20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Programs

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In this article, we highlight the 20 best online bachelor’s in graphic design programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for graphic designers remains steady and consistent over the next eight years. The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by BLS suggests that graphic designers will face strong competition for available positions. This means that degrees in graphic design are essential in securing employment and advancing current careers.

Methodology

We reviewed 74 accredited colleges and universities that offered online graphic design degrees or related programs like web design, visual communication, digital media, or digital arts, and other closely related disciplines. We established our original pool of schools by collecting data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. We then reviewed rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report in order to retain for consideration only the programs that had received rankings or recognition. From these recognized programs, we narrowed our pool of schools to the 20 online bachelor’s degree programs with the lowest in-state undergraduate tuition price published by NCES College Navigator. We then listed our schools in order of affordability.

20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Programs 2017

Below are our resulting selections for the 20 best online bachelor’s degrees in graphic design.

#20 – Savannah College of Art and Design

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Savannah, Georgia

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SCAD – a top choice for bachelor’s in graphic design online degrees.

Undergraduate Tuition: $38,075

Distance education options are available at Savannah College of Art and Design. Select programs allow busy students to take online courses that accommodate working schedules and outside obligations. One available program at SCAD is the online bachelor’s in graphic design. Courses cover applicable topics in graphic design like core principles of interactive design, graphic design media management, graphic design studio idea visualization, history of graphic design, production for print and digital environments, and typography. Students also have the option of minoring in graphic design if another major, such as advertising, branded entertainment, illustration, or sequential art, is chosen. Savannah College ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings include #75 in best online bachelor’s programs.

#19 – California Baptist University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design and Digital Media

Riverside, California

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Accredited and ranked. CBU offers online graphic design programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $36,340

California Baptist University offers an accredited online graphic design degree for individuals with existing careers and life obligations that prevent them from attending traditional classes. Courses are taught by experienced CBU professors. These courses cover a number of career-oriented topics, including advanced design, advanced image, history of graphic design, intermediate image, and intermediate typography. At the culmination of the program, a senior capstone project is required. In addition to being fully accredited, California Baptist University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks the school #40 in best regional universities in the West and #25 in best value schools.

#18 – Los Angeles Film School

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Hollywood, California

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LA Film School, offering affordable options for on online graphic design degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $33,100

The Los Angeles Film School offers a versatile graphic design degree that can lead to opportunities in a variety of industries like entertainment and film. The online bachelor’s degree consists of 120 credits and takes approximately 36 months to complete. Students enrolled in the graphic design online degree take one class at a time. Each course runs for a four-week period allowing students to focus on one subject or topic at a time. Online courses cover topics like design fundamentals, digital image making, digital literacy, photography in design, and type and layout. LA Film School is accredited and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#17 – Upper Iowa University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Fayette, Iowa

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Ranked and accredited! Upper Iowa’s online bachelor’s in graphic design.

Undergraduate Tuition: $32,945

The online bachelor’s in graphic design program at Upper Iowa University utilizes the latest digital technologies that can be parlayed into a versatile career. Courses are delivered online and taught by the same Upper Iowa faculty who teach on campus. Graphic design courses currently offered in the program cover topics like advertising design, digital animation, digital photography and editing, publication design, and web publishing and social media. A senior portfolio emphasizing advanced web design techniques fulfills the capstone experience. In addition to being fully accredited, Upper Iowa ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 119th-156th best regional university in the Midwest. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #189 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed.

#16 – Lesley University

Online Bachelor’s in Design for User Experience

Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Accredited and ranked! Lesley University – a top choice for online graphic design programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,950

Lesley University offers an online bachelor’s in design for user experience degree that is both affordable and ranked with U.S. News and World Report. The program prepares students for entry-level career opportunities through exposure to a strong foundation in graphic design principles. Students are taught to understand and address the human experience at the center of the design process. Courses cover topics like advanced web projects, elements of interface, history of modern designer, information architecture, language of design, and visual communication. In addition to being a fully accredited institution, Lesley ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 249th best national university and 303rd top performer on social mobility.

#15 – Kentucky Wesleyan College

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Owensboro, Kentucky

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100% online graphic design program – KWC!

Undergraduate Tuition: $28,540

At Kentucky Wesleyan College, students may earn an online bachelor’s in graphic design that is fully accredited and conveniently designed. The 100% online degree helps qualify individuals for highly skilled careers in graphic design and related fields. Students complete a core of art classes where foundations and principles of art and design are taught. Following completion of the core art courses, students begin a set of foundation design and drawing classes. Recent graduates of the program have gone on to pursue their master’s in graphic design or entered the workforce as graphic designers, web designers, and other related occupations. Kentucky Wesleyan College, a private institution, ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 18th best regional college in the South.

