By earning a web design and development degree, you can become a web developer, multimedia artist, animator, or graphic designer -- all of which lead to high salaries and creative fulfillment. These jobs also boast higher-than-average employment growth rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), web developers can expect see employment grow of 15% between 2016 and 2026, which is double the national average for all occupations. Many schools offer web design degrees online and on campus. For both first-time and returning students, a bachelor's in web design is a great way to enter into a lucrative career as a web developer.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Web Design?
On-campus programs offer more course options and networking opportunities with faculty and peers. Meanwhile, working professionals or learners interested in switching careers may prefer to earn an online web design degree. Most online degrees come in a self-paced asynchronous format. An online program gives working professionals and learners with busy schedules the flexibility and affordability they need to earn a degree.
A web design degree teaches transferable technical skills, such as scripting, programming, and software development. Additionally, students learn skills in organization, communication, and research. As an undergraduate, communication skills can help students effectively network with teachers and peers. Research skills can help students find internships and job placement services. In an internship, technical knowledge can help students adapt in growing and changing industries. After graduation, graduates can design an eye-catching, concise resume to make them competitive job candidates with diverse transferable skills.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Web Design?
Web design graduates can transition directly into web designer or developer positions; however, design skills can also equip students for a creative career as a graphic designer. Many graduates with web design degrees learn scripting, coding, and user experience design, which allows them to become multimedia programmers or software engineers. Students interested in information technology, data analysis, and database management can become information systems managers.
- Web Developers
Web developers design and create websites; they handle the aesthetic and technical aspects of a site's function. Many developers work in different industries, such as publishing, advertising, and management consulting. Others work as freelancers. Some employers and private clients may require employees to hold a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $67,990*
- Software Developers
Software developers design and create computer programs, including designing and programming applications and systems. Many employers require a bachelor's and diverse language of programming languages for this position.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560*
- Graphic Designers
Graphic designers develop visual concepts to generate consumer interest in a brand or product. Designers work in a variety of industries, including advertising, publishing, and public relations. Most employers require a bachelor's degree and experience with software applications, such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop.
Median Annual Salary: $48,700*
- Multimedia Artists and Animators
Multimedia artists and animators create animations and visual effects for different forms of media, including film, television, and video games. A bachelor's in web design, with skills in graphic design and digital illustration, is preferred by employers.
Median Annual Salary: $70,530*
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
These managers direct, plan, and coordinate computer-related activities for an organization. They also maintain the health of the information systems. This position typically requires a bachelor's, which can be useful for transferable technology skills.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Web Design Program
Before choosing a web design program, carefully consider certain factors. You should look at program duration, and whether the program allows you to take classes full or part time. Remember that taking classes part time lengthens a degree. Consider a program's cost; public schools cost less than private schools and often feature lower tuition for in-state learners. Online programs usually have lower tuition rates and do not entail the associated living costs of an on-campus program. Look over the course offerings from the program. Some programs may feature specializations you wish to pursue. Additionally, consider a programs requirements, such as a final written thesis or capstone assignment.
Check that the prospective web design program comes from a regionally accredited school. Also, consider the school's location. If you need to complete a portion of the program on-campus, research the area around campus. Look into the job market for web designers and consider whether you could feasibly get a job in the area post-graduation.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Web Design
Accreditation ensures that academic programs maintain certain educational standards. There are three main forms of accreditation: programmatic, national, and regional. Programmatic accreditation applies to specific academic programs; national and regional accreditation applies to entire schools. Since no programmatic accreditation agency exists for web design degrees, you need to ensure that you attend a school with regional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Attending a school with regional accreditation is beneficial for transferring credits or applying for an advanced degree. Other schools and future employers may not recognize a degree from a school without regional accreditation.
Bachelor's in Web Design Program Admissions
Applying to an on-campus program could require an in-person interview. Online admissions can be more involved; however, since some online programs require admission to both the online and on-campus schools. Ideally, you should apply to between five and eight schools. Only apply to programs featuring curricula and concentrations that genuinely interest you.
- Minimum GPA: Most bachelor's programs require a 2.0 GPA at minimum. Some schools may allow you to bypass this requirement if you have high SAT or ACT test scores.
