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Online Colleges for Web Design

Often working hand in hand with web developers, software engineers and other IT professionals, web designers focus on the more creative aspects of a website because they typically have stronger backgrounds in graphic design or multimedia art than their technical counterparts. But despite the artistic nature of their work, web designers may face the pressure of tight production schedule deadlines and they may need to address very specific design requirements. Websites should be easy to navigate, contain up-to-date and thorough information, and maintain customers' attention in an interactive way.

In order to be successful, those who work in this field must possess an aptitude for creative, innovative thinking; effective communication; problem-solving; and a strong familiarity with the technical tools involved in web design. Fortunately, for those interested in web design careers, it’s become increasingly important for organizations and companies to have a significant Internet presence in terms of their marketing, communication and advertising efforts.

Best Online Colleges for Web Design

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), no fewer than 127 schools across the country offer an online associate or bachelor's degree in web design. We ran a mountain of data through our multi-point methodology to calculate which ones could be called the best online colleges for web design degrees. Check out the list below.

1

Full Sail University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$16,561
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
30
Accredited
School Type
4-year

The online bachelor's degree in web design at Full Sail University is one of the few four-year degrees offered online in the field. Many of the courses offered as a part of this program address complex topics that are uncommon in most associate degree plans:

  • Scalable data infrastructures
  • Psychology of play
  • Web application integration
  • Server-side languages
  • Technology in entertainment and media

NCES numbers suggest that Full Sail has solid systems in place for helping students succeed. The Florida-based school reported the second-highest graduation rate among the best online colleges for web design degrees.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

Location:

3300 University Blvd.
Winter Park, FL 32792-7429
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2

Stark State College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,796
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
13
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Ohio's Stark State College offers an online associate degree program in web design that focuses on the technical side of creating web content. Courses cover multiple programming languages and certain in-depth concepts in computer science.

Here's a short list of subjects covered in the Stark State College degree plan:

  • Programming logic
  • Database design
  • JavaScript and AJAX
  • Content management systems
  • Advanced Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Essentials of design and web graphics are also covered. In addition to the associate degree, Stark State offers a one-year technical certificate program for students who want to enhance their skills but aren't ready to commit to a full degree plan.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

6100 Frank Ave NW
North Canton, OH 44720
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3

Cerro Coso Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,288
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
19
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Our No. 3 school offers an online Associate of Science (AS) degree for web designers who want to balance the creative and technical aspects of the field. The study plan includes 33 credit hours of web design coursework. Here are a few of the concepts covered:

  • Digital imaging
  • Accessibility and usability
  • Web design with Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Web production management

Cerro Coso Community College is the only one of the best online schools for web design degrees to be recognized as an official training resource by the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW). Two shorter programs, a web professional certificate and a web fundamentals certificate, are also available online at CCCC.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)

Location:

3000 College Heights Blvd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555-9571
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4

Sessions College for Professional Design

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$7,800
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
10
Accredited
School Type
2-year

The No. 1 graduation rate among the best online colleges for web design degrees belongs to this Tempe, Arizona, school. The associate degree in web design offered at Sessions typically takes six semesters to complete, which can be done in two years on a full-time study plan.

The 2017 program outline includes the following design subjects:

  • Color theory
  • Typography
  • Design and composition
  • Internet marketing
  • Design business
  • History of art

Despite its heavy visual design emphasis, the program at Sessions also gives students a solid technical foundation. The curriculum also includes two semesters of HTML and CSS training, JavaScript for designers and a course in WordPress development.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

Location:

51 W 3rd St., Suite E-301,
Tempe, AZ 85281
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5

Rasmussen College - North Dakota

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$9,360
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
61
Accredited
School Type
4-year

This school, based in Fargo, North Dakota, was another frontrunner in the graduation rate category. Rasmussen College took the No. 3 spot among the best online colleges for web design for its percentage of students who successfully completed the program.

The online bachelor's degree in web design at Rasmussen typically takes 36 months of full-time study to complete. The associate program can be completed in half that time by full-time students. Both degrees are offered as specializations within Rasmussen's graphic design degree program. As such, coursework may focus more on the up-front visual elements of web design than on the technical back-end.