#14 – Southeastern University

Online Bachelor’s in Digital Media and Design

Lakeland, Florida

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SEU offers 100% online digital media and design programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,520

One alternative to a bachelor’s in graphic design online degree is a degree in digital media and design. At Southeastern University, this unique program offers fully online study, and serves as preparation for careers as designers, marketers, and web design masters. The online bachelor’s in digital media and design is for busy and working students with outside obligations that prevent them from attending on-campus classes. All courses are delivered online and cover topics like advanced design, advanced digital imaging, advanced illustration, digital layout and design, magazine design and production, and writing for digital media. Southeastern University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 103rd-133rd best regional university in the South. Additional rankings include #74 in top performers on social mobility and top online bachelor’s programs.

#13 – Full Sail University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Winter Park, Florida

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Accredited and affordable! Full Sail University’s online graphic design programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $25,820

At Full Sail University, students seeking an online bachelor’s in graphic design receiving an education that combines art and business. The bachelor’s degree program helps hone real-world skills in areas of interest like advertising, branding, and integration. The online program takes 29 months to complete, making it one of fastest programs on our list. Flexible courses cover topics like digital publishing and typography and page layout. In addition to design courses, students take a series of business courses that prepare them for the industry. Full Sail is a fully accredited institution that has earned recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#12 – Midway University

Online Bachelor’s in Marketing Communications – Graphic Design

Midway, Kentucky

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Study marketing communications and graphic design online at Midway University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,850

One of the most uniquely designed online bachelor’s in graphic design programs on our list is the marketing and design degree offered by Midway University. The fully online, rigorous study trains students by exposing them to various aspects of branding, business, communication, and graphic design. All courses are taught by Midway faculty and cover topics like animation, brand management, digital storytelling, photoshop, and social media management. Even in the online courses, Midway keeps their student-to-faculty ratio low at 15:1. Small class sizes allow students to get to know their professors and peers, even in an online format. In addition to being fully accredited, Midway ranks with U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #89 in best regional universities in the South and #10 in top performers on social mobility.

#11 – Academy of Art University

Online BFA in Graphic Design

San Francisco, California

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Earn an online BFA in graphic design at AAU!

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,664

At the Academy of Art University, the School of Graphic Design offers an online BFA program designed to help students gain superior knowledge in areas of graphic design. While enrolled in the program, students explore topics like composition of the artist, designing careers, design technology – visual design tools, digital photography, introduction to interactive design, and visual communication. To graduate, students must complete all required courses and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. While a proprietary institution, AAU is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent ranking includes #95-#124 in best regional universities in the West.

#10 – Liberty University

Online BFA in Graphic Design

Lynchburg, Virginia

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Affordable options for online graphic design programs – Liberty University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,587

Liberty University’s online bachelor’s in graphic design offers a hands-on learning approach that focuses on digital arts and visual communication. The entire program is online with courses taught by experienced faculty. Liberty’s online courses cover topics like advanced typography, digital imaging, graphic design, history of art, interactive publications, introduction to typography, and publication design. In addition to being accredited, Liberty University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks the school as a best national university. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #242 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

#9 – Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Online BFA in Graphic Design

Lakewood, Colorado

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RMCAD offers affordable options for an online bachelor’s in graphic design.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,725

Rocky Mountain College of Art offers an accredited online bachelor’s in graphic design that can be completed entirely via distance learning. While enrolled in the BFA program, students take classes taught by faculty members who also work as practicing industry professionals. These courses include design systems, experience design, graphic design, information visualization, rapid visualization and prototyping, and typographic design. Courses are designed so that students interact with their peers through technology and open communication. In addition to receiving full accreditation, Rocky Mountain College of Art is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top art school.

#8 – Regent University

Online BFA in Graphic Arts

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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A Christian worldview and BFA in graphic design online – Regent University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,720

Regent University, a top-ranked, accredited institution, offers an online BFA in graphic arts that teaches the technical foundations of graphic design through a Christian worldview. During the time enrolled as a BFA candidate, students are mentored by award-winning faculty. In addition to taking relevant design classes, students develop a professional portfolio that highlights skill mastery and artistic talents. Courses offered in the BFA program cover topics like comparative anatomy and figure drawing, digital illustration, digital photography, graphic symbolism, image manipulation, print production, and typography. According to U.S. News and World Report, Regent ranks #298-#389 in best national universities. Also, the school’s online bachelor’s programs rank #53 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#7 – Grand Canyon University

Online Bachelor’s in Advertising and Graphic Design

Phoenix, Arizona

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Flexibility! GCU’s online graphic design programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800

Grand Canyon University offers an accredited bachelor’s in advertising and graphic design that moves at a rigorous pace. The flexible online program offers seven-week courses that cover contemporary graphic design and advertising topics. Courses offered include advanced design fundamentals, design thinking, designing with type, digital advertising communication, image creation, media law and ethics, and web design. The program requires 120 credits for graduation; however, up to 90 credits may be transferred from an accredited institution. In addition to being accredited, GCU is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #290-#389 in best national universities and #39 in top performers on social mobility.

