Graphic design is a field that allows students of all ages to combine their creativity and love of design with their love of computers and the ever-increasing amount of technology available. An online graphic design degree can open the door to a multitude of career paths. Jobs for students of graphic design are everywhere. They range from website design to invitation design and print design to advertising.
About Online Graphic Design Degrees
Graphic designers work with computers and other technology to create their artwork so an online degree program is a great option.
Students hoping to pursue a graphic design degree online have a wide array of options when it comes to programs and institutions. The Savanna College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers multiple degrees in graphic design which can be taken completely online. Students are able to access their classes 24/7 and work with other students located around the globe to create stunning work influenced by the world around them.
Online Graphic Design Degrees Offered
Like many fields, students interested in graphic design can pursue various levels of degree offered online. They can also focus on a particular area of the graphic design field such as designing for weddings or advertising.
For students who already work in graphic design but are interested in furthering their education or learning new skills, a certificate program is a great option. With less of a time requirement than a full Bachelor’s, Associate’s degree or graduate degree, certificates typically take around 8 months and allow working individuals a chance to learn new skills that can lead to promotions or career changes. With so many technological advances being made every day, a certificate program will allow you to keep your skills fresh and learn new techniques.
Associate of Arts in Graphic Design
An Associate’s degree in graphic design is perfect for people looking to get into the workforce quickly. Or, as a first step before transferring to a four-year institution. The courses tend to cover the basics of design software like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. There are also basic art and design classes, like color theory or drawing. Students who complete their Associate’s degree in graphic design often work as freelance designers while they complete higher degrees.
Bachelor of Art or Bachelor of Fine Art in Graphic Design (B.A., B.F.A.)
This is the most common degree conferred to those studying graphic design. A Bachelor’s degree in graphic design is a four or five-year degree that is based on design and computer work.
Students will either begin on the Bachelor of Arts track or the Bachelor of Fine Arts track, depending on their career goals. A Bachelor of Fine Arts is often a more in-depth and lengthy degree as students are generally required to display their work in gallery style shows before graduating.
Students choose to pursue a BA or BFA usually after discussing their career goals with an advisor. They also choose an area of specialization based on the type of design work they want to do.
Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (M.A., M.F.A.)
This is an academic degree awarded by many–most–colleges and universities. It usually requires the completion of a thesis and allows graduates to specialize further in the field of graphic design.
Completing a Master’s of Art or Master’s of Fine Art will allow students to receive more in-depth training than they received their Bachelor’s degree. Students who complete a Masters’s degree in graphic design will focus on strategic thinking, narrative abilities, presentation, and problem-solving among other things. After choosing an emphasis such as typography, visual literacy, or print publication, students work with their advisors to determine whether they will work towards a Masters of Art or a Masters of Fine art and complete a thesis. A Master’s thesis is meant to be an original contribution to the field that shows the artist’s ability to innovate.
Online Graphic Design Programs and Fields of Study
There are many applications of a Graphic Design degree that students can focus on.
Graphic designers are an integral part of the creation of advertising. Graphic designers create the visual aspects of many ad campaigns. Students who focus on advertising often become art directors at advertising firms.
Branding & Packaging
Anyone who has walked through a store, or been to a mall has seen the impact of branding. A red bullseye immediately makes us all think of Target. Graphic design students who focus on branding or package design are the reason for that recognition. Graphic designers work with companies and organizations to create an immediately recognizable image that is representative of their brand.
One of the fastest-growing fields of graphic design, web designers are responsible for working with developers to create the right look and feel of a website. They need to be good critical thinkers, problem solvers and have an intense attention to detail as many web applications are used by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. Students who focus on web design should focus their elective courses on scripting and coding courses.
Although many people say that print is becoming a thing of the past, print media is a great field for graphic designers to work in. Print can cover everything from newspapers and magazines to that awesome graphic-t telling the world how much you love brunch. There will always be a place for print media design. Students who focus on this area should be creative and enjoy working with others as they will often be working as a part of a team.
What to Look For in an Online Graphic Design Program
If you’re considering getting an online graphic design degree, careful research into programs and institutions is incredibly important.
Here are some things to consider:
Is the program accredited? If so, by whom? Program accreditation is incredibly important when looking into any type of higher education. Investigate the accrediting body to find out their reputation within schools and employers. It’s a good way to be sure that the program you are considering is reputable as well. A regionally accredited program is actually often more reputable than a nationally accredited program.
For more on how to determine accreditation and reputation, take a look at our complete guide.
It is no secret that college is expensive. Online schooling can often offer a lower cost than traditional schooling but that doesn’t make it cheap. Take a good look at your finances, any costs you may incur (tuition, books, etc.), and any financial aid options that you have. Making an informed decision about this aspect of school will make your life easier in the long run.
Graphic design courses also require students to have specific software which may need to be purchased. Be sure to include theses costs into your calculations!
Graphic design courses vary slightly by area so be sure that the program you are looking into will help you reach your ultimate goal. If you are not sure what area you would like to specialize in, look for a program with a broad selection of classes. You can also speak with an advisor to get a better feel for the program’s course selection and expectations.
Students can expect to take a number of computer design classes as well as more traditional classes like color theory, drawing, and painting.
Skills / Experience
What kind of work experience or specialized skills will you need to get to your ultimate career goal? Graphic design is an interesting field because a lot of the hands-on work can be done online. Still, many employers are looking for work experience, so do your research and see if your program offers internship or research opportunities.