Top Online Graphic Design Degree Programs and Industry Salary 2023/2024

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A graphic design degree develops your understanding of effective graphic communication and enables you to build a good mix of subject-specific and technical skill.

In addition to advancing your talent for design, an online graphic design degree can prove to your future employer that you have a strong combination of technical and aesthetic skills that set you apart from your competition.

Graphic Design Degree

Online Graphic Design Degrees

A wide array of accredited universities offer an online graphic design degree. You can study graphic design or choose to specialize in animation, multimedia design, or web design.

Graphic Design

An online degree in graphic design can provide a broad range of design experiences to help you uncover your own personal style. You can learn a bit of everything that the graphic design field embodies, including software, design history, illustration, animation, and communication.

Along with graphic design theory, most programs aim to equip you with the skills and ability to effectively market yourself to employers. As such, you will most likely be required to take general education classes that lean heavily on creative communication and media strategies.

As you focus your studies, you will have a colorful variety of coursework to choose from, such as drawing, digital media, advertising, product packaging design, typography, copywriting, and UX (user experience).

Depending on the specific expertise you garner from your online graphic design degree, your career options range from graphic designer, photo editor, UX designer, and multimedia artist to creative director, product developer, animator, and more.


Are you fascinated by computer animations or visual effects? An online degree in animation can teach you how to bring your designs to life in 2D or 3D landscapes.

Among other skills, you can learn elements of storyboarding, sketching, stop motion, modeling, and character animation. In most programs, you’ll be expected to complete a final project or thesis and develop a comprehensive portfolio.

By obtaining a degree in animation, you can open yourself up to pursue a multitude of career options, such as art director, flash animator, video games designer, and visual development artist. You can choose to work for television, film, video games, or even for yourself as a freelancer.

Multimedia Design


Multimedia design involves the creation of integrated and interactive media. The central focus of this field of study is to combine two or more types of media for various applications on the web, in games, movies, digital video, and more.

This degree program is similar to the graphic design degree in that you should be exposed to color theory, concept development, and digital illustration, but you should also build skills in digital video production, motion graphics design, and HTML.

Typical multimedia design coursework involves crafting interactive content with special effects and combining graphics, audio, and video in creative ways.

Becoming a Multimedia Artist and Animator can help you pursue careers that allow you to produce illustrations, movies, and video games. You may have the option of working for TV, film, websites, or other audio and video productions.

Web Design


Web design requires a strong understanding of both aesthetics and programming. In this field, web designers create visually-appealing electronic and digital layouts that are user-friendly and optimized for web browsers.

In this degree program, you will likely study digital arts and design, multimedia production, web publishing, web-based interactivity, usability testing, and programming languages like HTML and CSS.

Potential career paths include becoming a website designer, media integration specialist, web publications specialist, or a web producer.

Graphic Design Careers & Salaries

The U.S Bureau of labor statistics projects that job prospects will continue to “face strong competition for available positions.”

The median annual wage for a graphic designer is $53,380 with the highest 10 percent earning more than $93,440 per year. With this in mind, you are far more likely to stand out and make more money with a graphic design degree.

There are many high-paying careers that you can choose from as a professional graphic designer. An online graphic design degree can help you get recognized by top positions in the industry and gain credibility on your resume.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the graphic design field include:

CareersAnnual Median Salary
Marketing Manager$142,170
Art Director$97,270
Postsecondary Teacher$80,790
Special Effects Artist and Animator$77,700
Web Developer or Digital Interface Designer$77,200
Set and Exhibit Designer$58,180
Graphic Designer$53,380
Craft and Fine Artist$49,120
Desktop Publisher$47,560

Graphic Design Curriculum & Courses

No matter which graphic design degree you choose to pursue, the general curriculum will expose you to introductory graphic design principles, theories, and basic skills.

As for higher level classes, the university you join will tailor their curricula to meet the requirements of your specialization. For this reason, you’ll want to view the details of each program you’re considering.

Some of the key courses you’ll be required to take may include the following:

  • Public Speaking and Presentation Skills: In this class, you can learn to combine logic and communication to articulate your ideas in front of others. You can gain vital skills in effectively preparing and delivering presentations to employers or potential clients.
  • Language and Practice of Media Arts: This course can teach you the common language of design creation and analysis. You may cover elements of production design, technology, and methods that will build your visual media literacy.
  • Principles for Graphic Design I and II: In these core classes, you can learn to recognize and capitalize on fundamental principles of design such as alignment, contrast, repetition, balance, color, and more.
  • Graphic Design History: This class explores the origin and evolution of graphic design, equipping you with a holistic understanding of how graphic design has developed over time and how it may change in the future.
  • Graphics and Layout in Print Media: A combination of lecture and hands-on computer work, this course cab train you to use primary visual software tools to build skills in shape grouping, letterform shape creation, figure manipulation, and other formal elements of graphic design.
  • Desktop Publishing: In this course, you can learn the basics of the desktop publishing field, which involves using page layout software to design digital or printed content such as books, newsletters, business cards, advertisements.
  • Basic Design and Color Theory: In this course you can discover the science of color theory and its application in design. You will likely be expected to deliver assignments that align with industry standards.
  • Introduction to Digital Imaging: This class can empower you to produce, manipulate, and enhance digital images. You can also learn the fundamentals of processing, compression, storage, printing, and display of such images.
  • Typography: This foundation course can introduce you to the basics of typography and letterforms. Based on industry standards, it can teach you to design your own typefaces, layouts, and grids.
  • Graphic Design Portfolio: In this course, you can gather all of your graphic design projects into a comprehensive portfolio. You will also likely learn attitudes, behaviors, and other skills to help you succeed in the industry.

