2023 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees Guide

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Our Graphic Design Degrees Guide is a must read for students interested in a career in digital, graphic, or web design. The field of graphic design encompasses visual design using a variety of different software programs and methods to create images, typography, and digital illustrations. Graphic designers help companies and organizations to create their brands and form ways to promote and advertise their brands.

Graphic designers are very proficient in the use of shapes, colors, images, and fonts. They also use photography, animation, and print to create a variety of different designs for clients. Corporate reports, brochures, magazines, advertisements, and even billboards and websites and some of their creations. Graphic designers typically work for design agencies or they can become self-employed and find their own clients to service.

Additionally, Graphic Designers work in a variety of career fields. Some of these include the positions of marketing directors, web designers, or book illustrators. They also take roles as letterpress printers, product developers, package designers, or UX/UI designers.

Online Certificate in Graphic Design

Earning a certificate in graphic design can help students show potential employers the variety of skills they possess. A certificate can assist a graduate with gaining employment at a design studio or agency as a junior designer. There are many self-taught graphic designers in today’s world. While they do not need formal education, a certificate can help them rise to the top of job candidates.

Is a Graphic Design Certificate Worth It?

Graphic designers that earn certificates in the field can work as freelance designers and be their own bosses. The certificate will help the graduate show off the skills they have to potential clients. There are an array of different career paths for a graduate with a graphic design certificate. Keep in mind that graphic designers are in high demand currently. A graphic design certification program teaches students skills and the foundational knowledge to increase their opportunities in this particular career path.

What Certifications Can You Get as a Graphic Designer?

There are many different graphic design certifications that students can earn. Some certificate programs are offered at universities in colleges throughout the United States, while others are offered by specific companies. Below is a list of six different certifications for graphic design that are currently very popular.

Certifications for Graphic Designers
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA): This certification is provided by Adobe. It will help graduates to be hired for entry-level graphic design positions. There are different certifications under this specific program that correlate with different software applications. Any one of these certifications shows employers a proficiency level in a specific Adobe software application.
  • UI/UX Design Specialization: This type of certification is offered by CalArts and is considered to be a UI/UX Design Specialization. Students will learn how to bring in a design-centered approach to a user’s experience in software programs or websites. This certification is especially good for students who want to work in website development, marketing, or app creation.
  • Graphic Design Specialization: Students will learn the fundamental skills of graphic design in this particular certification program. It will teach them the basic things they need to know to get started in a career in graphic design.
  • UX Design Professional Certificate: The UX Design Professional Certificate can be earned fully online. The course materials will include lectures, readings, and assignments. This is a free course. However, there is a fee to earn the certification after completing the course.
  • Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers Specialization: this specific certificate program is also offered fully online. It teaches students the basics of graphic design elements. They will learn core concepts in the field of graphic design, including contrast, proximity, alignment, and balance.
  • Graphic Design Certificate: Students learn about the basic elements of design, brand design, and also typography.

What Can You Do With a Certification In Graphic Design?

By attaining a graphic design certification, students will be able to build their skill set within the field. This can assist them in gaining employment in the field or even advancing in a position they are already working in.

Graphic design certifications can also increase the graduate’s earning potential. Many employers seek out candidates for job positions in the graphic design industry that possess specific skills and knowledge. So, a certification is a way for a graduate to prove that they have those particular skills.

By earning a certificate in graphic design, graduates can build a much more powerful resume. This will show managers and others in the field of graphic design that you are qualified for certain positions. Also, employers seeking a candidate for a graphic design position will see that the graduate was able to stay the course to complete a certificate program and increase their skill set and knowledge.

Can You Get A Job With Only a Certificate In Graphic Design?

Students completing a graphic design certificate program be prepared for a career in graphic design or a similar career. Many of the skills that they will learn can be transferable to a variety of different career paths. Some employers may require job candidates to have a degree in graphic design or a similar major. But they may still consider a job candidate who only possesses graphic design certifications.

It also shows potential employers that the graduate possesses creative skills. And this makes them well-rounded job candidates. People who only hold graphic design certifications can work as freelance graphic designers and own their own businesses.

