According to Data USA, in 2017, 9,539 people graduated with a graphic design degree in order to join the 2.15 million people around the country who are part of this profession. By the time you complete a graphic design program, you've honed a number of valuable skills — including portfolio development, photo editing, user interface design and desktop publishing — and developed an artistic eye that helps you execute the creative direction of a project from start to finish, whether you work for an advertising agency, publishing company or even your own consulting business.

You should keep in mind there are similar degrees that may be more suitable for your aspirations. For example, while you prepare to create static images that are used in numerous promotional materials, you can study motion graphics to learn how to create animations that are used in video games, movies and television advertisements. Similarly, you are taught how to combine computer savvy with artistic vision in order to create animations that are used in websites and mobile apps.

In order to help you make an informed decision about whether or not an online graphic design degree is the right choice for you, this page includes detailed information about the nuts and bolts of these programs — such as the requirements for being admitted into graphic design colleges, the coursework you may be required to take and the careers you can pursue after graduation. Also, this page includes information on the best graphic design schools around the country.

Frequently Asked Questions about Graphic Design

It depends on the program. In some cases, you can complete your graphic design classes online but may be required to come to campus for specific projects, like a capstone course. Also, you may be able to complete online graphic design courses and get hands-on training by participating in an internship.

A strong graphic design program has a combination of high-quality coursework and experiential learning. As a result, when vetting a graphic design school, you should pay attention to the curriculum to ensure that it is diverse enough to provide a range of valuable skills, as well as the opportunities the school offers to put the concepts learned in class into practice. In addition, strong graphic design programs have instructors with experience in the field and access cutting-edge technology that professionals are expected to master.
Generally, graphic design programs should be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, or NASAD, an organization that has been setting the standards for graphic design programs since 1944.



Graphic Design Program Overview

In order to prepare for a graphic design career, programs should provide the knowledge and skills you need to be successful. Generally, you learn a variety of valuable abilities, such as branding, coding, communication and analytical skills. This section provides information on what graphic design courses you take in order to gain these abilities, as well as what you can expect when you apply and then enroll in a program.

Earning a Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree Online

How Long Does a Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree Program Online Take?

It is common for students to complete an online graphic design bachelor's degree program in about three-and-a-half to four years.

What Are the Requirements to Start a Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree Program Online?

In order to be admitted into a graphic design bachelor's degree program, you may be expected to submit a portfolio of original artwork showcasing their skills in different kinds of media. Also, you may be required to write an artistic statement, participate in an interview or successfully complete prerequisite courses.

Why Earn a Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree Online?

In the competitive graphic design workforce, it's imperative that you get a quality education that provides the skills and knowledge employers look for. Online bachelor's degree programs allow you to get the education you're expected to have in a convenient way that allows you to balance your schooling with full-time jobs and families.

Bachelor's Graphic Design Online Degree Program Timeline

Years One and Two

When you begin a bachelor's in graphic design online, you gain a foundation of the discipline by taking introductory courses in color fundamentals, typography, image making and drawing, as well as classes that familiarize you with the history of graphic design. In addition, you are required to take general education classes like mathematics and English composition.

Years Three and Four

During the latter years of a graphic design program, you are exposed to more advanced concepts that build on what you learned previously. During this time, you may take upper-level computer imaging, visual communication and web design classes, in addition to courses that cover branding, social media marketing and advertising psychology. Also, you may be required to complete electives, a capstone project or an internship during this time.

  • 1.Common Courses
    • Typography
    • Digital Literacy
    • Logos and Symbols
    • Digital Illustration
    • Printmaking
    • Concept Design
  • 2. Common Careers:
    • Graphic Designer
    • Art Director
    • Layout Artist
    • Flash Designer
    • Multimedia Artist
    • Marketing Specialist

Graphic Design Concentrations and Specialties

You may have the opportunity to enroll in a graphic design specialty to help you develop specific expertise based on their career goals. Some examples of these concentrations include:

  • Interactive design. This specialization focuses on the interaction between a type of media and its user, and how graphic designers can make this interaction more efficient.
  • Motion graphics. Students who concentrate on motion graphics learn how to create and edit 2-D and 3-D animations that may be used for websites, music videos and mobile devices.
  • Advertising design. Students learn how designers use their graphics skills to interact with customers through taking classes about consumer behavior, advertising research and marketing campaigns.

Career Outlook

After you complete your graphic design degree program, they are equipped to find a variety of positions — which, in some cases, are expected to be available in abundance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there can be a 24 percent increase in jobs in the coming years for graphic designers who focus on computer systems design. The agency explains that this is because more and more companies are leveraging their digital presence, making the services of these graphic designers in high demand.

