Best Online Graphic Design Degrees & Programs 2024

Calling all artsy types: Turn your talent into a satisfying career with one of these top-notch online graphic design degree programs.
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Updated on February 12, 2024
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Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Graphic Design

Graphic design is one of the rare careers where you get paid to be creative. Graphic designers use design principles, visual arts, and typography to connect and communicate with their audience.

Great graphic design is fundamentally human: It's about making something that strikes a chord with other people. This is why, even as AI may change how graphic designers do their jobs in the future, it won't replace them altogether. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic design jobs will continue to grow at pace with all other occupations through 2032.

Today, you can break into the field without ever leaving your house by enrolling in one of these top online graphic design programs.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program?

Unsurprisingly, most graphic designers are visually creative. However, they are also gifted communicators, capable of expressing themselves through their work and in conversations with clients. Graphic designers are also comfortable with technology and familiar with the latest software applications and coding languages.

There are many different types of graphic design bachelor's programs for students to choose from. Depending on the school, graphic design students can earn a bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of fine arts (BFA), or bachelor of science in design (BSD).

In general, BA programs include more liberal arts courses than either BS or BFA programs. BS and BSD programs emphasize more technical training, while BFA programs are most suitable for students committed to pursuing careers in the arts.

Both on-campus and online bachelor's programs consist of at least 120 credits of coursework, including core curriculum courses and major requirements. Most bachelor's programs take full-time students about four years to complete.

Some online graphic design programs offer concentrations such as 3D modeling, web design, motion graphics, and interactive design. Some also provide internship opportunities, allowing students to gain valuable experience in the field. Graduating students often create a portfolio of their work, which they can then present to prospective employers.

Featured Online Graphic Design Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#1 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees & Programs 2024

Bellevue University

  • Bellevue, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

In-State | $449

Out-of-State | $449

Credits to Graduate: 127

BU's bachelor of arts in graphic design develops the visual communication skills you need to create effective design solutions. This 100% online degree includes typography, publication design, and problem-solving and idea generation courses. You can graduate with a print and web-based work portfolio to show employers.

If you apply with military experience, transfer credits, or an associate degree, you may be able to shorten your time to graduation. To apply, you need a GED certificate, a high school diploma, or an equivalent document.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,560
Out-of-state
$7,560
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,980
Out-of-state
$10,980
Retention Rate
72%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,902
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees & Programs 2024

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $330

Out-of-State | $330

Credits to Graduate: 120

You can learn how to create credible concepts and tell compelling digital stories with SNHU's bachelor of arts in graphic design and media arts. This fully online degree requires courses such as digital design tools and user interface and experience. Each class lasts eight weeks, and you may choose to concentrate in web design or user experience design. 

SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits. To apply, you must submit high school and college transcripts but do not have to send SAT or ACT scores. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$15,000
Out-of-state
$15,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,900
Out-of-state
$18,900
Retention Rate
62%
Acceptance Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
145,533
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees & Programs 2024

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $634

Out-of-State | $634

Credits to Graduate: 120

ASU's bachelor of science in design in graphic design emphasizes strategic communication and innovative design. This fully online degree requires 26 classes in the major, including letterform, designing life, and visual communication. As a student, you may also participate in a global education experience.

To graduate, you must earn a GPA of 2.5 or better. Admission requires a high school diploma with acceptable college preparation coursework or a high school equivalency test with qualifying scores. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$12,984
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,774
Out-of-state
$9,774
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
57,848
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees & Programs 2024

Kentucky Wesleyan College

  • Owensboro, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $475

Out-of-State | $475

Credits to Graduate: 120

You can foster your creative and technical skills through Wesleyan's bachelor of arts in graphic design. This flexible, 100% online program requires major courses such as digital painting, 2D design, and graphic design. You can choose to minor in animation, emphasizing motion through visual storytelling.

To apply, you need a GED certificate or a high school diploma with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. If you have fewer than 24 transferable credits, you also need an ACT score of 19 or better.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$28,400
Out-of-state
$28,400
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
55%
Acceptance Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
811
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

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To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

Why Should I Pursue an Online Graphic Design Degree?

There are several good reasons to get your graphic design degree online.

Online programs let you choose when and where to study, making it easier to balance school with other responsibilities and commitments.

The digital nature of graphic design makes it especially well suited for online learning. Great online programs equip you with all the relevant industry skills (like design principles, layout, color theory, illustration, and digital imaging) while also strengthening your competence with digital collaboration tools and design software.

An online degree can also help you build a comprehensive design portfolio, develop a professional network, and qualify for skilled graphic design careers across industries.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program?

