The Best Online Graphic
Design Schools in 2021

Graphic design is one of the few disciplines that bridges the gap between art and technology. If you have a talent for it and are looking for the best online graphic design schools to boost your skills, this piece is for you.

The training you will get from a formal education will help you become a graphic designer. It doesn’t matter if you want to be an entrepreneur or not. With an accredited education in graphic design, you can shape your career to best suit your needs.

This is your guide to the top online graphic design schools. It covers details about the schools themselves and information about job opportunities that await you.

In Brief: Top 10 Online Graphic Design Schools in 2021

These are some of the top schools for graphic design training. The table below offers insight into these schools, the programs they offer, their accreditation status, and the cost of each program.

Keep in mind that the information in the table was taken directly from each school’s website. However, the tuition rates may be subject to change.

School Degrees and Tuition Accreditation
Academy of Art University Associate of Arts (AA) in Graphic Design
$1,059 per credit
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design
$1,059 per credit
Master of Arts (MA) in Graphic Design and Digital Media
$1,191 per credit
WASC Senior College and
University Commission (WSCUC)
Bellevue University Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design
Most students: $430 per credit
Military: $250 per credit
Higher Learning Commission
Berkeley College Graphic Design Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
Full-time: $12,650 per semester
Part-time: $870 per credit
Middle States Commission on
Higher Education
California Baptist University Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design and Digital Media
$613 per unit
WASC Senior College and
University Commission (WSCUC)
Franklin University Bachelor of Science (BS) in Interactive Media Design
Most students: $398 per credit
Military: $250 per credit
International students: $526 per credit
Higher Learning Commission
Full Sail University Bachelor of Science (BS) in Graphic Design
$733 per credit hour
Accrediting Commission of
Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
Independence University Bachelor of Science (BS) in Graphic Arts
$14,585 per year
Accrediting Commission of
Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
Kentucky Wesleyan College Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design
$455 per credit hour
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Liberty University Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design
$390 per credit
Bachelor of Science (BS) in Studio and Digital Arts: Graphic Design
$390 per credit
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design
$565 per credit
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Midway University Online Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Communications: Graphic Design
$395 per credit
Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Why You Should Attend a Graphic Design School Online

Attending a graphic design school online is a flexible option for anyone who wants to pick up the skills without making dramatic changes to their existing routine. All classes are held remotely and every student enrolled with a computer and Internet connection can participate. There are also self-paced courses that allow you to have control over the pace of study.

Online graphic design schools prepare you for the evolution of work. Recently, companies have been embracing remote and hybrid office spaces. Adapting to a remote workplace from remote learning is an easy transition. Traditional learning environments still come with many advantages, but they don’t offer the flexibility of online learning.

Choosing the Best Graphic Design School for You

There are different graphic design schools that offer online learning. Some factors you should consider when choosing a school are cost, curriculum, and accreditation.

Cost and Financing

Did you know that the cost of attendance of an online school is often lower than that of an in-person school? Still, it can help if you have a rough estimate of the financial burden. Also, you can see if you qualify for federal financial aid or any other types of financial aid. When browsing the best private student loans, try to choose one with flexible rates.

Curriculum

The curriculum should cover programming and software tools frequently used by graphic designers. It should include the front end coding languages HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There should be courses on Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and the full Adobe Creative Suite. Finally, the curriculum should cover Microsoft applications and animation tools.

Accreditation

Higher institutions in the United States are either regionally or nationally accredited to award degrees. If you don’t have an accredited degree, employers may not recognize them.

If you can’t find an accredited online school that you can afford, you may want to look into other options. A viable alternative would be standalone online graphic design courses or a graphic design bootcamp.

In Depth: The Best Graphic Design Schools of 2021

Below is a more detailed version of the list above. It was designed to help you make a more informed decision about your graphic design training. It contains a brief description of each school and program. The graduation rates are estimates based on public data made available by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Academy of Art University

Degree Levels: Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts
Graduation Rate: 47%

The Academy of Art University has a graphic design program for anyone who wants to learn how to apply modern technologies in graphic design. The school was founded in 1929, and it has a 100 percent acceptance rate.