Both programs also include a certification in Adobe Photoshop at no additional charge. Bachelor's degree students may have the additional opportunity to earn up to two additional certifications with just the skills they learn in program courses.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

4012 19th Ave. SW
Fargo, ND 58103-7196
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6

Lewis-Clark State College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,000
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
7
Accredited
School Type
4-year

This Idaho school offers an online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree plan in web design and development that provides a good mix of technical and creative subject matter. Here's a sampling of the courses that students take on the road to graduation:

  • Image editing and illustration
  • Internet business programming
  • Multimedia web applications
  • Web authoring systems
  • Web database technologies
  • JavaScript

Lewis-Clark also had the No. 5 graduation rate among our best online colleges for web design degrees. Students interested in a hybrid degree may be able to take some of their courses at a physical location if they live near the Lewiston, Idaho, campus.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Location:

500 8th Ave.
Lewiston, ID 83501-2698
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7

Eastern Gateway Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,510
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
17
Accredited
School Type
2-year

The Web design degree at Eastern Gateway Community College is earned through an Associate of Applied Business (AAB) program in internet and interactive digital media design. The study plan requires at least 62 credits of coursework and takes a somewhat more flexible approach than many other schools on our list.

A few courses, such as interactive media programming and web languages, are listed as mandatory on the graduation plan. A total of 24 credit hours, split into eight three-credit blocks, can be filled by elective courses from the school's interactive digital media catalog. The program aims to balance theoretical concepts with practical, project-based learning.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Comission (HLC)

Location:

4000 Sunset Blvd.
Steubenville, OH 43952-3598
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8

Westmoreland County Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$7,320
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
44
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Westmoreland County Community College offers a web technology program with degree options in web publishing, web applications and web development. The web publishing option is the choice likely to be most relevant to aspiring designers, with courses covering subjects like these:

  • Interactive design
  • Web content development
  • Social media
  • Advertising and promotion
  • E-commerce technology

The program's blend of web design, computer technology and business commerce training aims to deliver a well-rounded professional education. Students must complete a total of 61 credit hours in order to earn a web publishing AAS degree from WCCC. The school has an open admission policy.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Location:

145 Pavilion Lane
Youngwood, PA 15697-1895
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9

Academy of Art University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$20,040
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
67
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Students at this school, based in San Francisco, California, have a variety of web design degrees to choose from. Those looking for a two-year program can find an Associate of Arts (AA) degree that works to blend art, design and production techniques with the latest web technologies.

The full online bachelor's degree in web design from the university's School of Web Design and New Media takes 132 semester credits to complete. Students who already have a bachelor's degree can opt instead for the school's Second Degree program, which requires just 66 credit hours of coursework.

Academy of Art University students looking to take their web design education even further can go on to an online Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in web design and new media.

Accreditation:

  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)

Location:

79 New Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94105
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10

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$16,920
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
22
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Multiple online Web design degrees can be earned at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. The school's online bachelor's degree in Web design requires 180 quarter credit hours of coursework and typically takes about 45 months of full-time study to complete.

The 91 quarter credits of the AS degree program can be completed in 24 months of full-time study, about half the time as the bachelor's. The school's internal reporting showed that 29 percent of bachelor's students and 8 percent of associate degree students finished their programs in those time frames in 2014-15.

Of all the best online schools for web design degrees, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh awarded the second-highest percentage of degrees in the field in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Location:

420 Boulevard of the Allies,
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1301
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Degree Overview : Web Design

Web design is a creative field, giving professionals the opportunity to create the look, tone and style of a web page from scratch. However, the field requires a hardy collection of technical skills, which online colleges for web design are likely to focus on in their curriculums. The section below describes courses that students might take in various web design degree programs and the skills they may want to pay the most attention to developing.

Online Web Design Courses

Web design courses can vary wildly between the different degree levels you may pursue. It's easy to understand that a doctorate program may be quite different from an associate program, but what would those differences actually entail? Below are some details on the topics that you might find being covered in various web design programs available online.