#6 – Hodges University

Online Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies – Design and Graphics

Fort Myers, Florida

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Study design and graphics online at Hodges University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,660

Hodges University offers an accredited online bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies with a design and graphics track. The program not only provides students with relevant and career-focused study, but serves as preparation of high demand soft skills, such critical thinking and team collaboration. The degree program is one of the few on our list to have received certification by the American Digital Design Association (ADDA) and is recognized as one of the top design and graphics programs in the field. Also, Hodges ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 103rd-133rd best regional university in the South.

#5 – Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Online Bachelor’s in Digital Multimedia Design

University Park, Pennsylvania

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At Penn State World Campus, study design in digital multimedia design!

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,988

Pennsylvania State University World Campus is an affordable institution offering an online bachelor’s of design in digital multimedia design. The online degree prepares students for rewarding careers in creative industries, including marketing, media, product design, and technology. Courses, taught by online faculty, cover topics like basic photography for communications, digital multimedia design studio, introduction to application development, and writing for media. In addition to being affordable and accredited, Penn State ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings include Penn State World Campus among the 10th best online bachelor’s programs in the United States.

#4 – Wilmington University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

New Castle, Delaware

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Wilmington University’s College of Technology offers a bachelor’s in graphic design degree program – ideal for those seeking online programs!

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,480

Wilmington University’s College of Technology offers a bachelor’s in graphic design degree program that is open to students who already hold an associate degree or higher. The program offers skills-based preparation for careers in design. Courses are delivered online and taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. These courses cover topics like design for marketing, fundamentals of motion graphics, Photoshop and InDesign, and visual communication. On-the-job skills are also honed, as students take part in an optional six-credit cooperative learning experience. Wilmington University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#3 – Arizona State University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Tempe, Arizona

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Affordable and ranked! ASU’s online bachelor’s in graphic design.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,338

One of the more affordable online graphic design degree programs on our list is the bachelor’s in design in graphic design at Arizona State University. The online program consists of 26 classes and 120 credits. Classes run 7.5 weeks in length and move along at a rigorous pace. Courses focus on the visual language of graphic design and visual communication. Here, students learn useful tools and gain advanced skills they can carry with them into the workplace. Courses cover topics like design drawing, designing life, graphic design history, principles for graphic design, and visual communication. In addition to a fully accredited program, ASU offers rankings with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #103 in best national universities and #6 out of 1,200 in best online bachelor’s programs.

#2 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Manchester, New Hampshire

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SNHU – a top choice for an online graphic design degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,650

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online bachelor’s in graphic design program designed for working and busy students. Accredited by the NECHE, the program also offers two concentrations in unique niches. Concentrations allow students the opportunity to tailor their degree towards specific areas of interest. The two available concentrations include 3D modeling and animation and web design. All classes are delivered online and cover topics like basic design and color theory, digital graphic design for the web, graphics and layout in print media, introduction to digital imaging, and language and practice of media arts. In addition to being one of the most affordable schools on our list, Southern New Hampshire University ranks #75 in best regional universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report.

#1 – Bellevue University

Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design

Bellevue, Nebraska

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#1 most affordable online bachelor’s in graphic design programs – Bellevue University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,851

In the #1 position for best online graphic design degree programs is Bellevue University. The school offers an affordable bachelor’s in graphic design that can be completed entirely online. All classes are taught by university professors and industry experts. Classes cover a number of contemporary and career-focused topics like design basics, fundamentals of web design, history of contemporary graphic design, publication design, single page decision, and web page design. In addition to being fully accredited and affordable, Bellevue University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #119-#156 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #139 in top performers on social mobility.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an online bachelor’s in graphic design degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports approximately one-fifth of all graphic designers are self-employed. Graphic designer working as freelancers find work in specialized fields like advertising and public relations, printing, and publishing. Outside of self-employment, there are other avenues to take when seeking a career as a graphic designer.

Below are several different occupations of available career paths for individuals with an online bachelor’s in graphic design.

Art director
An art director working in advertising, media productions, or publications manages the artistic and visual elements of a PR campaign and published materials. They are responsible for reviewing work from staff artists and presenting designs to clients and organizational leaders.

Graphic designer
Graphic designers work closely with senior graphic designers and peers to create visuals needed to promote organizations and products. They are familiar with digital platforms and computer programs, though may work by hand when necessary.