While there are concerns about the graduation rate, the curriculum for graphic design is solid. You will learn motion design, branding, printing, experience design, and so much more.

Academy of Art University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

The faculty is made up of lecturers with years of real-world graphic design experience. This makes for a unique learning experience.

Bellevue University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Arts
Graduation Rate: 23%

Located in the heart of Nebraska, Bellevue University is one of the best places for graphic design training. The school was initially designed for adult education in 1966, but things have changed since then. You will learn how to use all the required Adobe tools, typography, and front end technologies. You will get your degree after completing 127 credits.

Bellevue University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

You will not only learn how to use technology in graphic design, but you will also develop problem-solving and brand marketing skills.

Berkeley College

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Fine Arts
Graduation Rate: 31%

Apart from the New York and New Jersey campuses of Berkeley College, students can enroll in an online graphic design program. The school has been handing out degrees and certificates since 1931. In the BFA program, you will learn web design, typography, digital publishing, digital photography, visual culture, and other skills.

Berkeley College Graphic Design Key Takeaway

There is a mandatory professional development seminar designed to teach students about career opportunities.

California Baptist University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Arts
Graduation Rate: 62%

Popularly called CBU, this private university was founded in 1950. It has a commendable graphic design program. The online program offers a fairly affordable bachelor’s degree for a private university. The program highlights are Adobe InDesign, digital photography, Adobe Illustrator, web design, scripting, and a host of others.

CBU Graphic Design Key Takeaway

Students are entitled to internships during the program so they can gain first-hand experience.

Franklin University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 42%

While Franklin University has its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, people in different parts of the world can enroll in the school’s online degree programs. The school offers an interdisciplinary degree that doesn’t just cover graphic design. You will also learn web design, flash animation, interactive media, and media design.

Franklin University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

The interdisciplinary curriculum opens you to more job opportunities after you graduate. This is because it teaches a wider array of skills than other schools.

Full Sail University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 44%

This is a Florida-based for-profit university that has been around since 1979. The online graphic design bachelor’s degree lasts for 29 months. This is nine months longer than the on-campus degree. Courses include digital publishing, typography, branding, advertising, and other important aspects of graphic design.

Full Sail University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

The Momentum Scholarship offers qualified students up to $25,000 to support the cost of attendance at Full Sail University.

Independence University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 14%

This school is the online branch of Stevens-Henager College, which is based in Utah. It is a private university that has been around since 1978. The graphic arts school gives students two options. They can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Development.

Independence University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

The graphic arts degree covers eleven different specializations for a well-rounded understanding of the subject.

Kentucky Wesleyan College

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Arts
Graduation Rate: 38%

This is a private school founded in 1858 by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The total credit requirement for this degree is 120 credit hours. It covers more than the fundamental graphic design courses. You will learn about publication, typography, animation, branding, web design, digital painting, and more.

Kentucky Wesleyan College Graphic Design Key Takeaway

About 39 credits must come from general education requirements like humanities, math, and social science.

Liberty University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Fine Arts
Graduation Rate: 54%

This 50-year-old university is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The cost per credit is relatively affordable for a private university and online degrees are even more affordable than traditional ones. You can get undergraduate and graduate degrees in graphic design and related fields.

Liberty University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

There are different degree and concentration options to customize your education based on your interests.

Midway University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree
Graduation Rate: 51%

This is a Kentucky-based university that was founded in 1847. It was originally an all-girls school, but it has become a gender-inclusive higher institution in recent years. The online graphic design degree at Midway is actually a specialization in the Marketing Communications program.

During the accelerated degree, students will learn brand management, digital storytelling, Adobe Photoshop, social media management, and animation. The total credit requirement is 120 and you should be able to complete it in four years if you opt for the full-time program.

