A degree in graphic design can help you land a meaningful career doing something you enjoy. But you don’t have to get a traditional degree. There are many online graphic design degree programs out there if you know where to look.
In this article, we found the 20 best online graphic design and graphic arts programs. We discuss what careers are out there for graphic design students and how much money you can earn with an online graphic design degree.
Best Graphic Design Online Programs Methodology
We reviewed 85 accredited colleges and universities that offer online graphic design degrees or related programs such as:
- Digital arts
- Digital Media
- Visual communication
- Web design
The information used for our original pool of schools came from data collection with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. To further narrow our search, we chose schools with rankings from U.S. News & World Report. We also considered cost and affordability. We chose schools with tuition under $40,000/year that offered financial aid incentives. We listed the schools and programs according to raw affordability.
Ranking the 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design
#20 – Savannah College of Art and Design
Undergraduate Tuition: $39,605
Savannah College of Art and Design is a good school for an online design degree. The school offers a BA in Graphic Design.
In this program, students learn skills relevant to the industry. As a graphic design major, you study everything from web design to visual communication. Graphic design students take courses that prepare them to land a job after graduation. Graphic design courses you can expect to take include:
- Graphic design media management
- Graphic design studio idea visualization
- History of graphic design
- Production for print and digital environments
- Web design
Graphic design students can also minor in another relevant area. Students take courses in advertising and branded entertainment. The graphic design degree program is set up for students to explore their interests.
SCAD ranks with U.S. News & World Report. Current rankings include #9 in best regional universities in the South and #6 in most innovative schools.
#19 – California Baptist University
Undergraduate Tuition: $38,058
California Baptist University offers online graphic design programs for students seeking careers in the industry. You can earn a BA in Graphic Design and Digital Media.
In this program, students take a series of graphic design courses. They learn about advanced design and image. They also learn graphic design history and how to put theories to practice. All classes focus on giving students graphic design skills that will help them succeed on the job. These courses cover topics like:
- Intermediate image
- Intermediate typography
- Media arts
- Web design
Near the end of the program, students complete a senior capstone project. The project gives you experience in the work done by graphic designers.
Since the program offers financial aid packages, students can lessen their CBU tuition burden while earning the graphic design online degree. But you’ll need your official high school transcripts and a good GPA to qualify for some aid.
CBU ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. Its current rankings include #28 in best regional universities in the West.
#18 – Upper Iowa University
Undergraduate Tuition: $33,639
At Upper Iowa University, students can earn a design degree online. The school offers a bachelor’s degree in graphic design for students who want to build a career in digital technologies.
In this program, students learn how to solve technical and creative problems. Courses help them build skills needed to produce advertisements, videos, and social media posts. Students take online graphic design courses that cover topics such as:
- Advertising design
- Digital design and animation
- Digital photography
- Media arts
- Web design
- Web development
During the final year of the program, students create a senior portfolio. The portfolio emphasizes advanced web design techniques and fulfills the capstone experience.
UIU ranks with U.S. News & World Report. Current rankings include #127-166 in best Midwest regional universities.
#17 – Los Angeles Film School
Undergraduate Tuition: $32,500
The Los Angeles Film School is a good graphic design online college. It offers a BS in Graphic Design for students wanting careers in entertainment and film.
The online graphic design degree consists of 120 credit hours and takes about 36 months to complete. Each course moves at a fast pace. Most run four weeks and allow students to focus on one subject or topic at a time.
To gain graphic design skills, students take courses such as:
- Design fundamentals
- Digital design and image making
- Digital literacy
- Photography in design
- Type and layout in media arts
- Web development
#16 – Lesley University
Undergraduate Tuition: $31,364
Lesley University offers a unique degree for students interested in becoming web designers, art directors, and more. Students can earn a BS in Design for User Experience degree.
The program consists of 120 total credit hours. In the online bachelor program, students gain graphic design principles they can apply in the real world. They learn about the human experience at the center of the design process.
Through courses and curriculum, students learn about different digital design skills. Courses cover topics such as:
- Digital media design
- History of modern design
- Information architecture
- Language of digital design
- Visual communication
- Web design
Lesley ranks with U.S. News as a top national university.
#15 – Kentucky Wesleyan College
Undergraduate Tuition: $31,300
Kentucky Wesleyan College is one of the best schools for graphic design. Students can earn a BA in Graphic Design online.
