If you want to turn your passion for art into a career, you can consider earning an online bachelor's in graphic design. This page describes some of the best graphic design programs in 2020. The following sections outline common application requirements, typical courses, and potential career paths in this field. You can also review answers to frequently asked questions and use the embedded links to find information that can help you make an informed decision.

What Are the Best Graphic Design Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 5:

Rank School Location
1 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
2 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
3 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
4 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
5 Midway University Midway, KY

Nearly all major companies and organizations use the creative talents of graphic designers. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the need for these professionals will grow by only 3% between 2018 and 2028. Due to the competitive nature of this position, your dream career likely requires both artistic skills and a formal education. Also, attending college allows you to network with peers, gain essential experience during a practicum or internship, and develop a portfolio you can present to potential employers.

How We Rank School

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

The online bachelor's in graphic design program at BU features a robust major curriculum with coursework in design basics, fundamentals of web design, and website development. In their final year, students develop a professional portfolio as part of a capstone course. Additionally, all degree-seekers complete the school's Kirkpatrick Signature Series — three specialized courses in American values.

Online degree-seekers have access to career planning guides, resume and cover letter guidance, and mock interviews. Students who are veterans can also take advantage of specialized transition assistance resources, such as job boards.

Application requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores. BU does not ask for standardized test scores or recommendation letters. All undergraduates can apply to the BU Scholarship Program, which accepts applications at three points throughout the year.


Program Overview

Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
School Status: Private
Tuition: $425/credit
Credit Requirements: 127 credits
Program Length: 4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 756-7920
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Liberty's online bachelor's in graphic design program requires students to complete 73 credits of major coursework. Core courses include the history of art, vector illustration, and advanced typography. The program also requires a practicum, which students complete during their senior year; this experience helps prepare degree-seekers for careers in the graphic design field.

The university prepares students for success after graduation by providing resume and portfolio guides, job boards, and exclusive internship and fellowship opportunities in major U.S. cities.

Prospective students must meet Liberty's high school GPA cutoff or have satisfactory GED scores. Transfer degree-seekers can apply up to 90 credits toward a Liberty degree. Incoming learners with financial need can apply for one or more of the university's many grant programs.


Program Overview

Program Name: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
School Status: Private
Tuition: $390/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits
Program Length: 3.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luoundergrad@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

California Baptist University

Riverside, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

The online bachelor's in graphic design program at CBU attracts first-time college students and professionals who need additional education to achieve career advancement. Learners take 48 units of major coursework, including intermediate design, advanced typography, and advanced image. Students also curate a portfolio as part of a capstone course.

CBU's career center provides online students with virtual counseling appointments and career interest assessments. These resources can help degree-seekers obtain a position as an art director, desktop publisher, or multimedia artist.

Although recent high school graduates may apply, CBU prefers prospective students who possess 24 or more transfer credits. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate at this Christian university. California residents may qualify for a Cal or Chafee Grant.


Program Overview

Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media
School Status: Private
Tuition: $613/units
Credit Requirements: 124 units
Program Length: 4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (951) 343-3900
Email: cbuonline@calbaptist.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Students in SNHU's online bachelor's in graphic design program learn to analyze the media's impact on viewers. The major curriculum features coursework in desktop publishing and typography. Degree-seekers also learn about industry-leading software, including Adobe Creative Suite.

SNHU's career services provide career assessments and personalized coaching. The university also employs career coaches who work with veterans exclusively. Additionally, the graphic design department provides learners with information regarding the latest internship and service learning opportunities.

SNHU currently has a tuition freeze that runs through 2021. Transfer degree-seekers can apply up to 90 credits toward a degree. Institutional financial aid programs include an automatic merit-based scholarship for learners who maintain excellent grades.


Program Overview

Program Name: Bachelor's in Graphic Design and Media Arts
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: 3D modeling and animation; web design
Tuition: $320/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits
Program Length: 4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (888) 327-7648
Email: enroll@snhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

Midway University

Midway, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

The online bachelor's in graphic design program at Midway boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio, and students complete coursework related to graphic design, international brand management, and digital social media. Graduates of this program who are interested in pursuing a teaching career have a nearly 100% pass rate on the PRAXIS — an exam many states require for teaching licensure.

At the school's student development center, degree-seekers can access interest inventories, videos that answer common job search questions, and links to popular job boards. Undergraduates can also sign up for the university's alumni mentorship program.

Applicants must meet high school GPA or GED score cutoffs. Midway also prefers applicants who have completed specific high school course prerequisites. Institutional scholarships award up to $11,000 per year.


Program Overview

Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications - Graphic Design
School Status: Private
Tuition: $395/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits
Program Length: 4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 952-4122
Email: admissiosn@midway.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program Overview

Online bachelor's in graphic design programs help students hone their existing artistic skills and develop new ones. Curriculum requirements often include classes in 2D and 3D design, photography, and typography. Learn more about typical courses in the following section.

