Do you hope to build a brighter future by pursuing an online graphic design degree? Discover how to improve your design skills and become a professional graphic designer by obtaining an accredited online degree.
To help you sift through all of the possible options for your career path, we’ve gathered the details you’ll need to make the right choice for you.
In addition to advancing your talent for design, an online graphic design degree can prove to your future employer that you have a strong combination of technical and aesthetic skills that set you apart from your competition.
Best Online Graphic Design Degrees
A wide array of accredited universities offer an online graphic design degree. You can study graphic design or choose to specialize in animation, multimedia design, or web design.
Click the degree that interests you the most to explore that section of the guide:
While each of these degrees combines technology with visual arts, the specific technologies and techniques taught in each program are distinct.
An online degree in graphic design can provide a broad range of design experiences to help you uncover your own personal style. You can learn a bit of everything that the graphic design field embodies, including software, design history, illustration, animation, and communication.
Along with graphic design theory, most programs aim to equip you with the skills and ability to effectively market yourself to employers. As such, you will most likely be required to take general education classes that lean heavily on creative communication and media strategies.
As you focus your studies, you will have a colorful variety of coursework to choose from, such as drawing, digital media, advertising, product packaging design, typography, copywriting, and UX (user experience).
Depending on the specific expertise you garner from your online graphic design degree, your career options range from graphic designer, photo editor, UX designer, and multimedia artist to creative director, product developer, animator, and more.
Are you fascinated by computer animations or visual effects? An online degree in animation can teach you how to bring your designs to life in 2D or 3D landscapes.
Among other skills, you can learn elements of storyboarding, sketching, stop motion, modeling, and character animation. In most programs, you’ll be expected to complete a final project or thesis and develop a comprehensive portfolio.
By obtaining a degree in animation, you can open yourself up to pursue a multitude of career options, such as art director, flash animator, video games designer, and visual development artist. You can choose to work for television, film, video games, or even for yourself as a freelancer.
Multimedia design involves the creation of integrated and interactive media. The central focus of this field of study is to combine two or more types of media for various applications on the web, in games, movies, digital video, and more.
This degree program is similar to the graphic design degree in that you should be exposed to color theory, concept development, and digital illustration, but you should also build skills in digital video production, motion graphics design, and HTML.
Typical multimedia design coursework involves crafting interactive content with special effects and combining graphics, audio, and video in creative ways.
Becoming a Multimedia Artist and Animator can help you pursue careers that allow you to produce illustrations, movies, and video games. You may have the option of working for TV, film, websites, or other audio and video productions.
Web design requires a strong understanding of both aesthetics and programming. In this field, web designers create visually-appealing electronic and digital layouts that are user-friendly and optimized for web browsers.
In this degree program, you will likely study digital arts and design, multimedia production, web publishing, web-based interactivity, usability testing, and programming languages like HTML and CSS.
Potential career paths include becoming a website designer, media integration specialist, web publications specialist, or a web producer.
Graphic Design Careers & Salaries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a three percent growth in graphic designer job opportunities between 2018 to 2028 and predicts that prospects will continue to “face strong competition for available positions.”
As of 2019, the median annual wage for a graphic designer was $52,110 per year with the highest 10 percent earning more than $89,210 per year. With this in mind, you are far more likely to stand out and make more money with a graphic design degree.
There are many high-paying careers that you can choose from as a professional graphic designer. An online graphic design degree can help you get recognized by top positions in the industry and gain credibility on your resume.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the graphic design field include:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||$75,270|
|Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers||$73,760|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||$54,600|
|Craft and Fine Artists||$48,760|
Graphic Design Curriculum & Courses
No matter which graphic design degree you choose to pursue, the general curriculum will expose you to introductory graphic design principles, theories, and basic skills.
As for higher level classes, the university you join will tailor their curricula to meet the requirements of your specialization. For this reason, you’ll want to view the details of each program you’re considering.
Some of the key courses you’ll be required to take may include the following:
- Public Speaking and Presentation Skills: In this class, you can learn to combine logic and communication to articulate your ideas in front of others. You can gain vital skills in effectively preparing and delivering presentations to employers or potential clients.
- Language and Practice of Media Arts: This course can teach you the common language of design creation and analysis. You may cover elements of production design, technology, and methods that will build your visual media literacy.
- Principles for Graphic Design I and II: In these core classes, you can learn to recognize and capitalize on fundamental principles of design such as alignment, contrast, repetition, balance, color, and more.
- Graphic Design History: This class explores the origin and evolution of graphic design, equipping you with a holistic understanding of how graphic design has developed over time and how it may change in the future.
- Graphics and Layout in Print Media: A combination of lecture and hands-on computer work, this course cab train you to use primary visual software tools to build skills in shape grouping, letterform shape creation, figure manipulation, and other formal elements of graphic design.