Online Associate Degree in Graphic Design

Associate degree programs also take less time than a bachelor’s degree. Most bachelor’s degree programs take two to four years to complete. At a traditional school, they will take at least four years. An associate degree normally takes two years of coursework for a student to be able to graduate.

This time can be slashed in half if a student takes an associate degree program fully online. Students can work at their own pace and work around family and job responsibilities. And by obtaining an associate degree in graphic design, a graduate can start their chosen career much sooner.

Is an Associate Degree in Graphic Design Worth It?

There are many reasons why an associate degree in graphic design is worth it for students to embark upon. Earning an associate degree in graphic design is much cheaper for a student than attending a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

An associate degree in graphic design can propel job candidates to the top of the pile because the programs can offer plenty of valuable experience as well as knowledge and skill sets. Graduates will also be able to graduate with a portfolio of materials to show potential employers.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate Degree In Graphic Design?

An associate degree in graphic design normally takes at least two years to complete. Students who attend a brick-and-mortar college or university to earn their associate’s degree in graphic design will take longer to graduate. This is due to the fact that they cannot work at their own pace but have to attend classes when they are scheduled. Students who embark on earning their associate degree in graphic design fully online can finish much sooner. On average, students who earn an associate degree fully online are finished within a year to 18 months. This means they can enter the workforce sooner. Also, students can work at their own pace while still handling their job responsibilities and family issues.

What Courses Will I Take In An Online Associate In Graphic Design Program?

Students who were earning an online associate degree in graphic design we’ll take a variety of different courses to earn their degrees. Each course will give them more knowledge and experience when it comes to the world of digital media and teach them how to produce high-quality designs. Students will also learn how to use the latest in computer software to create their graphic designs. They will also learn how to create digital media with images combined with words.

Below are some of the most common courses students will take in an online associate degree in Graphic Design program.

  • 2-D animation
  • Typography
  • Photography
  • Video editing
  • Print media
  • Electronic media
  • software programs include InDesign, Photoshop, Adobe CS5

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design

For students who are very creative people and are interested in both digital and print design, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design may be a great program for them. Graphic design is basically the process of creating communications that are artistic while sharing a specific message.

Which Bachelor’s Degree Is Best For Graphic Design?

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in graphic design program will learn a variety of necessary skills for a career in the field of graphic design. Students will also learn imaging and typography skills that they will need to possess while working in the field of graphic design. While a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is the best one for students who want to enter into the field of graphic design, students can also major in web development, web design, art, communications, and other related fields of study.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design?

Graduates who possess a bachelor’s degree in graphic design can enter into a variety of different career paths. Below is a list of potential career paths for graduates with a four-year bachelor’s degree in graphic design and the potential incomes for each career path.

Careers and Salaries
  • Graphic designer: a graphic designer is in charge of creating images that connect with consumers and encourage them to buy certain products or services. They also work on a variety of visual concepts for postcards, magazines, brochures, and even books. A graphic designer also creates product packaging and labels and other branding elements for different companies and industries. Many graphic designers work by hand or utilize a variety of computer tools and applications. There are jobs available in a variety of areas when it comes to graphic design, including marketing, media, advertising, and public relations. Graphic designers earn a salary of around $55,000 per year.
  • Photo editing artist: the primary duty of a photo editor is to modify digital photographs through the use of a variety of different types of photo editing software. For example, a photo editor may use Photoshop to correct or enhance digital photos that will be used in newspapers, magazines, or even on websites. Most photo editors make around $43,000 per year.
  • Web designer: the field of web design is growing and changing rapidly with a 20 percent growth rate projected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics over the next 10 years. The job duties of a web designer is to create web pages, navigation menus, images, and other elements that are part of the overall structure of a website. Basically, a web designer enhances the user experience of a website and makes it aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. Web designers earn an annual salary of around $52,000 per year.
  • Other potential careers: multimedia artist or animator, advertising designer, brand identity designer, logo designer, and freelance graphic designer.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree In Graphic Design?

For a student to earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design by attending classes in the traditional manner, it will take around four years to complete their degree. For those who need to balance family and work responsibilities with their schooling, an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design program may work better for them.

