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Online BS in Graphic Design programs are aligned with the definition of graphic design according to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Graphic design is called the “art and practice” of communicating ideas, experiences, and messages using visual arts and textual content.
Visual images can range from a simple logo to several pages on a website (i.e., as part of web development).
Since we live in a visual world, graphic design can be found everywhere! The packaging on groceries, large billboards, and mobile apps are products of contemporary graphic design. Indeed, where people and organizations want to convey a message, sell products and services, and establish a brand identity, graphic designers will be there!
Many online graphic design degree programs are considered communication design programs, too, because graphic designers use visual arts in communication. As visual communicators, graphic designers are employed in a wide range of industries. Advertising companies, manufacturing facilities, and nonprofit organizations are a few examples.
Online graphic design programs attract individuals with an eye for the visual arts and a passion for communication. Their respective curriculum, quality of instruction, and student support services promote academic success. Their learning outcomes ensure that graduates become effective graphic design professionals, too.
Graduates of an online graphic design degree find plenty of employment opportunities in the public and private sectors. The technical skills that a Graphic Design major gains are suitable for visual arts, media arts, and digital arts occupations, too.
It all starts, however, with choosing the best online college that offers this versatile bachelor’s program! Our list provides today’s best online Graphic Design degrees at the undergraduate level, which were picked because of these salient program features:
- Delivered fully or partly online to allow for the convenient attendance of adult learners,
- Awarded as a Bachelor of Graphic Design degree, with specific concentrations depending on the program,
- Runs a Transfer Path program that allows for an easy transition to a master’s program,
- Imparts on each online Graphic Design student the technical skills that prepare them for the master’s program or the workforce, whichever path they pick after completing the undergraduate program,
- Facilitated through a Learning Management System that makes attending online college a breeze for students, as far as remote access to their coursework or resources is concerned,
- Promotes the development of attention to detail, communication, creativity, time management, teamwork, and other interpersonal skills needed in Graphic Design careers,
- Taught by instructors who are considered the industry’s best because of their contribution to the field,
- Offers Financial Aid programs and credit transfers,
- Officially accredited by agencies and organizations that establish the academic standards,
- Recognized by industry associations that put the spotlight on Graphic Design as a versatile profession,
Dive into the details of our ranking process. See our Methodology page.
10 Best Online BS in Graphic Design Degree Programs
Arizona State University
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program is offered at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Known for its multidisciplinary approach, its top-ranked programs attract dedicated students.
Graphic design majors complete 26 classes with each class lasting 7.5 weeks. Students are awarded a bachelor’s in graphic design degree upon completion of 120 credit hours.
Comprehensive coverage is undertaken on courses like:
- Principles for Graphic Design
- Visual Communication
- Motion Graphics and Interaction Design
- Communication/Interaction Design Theory
- Technology for Design
Students in the graphic design major develop their communication skills and critical thinking skills, too. These skills are developed along with technical skills like the use of the software. Students apply their skills in web design, motion graphics, and publication design.
The capstone course requires students to complete creative projects for their portfolios. Students present their works during an exhibition.
Admission into the graphic design degree requires a high school diploma. At least one year of either career/technical education or fine arts training is a must.
The online graphic design degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The Los Angeles Film School
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program at LA Film School is among the best because of its emphasis on experiential learning. Students learn effective methods of making a positive impact through their creative works.
The 120-credit bachelor’s in graphic design program has a 36-month time to completion. Each course has a 4-week duration and is tackled one at a time. Students can then master the fundamental knowledge and skills in each course.
The graphic design program provides students with a tech kit. A MacBook Pro comes with Adobe Creative Cloud software. There are also an iPad and a ring light included.
Courses in the online graphic design degree program include:
- Digital Image Making
- Design Fundamentals
- Digital Color Theory
- Drawing for Designers
- Photography in Design
Graduates who earn a graphic design degree are qualified to join the exciting entertainment industry!
The LA Film School is, after all, right in the heart of it! Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), it’s a for-profit college offering undergraduate degrees.
The Bachelor of Science in Digital Design – Graphic Design program at Liberty University was created to fit the digital world. Students learn the fundamentals of graphic design. Their skills cover logo design and website design, and even website development.
Students complete 120 credit hours to earn the bachelor’s in graphic design degree. The average time-to-completion is 3.5 years with full-time matriculation. Transfer students can transfer credits up to 75% of the online graphic design degree total.
The eight-week courses in graphic arts allow for an accelerated pace. Students benefit from quality education without the pressure of on-campus classes. Credentialed professors ensure that the graphic design program delivers on academic excellence.
Students gain a well-rounded education with foundational courses in liberal arts. Technical skills are developed through introductory graphic design courses. These include digital photography, 2D and 3D design, and others.
