List of Online Graphic Design Schools

Graphic designers are responsible for conveying messages through digital communication. They create graphic content for brochures, magazines, newspapers, packages, practically anything that can be printed or viewed on-screen. If you enjoy working on computers and have a good eye for color, animation, and Web design, pursuing a degree in graphic design might be an appropriate choice. You’ll learn the necessary skills and receive the right training to work in this creative and challenging industry. What’s more, you’ll learn cutting-edge digital imaging techniques that put you at the top of your field. Not only are graphic design classes available online, but in some cases you can earn your entire degree without any campus time required! Below are some online programs from accredited universities.

Full Sail University — Full Sail University offers several web and graphic design degrees including: a BS in Web Design degree teaching students concept, code, and how-to publish your own standards-based content for a variety of formats; a BS in Graphic Design teaches students to work within specific creative demands while producing high-end design work in a variety of different formats; an MFA in Media Design a curriculum that explores the tactical and collaborative planning behind design.

Art Institute — An AAS in Graphic Design from the Art Institute Online provides instruction on the skills and techniques of computer graphics, electronic imaging and production using scanners, digital cameras and computer-based hardware and graphic software essential to begin a career in the design field. The Art Institute also offers a BFA in Graphic Design for those students who want to enter the fast-evolving field of Multimedia and Web Design, and preps graduates for careers involving the Internet with a focus on marketing and design.

Click here to learn about more graphic design colleges.

A Graphic Design Degree Defined

A graphic design degree prepares students to work in a visual medium conveying ideas or branding through images. Graphic designers must be on the cusp on of the latest graphic computer programs and techniques to deliver the best possible results to a client. Graphic designers are usually artistic, while understanding business and the graphic trends needed to promote and sell products or brands. It is about visual communication with the client and target audience.

Types of Graphic Design Degrees

There are various types of graphic design degrees, including an associate’s degree, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Arts, and a Master’s of Fine Arts or Arts. The master’s degree is the highest level of education for a graphic designer. There are many traditional and online schools that offer all levels of graphic design degrees; if you plan on obtaining a higher degree after receiving your associate’s or bachelor’s, it’s important to note that all programs must be accredited in order to be accepted by potential graphic design programs. Explore Graphic Design degrees and other related subjects more with the pages below:

What is the Coursework Like for a Graphic Design Degree?

Classes for this degree focus on principles of art, studio art, using a computer in design, and web design. The latter are two major parts of obtaining any level of graphic design degree. All graphic design is done via computer programs that help designers render images and designs to show a client variations of one idea. Mac computers are the norm for graphic designer students and graphic design firms; some classes may even require you to own a Mac computer in order to participate.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Graphic Designer?

In the past, many graphic designers were hired based on their portfolios; it is now common, and often expected, for an aspiring graphic designer to have a degree. Most have bachelor’s degrees, although there are entry-level positions that accept candidates with an associate’s degree. Hiring a graphic designer also places heavy emphasis on a designer’s portfolio. This is completed throughout a degree program and can show school projects, as well as paid graphic design work.

In many cases a graphic designer may have to work on one or two additional images to display in a portfolio to give the client a solid idea of the designer’s capabilities. It is common for a graphic designer to have a website and show their work through this medium.

Do I Have to Draw to be a Graphic Designer?

While the majority of design work is done on computers, students still create mockups and rough drafts of designs by hand. Graphic design students also have to take drawing or general art classes that may require some drawing. While it is not necessary to be Picasso with your sketches, a student should understand the fundamentals of drawing, shapes, and proportion, all which contribute to your eye as a graphic artist.

What Other Skills Do I Need?

The emphasis for graphic design right now involves photography, animation, and videography. More clients want a combination of these things in ad campaigns, and mixing mediums is important for capturing the audience’s attention. It is a combination of branding and graphics, so students should understand the role of creativity within a client’s needs.

Learning to use the most popular computer graphics programs such as:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Quark
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign

These programs will be explored while studying for any graphic design degree, but a student should experiment on their own in order to become more comfortable with the programs for working on projects and landing a job. Vast knowledge of these programs will show potential employers you understand how to work with various clients in the program that best suits that project.

What About Web Design?

Many graphic designers go on to become web designers. This is a major part of the graphic design industry. Brands have graphic designers on staff and there are also graphic design firms that create and manage websites for brands and companies. Web design is an essential part of any graphic designer’s portfolio. While you may not stay working as a web designer for your entire career, there’s a good chance that you’ll work in this position at some point.

Web designers focus on graphics and visuals on a site, not on the coding and programming portion. Web designers work closely with programmers to achieve the finished product delivered to a client. Web design firms employ both graphic designers and computer programmers to create sites.

Are There Online Graphic Design Programs?

There are many online graphic design programs for students to choose from. It is one of the first degrees to be accepted by the mainstream work industry because there was suddenly an abundant need for graphic designers due to the rise of the Internet and e-commerce. Many graphic designers were able to learn as they went along and did not have formal degrees in this area. Now it is very competitive to work as a graphic designer, which requires employees to have a degree.

Graphic designers are able to obtain an online degree through accredited schools and programs. Online degrees are accepted in the graphics community since it is a very web-savvy group that knows work can be effectively conducted online. The primary concern with online degrees is accreditation. Though there are many online graphics programs, you should only research the ones that have proper accreditation through a regional accreditation organization. These are the same groups that accredit traditional schools and guarantees your online degree is seen in the same light as one obtained through conventional means.

How Do I Find an Accredited Online Graphic Design Program?

Start your search online and explore graphics programs. You will see that many programs boast their accreditation source on the site’s main page. This shows that the program is serious about the quality of education they’re providing students. Others will have an area to set up a meeting with an academic advisor, either online, over the phone, or in person. In this meeting, you should have many questions to ask the advisor including what is the accreditation source for that program (if it isn’t listed on the site), how long instructors have been involved with this graphics program, and what resources the school has in terms of networking and job placement.

How Do Online Graphic Design Classes Work?

Online graphic design degrees can be solely obtained online. A syllabus is issued at the beginning of each course, which designates significant dates and an outline of objectives for the course. Work is conducted on your own time. You may converse with fellow students on a message board intended for that class and discussions revolving around the latest material. You can also communicate with your professor either online or over the phone. For professors who also teach at a traditional school, you may also have access to office hours for in-person meetings with the instructor.

Graphic design classes require focusing on many projects at once and paying attention to every detail. Online courses are just as difficult as traditional graphics classes, and students should be prepared to devote the appropriate amount of time and effort to an online degree. Although you are not physically attending classes, the focus should be just the same and you should manage your time wisely. Graphic design degrees can be obtained on a part time or full time basis.

Is the Graphic Design Industry on the Rise?

Employment of graphic designers is expected to increase by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as “fast as the average for all occupations.”

Companies are looking for an interactive experience for consumers. While this area is set to experience exceptional growth, it will most likely be evened out by the reduced numbers of graphic designers needed for print work. Newspapers, magazines, and print advertising are on the decline, leading to stagnant hiring in these areas. Because of this, it’s essential graphic designers are well acquainted with the latest computer programs, techniques, and trends for reaching an audience.

Search for a degree

Complete this short form and we'll match you with degree programs tailored to your interests.