Students who earn their bachelor’s degrees fully online, it can shave off at least two years of the amount of time they will have in school before they can advance in their current careers or embark on a new career path. This is due to the fact that online students can work at their own pace and complete their coursework much faster.

What Do People Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design can enter into a variety of career fields. They can work as freelance graphic designers while owning their own business and setting their own hours or entering into a graphic designer position at a company or firm.

Graphic design graduates may also work as web developers or web designers, advertising designers, digital media designers, logo designers, art directors, and even creative directors. When it comes to the graphic design field, creative directors can make the most income, currently at around $93,000 per year or more.

Online Master’s Degree in Graphic Design

Most master’s degree programs for graphic design require students to already possess a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field.

Can You Do A Master’s In Graphic Design?

Students who enter into a master’s degree in graphic design program may have their site set on becoming teachers at higher education institutions. The extra classroom experience will help students to become better organized and ready for operating their own classrooms.

A master’s degree in graphic design can help graduates secure job positions at much higher levels with much more lucrative pay. Many online master’s degree programs only take around 18 months to two years to complete. Graduates who hold a master’s degree in graphic design can also specialize in certain areas of the field that can help propel them to a much higher status in that specific area.

What is the Difference Between Graphic Design, a MA, and an MFA?

Students who want to earn a master’s degree in graphic design may wonder which type of master’s degree program they should enroll in. An MA stands for Master of Arts and it normally requires students to complete 120 credit hours of coursework. This coursework can be completed over the course of one year or two years, depending on the student’s schedule and if they take the program online or in person.

A Master of Fine Arts degree also referred to as an MFA, will take around 100 to 50 credit hours to complete. Obviously, this will take a little longer than a Master of Arts degree in graphic design. A Master of Arts degree is broader and covers more topics than a Master of Fine Arts degree. This is due to the fact that a master of Fine Arts degree requires students to specialize and niche down further. Students who have a goal of teaching in the field of graphic design may want to earn a master of Fine Arts degree since it is more specialized and in-depth.

How Long Is a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design Program?

Most master’s degree programs in the field of graphic design will take students between 60 and 120 credit hours of coursework to complete. The programs can normally be completed in two years through traditional in-person classroom instruction. Many students in today’s world are entering into online master’s degree programs in graphic design because they can work at their own pace.

This means that students can complete their master’s degree in a graphic design program and graduate within 18 months or less. Students who want to quickly advance in their careers or embark on a new career path by earning their master’s degree may want to take an online program so they can complete their coursework sooner. Online coursework also allows students to be able to continue to work full or part-time jobs while raising a family and honoring other responsibilities. Students can complete their master’s degree in graphic design coursework at any time of the day or night while earning their degree in graphic design.

How Much Does a Master Graphic Designer Make?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a graduate with a bachelor’s degree is around $60,000 per year. For graduates who possess a master’s degree in the field, the average salary can be $100,000 per year or higher.

A graphic designer is responsible for creating different visual designs through the use of digital illustrations, images, and typography. These visual concepts aim to communicate a message that inspires and encourages customers to buy a product or service. For graduates with a master’s degree in graphic design, there are many more career path opportunities. One of those is becoming an instructor at a college or university in the field of graphic design. This can be a very lucrative position and also rewarding. Below are other job opportunities for graduates with a master’s degree in graphic design along with their income potential.

Careers and Salaries for Graphic Designers
  • Graphic Engineer: This position pays up to $102,000 per year. You will be responsible for developing, writing, designing, and debugging code for a variety of products including video games.
  • Senior Designer: A senior designer is responsible for overseeing all creative solutions, print, and digital art. This person is responsible for managing a team to promote a client’s brand. This pays between $65,000 and $100,000 per year.
  • Design Checker: A design checker can make up to $94,000 per year. Responsibilities include examining the drawings by engineers, parts, and assemblies to ensure they are complete and accurate.
  • Motion Graphics Designer: a motion graphics designer’s salary is around $85,000 per year. Responsibilities for this position include creating quality content that connects with an audience through different types of multimedia, including TV, the Internet, and electronic devices.
  • Interactive Graphic Designer: An interactive graphic designer can expect to make between $60,000 per year and $85,000 per year.
  • Other potential career paths: creative director, advertising designer, college or university instructor, freelance graphic designer, and several others.