In addition to imparting and developing artistic skills, program objectives include providing learners with a well-rounded college education. Graphic design, like many career fields, requires that employees possess critical thinking and communication skills. Also, students can forge bonds with classmates, professors, and practicum supervisors — a valuable advantage when searching for a job after graduation.

Online bachelor's in graphic design graduates do not need an advanced degree to find an entry-level position. However, should they choose, graphic designers can earn a master's or doctoral degree so they can pursue management roles or teach at the college level. As a professor, a graphic designer can pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation.

Common Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Courses

Fundamental Design

In this introductory course, students learn Adobe Design basics by completing increasingly complex projects. Fundamental design coursework may cover other popular software suites as well. Also, many online bachelor's in graphic design programs require an intermediate design course, helping students master advanced skills.

Intermediate Image

This upper-division course emphasizes photography and photoshop techniques — two skills that most graphic designers need to create products for an employer. Additionally, projects involve practical applications, such as making an advertising campaign for a company and presenting the results to a professor and peers.

Advanced Typography

Degree-seekers can take an advanced typography course later in their program. Group and individual assignments resemble tasks that professional graphic designers complete for an employer. Students may create work that will become part of their professional portfolio.

Advanced Digital Graphic Design for the Web

In this course, students master multimedia best practices for computers, phones, and tablets. Coursework emphasizes computer programming topics and learners apply pre-existing skills to new, dynamic situations. The course emphasizes industry standards.

Graphic Design Portfolio

Nearly all online bachelor's in graphic design programs feature a capstone course where degree-seekers select the best pieces they created during their program. Course requirements include creating a print and/or digital portfolio, critiquing peers' portfolios, and incorporating a professor's advice when developing a final product.

Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • High School Transcripts

    High school seniors and recent graduates should send transcripts to all colleges and universities to which they apply. Transcripts are an essential part of an application portfolio and help demonstrate a student's college readiness.

  • GED Scores

    Many online bachelor's in graphic design programs accept GED scores from applicants who do not possess a high school diploma. However, pay close attention to each school's GED policy; for example, a school may not accept scores that are more than five years old, or they may use a score cutoff.

  • Standardized Test Scores

    Standardized test scores — such as the ACT or SAT — are required by many institutions. Schools may use these scores to make admission decisions and/or award scholarships and grants.

  • Transfer Credit

    Many schools do not require applicants to possess transfer credit, although some may prefer prospective students who have some college experience. To this end, you might consider earning some general education credits at a local community college before applying to an online bachelor's in graphic design program.

  • GPA Cutoff

    Most top graphic design programs use a high school or transfer GPA cutoff. However, even if you do not meet a school's GPA cutoff, you may still be admitted if you submit additional materials or have excellent standardized test scores.


Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Career Paths

Earning an online bachelor's in graphic design prepares graduates for entry-level positions as graphic designers. If you possess computer programming expertise, you can also pursue a career as a user experience or user interface designer. Additionally, you can pursue freelance work — a career path that provides greater professional freedom but more uncertainty concerning your salary.

With experience, you can become a creative director. As the title suggests, creative directors lead teams and ensure that projects succeed. Similar senior-level positions include product developer and art director. These careers rarely require an advanced degree or license. However, graphic designers can improve career and salary prospects by taking continuing education courses.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of jobs can you get with a graphic design degree?

Graphic design careers include entry- and senior-level positions in numerous industries throughout the country. In addition to the jobs described in the previous sections, individuals who earn an online bachelor's in graphic design can work as a production artist, product developer, or marketing specialist, among other fulfilling and lucrative careers.

Is graphic design a good degree?

Although some successful graphic designers lack a college education, the competitive job market means that employers typically want to hire talented artists who also possess the transferable skills a bachelor's degree confers. Also, joining an online bachelor's degree in graphic design program can give you time to develop your artistic ability and create a portfolio that attracts employers' attention.

Do graphic designers get paid well?

The BLS reports that graphic designers in the U.S. earn a median annual salary of $50,370. This figure exceeds the typical salary for all art and design workers by approximately $4,000. Additionally, experienced graphic designers can earn up to $85,000 or more if their job responsibilities involve mentoring or managing less-experienced employees.

What classes are required for a bachelor's in graphic design?

In addition to the courses described above, graduation requirements include a general education curriculum with coursework in English, mathematics, humanities, and the sciences. Many programs also require electives, allowing you to study specific graphic design topics in greater detail or complete a minor.

How long does it take to get a bachelor's in graphic design?

If you have no prior college experience and study full time, you should graduate in approximately four years. If you work or have other responsibilities, you can earn a degree in 5-6 years by studying part time. Some programs allow students to take courses at an accelerated rate, allowing learners to graduate in less than four years.

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