In the program, students complete a core of art classes. They learn foundations and principles of art and design. Once you finish foundation courses, you take a set of design and drawing classes. Graphic design classes become more advanced each semester.
Between courses and curriculum, students gain a comprehensive background to work in the graphic design industry. Recent graduates of the graphic design degree online program enter the workforce as:
- Art directors
- Graphic designers
- Web designers
KWC ranks with U.S. News & World Report. Its current rankings include #24 in best regional colleges in the South.
#14 – Southeastern University
Undergraduate Tuition: $30,148
Southeastern University is a top school for a graphic design degree online. Students can earn a BS in Digital Media and Design.
In this program, students prepare for careers as art directors and web designers. They also learn skills needed to work in most graphic designer jobs.
Students take a series of basic and advanced design and digital imaging courses. In the program, students learn the basics of writing for digital media. Graphic design majors also develop strong critical thinking skills to solve complex graphic design problems. Courses cover topics like:
- Advanced design
- Advanced digital imaging
- Advanced illustration
- Digital layout and design
- Magazine design and production
- Media arts
- Web development and design
SU ranks with U.S. News as a top national university and top performer in social mobility.
#13 – Academy of Art University
Undergraduate Tuition: $26,728
As far as graphic design schools online, Academy of Art University is a top choice. The School of Graphic Design offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a concentration in graphic design.
In this program, students gain skills needed to land a job and work in a successful graphic design career. Classes provide instruction in areas of fine arts and design. Students learn how to use design software to create images and brands. You can plan on covering everything from how to use Adobe Creative Cloud to creating marketing campaigns that work.
Courses covered in the fine arts program include:
- Brand identity
- Composition of the artist
- Digital photography
- Introduction to interactive design
- Visual communication
AAU ranks with U.S. News & World Report. It ranks #88 in best regional universities in the West.
#12 – Full Sail University
Undergraduate Tuition: $26,307
At Full Sail University, students can earn an online graphic design degree. The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design is an online program designed for busy and working students.
In the graphic design program, students gain real-work skills they can apply to different areas of graphic design and art. They also learn advertising and branding techniques.
The online program takes 29 months to complete. Flexible courses cover topics such as:
- Digital publishing and graphic arts
- Page layout
- Research methods in brand identity
- Visual communication skills
- Web design
After graduation, students can apply what they learn in school to jobs as art directors or other graphic design jobs.
#11 – Midway University
Undergraduate Tuition: $25,050
Midway University offers some of the best online graphic design programs. Students can earn an undergraduate degree in marketing communications with a graphic design concentration.
In this online graphic design program, students learn skills they can use in different graphic design careers. Students take graphic design classes that cover topics in branding and business. They also study communication and digital media design.
In the many different courses you take in the online degree program, you use industry standard software common to the field of graphic design. You take courses such as:
- Brand management
- Design software and creative development
- Digital storytelling
- User interface design
The courses offer a low student-faculty ratio of 15:1. It is in these small classes that students get to know their professors and peers.
#10 – Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Undergraduate Tuition: $22,607
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is a good school for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. It offers a fine arts degree with a concentration in graphic design.
While enrolled in the fine arts program (BFA), you can take classes taught by industry professionals. Faculty who teach at RMCAD also work as art directors or in other graphic design jobs.
While in the online degree program, students learn relevant skills they can apply to careers in the industry. These courses cover topics such as:
- Design systems
- Experience design
- Information visualization
- Rapid visualization and prototyping
- Typographic design
RMCAD ranks with U.S. News & World Report as a top fine arts school.
#9 – Liberty University
Undergraduate Tuition: $22,511
Liberty University is an affordable school for an online graphic design degree. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design.
The bachelor’s degree program focuses on digital arts and visual communication. It consists of 120 total credit hours and takes about 3.5 years to complete. You can reduce the time it takes to earn the fine arts degree by applying transfer credits.
In the fine arts program, students learn skills they can apply in the industry. Through online courses, students explore different relevant topics. These include:
- Advanced typography
- Design software
- Digital imaging
- History of art
Liberty University ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. It ranks as a top national university.
#8 – Regent University
Undergraduate Tuition: $19,680
Regent University is an affordable school for a fine arts degree. Students can earn a BFA in Graphic Arts degree.
In the online degree program, students get a higher education through a Christian worldview. Courses teach relevant topics that are useful in the industry. Students take design classes and a capstone course. They work on a professional portfolio that highlights skill mastery and artistic talents.
