If you are a visual storyteller with a passion for expressing yourself through art, an online graphic design degree might be an endeavor worth pursuing. With a career in art, you can use your creativity and knowledge of digital technology such as artistic elements, hand illustrations, and computer software in an innovative manner to turn visions and ideas into a medium that the audience can easily grasp.
With 47% of marketers using images as the media format to promote businesses (Hubspot, 2023), an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design can help you become someone who produces valuable art. Be an essential force in branding and selling products and services with aesthetics and graphics that dictate great user experience and profitability.
In this guide, our team of experts at Research.com compiled data on the benefits of pursuing online degree courses in graphic design, the enrollment requirements, potential costs, and the different courses to expect from the discipline.
Online learning is a viable way to continue unparalleled education for determined individuals. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for eLearning was estimated at $332.6 billion in 2022 and projected to reach $457.8 billion by 2026 (PR News Wire, 2022).
Online programs remove barriers so a student can take a step closer to one’s career of choice without leaving home. With the online nature of studies, one can attend lectures, manage busy schedules, and interact virtually with classmates and professors. Online programs now add students four times faster than traditional programs. The former also accounts for over 75% of all new enrollment growth (National Center for Education Statistics, 2022).
With almost 70% of higher education students involved in online learning coming from programs offered by nonprofit and public colleges, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shares that employers are recognizing the value of online degrees and adjusting their hiring processes to accommodate all types of degrees. This is because the mentioned institutions are, by definition, more centered on the education of students than profit. Employers are seeing the value of online education and cannot ignore candidates with online degrees, or otherwise, they will miss out on varying talent pools.
Massive open online course (MOOC) platforms have been offering online programs in partnership with universities. There was a 3% average decline in total enrollment for all universities while there was an 11% average increase in total enrollment for the largest online universities. In 2020, there were 2.3 million full-time graduate students while 12 million were full-time undergraduate students studying online. A 92% year-over-year change was noted from 2019-2020 (McKinsey & Company, 2022). So yes, online degrees earned from accredited universities and colleges are accepted in numerous fields and industries all over the world.
Source: McKinsey & Company, 2022
Our team of experts at Research.com has collated data from the most recent public datasets from reputable sources. Our ranking methodology is based on costs, enrollment rates, academic ratings, and other key elements.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts. In this program, students learn the design process and get competencies in the latest design technologies. There is no set class time for this program and students can access the online classroom and helpful learning resources 24/7.
Academy of Art University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts degree that guides students with skill development to achieve excellence in print, typography, branding, user experience, packaging, and motion graphics. The university faculty is composed of nationally recognized industry professionals. The program coursework is online and includes interviews with field experts, audio-enhanced slideshows, digital documentation, original instructional videos, and others.
The online graphic design program of Yale University focuses on the development of an investigative body of work on the visual methods of studio work. The program expects the student to gain substantial and distinguished experience in visual studies and related professional experience.
Berkeley College provides a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program that combines intense creative training and solid business education. This program gives students proficiency in industry technology that includes current computer graphic software.
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) offers a graphic design major online that allows students to master a comprehensive slate of visual problem-solving tools. This will help prepare a soon-to-be graphic designer to thrive in the professional setting.
A bachelor’s degree in graphic design teaches visual concepts using computer software or by hand. Completing this degree allows a person to work in specialized design services, advertising, publishing, public relations, and related services industries (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022).
Students who are seeking to pursue a degree in graphic design can take the course via a traditional or online format. An online graphic design degree is a preferred choice among students because it makes earning a degree more attainable. An online degree is more flexible in terms of schedule with a synchronous, asynchronous, or mixed format. Whereas obtaining a traditional degree will require one to visit the campus on a specific date and time for in-person discussions. Attending a traditional college will require you to adhere to a particular time frame to graduate on time while in an online degree, you are not confined to the usual on-campus timelines.
Student debt is another burden that many students face. Rather than spending tons of money on incidental expenses from a brick-and-mortar university, you can just enroll online and pay only for the courses you take. Besides, what the university teaches in a traditional graphic design degree is similar to what you can receive from an online course.
One of the factors that draw students to online education is the cheaper rate of tuition and fees compared to the traditional form of learning. A student can save up to 35% of college costs by enrolling in an online degree. Sixty-three percent of colleges charge less for online learning sites since they lack expenses for campus activities, maintenance, use of on-campus facilities, and security (Pearson, 2021).
Online and traditional degree programs have many similarities. In both programs, a student will attend classes and are expected to learn from similar material and relate with their classmates. Both online and traditional degrees also require assignments and will be graded accordingly.
