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How to Get a Graphic Design Degree

Graphic design careers are great choices for people who are creative and are visual thinkers. The ability to think of visual arrangements in terms of placement, colors and themes conveys ideas and emotions to others. A graphic design degree program gives students the skills they need to do this and design graphics for brochures, publications and websites.

Research Degree Programs

Most people who enter the field of graphic design choose a four-year degree program. A bachelor's degree unlocks many doors of opportunity in entertainment companies, business offices and even for freelance work. The main choices students must make in comparing degree programs are program length, program location and tuition rates. Most in-state schools offer lower tuition to state residents. Students can choose between online and on-campus programs. Each person has their own preference, but people who learn better in a classroom and are less motivated may benefit more from classroom-based programs. Some programs are accelerated, which is good for students who have more time. People with limited time often choose part-time online courses.

Complete Program Requirements

Read the requirements for the graphic design degree program or programs chosen. These often include prerequisite classes. Some schools may ask for references, or there may be a separate fee and application for the graphic design program. Be sure computer requirements are also met.

Enroll In A Graphic Design Program

After all program requirements are met, it is time to enroll in a program. Students should be sure they have enough time to devote to their courses. Some programs require an internship after a certain point in the program, so students should also be sure they can complete this if needed. Students who want to widen their options may apply to several different programs and choose which one to enter after acceptance.

Graphic Design Salary And Job Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers earn about $44,000 per year with a bachelor's degree. This is the overall average, so recent graduates may earn less when they first start in the field. Job growth is only expected to be about seven percent in the next decade, which is less than the national average for all other fields. However, graphic designers who do not find employment may work as freelancers and market themselves online successfully.

Top Online Graphic Design Programs

Rank School FT to PT
Faculty Ratio
Fin. Aid Rate
Acceptance Rate Retention Rate Graduation Rate Accred.
Job Place. Rate
1 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

1600 Pierce St,
Denver, Colorado 80214

(303) 753-6046

0.75 to 1 88% 0% 100% 41% 14 0% N/A
  At RMCAD, a liberal arts education along with a strong foundation of basic art concepts and skills are emphasized through required liberal arts and foundations course work during the freshman and sophomore years. RMCAD's graphic design program follows a logical sequence of studio courses that progressively increase in difficulty, requires portfolio projects and reviews upon mid and final completion of the major, and offers internship opportunities with design professionals for real-world experience.
2 Charleston Southern University

9200 University Blvd,
Charleston, South Carolina 29406-9121

(843) 863-7000

1.37 to 1 99% 82% 57% 38% 44 3% 69%
  Charleston Southern University's online graphic design program is nearly identical to the on-campus program, starting off with basic studio art skills and quickly moving onto mastering various programs within the Adobe platform. While there are portfolio and other core requirements, students by their junior and senior years will have the chance to specialize in a particular branch of design, including print design, illustration, Web design, and photography.
3 Full Sail University

3300 University Blvd,
Winter Park, Florida 32792-7429

(407) 679-0100

N/A 28% 0% 84% 79% 28 3% N/A
  In Full Sail University's online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program, the areas of focus include print and 2D, motion graphics, interactive design, and portfolio development. Through Full Sail's Project LaunchBox, each student receives a MacBook Pro at a significant institutional discount, which is equipped with a 'portable studio' of professional applications and interactive tools that allow students to create and work from anywhere.
4 Southern New Hampshire University

2500 North River Road,
Manchester, New Hampshire 03106-1045

(603) 668-2211

0.12 to 1 81% 83% 73% 58% 41 3% N/A
  SNHU offers more than 90 accredited undergraduate online college degrees and have earned accolades for its educational offerings from numerous publications. Taught by faculty in small class sizes, graphic design students learn the basic elements of design and digital imaging technologies along with marketing and media material.
5 Berkeley College-Online

3 East 43 Street,
New York, New York 10017

(212) 986-4343

N/A 92% 0% 52% 35% 21 0% N/A
  Awarded the Quality Standards certification by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), Berkeley College Online features an online faculty-training program, a Road to Success in Online Learning course for potential online students, and various online campus 'life experiences,' including online clubs and social media engagement. In addition to gaining a strong foundation in visual communications, students in the online Bachelor of Fine Arts Graphic Design program can take on faculty-monitored internships or job-related assignments.
6 Westwood College-Online

3250 Wilshire Blvd Ste 400,
Los Angeles, California 90010

(213) 739-9999

N/A 3% 57% 0% 23% 23 0% N/A
  Westwood College-Online offers two major concentrations within graphic design: Visual Communications and Web Design, both of which will help you prepare for various Adobe certificates and in creating a final portfolio in print, digital, and Web formats. Visual communication majors will be geared for the print and media fields, whereas Web design majors will learn to successfully create professional websites with their understanding of Web marketing and programming languages.
7 DeVry University Online

3300 N Campbell Ave.,
Chicago, Illinois 60618-5994

(773) 929-8500

0.01 to 1 28% 73% 0% 31% 32 0% N/A
  Through Devry University's online program, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design and Development degree with a specialization in graphic and multimedia design, gaining an understanding of multimedia and design standards, business fundamentals, and emerging technologies. With the same resources, support, faculty, and locations offered on-campus, online students have the advantage of accessing any of Devry's 90+ locations nationwide with the option of taking classes on campus, online, or a mix of both.
8 Bellevue University

1000 Galvin Rd S,
Bellevue, Nebraska 68005-3098

(402) 291-8100

0.28 to 1 50% 0% 50% 31% 37 4% N/A
  The Bellevue University online program features small class sizes, 24/7 access to various student tools and services, and the Center for Learning Innovation, which is responsible for training faculty in their online course instructions and support. As a multidisciplinary program, the online graphic design B.A. degree will go through the fundamentals of design and visual communication, while examining global, social, and ethical issues of graphic design.
9 Academy of Art University

79 New Montgomery,
San Francisco, California 94105

(415) 274-2200

0.22 to 1 6% 0% 71% 32% 16 11% N/A
  With its first online education curriculum offered in 2002, Academy of Art University now offers both Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees in every subject available on campus, taught by the same campus faculty. The graphic design program covers typography, print and editorial design, branding and identity, information design, and packaging, with an emphasis on green strategies and issues of sustainability in its curriculum.