- Desktop Publishing: In this course, you can learn the basics of the desktop publishing field, which involves using page layout software to design digital or printed content such as books, newsletters, business cards, advertisements.
- Basic Design and Color Theory: In this course you can discover the science of color theory and its application in design. You will likely be expected to deliver assignments that align with industry standards.
- Introduction to Digital Imaging: This class can empower you to produce, manipulate, and enhance digital images. You can also learn the fundamentals of processing, compression, storage, printing, and display of such images.
- Typography: This foundation course can introduce you to the basics of typography and letterforms. Based on industry standards, it can teach you to design your own typefaces, layouts, and grids.
- Graphic Design Portfolio: In this course, you can gather all of your graphic design projects into a comprehensive portfolio. You will also likely learn attitudes, behaviors, and other skills to help you succeed in the industry.
As you prepare your application, you’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary admissions requirements. Typically, a graphic designer degree isn’t likely to have a complex list of requirements. Most universities will ask for the following:
- High school transcripts: Your university of choice will want to know that you completed high school and (in some cases) that you earned the minimum GPA requirement.
- Official university transcripts: If you have credits or a degree from another university, you will need to submit these along with your application to gain transfer credits.
- GED scores: If you completed your GED, you will need to know the GED policy for your university of choice. They may ask for your official high school transcripts as well as your GED score report and diploma.
- Standardized test scores: While many universities are becoming test-optional, you may be required to complete an SAT or ACT test. This is especially relevant if you plan to apply for a scholarship or grant.
- Application fee: You will likely have to pay an application fee between $50-$100.
- Proof of English proficiency: If you’re an international student, you may be required to take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
As you explore your options in online graphic design degrees, you will need to pay close attention to accreditation. At its most basic, accreditation means that your future employers will respect your degree.
While you are gathering information about the programs that interest you, make sure you are verifying that the degree they offer is accredited by a reputable agency.
What does a “reputable agency” look like? The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides a comprehensive directory of organizations that are accredited by them, giving you a resource to double-check the validity of your program’s accreditation.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you hope to reduce the cost of your degree program, you can explore options such as student loans, state aid, grants, employer programs, and scholarships. If you apply for a student loan through FAFSA, you will have to determine whether you qualify for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
The main difference is that with subsidized loans, the Department of Education will pay the interest while you’re in school and for some time afterward. Be sure you understand the fine print if you choose to accept any of these loans as they may lead to high levels of student debt.
Other options include grants and scholarships that can come from a variety of sources, namely state, private, federal, and institutional. Discover how to “get paid to go to school” by searching for grants or scholarships related to an online graphic design degree combined with any academic or institutional affiliations you may have.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design?
By completing your online bachelor’s degree in graphic design, you will likely jumpstart your career as a junior or entry-level graphic designer. As you gain experience, you can climb the corporate ladder to higher, executive level positions.
What does an entry-level graphic designer position look like? It’s possible that you’ll join an agency producing a multitude of designs for a selection of clients or you may work for a product company as an in-house designer on the marketing team.
Potential job titles include anything from visual or digital designer to junior graphic designer or animator, and more. Higher level, executive positions that you can look forward to holding include being an art or creative director, senior graphic designer, UX designer, and marketing manager.
How Much Does an Online Bachelors in Graphic Design Cost?
Many online bachelor’s degrees in graphic design are flexible and convenient since they are designed to appeal to working professionals. But are they affordable?
In short, yes. Many online learning institutions provide low prices coupled with financial aid, scholarships, or other loan opportunities. Although tuition rates vary among universities and are continually subject to change, you can expect to pay between $320 and $754 per credit hour.
Additionally, if you are a U.S. service member, your credit hour rates may go as low as $225.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Graphic Design Degree Online
The time required to obtain an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design is dependent entirely on your schedule and availability.
If you follow a traditional, 16-week semester of courses and attend full-time, it should take you four years to complete the program. If instead you opt for an accelerated online program that follows an 8-week semester schedule, you could finish in less time. However, the accelerated program requires that you stay continuously enrolled year-round.
Are There Any Affordable Online Graphic Design Degrees?
Luckily, there are a variety of affordable online graphic design programs available for you to choose from. Some of the lowest credit hour rates are between $225 and $320 in programs that require up to 120 credit hours for you to obtain your online graphic design degree.
By finding the most affordable online graphic design degree and coupling it with financial aid programs, grants, or scholarships, you may be able to get your degree for a very reasonable price.
What is the Best Online School for Graphic Design?
In your search for the perfect online school for graphic design, you’ll want to make sure they fulfill certain requirements and meet your standards. Be sure to:
- Consider your wants and needs as well as lifestyle and career goals to find the right fit.
- Research each university to see if it’s accredited and by whom.