Continue reading for information on some of the most common jobs that those with graphic design degrees can pursue.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Graphic designers use their technical skills and ingenuity in order to tell a story — whether they are creating a magazine advertisement, the cover of a book or a company's logo. Some of the day to day duties that these professionals are responsible for include meeting with clients in order to determine what message they want to convey; choosing the images, colors and typefaces that can help to effectively deliver that message; making presentations to clients for feedback on proposed layouts; and incorporating client suggestions into the final layout and reviewing to ensure that there are no errors. These workers may be employed for advertising agencies, book publishers, magazines, public relations firms and design services companies.

How to Become a Graphic Designer

Generally, in order to land an entry-level position, people should have a bachelor's degree in graphic design. However, those who have a degree in another discipline may also be able to enter the field if they complete a graphic design certificate program that provides the technical knowledge they need to do the job. Also, it is helpful for new designers to gain experience that helps them build their portfolio, which can be done by completing an internship during school or doing graphic design work on a volunteer basis.

In addition, it's also important for professionals to keep up with the latest technologies in order to be effective in their jobs. While employers may not require workers to participate in continuing education classes, it's a good idea for graphic designers to earn certifications from specific software product companies to keep their skills current and have a competitive edge in the workforce.

What Does an Art Director Do?

Art directors set the aesthetic tone for various types of media — including magazines, television productions and newspapers — as well as product packaging. In order to accomplish this, these professionals work closely with designers and photographers to develop and execute an artistic vision, consult clients on how they want their brands represented visually and oversee the work of the creative department. Also, art directors are responsible for creating and managing the budgets for these projects, and the schedules for completing them. These professionals may be self-employed, or they may find full-time jobs at design companies, advertising agencies, motion picture studios, magazines and public relations firms.

How to Become an Art Director

Generally, art directors are expected to have a bachelor's degree and several years of work experience in an artistic job, such as a graphic designer, photographer, fine artist or editorial position. In some cases, art directors may be required to have an advanced degree, such as a master's in fine arts.

While art directors do not necessarily need to have a certification in order to get employment, they may elect to earn one to demonstrate their skills and education in certain areas, such as graphic design or photography. To be successful in this position, people should have strong leadership, problem solving, time management, communication and storytelling skills.

What Does an Artist Do?

From sculpting to painting to illustration, artists use different materials and techniques to produce a work of visual art. The tasks involved in creating their art include brainstorming ideas for pieces and what techniques and materials can be used to bring them to life; creating sketches and models as needed to give them a guide on how to complete their vision; participating in art fairs, competitions and shows to bring attention to their work; and applying for grants to support their art. These professionals also maintain portfolios to generate the interest of potential patrons, and in some cases, employers.

How to Become an Artist

Although many artists get a formal education in order to hone their skills and develop their portfolios, completing a degree is not necessary for success. In some cases, however, artists may choose a career path that does require a degree. For example, those who want to work as medical illustrators must have a bachelor's degree and during their studies, they are required to take art classes as well as science courses that familiarize them with medical procedures and anatomy.

Graphic Design Certifications and Licenses

Adobe Certified Associate (ACA)

Professionals can earn a certification in various Adobe products, including Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects and Flash.

  • Requirements: Available to those who want to certify their expertise in Adobe programs.
  • Exam format: Online
  • How long does the certification last? Varies
  • How Much Does Certification Cost? $80

Autodesk Certified User in 3ds MAX

This certification from Autodesk is designed to demonstrate proficiency in 3ds MAX, so applicants must have strong animation, modeling and rendering skills.

  • Requirements: This credential is for people with at least 150 hours of experience with 3ds MAX.
  • Exam format: Online
  • How long does the certification last? Varies
  • How Much Does Certification Cost? $100

Google Ads Certification

For graphic designers who want to prove their knowledge of search engine optimization, Google offers certifications in different ad platforms — such as Ads Search, Ads Video and Ads Display.

  • Requirements: This is for those who have experience with Google ads through their full-time jobs.
  • Exam format: Online assessments
  • How long does the certification last? One year
  • How Much Does Certification Cost? $50

Professional Organizations for Graphic Design

Completing programs at graphic design schools is just the first step towards a rewarding career. The tools of the trade are always changing, so it's important for you to keep your fingers on the pulse of what's going on in the industry — and joining professional organizations for graphic design can help workers do this. The following are some examples of the associations that graphic designers can participate in:

With 18,000 members who participate in 70 chapters around the world, the AIGA is the largest association dedicated to the needs of graphic design professionals. Since 1914, the organization has set the global standard for ethics in the field, offered informative events for members and provided professional development tools.
This organization is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the graphic artist profession, which includes workers in animation, designer, illustrator and cartoonist positions. In addition, the group provides resources and tools to help members do their job efficiently.
The SEGD offers conferences, a job referrals and meetings in 40 local chapters to its members.
The SND caters to news media workers including designers, art directors, illustrators, editors and reporters.

Related Rankings

Graphic design isn't the right educational and professionals fit for everyone. However, we have other pages that may help you find the right choice for you. If graphic design isn't for you, the following are examples of similar pages that may interest you.

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