Courses in the online degree cover topics like:
- Digital illustration
- Digital photography
- Graphic arts symbolism
- Image manipulation
- Print production
Regent ranks with U.S. News & World Report as a top national university. It also ranks #56 in top performers on social mobility.
#7 – Grand Canyon University
Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800
Grand Canyon University is a good school to study graphic design. It offers a BA in Advertising and Graphic Design.
In the graphic design bachelor’s degree program, you learn how advertising and graphic design work together. Classes are short but concise, jam-packed with topics students need to know for graphic design jobs. Most courses run for seven weeks. They cover relevant topics such as:
- Advanced design fundamentals
- Digital advertising communication
- Image creation
- Media law and ethics
- Web design
The program requires 120 credits for graduation. But the school accepts transfer credits. You can transfer up to 90 from an accredited institution.
GCU ranks with major publications like U.S. News. Recent rankings include #331-#440 in best national universities.
#6 – Hodges University
Undergraduate Tuition: $15,500
Hodges University is a good school to study for digital design. It offers a BA in Digital Design and Graphics online degree.
The interdisciplinary degree offers career-focused study. Students learn high-demand soft skills, such as critical thinking skills and team collaboration. Students also spend time building technical skills in graphic design. From using Adobe Creative Suite to making creative projects, the online degree program prepares students for a successful career.
The online degree program is also one of the few to have received certification by the American Digital Design Association (ADDA).
Hodges ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university in the South.
#5 – Southern New Hampshire University
Undergraduate Tuition: $15,380
Southern New Hampshire University is one of the top higher education universities offering online bachelor’s programs in graphic design. Students can earn a BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts degree with two concentration options.
A concentration can help you tailor your degree toward a specific area of interest. These concentrations include User Experience Design and Web Design. No matter which concentration you choose, you must complete 120 credit hours.
The courses you take focus on different areas of design and media. Course topics explore:
- Basic design and color theory
- Digital graphic design for the web
- Graphics and layout in print media
SNHU is an affordable choice with many financial aid options. The school also ranks with U.S. News & World Report and is NECHE-accredited.
#4 – PennState World Campus
Undergraduate Tuition: $15,054
Pennsylvania State University World Campus is an affordable school for students wanting to study graphic design and digital multimedia design. The school offers a bachelor’s degree in Digital Multimedia Design.
The mission of the program is to help students prepare for rewarding careers in creative industries. With this bachelor’s degree, you can qualify for jobs in marketing, media, and product design. You can also work in different areas of technology.
Your online education covers topics like:
- Adobe Creative Cloud and creative development
- Basic photography for communications
- Digital multimedia design studio
- Writing for media
Penn State ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. The bachelor’s degree programs rank #25 in the country.
#3 – Wilmington University
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,030
Wilmington University is an affordable school for graphic design studies. With its many financial aid programs, you can earn an affordable bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
The BS in Graphic Design program is open to students with an associate’s degree or higher. The program offers skills-based courses for those seeking careers in the industry. Online courses cover topics such as:
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Design for marketing
- Fundamentals of motion graphics
- Photoshop and InDesign
- Visual communication
Students can also take part in an optional six-credit cooperative learning experience. This option allows students to earn credits and relevant experience at the same time.
WU ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as a top national university.
#2 – Arizona State University
Undergraduate Tuition: $11,618
Arizona State University is a good school for a graphic design bachelor’s degree. It offers a BS in Graphic Design.
The program consists of 120 total credit hours. Students take 26 classes that run between seven and eight weeks. Courses move at a rigorous pace, but focus on specific topics.
In the graphic design program, students learn visual language and communication. Studies help prepare them with useful tools they can carry with them into the workplace. Some of the courses students take include:
- Design drawing
- Designing life
- Graphic design history
- Research methods
- Visual communication
ASU ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. Rankings include #121 in best national universities and #56 in top public schools.
#1 – Bellevue University
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,790
Bellevue University is the most affordable school on our list for an online graphic design degree. Students can earn a BA in Graphic Design degree.
In the program, you learn graphic design skills you can apply to different lines of work. Some students go into marketing, while others pursue jobs in graphic arts and web design.
All online classes help students learn career-focused topics. These courses explore studies in:
- Design basics
- Fundamentals of web design
- History of contemporary graphic design
- Publication design
- Single page design
- Web page design
Bellevue University ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. These rankings include best regional university in the Midwest.
Frequently Asked Questions
From graphic arts to web design, the skills you gain in a graphic design program can help you find a career in the industry. Here are FAQs about the field, pay, and job outlook.