  • At the associate degree level, students focus on the broad fundamentals, ranging from design aspects such as typography and use of space, to technical aspects like object-oriented programming.
  • Bachelor's degree programs in web design, the most prolific degree type, offer students the opportunity to build more advanced design and technical skills. These courses may introduce the uses of specific design tools and visual frameworks as well as software applications, programming languages and website architecture.
  • Students may be able to complete a graduate-level certificate if they have an undergraduate degree in a related technical field. This is not as rigorous as a master's degree, but students could be able to apply the coursework to a master's degree later, if desired.
  • Master's degree programs in web design and development integrate more rigorous coursework aimed at helping students progress in their understanding of applications, design interfaces, architectures and more. Management topics, such as best practices and user-centric design, could be discussed, and a capstone project may be required.
  • At the doctoral level, students may be better able to find art and design or technical design degrees instead of doctoral programs specific to web design. Art and design degrees at this level, in particular, may allow students to pursue web design as a focus or a concentration.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Online education for web design requires skill sets that are an inherent part of the field. As students work on their online web design degrees, they may want to focus on building these skills.

  • Concentration: Web designers need to have their focus on one thing: whatever is in front of them. These professionals need to be able to hone in on the project at hand, focusing on their creative vision and the parameters set by their client, without getting distracted by the other projects they will surely be juggling.
  • Creativity: It would be hard to enter the web design field without at least some insight into how color, typography, use of space and visual elements blend together. For web designers, creativity is synthesized with the technical aspects of web design, rather than added on as an after-thought.
  • Listening and communication: There is hardly a field where listening is not important, and web design is no exception. These designers need to understand the specific desires of clients and supervisors, as well as the goals of organizations as a whole. Communication is important to relaying why some desired outcomes may not be possible or how projected end goals could be enhanced.
  • Technical understanding: Effective web designers understand the applications, platform development software -- like Drupal and JavaScript -- and architectures that are necessary to create a successful and well-designed web page.

Web Design Career Outlook

Computers are still a relatively new addition to the world, and careers in pushing them to the limits of their abilities are booming. As computers continue growing even more powerful and even more integral, the needs for workers in the following fields are likely to continue growing as well.

Multimedia Artists and Animators
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$72,200
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
15,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Interested in bringing characters and images to three-dimensional life through use of color, light, texture and storytelling? Animation is important to media: just think about the gorgeous animation of "Frozen," the CGI special effects in "The Avengers" or the lush graphics of "Overwatch." And multimedia artists and animators are the people behind it all, creating impossibly complicated animation for films, video games, commercials, music videos and more using their vision, creativity and technical skills.

In fact, technology is as crucial to the field as ideas. In addition to possessing a relevant degree, artists and animators will want to know how to use computer-aided design (CAD) applications as well as programs like Ability PhotoPaint and Microsoft Visio.

Graphic Designers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$52,290
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
65,800
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1.4
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

When it comes to advertisements, fliers, pamphlets, websites or the interfaces of programs or games, it's vital that information is being presented in a clear, understandable, engaging manner. This responsibility falls into the hands of graphic designers. Professionals in this field know how color, font, placement, and visual elements combine together to convey strong ideas, styles and brands. People interested in graphic designer careers should be creative, but also capable of envisioning and articulating perceived ideas.

It's important for a graphic designer to be up to date on the various software they can use to do their job; it's also worth noting that graphic designers often specialize in a specific type of client or product, such as creating signage for a specific business or designing the layout of credit cards.

Computer Programmers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$85,180
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
81,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

French may be the language of love and Latin the language of science, but languages like Java, Python, SQL and Peri are the languages of computer programmers. Taking the ideas of developers and engineers and putting them into a written language that can be read by a computer is a top task of a programmer, and by doing so a programmer can create nearly anything, from a simple random number generator to the miniature universe of an entire operating system.

Computer programmers work in an office setting, but since computer code can be written from nearly anywhere, hybrid work situations or telecommuting may be available. Computer programming is needed across many industries, meaning jobs could be found in finance, insurance, manufacturing, software and other areas. A bachelor's degree is usually necessary, as is an understanding of one or several programming languages.

Application Developers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$104,300
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
238,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
18.8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

From MS Word to Venmo to Pokémon GO, application developers are the masterminds behind the applications on your desktop, your phone and all the other pieces of technology in your life. Responsible for brainstorming new ideas for apps and then making those ideas a reality, application developers strive to ride the rising waves of technological ability and public demand, always considering ways to make the next Pandora or Candy Crush Saga.