Other major courses in the graphic design degree program include:
- Vector Illustration
- Digital Imaging
- Advanced Typography
- Interactive Design
General education, major and elective courses are imbued with a Christian perspective.
Admission into the graphic design degree online program requires a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. Liberty University has financial aid options for online students. Military personnel, veterans, and first responders can apply for tuition discounts.
Liberty University is a regionally accredited institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program at WilmU welcomes freshman and transfer students with an associate degree. All of the 8-week classes are conducted fully online.
Students complete 40 courses equivalent to 120 credits to earn the online graphic design degree. Graphic design students study topics in:
- Fundamentals of Motion Graphics
- Visual Communication
- Basic InDesign and Photoshop
- Vector Drawing
The graphic design program uses the latest design technology in course delivery. Students develop industry-specific skills for successful graphic design careers.
Students can strengthen their graphic design degree credential with a cooperative learning experience. While it’s an optional experience, it’s a resume booster.
Check out the Dual-Credit Advantage Program, too. Elective courses are counted as credits for a certificate or for a master’s degree. There’s no extra cost involved.
The bachelor’s in graphic design degree is recognized by employers due to Wilmington University’s reputation. The private university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program at Troy is known for its real-world approach. Graphic design majors learn professional skills in web design, print publishing, and motion graphics.
The online courses in the bachelor’s in graphic design program include:
- Motion Graphics Principles & Practice
- User Interface Design
- User Experience Design
- Portfolio Design
- Exhibition Techniques
Students also complete a thesis exhibition as part of the graphic design degree requirements. Troy University also provides career services. Students also gain exposure through a Portfolio Day.
The graphic design program also provides access to The Center for Design, Technology, and Industry. Students interact with graphic design professionals and even work with them.
Troy University, a public university with several online bachelor’s degree programs, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
With the latest technology and best teachers, the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program is among the best! Students learn via didactic coursework and project-based work. Graduates are equipped with top-notch skills in the graphic design industry.
Students earn a bachelor’s in graphic design degree upon completion of 90 credit hours. There are 23 courses including:
- Design Thinking
- Interactive Publishing
- Collateral Design
Students not only earn the online bachelor’s in graphic degree but prepare for certification exams in:
- Adobe Certified Associate in Digital Video Using Premiere Pro
- Adobe Certified Associate in Visual Communication in Photoshop
Admission into the graphic design program requires at least a high school diploma. Transfer students with an associate degree are welcome.
Earning an affordable graphic design degree is possible with the KnowledgeCredit program. Transfer credits from college-level credits, self-directed assessments, and professional certification are accepted.
With accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Rasmussen University operates as a private for-profit university.
Full Sail University
Students in the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program learn by doing. Students are also encouraged to create original ideas through projects.
This is among the most comprehensive bachelor’s in graphic design programs, too! Students learn the fundamentals of a wide range of graphic design skills, These include media integration, branding, and website design.
Courses in the online Bachelors in Graphic Design include:
- Typography and Page Layout
- Design and Art Theory
- Digital Publishing
- Concepts in Photography
- Graphic Design Principles
The graphic design degree program has Project and Portfolio courses, too. Students engage in original creative projects for their portfolios. Both industry-standard software and traditional drawing skills are emphasized.
Students must demonstrate proper techniques in file organization and art direction. Soft skills like communication and collaboration are emphasized, too.
The online program has a 29-month time-to-completion. The accelerated format enables students to save on time and tuition. Tuition is locked from the first matriculation.
Courses start monthly so students begin when they’re ready. General education courses also incorporate graphic design skills.
Students in the graphic design program benefit from Project LaunchBox. All their digital multimedia design creations can be stored here.
Financial aid is available for qualified online students.
As a private for-profit university, Full Sail University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Arkansas State University
The Bachelor of Science in Digital Technology & Design with a Concentration in Graphic Communications program attracts the best students! There’s an emphasis on skills development in UX/UI digital product creation.
Transfer students can transfer up to 90 credits to the graphic design degree. Freshman students complete 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor’s in graphic design degree.
Online courses include:
- Introduction to Digital Publishing
- Digital Prepress Workflow
- Desktop Publishing and Publication Design
- Media Aesthetics
Students must also complete a Digital Technology and Design Portfolio course. The creative projects can be used for employment purposes.
The program also has a graphic design internship course. Students gain valuable real-world skills in workplace settings,
There are fewer math-related courses in the online bachelor’s in graphic design program. Students instead focus on digital design, web design, and graphic design skills. Graduates are skilled in front-end and mobile app development and audio-video production.
All online students pay the same affordable pay-by-the-course in-state tuition. The total tuition includes all fees.
Admission into the graphic design program requires a high school diploma, minimum.
Arkansas State University, the flagship campus of the ASU System, is a regionally accredited institution by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The rigorous Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications with a Concentration in Graphic Design program empowers students in the business of graphic design. Business and marketing communication skills are emphasized.