  • Minus

    Motion Design

    In classes on motion design, students learn how to create motion graphics for film, television, video games, and the web. They work on various projects, incorporating motion graphics into closed captions, rolling credit sequences, and opening titles.
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    Fundamentals of Web Design

    This course covers the basics of web design, including web standards, user interface design principles, and pattern libraries to create digital products. Students also learn about stylesheet and markup languages, such as HTML and CSS.
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    Publication Design

    Students planning to go into book, magazine, newspaper, or digital publishing can learn about page layout and other aspects of publication design. They tackle hands-on projects, develop their design skills, and learn how to address common problems.
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    Branding

    Students learn about the role of graphic design in branding. Through print-based and digital projects, they develop branding strategies and apply them in their work. Learners also study research methods used to address design problems in branding.
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    Logos and Symbols

    Logos and symbols play critical roles in marketing and branding initiatives. In courses on these topics, students learn what makes a well-designed logo and how to combine typography and graphic elements to leave a lasting impression on consumers.

How Is the Online Learning Experience for Graphic Design Programs?

Thanks in part to the pandemic, remote learning has become the default for many students, and schools that offer high-quality online degree programs report excellent student experiences and outcomes.

As an online graphic design student, you can expect to spend your days designing, drafting, experimenting, illustrating, problem-solving, and even copywriting. Coursework can be intensive, creatively demanding, and require a good amount of independent learning.

But you won't have to do it all on your own: The excellent online programs we've ranked on this page provide a great deal of instruction, structure, and support to make sure students thrive and succeed.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program?

In general, admission requirements for online and on-campus bachelor's programs are the same. Bachelor's programs require prospective students to submit a completed application and official academic transcripts. Some also request that applicants submit standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. Applicants to graphic design programs may be required to share a portfolio of their creative work.

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    Application

    Academic programs require prospective students to submit a completed application. Over 900 schools accept the Common Application, which is an online platform that allows students to manage college applications to multiple schools. Most schools charge students a fee to apply.
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    Test Scores

    Many colleges request college entrance exam scores from applicants. U.S. schools generally accept SAT and ACT scores and do not prefer one exam over the other. The format and subject matter covered in the ACT and SAT exams differ somewhat. When choosing which to take, consider which exam will best showcase your academic strengths.
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    Letters of Recommendation

    Admissions departments may ask you to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation in support of your application. If you're a high school student, ask for recommendations from teachers from your junior or senior year. You may also consider submitting letters from coaches, advisors, or employers.
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    Essays

    The programs you apply to may require you to write college application essays. Many schools ask applicants to respond to one or more prompts in around 200-600 words. You may wish to discuss your interest in graphic design in your essay. However, only do so if it fits the prompt.
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    Official Transcripts

    Most undergraduate programs request official transcripts from applicants. Typically, high school guidance counselors can submit academic transcripts to colleges on a student's behalf. You should also send transcripts from any postsecondary schools you've attended. Many schools accept transfer credits from applicants who have completed undergraduate coursework at other colleges or universities.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree?

Career Outlook for Graphic Designers

Job Growth | 2022-2032
+3%

Average Annual Salary | 2023
$50,530

Sources: BLS, Payscale

The visual and performing arts, including graphic design, are popular majors among students. During the 2020-2021 academic year, over 90,000 undergrads earned a visual and performing arts degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Studying graphic design can be a fun and rewarding way to explore your creative side. However, before choosing it as your major, you should consider the job market for graphic designers. The BLS projects that the graphic design field will see nearly 23,000 job openings each year from 2022-2032, which would represent 3% growth — about as fast as the national average for all occupations.

However, many graphic design graduates also work in fast-growing industries, such as web design and advertising. The BLS projects that jobs for web developers and designers will increase 16% over the next decade — way faster than average.

According to Payscale, graphic designers earned an average annual salary of $50,530 as of December 2023. Web designers made slightly more, earning an average income of $55,510 per year, as did marketing specialists ($56,100 per year).

Career Paths

Graphic Designer

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Graphic designers use visual elements, such as typography and color, to communicate ideas and attract consumers. They design product packaging and logos and create layouts for books, magazines, and websites. Graphic designers work in advertising, publishing, and related industries.

Average Salary (2023): $50,530 Learn More

Multimedia Designer

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Multimedia designers work across media, using artistry and technology to inform, entertain, and persuade. Some work in set design, while others create 3D environments for video games. Many shoot and edit video content. Multimedia designers work in several different industries, including film, television, advertising, and gaming.

