Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
- Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2016-17
- Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below
We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.
NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed February 27, 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- 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;
- Education Alliance Directory, World Organization of Webmasters, accessed February 27, 2017, https://webprofessionals.org/education/wowedaffiliate/directory/
- 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
- 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
- Multimedia Artists and Animators, O*NET OnLine, Accessed April 2017, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-1014.00
- 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
- AA in Web Design and Development, BYU Idaho, Accessed June 2017, http://www.byui.edu/online/degrees-and-programs/web-design-and-development-x95124
- Online Web Design & New Media Degree Programs, Academy of Art Institute, Accessed June 2017, https://www.academyart.edu/academics/web-design/online
- Summary Report for Web Developers, O*NET OnLine, Accessed June 2017, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1134.00
- Web Design, Tennessee Tech, Accessed June 2017, https://www.tntech.edu/cas/webdesign/
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Bachelor's of Web Design and Development, Independence University, https://www.independence.edu/technology/bachelors/web-design-and-development
- BS in Web Design and Development, BYU Idaho Online, http://www.byui.edu/online/certificate-and-degree-programs/web-design-and-development-x95130
- Certificate of Completion in Advanced Web Designer, Mesa Community College, https://www.mesacc.edu/programs/course-sequences/advanced-web-designer-ccl
- Certificate of Completion in Web Designer, Mesa Community College, https://www.mesacc.edu/programs/course-sequences/web-designer-ccl
- Graphic and Web Design, Miami International University of Art and Design, https://www.artinstitutes.edu/miami/academics/visual-design/graphic-web-design-degree-program
- Production Media Program, Allen Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/2-uncategorised/1508-production-media-program-page
- Undergraduate Website Design Certificate, DeVry University, https://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/media-arts-technology/web-design-certificate.html
- Web Design & Development, BYU Idaho Online, http://www.byui.edu/online/certificate-and-degree-programs/web-design-and-development-x95124
- Web Design and Development Degree Specialization, DeVry University, https://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/media-arts-technology/web-design-and-development-degree-specialization.html
- Web Design Certificate, Allen Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/images/stories/allen/pdf_docs/Degree_Tracks/2013_Degree_Updates/2017_updates/Web_design_cert_12_19_13.pdf
- Web Media, BYU Idaho Online, http://www.byui.edu/online/certificate-and-degree-programs/web-media
- Web Site Design/Development Associate of Applied Science Degree, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, http://gntc.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2018-2019/Semester-Catalog/Programs-of-Study-Business/Web-Site-Design-Development-IS53-Associate-of-Applied-Science-Degree
- Web Site Design/Development Diploma, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, http://gntc.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2018-2019/Semester-Catalog/Programs-of-Study-Business/Web-Site-Design-Development-IS64-Diploma
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. The visual composition of a company's website can have a remarkable effect on that company's performance; if site visitors find the website unappealing, or have trouble finding the information they are looking for, it can damage their interaction with the company as a whole. This makes web design an important field for businesses across the globe. In order to be successful, those who work in this field must possess an aptitude for creative, innovative thinking, effective communication and problem-solving.
Best Online Colleges for Web Design in 2018-19
Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we have created this list of the 10 best online colleges for web design. To analyze all this data, we used a unique methodology, details on which can be found at the bottom of this page.
Academy of Art University
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Allen Community College
AI Miami International University of Art and Design
Mesa Community College
Stark State College
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Cerro Coso Community College
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.