Students complete 120 credit hours to earn a graphic design degree. This is a four-year bachelor’s degree program but transferred credits will shorten time-to-completion.
The bachelor’s in graphic design major courses include:
- Applied Graphic Design
- Digital Storytelling
- Digital Animation
The courses in the graphic design program are in an accelerated 8-week format. Students learn in small class sizes, too.
Student support services are provided in the online bachelor’s in graphic design program. These include academic support and career services. Small group, one-on-one, and virtual tutoring services are included. Career counseling, job shadowing, and internships are available.
Prospective students must submit official high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Financial aid is available.
Midway University, a private, faith-based university, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The training in the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies – Digital Design & Graphics Track program starts on Day One. Students are creative, artistic, and innovative individuals with a passion for digital design and graphics. The online bachelor’s in graphic design program encourages soft skills development, too.
Students use software, such as Creative Suite, in graphic design, digital animation, and web design. Faculty members encourage interactive learning.
The bachelor’s in graphic design program has an accelerated format. Core competencies are emphasized.
This is an American Digital Design Association-certified program. Hodges University, a private institution, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
All About the Online BS in Graphic Design Program
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) grants accreditation to online graphic design programs, among other art and design programs.
Online graphic design programs have different admission standards but share many admission requirements including:
- At least a high school diploma or GED equivalent with minimum GPA (For freshman students)
- An associate degree or higher with a minimum GPA (For transfer students)
- Standardized test scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statements
High school students are well-advised to take basic design courses that will hone their traditional art skills. Many online bachelor’s in graphic design programs, in fact, require applicants to complete year-long basic art and design courses before admission. Many also require a demonstration of basic art and design skills through a portfolio.
The application process may also include interviews and practical art skills tests to determine artistic ability. Online programs are just as competitive in their admissions as on-campus programs.
Most online graphic design programs have a four-year time-to-completion. But your actual time to completion will vary depending on:
- The number of online courses you take per term and their corresponding credit hours;
- The number of transfer credits counted against the degree total; and
- The format, either traditional or accelerated, used in the online graphic design program
Obviously, full-time students will be awarded a graphic design faster than part-time students. Be sure to take into account the internship and practicum time requirements.
Credits, Curriculum, and Courses
Most online graphic design programs have a 120-credit hour curriculum, thus, the four-year time-to-completion, on average. But the number will also vary depending on the academic calendar used, such as quarterly (i.e., 180 quarter units).
The standard program of study features a sequential series of courses. Each course builds on the knowledge and skills learned in concurrent and previous courses.
General education courses build a strong liberal arts foundation; college-level English, math and science, and behavioral and social sciences courses are common. Major courses build career-specific graphic design skills. Elective courses broaden the students’ knowledge while also tailoring their degrees.
Online Learning and Performance Assessment
Every online graphic design program has its own learning management system (LMS) as the platform of delivery for online education.
Online students in graphic design programs agree that the program of study is as challenging as can be. While there’s less focus on STEM subjects, the emphasis on talent, technique, and skill makes for challenging coursework.
Students are also evaluated based on their course performance and progress. Lessons have built-in assessments like quizzes, exams and practical works. Assignments must be submitted on time although the classes may be in an asynchronous format.
Most online programs also require students to establish their own graphic design portfolio. The works can be web design projects along with other graphic design projects.
Internship and Practicum Requirements
Graphic design students may also be required to undergo internship and practicum experiences, usually for credit. These hands-on experiences prepare students for real-world challenges in the graphic design industry.
Interns work with graphic design professionals in creative projects, usually from concept to completion. Internships may or may not be paid work experiences. Students in practicum programs work under the direct supervision of faculty members.
Workplace-Ready Skills and Traits
The technical graphic design skills that students develop include traditional and digital art skills. The former involves pen and paper while the latter involves the use of specialized software and apps. An understanding of color theory, composition, and typography is also a must.
When it comes to transferable skills, graphic design majors are encouraged to develop analytical skills, artistic ability, communication skills, creativity, and time management skills for handling multiple projects.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Online students may benefit from their graphic design programs because there’s less worry about travel and other on-campus expenses. But there may be technology and other fees that come with online learning.
Graphic design programs can be fairly expensive, too, because of the software and other tools used. Per-credit costs can range from $250 to $800 and up.
Financial aid options can result in significant reductions to the overall cost of an online education. Look for industry-specific scholarships and grants, too.
Graphic Design as a Profession
Graphic designers are among the most talented and skilled professionals today! Their profession enables contemporary society to communicate via static and dynamic images.
But their talents and skills come with appropriate education and training, too. Graphic designers typically must have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, fine arts, and other related fields. Their education in online graphic design degree programs also allowed them to develop an extensive portfolio through creative projects.