Can You Become A Graphic Designer Online?

Yes, students can definitely become graphic designers through an online program. Colleges and universities across the United States now offer online and in-person graphic design programs for students. Online graphic design students can earn their associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees fully online in two years or less.

Graduates of an online graphic design degree program will be able to:

  • Create visual designs for a digital marketing campaign or other company or organization
  • Design logos for new and established companies
  • Create icons for websites
  • Design book covers
  • Create animated advertisements and other media.
  • Illustrate books
  • Create images and other visual assets for products or presentations and much more.

Can You Be a Graphic Designer Without a Degree?

While many graphic design positions will require job candidates to at least possess an associate degree in graphic design or a related field of study, not all do. For students who have a love of creativity and art and want to become graphic designers quickly, a certificate program may suffice. There are many companies and organizations that will hire a graphic designer who only has certifications in specific areas. Some companies and organizations only require graphic designer candidates to possess a high school diploma.

Graphic designers who want to freelance and find their own clients by creating their own graphic design business do not need to have a degree at all. Many freelancers will embark on a certificate program so they can specialize in certain areas and show potential clients what their skill sets and knowledge levels are through the certificates they have learned.

For students who want to advance in their careers as graphic designers or who want to continue their education to a higher level, a master’s degree in graphic design may be in order. This will allow students to become college or university instructors in the field of graphic design or to advance to higher levels in the field. Some of those levels include creative director and brand design director.

What Are the Levels of Graphic Designers?

There are different levels of graphic designers. Below are the different levels of graphic designers and some of the duties of each position.

Graphic Designer Career Levels
  • Junior Graphic Designer: a junior graphic designer will create layouts for a variety of projects, correct typefaces, conduct color corrections, draw or redraw logos, and other tasks. This position is basically an assistant to the main graphic designer at a company or organization.
  • Graphic Designer: A graphic designer is responsible for carrying out all the processes that need to be completed to take a concept they come up with to the final design. The position includes speaking with clients and creating a variety of different types of visual designs.
  • Senior Graphic Designer: A senior graphic designer has more responsibilities than a person who is working as a graphic designer or junior graphic designer. This person will be responsible for coming up with a variety of different designs and then carrying them out to completion. Some of the projects they will work on will be more large-scale projects that take more time and responsibility.
Senior-level Graphic Designer Titles
  • Studio Manager: Studio managers are very similar to senior graphic designers. They do have the added responsibility of delegating different projects and assignments to other staff members and managing the staff overall. This can include performance evaluations and even ordering resources for designers to use in their jobs.
  • Art Director: An art director position is considered at most companies to be the highest level in the area of graphic design. The person in this position will still get to use their creative skills in their job positions and will make a much higher salary than others. This is because they will be responsible for entire projects and the people working on them.
  • Creative Director: A creative director is at the top level in the graphic design field. This person oversees many creative projects at once and delegates responsibility to staff members to ensure that they are carried out. The creative director also meets with clients and others to determine the concept for a particular design project.

What Are the 4 Types Of Graphic Designers?

There are four types of graphic designers. There are those who focus on creating brand identity and logo design to help companies and organizations promote their products and services. Other types of graphic designers focus on package design as well as web and mobile design or layout imprint design. These are all extremely important areas of the overall field of graphic design.

Students we’ll learn throughout the time it takes them to earn their graphic design degree as to which area they like the most. There are many students that are talented in all four areas but they may want to focus on one specific area. Another option for graphic designers is to become self-employed and open their own graphic design business. This means they will handle all four levels of graphic design to complete projects for their clients.

Can a Graphic Designer Be a Creative Director?

Many graduates with a degree in graphic design have advanced their way into the position of creative director. This position is considered to be the top level in the graphic design field. Creative directors may also have started out as artists, photographers, marketing assistants, or people in other types of artistic jobs before they advance to the level of a creative director position.

The position of creative director normally pays around $100,000 per year or more, so it can be very lucrative. There are more responsibilities, though, for creative directors, since they are overseeing multiple projects at once as well as the staff needed to complete them.


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