Senior graphic designer
A senior graphic designer has more responsibilities than a graphic designer. The senior role typically means the graphic designer manages teams or operates as a team leader. The role is reserved for graphic artists and designers with appropriate work experience. Often, a junior associate or freelancer with years of experience can move up in ranks after joining a company.

What professional associations are available for students enrolled in online bachelor’s in graphic design programs?

While enrolled in an online bachelor’s in graphic design program, you may join a professional association. Membership of a professional graphic design association offers many benefits to students. Below we have outlined three top professional associations for aspiring graphic designers and the benefits available to their members.

AIGA

With a representation of over 25,000 members across 70-plus national chapters, the AIGA is easily the largest professional organization for graphic designers. AIGA hosts monthly events in the U.S., and is responsible for creating initiatives aimed at boosting diversity within the graphic design industry.

Graphic Artists Guild (GAG)

GAG or Graphic Artists Guild invites graphic design professionals and students to join its extensive network. For a low-cost rate of $75 per year, students may join GAG and gain access to online resources. These resources include guides for licensing, negotiating contracts, and submitting work for competitions.

International Council for Design

The International Council for Design was founded in London in 1963, and is one of the oldest professional associations in graphic design. The council offers design achievement awards, conference and exhibition awards, and an extensive mentorship program for students and entry-level professionals. As with all professional associations in graphic design, the International Council for Design offers networking opportunities that provide and promote access within the graphic design industry.

How much money can I earn with an online bachelor’s in graphic design degree?

The median annual wage for graphic designers varies by industry and geographic location. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for graphic designers is approximately $53,300. The lowest ten percent of earners in this occupation made $31,720, while the highest ten percent of earners brought in about $93,400.

As stated above, industry type impacts earnings. According to BLS, there are four top paying industries for graphic designers. The highest paying industry is advertising, public relations, and related services. Graphic designers in this industry earn a median annual wage of $55,800, slightly higher than the median annual wage for all graphic designers. The second highest paying industry for this occupation is specialized design services. In this industry, graphic designers, according to BLS, earn a median annual wage of $54,840. Again, the annual wage for graphic designers working in specialized design services is slightly higher than the average annual wage for all graphic designers. The remaining two top paying industries, as reported by BLS, are newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers and printing and related support activities.

Another impact on earnings for graphic designers is geographic location. The May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics information published by BLS reveals the five top paying states for graphic designers are District of Columbia, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia.

What is the job outlook for individuals with an online bachelor’s in graphic design degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a slow decline of four percent in the employment of graphic designers over the next eight years. Due to the projected decline, graphic designers will face strong competition for jobs. But there are ways to stand out against competition and make you a more favorable candidate.

According to BLS, the overall employment for graphic designers is expected to decrease, but specific industries show different projections. The greatest employment decline for graphic designers is expected in industries like publishing. For example, book, directory, newspaper, and periodical publishers show a significant decline in employment for graphic designers and graphic artists. However, employment for this occupation is expected to grow in computer systems design. As companies increase their digital presence and online brand, graphic designers will be needed to assist in the creation of visually appealing and effective layouts of company websites.

With an overall decrease in job prospects for this occupation, strong competition is expected for available openings. Prospects will be the best for individuals who keep up with the latest design trends and technologies. Earning a certificate or having specialty knowledge in an area in high demand will help you to become a favorable candidate.

In addition to an online bachelor’s in graphic design degree, what qualities should I have for career entry and/or advancement?

While education and training are important for graphic designers, equally important qualities ensure success on the job. These qualities are not always taught in the classroom and are considered soft skills, rather than hard skills gained through coursework and practice. Critical soft skills for graphic designers, whether self-employed or working with an organization, are as follows:

Analytical skills – An important aspect of the job as a graphic design is to interpret what their client wants and needs while viewing their work through the consumer’s perspective. Having strong analytical skills helps a graphic designer convey the right message to both their client and the consumer.

Artistic ability – Graphic designers are artists. They create artistic designs that are aesthetically pleasing and appealing to clients and consumers. Often, a graphic designer will produce rough sketches or illustrations by hand or computer program.

Communication skills – Communicating with clients, customers, and team members made up of other graphic designers is an important aspect of the job. Being able to convey information and expectations clearly helps.

Creativity – A creative graphic designer thinks of new and exciting ways to promote ideas. Graphic designers develop ideas and convey them creatively to clients.

Solid time management skills – Since graphic designers often work on multiple projects at a time, strong and effective time management skills are important.

BDP Staff
June 2021

Related Resources:

This concludes our article on the 20 best online bachelor’s in graphic design programs.

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