Source: Payscale
Average Salary (2023): $58,310 Learn More

Marketing Specialist

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Marketing specialists create promotional content, including print advertisements, digital videos, and social media posts. They also research consumer demand, analyzing sales and other data to determine how to market a product or service effectively. Marketing specialists need creativity, technical skills, and business savvy. Many work for companies and advertising agencies.

Average Salary (2023): $56,100 Learn More

Web Designer

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Web designers determine the look, feel, and functionality of websites. They create page layouts, choose fonts and color schemes, and ensure that websites are easy to navigate. Web designers use software (e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud) and programming, markup, and stylesheet languages (e.g., HTML, CSS, and JavaScript).

Average Salary (2023): $55,510 Learn More

Creative Director

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Creative directors lead teams of copywriters, graphic designers, and other creative professionals working on marketing campaigns, web design projects, and other large-scale initiatives. Some creative directors work for agencies, while others work in-house as creative directors at large companies.

Source: Payscale
Average Salary (2023): $95,400 Learn More

Continuing Education

You don't need a graduate degree to succeed as a graphic designer. However, some graduates of bachelor's in graphic design programs pursue master's degrees or doctorates.

Master's in graphic design programs provide bachelor's degree-holders with further training, which can help them improve their design skills and stand out to potential employers. In contrast, Ph.D. programs in graphic design typically emphasize research. Degree-seekers study design theory and history and write about various subjects, such as sustainability in design and design in urban environments.

Often, individuals who earn a Ph.D. in graphic design pursue academic careers.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program?

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    Cost

    Tuition and fees for online bachelor's in graphic design programs vary. In general, public universities charge lower tuition rates than private schools. If students are concerned about keeping costs low, they should look at public schools located in their state. They can also consider earning an associate degree at a community college and then transferring to a four-year institution to finish their program. When choosing an online bachelor's in graphic design program, compare the cost of enrolling in an online program versus attending classes on campus. Although online programs are sometimes more affordable — by avoiding on-campus student fees and travel costs — several factors affect the overall or "true cost" of earning a degree remotely.
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    Program Format

    Synchronous online programs require students to attend classes virtually at specific times. Alternatively, asynchronous options permit students to complete course requirements at any time. When choosing a bachelor's in graphic design program, consider which online learning format you prefer. Also, some schools offer accelerated bachelor's programs, allowing students to earn their degrees in less than four years.
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    Location

    The location of your school can also matter, even if you choose to go to college online. For instance, if you attend a school in your home state, you may be eligible for in-state tuition rates. Also, some programs require online students to visit campus to complete specific requirements. If you're unable or unwilling to travel, make sure potential programs don't have any in-person components.
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    Accreditation

    Look for an online bachelor's in graphic design program offered by an independently accredited school. Accreditation helps ensure that you receive a high-quality education. Also, if you decide to transfer, enrolling at an accredited school and program increases the likelihood that the courses you've completed will transfer to your new school. Many colleges and universities only accept transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.
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    Student Support

    When choosing an online program, consider options that provide student services like online tutoring, faculty mentorship opportunities, and career services. Also, look for programs offering internship opportunities, as these can help you gain valuable industry experience and expand your professional network.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs

Is it possible to become a graphic designer online?

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Indeed it is. There are a number of excellent online graphic design degree programs that can prepare you for a career in the field. There are also many non-degree courses online to help you hone specific skills and develop a robust portfolio.

Is a bachelor's in graphic design worth it?

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If you want to be a graphic designer, earning your degree is probably worth it. Graphic designers typically need a bachelor's degree, either in graphic design or a related field. Enrolling in an online bachelor's in graphic design program can help you develop the technical and design skills needed to succeed. Earning a degree can also lead to internship and professional networking opportunities.

Are graphic design majors in high demand?

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The BLS projects that jobs for graphic designers will increase by 3% between 2022 and 2032, which is at pace with most jobs. However, many creative professionals with backgrounds in graphic design work in in-demand industries, such as web design and marketing. Great graphic designers are also increasingly sought after in the video game industry, which is booming.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in graphic design?

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As of May 2022, BLS data showed that graphic designers earned an average annual salary of $57,990. However, salaries for graphic designers vary considerably depending on their experience, expertise, and location. For example, graphic designers in the District of Columbia earned an annual mean wage of $87,980, while those in South Dakota earned just $41,350 a year.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in graphic design?

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Creative directors are among the highest-paid professionals in graphic design -- Payscale data from December 2023 showed that they earned an average annual salary of $95,400. However, creative directors typically have many years of industry experience.

Art directors are also highly paid creative professionals, and some begin their careers as graphic designers. Art directors often work under the supervision of creative directors, executing the visual aspects of an ad campaign or other project. According to Payscale, art directors earned an average annual salary of $74,730 in 2023.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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