What can you do with an online degree in graphic design?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 19% of all graphic designers are self-employed. Graphic designers working as freelancers find work in specialized fields like:
- Advertising and public relations
But outside of self-employment, there are other roles you can take as a graphic designer. Below we discuss the many different career paths you can take with an online graphic design degree.
Art directors work in advertising, media productions, and publications. They manage the artistic and visual elements of a PR campaign. They are responsible for reviewing work from staff artists and present designs to clients.
Graphic designers work with senior graphic designers and peers. They create visuals needed to promote organizations and products. They are familiar with digital platforms and computer programs. But they also work by hand.
Senior Graphic Designer
A senior graphic designer has more responsibilities than a graphic designer. In a senior role, the graphic designer manages teams and operates as a team leader. You need experience to land this role. A junior associate or freelancer with experience can move up in ranks. But it takes time and effort to do so.
Can students studying graphic design join professional associations?
Graphic design students have access to some professional associations. Professional graphic design associations offer many benefits to college students. They provide networking opportunities and access to conferences. Some also provide support in resumé building. Here are some professional associations for aspiring graphic designers.
AIGA is the largest professional organization for graphic designers. It represents over 25,000 members across 70-plus national chapters. The organization hosts monthly events in the U.S. It is also responsible for creating initiatives aimed at boosting diversity in the graphic design industry.
Graphic Artists Guild (GAG)
GAG or Graphic Artists Guild invites graphic design professionals and students to join its extensive network. Students get access to online resources that include:
- Guides for licensing
- Negotiating contracts
- Submitting work for competitions
International Council for Design
The International Council for Design is one of the oldest associations for graphic design. Founded in London in 1963, its council offers:
- Conference and exhibition awards
- Design achievement awards
- Mentorship programs for students and entry-level professionals
ICD also offers networking opportunities that provide and promote access to careers in the graphic design industry.
How much money can you earn with a graphic design degree?
The median annual wage for graphic designers varies by industry and geographic location. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage is $50,710. The lowest 10% of earners in this occupation make about $31,000/year. The highest 10% see over $98,000/year.
But the industry you work in impacts wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports four top-paying industries for graphic designers. These industries and average pay include:
- Specialized design services: $58,610/year
- Advertising, PR, and related services: $52,050/year
- Newspaper, periodical, book publishers: $44,540/year
- Printing and related support activities: $39,090/year
Self-employed graphic designers can earn high wages. They also enjoy flexible schedules. Some choose to work evenings and weekends, while others stick to strict weekday office hours. But the key to job flexibility is completing graphic design bachelor’s programs.
What is the job outlook for graphic design jobs?
After completing your degree and higher education, it’s time to learn what you can expect after you graduate. Graduating from a digital media program as a graphic designer can offer different graphic design careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 3% increase in employment for related jobs.
The overall job outlook is favorable but not growing as fast as some industries. This means candidates for some jobs will face strong competition. To make yourself stand out against competition, you need to showcase your skills.
Prospects will be the best for graduates who keep up with the latest design trends and technologies. Continuing education is a good way to show an employer you’re up on the latest trends. You can also earn a certificate. This will help show that your graphic design degree worth is more than a diploma.
But remember, your degree is the most important thing. You need an accredited degree (Colleges and Schools Commission) to qualify for employment. So make sure you only look at programs that have received accreditation from the Colleges and Schools Commission or another governing body.
What qualities do graphic artists and designers need to advance?
Higher education and training are important for graphic designers. You need certain skills to do the job. But successful graphic designers have specific qualities. These qualities make them good at their job. Read on to learn what qualifies you need to advance in this career.
Graphic designers interpret what the client wants and needs. They do this while viewing their work through the consumer’s perspective. You should have strong analytical skills as a graphic designer to convey the right message to both client and consumer.
Graphic designers are artists. They create artistic designs that appeal to clients and consumers. A graphic designer will produce rough sketches or illustrations by hand. They also use computer programs to create designs.
Communicating with clients, customers, and teams are an important aspect of the job. When you convey information clearly, you can lead teams and projects in a successful way. You’re able to set up a project for success.
Creative graphic designers think of new and exciting ways to promote ideas. Graphic designers help develop ideas and convey them to clients. This takes creativity.
Time Management Skills
Since graphic designers work on many projects at once, they should have good time management skills. They should also have the ability to meet deadlines.
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