Midway University Graphic Design Key Takeaway

Midway is a Christian university, so you may be required to take one or two religious studies courses along with your graphic design and general education courses.

Types of Online Degrees in Graphic Design

Online schools for graphic design offer all the same degrees as the traditional schools. There are degrees on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The list below covers the Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees in Graphic Design.

Online Graphic Design Undergraduate Degrees

Online Associate Degrees in Graphic Design

An online associate degree is a two-year degree that can be obtained through a community college or technical school. The credit requirement for an Associate Degree in Graphic Design is typically 60 credit hours. Classes are a combination of graphic design and general education courses.

If you intend to further your education, the school you choose for a graphic design associate degree must offer transferable credits. This way, you can quickly upgrade to a bachelor’s degree at another school.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design

The online bachelor’s degree is just like a regular Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. However, some schools allow students to opt for an accelerated degree that will see them out of school in less than four years.

You can finish in as little as two years if you already have an associate degree. The credit requirement is typically 120 credit hours, but it could be more. The training prepares students for entry- to intermediate-level positions.

Online Graphic Design Graduate Degrees

Master’s Degree in Graphic Design

A Master’s Degree in Graphic Design is an advanced degree that sets you up for more job opportunities, including managerial positions within an organization. Most schools demand that master’s degree applicants complete a bachelor’s program, but some schools will admit students with equivalent working experience.

The timeframe for an online master’s degree is generally short, lasting no more than 18 months.

PhD in Graphic Design

This is another advanced degree typically pursued by graphic designers who want to teach art and design in a postsecondary institution. It’s also a research path that is often project-based. Getting a PhD in Graphic Design isn’t easy, and you will need to spend three to five years in the program to meet the requirements.

What Can You Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

What Can You Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

You can find a job in the technical or educational sector with a degree in graphic design. The job title, description, experience, and company will determine how much you will earn as a graphic designer.

Graphic Design Associate Degree

Average Salary: $52,983
Top Careers: Production artist, Freelance Graphic Designer

You should expect to collect an entry-level salary with this degree. With experience, you can earn more, but you may not be able to advance to certain high-level positions without a bachelor’s degree. The salary can be as low as $29,000 or as high as $77,000.

Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $56,107
Top Careers: UX Designer, UI Designer, Freelance Graphic Designer

A bachelor’s degree will open doors that an associate degree won’t. You may also enjoy more financial opportunities. The salary could range from $41,000 to $88,000.

Graphic Design Master’s Degree

Average Salary: $66,752
Top Careers: Senior UX Designer, UI Graphic Designer, Project Manager

Graphic designers with master’s degrees can do everything bachelor’s degree holders can and more. They usually specialize in the area that suits them the most, and they often earn more than other graphic designers. Your salary could end up anywhere between $51,000 and $106,000.

Graphic Design Doctorate

Average Salary: $54,536
Top Careers: Graphic Design Professor

While you can reach the peak of your graphic design career with a master’s degree, you can pursue a doctorate if you want a career in academia. The majority of graphic design professors earn between $49,000 and $59,000 per year.

The Best Graphic Design Careers: How Much Can You Earn With a Degree in Game Design?

Profession Minimum Education Average Salary
User Interface (UI) Designer Bachelor’s Degree $104,879
User Experience (UX) Designer Bachelor’s Degree $91,990
Animator Associate Degree $62,591
Freelance Graphic Designer Associate Degree $55,642
Production Artist Associate Degree $50,800

Does It Matter What College I Go to for Graphic Design?

Yes, the school you attend for graphic design matters. If the school’s curriculum doesn’t cover the topics you need to excel in the industry, you may have difficulty catching up. Employers may be willing to give you a chance, but you need to prove that you can get the job done.

If you don’t have the time or resources to get a degree in graphic design, you may benefit from focusing more intensely on web design and attending a bootcamp. The best web design design bootcamps are affordable, quick, and offered online.

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