For years, many people have been skeptical of the quality of education one can get from an online degree, seeing it as being inferior to an in-person degree. However, a study by Gallup and 2U, an education technology company, on the graduates of 2U-powered online programs suggests that 59% of these online degree alumni were academically challenged by their institution. This percentage is higher than 56% of students who completed their in-person degree and 54% of all graduate degree holders nationally (Gallup, 2020). The learning experience from an online setting can be performed in a way that can even surpass in-person delivery.
Source: Gallup, 2022
When comparing the tuition and cost of attendance, online degrees are generally more affordable than traditional programs. For public four-year colleges, an online degree is $36,595 cheaper than an in-person degree. Meanwhile, private institutions charge $60,593 for an online degree and $129,800 for an in-person degree. Additionally, a traditional college student will commute and pay $1,360 for transportation, which an online student does not have to spend (Education Data Initiative, 2022).
Specifically for online degree programs in graphic design, the per-credit cost typically ranges from $320 (Southern New Hampshire University, n.d.) to $1,072 (Academy of Art University, n.d.). That said, a prospective online graphic design student can expect to pay around $38,400 to $128,640 to finish a degree. A student should set aside a budget for application fees used to pay for staff members who process applications. There are also technology fees used as funds for the institution’s computer hardware and software.
Source: Southern New Hampshire University, n.d., Academy of Art University, n.d.
Graphic design, relying heavily on visuals is intertwined with business growth. As published in Management Review Quarterly titled “The Effects of Visualization on Judgment and Decision-making: A Systematic Literature Review,” Eberhard, K. (2021) found that “Information visualization has become ubiquitous in our daily professional and private lives, even more so with the advent of accessible and powerful computer graphics. The interaction of visualization use with various factors should not be underestimated in the design of computer graphics for decision support. The high validity of the cognitive fit theory and the contingency on user characteristics found in the literature demonstrates that the designer should spend extensive time on clarifying for whom and what the visualization is intended.” The study shows that information visualization can affect decision-making, especially when you have knowledge of target demographics.
Pursuing an online graphic degree, be it from public or private universities, is well worth it. The job outlook for graphic designers is projected to grow by 3% from 2021 to 2031. There will be about 24,800 job openings for this position projected each year, on average, over a decade.
Additionally, a degree in graphic design leads to a career that pays well. In May 2021, the average annual salary for graphic designers was $50,710 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). Graphic design job salaries at the lower 10% usually fall under $31,310 while the highest 10% offered upwards of $98,260 per year.
Meanwhile, graphic design degree graduates who choose to pursue careers in adjacent fields often find lucrative roles as art directors with a median annual salary of $100,890 and special effects artists and animators with an average annual salary of $78,790.
A degree in graphic design is not only a rewarding career but also one that won’t leave you without a job. Currently, the graphic design industry ranks 9th in the Global Business Activities industry by market size (IBISWorld, 2021).
After completing an undergraduate academic program, a bachelor’s degree is oftentimes the first degree that a student receives in an academic career. The path to higher education is more accessible and achievable with online degree programs in graphic design. Remember, the admission and general requirements of the degree are crucial for a smooth entry to the career path you want.
Online learning is designed to engage and connect a student to his classmates and teachers despite the distance. A student pursuing an online degree in graphic design must invest in a PC or Mac desktop or laptop with at least 1 Mbps upload or download speed. Additionally, the device should have a webcam and microphone for video communication. The device’s memory (RAM) should be 8GB or higher while the hard drive must be 100GB or higher.
For seamless online learning, a student can opt for a reliable Internet connection with a 5 Mbps download,1 Mbps upload, and less than 100ms latency. In some universities, antivirus software is also a requirement.
An online graphic design degree will tackle courses starting from the history of graphic design and then into the art of manipulating the visual form of language. Below, we will discuss some of the courses you can expect to take when studying the graphic design discipline.
Not everyone is familiar with how to earn a graphic design degree online and selecting an institution can be overwhelming. So, our team at Research.com outlined some factors to consider when narrowing down your options. In this way, you can ensure that you are investing in a program that will help you meet your educational goals.
If you are a creative thinker who enjoys art, communication, and technology, pursuing an online graphic design degree is definitely worth including in your career goals. After all, every industry requires brand assets as well as promotional materials. That said, this discipline will not only deliver a return on investment due to its good salary outlook; it also offers a return on imagination as it allows you to exercise your creativity.
Before taking it up, however, be sure to prepare for enrollment requirements as well as the cost of the specific program you are looking to take up. It is also important to assess your prospective schools based on the criteria we have provided to make sure you get the most out of taking your graphic design degree online.