People interested in application developer careers are likely to be in high demand to design mobile apps. These apps are used specifically for smart phones, on platforms such as iOS or Android. Shortcuts to websites are just one type of app in need of development; other mobile applications provide access to gaming, banking, and documents stored in the cloud.

Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

  1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15 and 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed February 13, 2017, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  2. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed February 27, 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  3. School pages, accessed February 27, 2017: Web Design & Development Bachelor's Degree, Full Sail University, https://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/web-design-and-development-bachelor; Accreditation, Full Sail University, https://www.fullsail.edu/policies-and-guidelines/accreditation; Web Design and Development, Stark State College, https://www.starkstate.edu/academics/programs/web-design-and-development/; Accreditation, Stark State College, https://www.starkstate.edu/about/accreditations/; Web Professional AS, Cerro Coso Community College, https://www.cerrocoso.edu/programs/web-professional-degree; Accreditation, Cerro Coso Community College, https://www.cerrocoso.edu/programs/web-professional-degree; Online Web Design Degree, Sessions College for Professional Design, https://www.sessions.edu/online-degrees/web-design/; Accreditation, Sessions College for Professional Design, https://www.sessions.edu/about-sessions/accreditation/; Design Degrees, Rasmussen College, http://degrees.rasmussen.edu/Design; Accreditation, Rasmussen College, http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/accreditation/; Web Design & Development, Lewis-Clark State College, http://www.lcsc.edu/business-technology/degree-programs/web-development/; College and Program Accreditation, Lewis-Clark State College, http://www.lcsc.edu/nursing/radiographic-science/jrcert-info/; Internet & Interactive Digital Media Design, Eastern Gateway Community College, http://www.egcc.edu/future-students/academic-programs/internet-interactive-digital-media-design-aab; Accreditation, Eastern Gateway Community College, http://www.egcc.edu/more-topics/accreditation; Web Publishing, Westmoreland County Community College, https://wccc.edu/pages/future-students/academic-programs/web-technology/web-publishing/; Accreditation & Nondiscrimination, Westmoreland County Community College, https://wccc.edu/pages/future-students/about/accreditation-nondiscrimination/; Online Web Design & New Media Degree Programs, Academy of Art University, http://www.academyart.edu/academics/web-design/online; Accreditation, About Us, Academy of Art University, http://www.academyart.edu/about-us#accreditation; Online Web Design & Interactive Media Degree Programs, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, https://www.artinstitutes.edu/online/academics/visual-design/web-design-interactive-media-degree-programs; Accreditation, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, https://www.artinstitutes.edu/online/about/accreditation; Web Design & Interactive Media Bachelor's Degree, The Art Institutes, http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/201; Web Design & Interactive Media Associate Degree, The Art Institutes, http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/202;
  4. Education Alliance Directory, World Organization of Webmasters, accessed February 27, 2017, https://webprofessionals.org/education/wowedaffiliate/directory/
  5. Computer Programmers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed April 2107, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
  6. Graphic Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed April 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm
  7. Multimedia Artists and Animators, O*NET OnLine, Accessed April 2017, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-1014.00
  8. Software Developers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed April 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-2
  9. AA in Web Design and Development, BYU Idaho, Accessed June 2017, http://www.byui.edu/online/degrees-and-programs/web-design-and-development-x95124
  10. Online Web Design & New Media Degree Programs, Academy of Art Institute, Accessed June 2017, https://www.academyart.edu/academics/web-design/online
  11. Summary Report for Web Developers, O*NET OnLine, Accessed June 2017, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1134.00
  12. Web Design, Tennessee Tech, Accessed June 2017, https://www.tntech.edu/cas/webdesign/
  13. Web Design and Development (Master's), University of Denver, Accessed June 2017, http://universitycollege.du.edu/ict/degree/masters/web-design-and-development-online/degreeid/400#courses
  14. Web Design Degree and Development, DeVry University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/media-arts-technology/web-design-and-development-degree-specialization.html
  15. Web Developer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed June 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#tab-4
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Sources and Methodologies