Online Degree Programs for Graphic Design

Graphic design online degree programs have made graphic design one of the most accessible fields for students with artistic abilities and computer skills. Graphic design often involves using computer design software programs to create digital images that are used to design layouts for magazines and books, fliers, brochures, and other print materials, logos, and websites. This field offers broad career possibilities, and attracts many professionals as an avenue for creativity, entrepreneurship, and the ability to use art as a practical skill. Graphic designers can work in many capacities, either as a freelancer as an employee for a company or business. Many of the best graphic designers have skills and knowledge in the areas of business, marketing, color theory, advertising, public relations, technology, and media and the diversity of their skill set often leads to unexpected, yet still design-related, career turns.

Online Associate Degree Programs for Graphic Design

An associate degree in graphic design is a great way to learn the fundamentals of graphic design, like color theory, typography, and layout. An associate degree program is also an opportunity for hands-on instruction using the many software applications often required in the graphic design field, like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, and Dreamweaver, among many others. Graphic design online degree programs at the associate level might include basic courses in computer languages, coding, and website publishing. Most associate degree programs require two years of full-time course work, mostly covering material directly related to graphic design.

Students often design websites, brochures, and advertisements, among other projects, to prepare them for entry-level graphic design positions. Online associate degree programs are widely available, including programs at some of the best design and art schools in the country, including this program from Parsons The New School for Design. This online degree program is available complete online to students who already have a bachelor’s degree or who have completed enough college credit to satisfy the program’s general education requirements.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Graphic Design

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design is a four-year degree that includes in-depth courses in graphic design technique as well as general education courses. Most undergraduate graphic design online degree programs will include at least 30 hours of major course work in the graphic design field, as well as additional art and design classes. Students may take courses in business, communications, photography, and marketing to develop their skills in other media that are relevant to graphic design occupations. They will also including general academic courses in writing and composition, mathematics, social sciences, history, and liberal arts. Toward the end of the program, students often produce a collection of works to be demonstrated in the school gallery along with their classmates. They will also receive instruction and advice on developing a portfolio to present to future employers. A bachelor’s degree may be a good choice for students hoping to pursue long-term positions with increased responsibility in the graphic design field. Many employers prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in graphic design because bachelor’s degree programs are generally more competitive and explore the field in greater depth.

Online Master’s Degree Programs for Graphic Design

A master’s degree in graphic design focuses on essential design principles and the role of technology in design. Many graduate programs emphasize a theoretical and analytical approach when discussing graphic design, and ask students to consider how design influences culture, as well as how political, cultural, and societal events influence graphic design. Master’s degree programs often involve a studio component, in which students share a group work space to complete class assignments and projects. Due to the studio culture of most master’s degree graphic design programs, online programs are significantly less common than at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels. A master’s degree in this field is ideal for students who would like to be eligible to teach design courses at art schools or community colleges or who are interested in design theory concepts.

Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Graphic Design

Doctoral degrees in graphic design are uncommon, however, undergraduate and graduate degrees in graphic design can lead to doctoral programs in a number of related disciplines, including advertising, media studies, and visual arts. Doctoral degree programs in fields related to design and technology are focused on research and analysis. Doctoral students explore how design influences culture in terms of media, news, and exposure, as well as how design influences business, in terms of marketing, branding, and advertising. Ph.D. programs allow students to choose an area of concentration relevant to design theory that may include areas like design history, design education, multicultural communication, visual representation of information, human interaction, social and cultural implications of design and color, and interactive design. The degree requirements are often split between course work and independent research resulting in a dissertation, which is a book-length research paper that students must present and defend in front of an academic panel.

Online Degree Programs in Graphic Design in the Work Place

Graphic design is a valuable skill that professionals can use in unique and diverse ways to gain entry into almost any industry. Graphic design online degree programs can lead to careers in advertising, public relations, media, software, technology, and many more. Many graphic designers work in publishing, either in books or magazines, or they work for advertising agencies, designing print materials, websites, and logos. Positions as senior designers within these environments will lead to the greatest earning potential. Graphic design can also provide opportunities for entrepreneurship. Many graphic designers are self-employed, and work on a freelance or contract basis.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earn approximately $43,000 per year on average, depending on varying salary estimates among professionals in the field. Graphic designers with extensive experience, as well as a diverse portfolio demonstrating their skills and expertise, may be able to command higher salaries. Graphic design online degree programs can help aspiring graphic designers expand their knowledge and abilities and lend more credibility to their overall experience.