Major Roles and Responsibilities of Graphic Designers
While the curriculum of every graphic design degree program differs, students gain the technical and transferable skills for their future occupations. Contemporary graphic designers rely on advanced software alongside traditional skills in producing works that inform, inspire and captivate target audiences.
With their talents and skills, graphic designers typically perform the following duties:
- Discuss the creative projects to be done with the clients and art directors or creative directors
- Use layout, photo editing and digital illustration software in creating designs
- Create the visual elements in creative projects, such as logos and illustrations, to communicate a message
- Present design concepts and drafts to clients and art directors or creative directors
- Incorporate the recommended changes and create the final designs
Note that graphic designers work with images and texts, thus every visual element must be considered. Graphic designers also work with other professionals in creating websites and other projects. These professionals include writers, industrial designers, interior designers, and architects.
Aside from working as graphic designers, many also work in the education sector. You can work, for example, as a teacher in an online graphic design degree program with your bachelor’s degree and teacher training.
Regardless of employment, successful graphic designers must be committed to continuing education. With new technologies and trends being introduced, graphic design is a dynamic field. Graphic designers should also consider membership in professional organizations that offer specialist certification programs.
Your bachelor’s in graphic design degree is a ticket toward diverse graphic design jobs! While most are self-employed workers, graphic designers also work in:
- Specialized design service companies
- Advertising, marketing and public relations companies
- Printing and related services
- Traditional media outlets like newspapers, books, and directories
Self-employed graphic designers work as independent operators but must also collaborate with clients and other professionals. Many even have graphic design online businesses!
Careers and Salaries of Graduates of BS in Graphic Design Programs
The graphic design industry makes its presence felt in nearly every aspect of contemporary life. Professionals with online graphic design degrees will find a treasure trove of employment opportunities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic design jobs will grow by 3% between 2020 and 2030. This means about 23,900 job openings every year. The numbers don’t include other possible occupations that individuals with online graphic design bachelor’s degrees are qualified for.
Graphic designers earned a median annual wage of $50,710 (May 2021). The highest-paid are in specialized design services.
Graphic Designers ($50,710/year)
Graphic designers are creative and artistic professionals who create visual works that communicate ideas and messages. These are intended to inform and inspire consumers and other target audiences to perform desired actions. Their works are visible in advertisements, magazines and brochures, among others, on traditional and digital platforms.
UX/UI Designers ($80,712/year)
UI UX designers are the brains behind the user interfaces in interactive media like mobile apps, video games, and websites. Their work can include professional collaborations with product engineers and managers.
Interactive Designers ($122,552/year)
Interactive designers work with other professionals in designing products that generate the desired user experiences. Among their duties are the analysis of consumer needs and conduct of market research. Product prototypes are among the results of their work.
Web Developers ($74,672/year)
Web developers work with web designers to ensure that the websites commissioned by their clients are according to their specifications. While there are differences in their work duties, both web professionals possess technical skills related to website design and construction.
Art Directors ($115,430/year)
With a graphic design bachelor’s degree and work experience, you can apply for art director jobs. Art directors lead a team of artists in executing the overall concept of creative directors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the online Graphic Design specializations?
- Visual identity is a graphic design specialization with an emphasis on a brand’s visual elements. Graphic designers create image libraries, logos and typography for brand identity.
- Marketing and advertising is a specialization where graphic designers use their technical skills in selling products and services. Print and digital advertisements are common works.
- Web design involves creating the aesthetic aspects of websites, such as appearance, structure and layout. Web designers use multiple visual elements in creating user-friendly web pages and websites. Web design is different from web development but the two are interrelated.
- Motion graphic design includes banners, animations, video games, trailers, and title sequences. This is among the fastest-growing specializations due to the pervasiveness of smartphones and the Internet.
Other specializations within the graphic design industry are publication, packaging, and illustration. Many of these specializations use the principles and practices of media arts to deliver on client expectations.
Emphasis must be made, however, that not all online programs offer concentration options. Graphic design graduates can develop specialist skills at work and through professional certificate programs.
What can you do to prepare for an online Graphic Design program?
You should consider developing your traditional art skills using pen and paper, as well as getting acquainted with digital graphic design software. Look into short-term courses in digital design and web development, if you can.
What other majors are related to Graphic Design?
Think of digital arts, industrial design, and web development and design. These are also good degrees for the graphic design industry and its allied fields.
What’s next after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design?
You will obviously want to look into graphic design jobs. You may also want to consider pursuing professional certifications, even a graduate degree in graphic design.
- Earning a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design degree will satisfy both your passion for the arts and for gainful employment. Admission into an online program presupposes artistic ability and creativity, along with a commitment to academic excellence and hands-on learning.
- Students must develop both hard and soft skills during their stay in their online programs. Both skill sets have equal importance in your success as a graphic designer.
Before you go: The 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education