Admissions Requirements

As you prepare your application, you’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary admissions requirements. Typically, a graphic designer degree isn’t likely to have a complex list of requirements. Most universities will ask for the following:

  • High school transcripts: Your university of choice will want to know that you completed high school and (in some cases) that you earned the minimum GPA requirement.
  • Official university transcripts: If you have credits or a degree from another university, you will need to submit these along with your application to gain transfer credits.
  • GED scores: If you completed your GED, you will need to know the GED policy for your university of choice. They may ask for your official high school transcripts as well as your GED score report and diploma.
  • Standardized test scores: While many universities are becoming test-optional, you may be required to complete an SAT or ACT test. This is especially relevant if you plan to apply for a scholarship or grant.
  • Application fee: You will likely have to pay an application fee between $50-$100.
  • Proof of English proficiency: If you’re an international student, you may be required to take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).


As you explore your options in online graphic design degrees, you will need to pay close attention to accreditation. At its most basic, accreditation means that your future employers will respect your degree.

While you are gathering information about the programs that interest you, make sure you are verifying that the degree they offer is accredited by a reputable agency.

What does a “reputable agency” look like? The council for higher education accreditation provides a comprehensive directory of organizations that are accredited by them, giving you a resource to double-check the validity of your program’s accreditation.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you hope to reduce the cost of your degree program, you can explore options such as student loans, state aid, grants, employer programs, and scholarships. If you apply for a student loan through FAFSA, you will have to determine whether you qualify for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

The main difference is that with subsidized loans, the Department of Education will pay the interest while you’re in school and for some time afterward. Be sure you understand the fine print if you choose to accept any of these loans as they may lead to high levels of student debt.

Other options include grants and scholarships that can come from a variety of sources, namely state, private, federal, and institutional. Discover how to “get paid to go to school” by searching for grants or scholarships related to an online graphic design degree combined with any academic or institutional affiliations you may have.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design?

By completing your online bachelor’s degree in graphic design, you will likely jumpstart your career as a junior or entry-level graphic designer. As you gain experience, you can climb the corporate ladder to higher, executive level positions.

What does an entry-level graphic designer position look like? It’s possible that you’ll join an agency producing a multitude of designs for a selection of clients or you may work for a product company as an in-house designer on the marketing team.

Potential job titles include anything from visual or digital designer to junior graphic designer or animator, and more. Higher level, executive positions that you can look forward to holding include being an art or creative director, senior graphic designer, UX designer, and marketing manager.

Some graduates of bachelor’s degree programs continue on to earn an on-campus or online masters in graphic design.

How Much Does an Online Bachelors in Graphic Design Cost?

Many online bachelor’s degrees in graphic design are flexible and convenient since they are designed to appeal to working professionals. But are they affordable?

In short, yes. Many online learning institutions provide low prices coupled with financial aid, scholarships, or other loan opportunities. Although tuition rates vary among universities and are continually subject to change, you can expect to pay between $320 and $754 per credit hour.

Additionally, if you are a U.S. service member, your credit hour rates may go as low as $225.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Graphic Design Degree Online?

The time required to obtain an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design is dependent entirely on your schedule and availability.

If you follow a traditional, 16-week semester of courses and attend full-time, it should take you four years to complete the program. If instead you opt for an accelerated online program that follows an 8-week semester schedule, you could finish in less time. However, the accelerated program requires that you stay continuously enrolled year-round.

Are There Any Affordable Online Graphic Design Degrees?

Luckily, there are a variety of affordable online graphic design programs available for you to choose from. Some of the lowest credit hour rates are between $225 and $320 in programs that require up to 120 credit hours for you to obtain your online graphic design degree.

By finding the most affordable online graphic design degree and coupling it with financial aid programs, grants, or scholarships, you may be able to get your degree for a very reasonable price.

What is the Best Online School for Graphic Design?

In your search for the perfect online school for graphic design, you’ll want to make sure they fulfill certain requirements and meet your standards. Be sure to:

  • Consider your wants and needs as well as lifestyle and career goals to find the right fit.
  • Research each university to see if it’s accredited and by whom.
  • Confirm that all of the classes you’ll need to take to obtain the degree are offered online.
  • Check the admissions requirements and assure that you can meet them.
  • Pay close attention to extra fees, such as course fees, textbooks, and lab costs.
  • Focus on tuition, fees, and additional costs as you compare potential schools.

Can Graphic Designers Do Web Design?

If you’re interested in web design as well as graphic design, then you will need to follow a specific career path. Web design is a highly specialized technical field of study that has some overlap with graphic design, which is why the two are often confused.

The major difference is that web design never focuses on print and revolves more around interface design, coding, programming, and search engine optimization.

The defining similarity between web designers and graphic designers is their reliance on technology and digital software for creating valuable user experiences. However, graphic designers do not do any programming.

Is a Graphic Design Degree Worth it?

Yes, an online graphic design degree is worth it for many students. Common careers in the arts and design field include creative director, visual designer, senior art director, animator, and digital illustrator.

Some perks to pursuing a graphic design degree program include free design software, networking with like minded individuals and professionals, and increasing your chances of being eventually hired by a top notch designing firm.



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Hello readers, you are welcome to your info connect. My name is Emmanuel, I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer, a blogger, and Digital Marketer. I share educational and career information and content to enable viewers who are aiming for success to attain it in their various fields. I hope you enjoy your tour here.

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