A Guide to Graphic Design Degrees

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Updated on August 17, 2023
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A picture may be worth 1,000 words, and a well-designed ad, website, or poster can provide information to a target audience. Students who pursue a bachelor's in graphic design can learn how to use creativity to communicate — with elements like color, typography, and photography. Many graduates seek careers in graphic design, animation, and computer design.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned a median annual salary of more than $50,000, as of May 2020. The BLS projects a 4% decline in employment for graphic designers from 2019 to 2029. However, creative designers who stay on top of the latest technologies may find more employment opportunities.

Should I Get a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?

Earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design can help build skills in technology, art, and communication. The BLS projects an overall decline in employment of graphic designers in the coming years. However, the BLS also projects growth in related fields like digital design and special effects.

Graduates who can demonstrate their artistic vision through a well-rounded portfolio often enjoy the best career opportunities. Many of the skills gained in an online bachelor's program in graphic design apply to other career fields as well.

A bachelor's degree requires four years of full-time study, although some programs may offer accelerated options that let you graduate faster. Students can also think about pursuing concentrations or certifications that complement their creative work with technical expertise. Once in the workforce, professionals need to stay updated on industry trends and technological advances to remain competitive in the job market.

Featured Graphic Design Degrees

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

What Will I Learn in a Graphic Design Bachelor's Program?

A bachelor's degree in graphic design combines technical competencies with creative abilities. Students can learn to use a variety of graphics software to make their artistic vision a reality. You can find these programs at liberal arts colleges, large universities, and schools that focus on creative pursuits.

Colleges may offer a graphic design degree as a concentration within an art degree or as a standalone degree. Many schools offer online bachelor's degrees in graphic design. The curriculum usually includes a general education foundation with additional courses in art history, art theory, and composition.

Graphic design courses explore typography, visual design, and graphic design technology. Students also may be required to complete a portfolio or, at some schools, an exhibition featuring their work. This project serves as a capstone for the degree. Graduates can use their portfolios when seeking employment.



While closely related to graphic design, illustration focuses on creative interpretation. The produced artwork helps to tell a story. In this concentration, students learn to integrate hand-drawn and digitally created images with text. Educational materials, magazines, and video marketing all use illustration.

Interactive Design

This specialization explores how users interact with products like websites and apps and technology like phones, smartwatches, and tablets. Students delve into graphics, text, and prompts that help users navigate a product to complete a task or find information. This concentration may include courses in computer programming and user experience design.

Advertising and Marketing

This concentration often covers logo design, corporate branding and identity, and digital and print advertisements. Graduates can pursue careers in marketing, advertising, and packaging design.

Print Design

Print products like magazines, books, posters, and banners continue to meet a need in relaying information to the public. This specialization provides students with the design skills needed to use print media effectively. Learners also can gain the technical skills needed to prepare designs for print production.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs

What Can I Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

Graphic designers work in a variety of industries, including printing, advertising, and newspapers. Thanks to their artistic ability, computer skills, and time management skills, they also may pursue careers in publishing, web design and development, and animation.

About 21% of graphic designers are self-employed, according to the BLS. That percentage increases to 56% for art directors. Work schedules for these professionals vary depending on client demands. Some designers work evenings and/or weekends.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Graphic Design?

According to the BLS, graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $53,380, as of May 2020. And the top 10% of earners in the field made more than $93,440 annually. Advertising and public relations are reported to be the highest-paying industries for these professionals.

FAQ's About Graphic Design Degrees

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design uses visual elements to communicate information or ideas. Graphic designers may use color, photography, illustrations, and typography to create digital and print products, including flyers, posters, and newsletters. Some graphic designers assist with corporate branding by developing logos. They can also apply their skills to web development by creating attractive and user-friendly apps and websites.

How much does it cost to get a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?

The College Board found that four-year public colleges and universities charged an average of $10,560 per year in tuition and fees during the 2020-2021 academic year. Private colleges charged an average of $37,650 in tuition and fees. These costs do not include room and board. Costs vary by state and type of school. Students may be able to offset out-of-pocket costs with grants and scholarships.

Is a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design worth it?

Students interested in a creative field that uses technical skills may find graphic design to be a good fit. While the BLS projects a 4% decline in employment for graphic designers from 2019 to 2029, professionals with demonstrated technical ability and a robust portfolio may be able to find work in fields like marketing, publishing, and web development.

Is Graphic Design a dying career?

Reductions in print publishing will likely impact career opportunities in this field. However, the growth of digital products, such as websites and phone apps, will require graphic designers. These professionals will need to understand new media outlets and master technical skills to complement their artistic abilities.

Is Graphic Design in high demand?

Demand for graphic designers varies by industry. While periodicals and directories continue to decline, many businesses seek to improve their digital presence through websites and apps. The BLS projects 8% job growth for web developers and designers from 2019 through 2029. Many skills gained while earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design apply to emerging media platforms.

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