An online degree in design prepares students for the real world by giving them hands-on training in the programs and techniques that professional designers use every day. By teaching students the ins and outs of programs like Photoshop and InDesign, online professors teach students how to hit the ground running with projects assigned to them at their first design job. According to the BLS, the most popular design occupations in the U.S. are those in graphic design and interior design. Popular degrees within the design discipline in general include graphic design, interior design, fashion design, electrical engineering, web design, and computer engineering. Online bachelor degree programs are among the most sought for design students; however, degrees at the associate, master’s, and doctoral levels are also available online.
Students who want a degree that emphasizes, and enables them to expand on, their creativity often choose online degree programs in design. Many hopeful designers seek these degrees because according to popular design occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), like graphic designers, industrial designers, and interior designers, a bachelor’s degree is the educational requirement for entry-level jobs in these fields. Even though the minimum entry-level educational requirement for fashion designers is a high school diploma, the BLS comments that many seek postsecondary courses or degrees to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in their careers. Despite bachelor’s degrees being the minimum requirement in most design degrees, advanced postsecondary degrees make it possible for students and professionals to climb the ladder to upper-level and higher paying career positions.
The Online Design Degree Program Experience
Online college degree programs require self-discipline and organization as students’ course work and learning is left to self-study for the most part. Online programs can be asynchronous or synchronous: synchronous programs require students and professors to meet online at specified times and days, while asynchronous programs allow students to access course materials when it is most convenient for them. Programs usually feature an online portal where students can find online lectures, assignments, reading materials, and other tools that aid them in their various courses.
Generally speaking, online design classes will expose students to some of the best design work out there so that they can learn to emulate proven, successful techniques in their future careers, as well as develop their own original graphic ideas. Students receive key training in design technique, methods, and tools to help them with real-world career aspirations in advertising, magazines, newspapers, web, interior, and other forms of design.
Graphic design majors, some of the most common, take courses that teach them effective principles of design, visual communication, computer graphics and how to effectively make a digital or print page eye-catching. Some courses train students how to use the most up-to-date software programs used by graphic designers, such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Learning these various programs teaches students how to digitally lay out a magazine or newspaper page, edit photos and create infographics.
Another popular design track is web design, in which students take courses in coding so they can learn to create the groundwork of a website. Their curriculum focuses on both the art of design and the utilization of computer programs and methods that enable them to turn their conceptual ideas into digital designs. They also learn a variety of ways to build effective and attractive websites; for instance, students learn how to make websites easy to navigate and how to use colors and graphics to draw people into websites.
Online vs. Campus for Design Degree Programs
The best online degree programs are ranked by known authorities, like the ranking lists provided by U.S. News and World Report, and accredited. Accredited online degree programs are those deemed to meet quality standards set forth by accreditation agencies acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education. Before enrolling in an online degree program, however, students should be sure to understand the pros and cons of both a traditional education and an online one.
The pros of a traditional education are often the cons of an online education, and vice versa. One pro of a traditional education is that it allows for direct communication and conglomeration with instructors and other students. Through this direct communication, students can see and learn from other students designs and design mistakes. Another pro is that students’ design feedback will be immediate; aside from the immediate feedback they’ll get from their peers and instructors, students will also have the option to participate in various shows and other public endeavors, making public feedback an important learning tool.
Meanwhile, a pro of an online design degree is that it encourages students to develop their computer skills, which will come in handy after graduation. A computer is the most important tool that designers use. Given that the vast majority of online design students’ time will be spent on their computer self-learning and testing their creative abilities on computer programs, they are likely to develop a more robust design computer skill-set and portfolio. Another pro of online design programs is that an online design degree requires self-discipline, a necessary ability in the design field because many designers are self-employed and work from home. For instance, take graphic designers. According to the BLS in 2010, 29% of graphic designers were self-employed.