information technology, cyber security, software development, and other similar topics.

Should I Get a Web Design Bachelor Degree Online?

Web designing is an incredibly popular profession right now. There are many available jobs, and the projected growth for the field is quite high for the next eight years or so. If you have any interest in web design at all, then a bachelor’s degree in the field may lead to some very lucrative career options for you.

Earning the degree online may also allow you to work from your own home on your own schedule, which is often more convenient than on-campus programs.

Why Should I Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Web Design Degree?

web designers collaborating on a project

If you’re interested in the field of web design, a bachelor’s degree in web design can help you develop the most comprehensive knowledge and skillset on the subject. Earning your bachelor’s degree may also open up many more options for careers than a certificate or an associate degree would.

Earning the degree online is often much more convenient than having to make time in your schedule to drive to on-campus courses two or three times a week. It also usually allows you more flexibility in when and how you complete your work for the program.

As long as your online program is regionally accredited, you’ll likely have the same access to financial aid and scholarship resources as you would for an on-campus school. For many, there’s really no reason not to choose an online bachelor’s program.

Are There Any Affordable Online Web Design Degrees?

There are several affordable online web design degree programs. While no college degree is going to be free, there are options that start out at just a little over $100 per credit hour.

Factoring in that it typically takes about 60 credit hours to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field, tuition for the whole program could be as low as $6,000. Considering some bachelor’s degrees cost as much as $40,000 to earn, $6,000 is an incredible value. While not all online programs are inexpensive, there are many affordable options out there.

Universities Offering Online Web Design Bachelor’s Degree Programs

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

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

  • BS in Graphic Information Technology

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Baker College

Baker College

  • BS in Information Systems – Web Development

Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University

  • BS in Web Development

Bellevue University is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University Idaho

  • Bachelor’s in Web Development

BYU is accredited as a Higher Educational Institution by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Champlain College

Champlain College

  • Bachelor’s in Web Design and Development

Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

  • BS in Information Technology

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Davenport University

Davenport University

  • BS in Computer Information Systems – Web and Mobile Development

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DeVry University

DeVry University

  • Bachelor’s in Web Development and Administration

DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

  • BS in Computer and Information Science – Software Development – Web Design and Development

ECPI University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University

  • BA in Information Networking and Telecommunications – Web and Mobile Application Development
  • BS in Information Networking and Telecommunications – Web and Mobile Application Development

FHSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Franklin University

Franklin University

  • BS in Web Development

Franklin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Hodges University

Hodges University

  • Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies – Digital Design and Graphics

Hodges University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

  • BA in Digital Design – Web Design

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Lewis-Clark State College

Lewis-Clark State College

  • BAS in Web Design and Development

Lewis-Clark State College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Liberty University

Liberty University

  • Bachelor’s in Web and Mobile Programming

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University

  • BFA in Arts and Design – Web and User Experience

Lindenwood University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Maryville University

Maryville University

  • Bachelor’s in Digital Media

Maryville University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

  • BS in Computer Information Systems – Web Development

Northwestern State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College

  • Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

South College

South College

  • BS in Information Technology – Web Design and Development

South College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southeastern University

Southeastern University

  • BS in Digital Media and Design

Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

  • BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Maine—Augusta

University of Maine at Augusta

  • Bachelor in Computer Information Systems

The University of Maine at Augusta is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • BS in Digital Media and Web Technology

UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Walden University

Walden University

  • BS in Information Technology – Web and Mobile Applications Development

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Web Design Degree Online

web designer working at home

If you’re looking for a career that’s on the rise and becoming more in-demand all the time, web design fits the bill. The need for skilled web designers and developers is probably not getting any smaller anytime soon. If you have any interest at all in web design, now may be the perfect time to find a program that’s right for you.

There are many financial aid options available to apply for to help you if money is a factor. There are also numerous online programs that allow students to work from home whenever their schedules allow. There’s likely never been a more convenient time to earn a college degree.

Surprisingly, there are online web design programs that start at as little as $100 per credit hour, which is a steal when it comes to tuition costs.

If you think you could be happy and successful in the field of web design and development, you don’t have to wait. You can do some research, find a program that’s right for you, fill out your FAFSA, and apply for some scholarships starting today. You might be in an online web design program as early as this summer and on your way to a promising career.

Ready to start your journey?
Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.