- Confirm that all of the classes you’ll need to take to obtain the degree are offered online.
- Check the admissions requirements and assure that you can meet them.
- Pay close attention to extra fees, such as course fees, textbooks, and lab costs.
- Focus on tuition, fees, and additional costs as you compare potential schools.
Can Graphic Designers Do Web Design?
If you’re interested in web design as well as graphic design, then you will need to follow a specific career path. Web design is a highly specialized technical field of study that has some overlap with graphic design, which is why the two are often confused.
The major difference is that web design never focuses on print and revolves more around interface design, coding, programming, and search engine optimization.
The defining similarity between web designers and graphic designers is their reliance on technology and digital software for creating valuable user experiences. However, graphic designers do not do any programming.
Is a Graphic Design Degree Worth it?
Yes, an online graphic design degree is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $52,110 and an estimated 3% job growth, a degree in graphic design can help you launch a career in this cutting-edge industry. Common graphic design careers include creative director, visual designer, senior art director, animator, and digital illustrator.
Other perks to pursuing a graphic design degree program include free design software, networking with like minded individuals and professionals, and increasing your chances of being eventually hired by a top notch designing firm.
Universities Offering Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design 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.
Academy of Art University offers students a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Courses are designed to teach students to hone their graphic design skills. Course topics focus on print, typography, motion graphics, user experience, branding, and packaging. The faculty consists of nationally recognized professionals in the design field.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
At Arizona State University, students interested in careers as art directors, graphic design artists, and other similar titles, can enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Design in Graphic Design program. It features 26 courses, each lasting about 7 weeks. Core classes include graphic design history, principles of design, and visual communication.
- BSD in Graphic Design
Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
The 127 credit hour Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program at Bellevue University teaches students how typography, layout, images, and color can influence design and shape the message consumers receive. Students are also taught to design for a wide range of audiences and to use several different technologies and types of media.
- BA in Graphic Design
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Berkeley College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program helps students combine traditional art skills with modern technology. Students should become familiar with the most innovative, up-to-date design software used by professionals.
Courses cover digital, traditional, and emerging media. Classes are small, and there are plenty of networking opportunities.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students enrolled in California Baptist University’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media program can receive a Christian-centered education in the field of graphic design, specifically web design.
Students can get lots of hands-on experience and begin building their portfolios. They can also learn about design, imaging, typography, photography, and scripting.
- BA in Graphic Design and Digital Media
California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
California Institute of Arts features a four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program to students interested in graphic, web, and multimedia design. Additionally, students can pursue interschool degrees or digital arts minors concurrently while working on their BFA. Students will also have ample opportunities to build professional portfolios.
- BFA in Graphic Design
CalArts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Champlain College offers a fully online bachelor’s in web design and development. This program is unique in that it requires students to take classes on the business side of graphic design. These include courses in e-commerce, marketing, and communication.
Students should also become knowledgeable in over 32 key programming languages, platforms, and applications before graduating.
- Bachelor’s in Web Design and Web Development
Champlain College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Franklin University’s Bachelor of Science in Interactive Media Design program is a 120 credit, “transfer friendly” program. Students earning the degree are referred to as being “dual equipped” because they’re equipped with both the technical and non-technical sides of interactive development.
Students also develop full portfolios by the program’s end.
- BS in Interactive Media Design
Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Hodges University offers degrees in graphic design at both the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. The bachelor program is designed to help artistic students become more comfortable with technology and learn to collaborate with others on projects.
Students will learn to work with programs like AutoDesk, Adobe Creative Cloud, AutoCAD, and other popular design software.
- BIS in Digital Design and Graphics
Hodges University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Students at Kentucky Wesleyan College can earn their Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design entirely online. Students take a good mixture of traditional art classes and digital design and computer-based classes.
Notable courses include digital painting, aesthetics, digital photography, art history, the history of digital design, and multiple graphic design courses.
- BA in Graphic Design
Kentucky Wesleyan College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lesley University’s Bachelor of Science in Design program focuses strictly on User Experience (UX). Enrolled students work directly with various start-ups to design actual sites for them.
This allows students the hands-on experience needed to become experts in visual language and form, design research, interface design, UX design, web development, and typography.
- BS in Design for User Experience
Lesley University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Liberty University offers a 120 credit hour Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program. Students can transfer up to 75% of the degree’s required credits, and most students finish the program in about three and a half years. Students have access to Adobe Creative Suite to practice their design skills.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Students at Maryland Institute College of Art can select from several different concentrations while working towards their bachelor’s degrees in graphic design. These include environmental graphic design, advertising, motion graphics, and UI/UX design among others.
The degree requires 120 credit hours and features courses in both modern and contemporary design.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Maryville University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media that is also NASAD accredited. There’s no application fee or standardized test score requirements, and there are numerous financial aid options available to qualified students.
The faculty consists of experienced professional designers, and most coursework consists of hands-on, interactive projects to fill students’ professional portfolios.
- Bachelor’s in Digital Media
The Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Students interested in graphic design at Midway University must enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications program and select the graphic design concentration.
This degree puts equal emphasis on graphic design and business and includes courses like communications, brand management, Photoshop, digital storytelling, social media management, and online animation.
- Bachelor’s in Marketing Communications – Graphic Design
Midway University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design helps students solve problems creatively while also teaching them about the form, content, and concepts of digital design.
Portfolio reviews are conducted in students’ junior and senior years so graduates have fully functional, professional portfolios for prospective employers.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
National University’s Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design helps graphic design students develop their own, personal vision concerning multimedia content.
Students also learn to examine and analyze current trends in media, understand, and implement the phases of media production and become familiar with the legal and ethical issues regarding media distribution.
- BA in Digital Media Design
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Students enrolled in the Pennsylvania State University – World Campus digital multimedia design bachelor’s program will have the opportunity to develop thorough, professional portfolios and design and implement their own self-directed capstone projects.
Courses include a variety of design and visual arts classes, technology and computer science classes and general education courses.
- Bachelor of Design in Digital Multimedia Design
Penn State World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Rasmussen College’s online bachelor’s in graphic design program includes 23 courses for a total of 90 credit hours. There are three concentrations from which to choose, including collateral design, interactive publishing, and design thinking. Courses are designed to help students pass certification exams like the various Adobe Certified Associate exams.
- Bachelor’s in Graphic Design
Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students at Regent University can earn their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Arts entirely online in as few as 120 credit hours. Because Regent University is a Christian university, students learn in a faith-based environment from award-winning faculty.
Courses include comparative anatomy and figure drawing, image manipulation, and digital photography.
- BFA in Graphic Arts
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program focuses on UX/UI design, written and verbal presentations, digital storytelling and typography.
Students work with real-world clients to get legitimate business experience, and there are even software design and communication elements in the curriculum.
- BFA in Graphic Design
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Savannah College of Art and Design, more commonly known as SCAD, offers numerous graphic design degrees at both the undergrad and graduate levels. SCAD’s graphic design programs put heavy emphasis on creating your own brand and signature to be more easily recognized by companies. Many of the courses feature these elements.
- BA in Graphic Design
- BFA in Graphic Design
The Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Bachelor of Science in Digital Media & Design degree from Southeastern University requires 120 credits to complete, but students can transfer up to 90 previously earned college credits. The program takes about four years to finish and features faith-based learning on how to communicate effectively using technology and compelling design.
- BS in Digital Media and Design
Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Students hoping to earn their Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts from Southern New Hampshire University can apply for free with no SAT or ACT scores.
Students can transfer up to 90 credits towards the required 120 credit hour program, and they’ll become masters of advanced design software by learning from industry professionals.
- BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
University of Florida’s Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences program is a popular choice for students hoping to become concept artists, game designers, visual effects artists, web designers, or other similar titles. Financial aid and scholarships are available for qualified students.
- BA in Digital Arts and Sciences
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Communication degree. The majority of courses focus on graphic design and multimedia communications.
Some of the core courses include drawing, digital media, motion graphics, graphic communication, and professional branding. A professional portfolio is required for graduation.
- Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication
University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, students can enroll in the online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program and select from many different concentrations, including graphic design.
The vast majority of courses focus on IT, so students should become quite adept at all the different programming languages used in digital design.
- BS in Information Technology – Graphic Design
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of West Alabama offers both a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications.
Students can get a great deal of hands-on experience in photography, web design, graphic design, media law, news writing, social media, and marketing theory. There are optional specializations in graphic design and sports communication.
- BA/BS in Integrated Marketing Communications
The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Bachelor of Science in Digital Marketing Technology degree from University of Wisconsin – Stout is designed for working professionals interested in improving their marketing and digital technology skills in order to sell products and effectively advertise online.
Courses focus on programming languages, web development and design, social media, and analytics.
- BS in Digital Marketing Technology
The University of Wisconsin-Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Upper Iowa University’s online bachelor’s in graphic design features a curriculum focused on helping students master Adobe Creative Cloud and cultivate a strong professional portfolio.
Classes are taught by full-time faculty who are professional industry designers, and there are also closely related fields of study students can choose to pursue as their minors or even dual degrees.
- Bachelor’s in Graphic Design
Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Graphic Design Degree Online
As you can see, your goal of obtaining an online degree in graphic design is not only attainable, but it may also be affordable, convenient, and worth the investment. By choosing the specialization that suits you, investigating and comparing potential schools, and uncovering your financial aid options, you are choosing to pursue a brighter future.
Your creative goals and desire to succeed can lead you forward. Set yourself up for achieving the career you’ve always wanted and start getting your graphic design degree online today.