- Application: An application requests basic information and academic plans. Filling out an application typically takes around an hour, most schools accept standardized application forms such as the Common App.
- Transcripts: Most colleges require transcripts from high school and any previous college. Some schools charge a small processing fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: You may need to include one or two letters of recommendation from previous professors or mentors. Give your recommenders at least two weeks advance notice.
- Test Scores: You need to take either the SAT or ACT to apply for a bachelor's program. Score requirements vary, but most schools expect students to place within the 25th percentile.
- Application Fee: An application fee is usually $50. Many schools waive fees if students need financial assistance.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Web Design Program?
Depending on the school, web design programs vary in courses and concentrations. Some programs may offer concentrations in subjects, such as web development, web design, and graphic design. Other web design degrees are in the form of a web design concentration within a bachelor's in information systems.
|Web Design||A web design concentration studies the visual creation of a website in compliance with legal requirements and consumer expectations. This concentration addresses digital information architecture in addition to principles of design. The concentration may give learners opportunities to study technology-related skills such as scripting/coding and programming.||Web designer, web developer|
|Web Development||A web development concentration teaches you to program a website with legal requirements and consumer expectations. In this concentration, students learn to design a functional website using different programming languages. Courses may include advanced CSS, mobile application development, and web engineering.||Web developer, web designer|
|Digital Design||A digital design concentration emphasizes principles of design in the context of multimedia, software, and web development. Curriculum emphasizes interactive graphic design and digital imaging. Courses may include digital object design, interactive media, and digital illustration. You may need to present a portfolio as a culminating project.||Graphic designer, web designer, and multimedia artist or animator|
|Systems Development||This concentration is tailored to students interested in software and web-related development. Learners study programming languages, information systems analysis, and database management. Courses can include advanced web development, programming in selected languages, and systems analysis and design. The concentration can culminate in an internship.||Computer and information systems manager, web developer, and software developer|
|Game Design and Programming||This concentration transfers the principles of design and programming into game development. The curriculum emphasizes user interaction design and computer imaging. Courses may include graphic design, business communications, and introduction to databases. The concentration can culminate in an internship.||Multimedia artist or animator, software developer|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Web Design Program
Web design degrees feature different course offerings, depending on the focus and available concentrations. Some programs may offer more information system electives, while others may offer more graphic design electives. The following list of courses represents a sample curriculum for a web design degree.
- Introduction to Programming
This course covers basic computing concepts, and programming languages such as C++, Python, and BASIC. Generally, this course does not require any prerequisites. Students may need to present a functioning website as a culminating assignment.
- Web Front End Development
- Web Back End Development
This course focuses on the back end of web development: the scripting that handles database design and servers that help a website function. This course focuses on scripting languages, such as Python, Java, and PHP, and can require web front end development as a prerequisite.
- Advanced Web Design
This course covers creating web-based platforms for businesses and functional designs for websites in compliance with legal requirements and user expectations. Students learn to use applications, such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Acrobat. The course may culminate in portfolio presentations and peer critiques.
Some programs may culminate in an internship. Depending on the concentration, students may be required to find their own internship; given the freelance nature of web design and development work. Some programs may ask for a capstone portfolio presentation in place of an internship.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Web Design?
A bachelor's in web design typically takes about four years, or 120 credits, to complete. Part-time enrollment can lengthen your degree; however, a working professional's busy schedule may only accommodate a part-time course load. Many online degrees have accelerated format options that allow students to finish a degree in as little as two years. Degree completion programs building on a previously earned associate, or transferred credits, take less time than a typical bachelor's degrees. A supervised internship can increase the time you spend on your web design degree.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Web Design?
The cost of a bachelor's degree can range from $5,000 to $50,00 a year, depending on the school. Program duration affects cost, and private schools usually cost more than public schools. Additionally, many public schools have lower tuition for in-state learners. If you want to pursue an on-campus program, consider attending a public school in-state. Additionally, consider additional costs associated with an on-campus web design degree, such as housing, technology, transportation, and textbooks. An online web design degree may reduce some of these costs, and can offer lower tuition rates.
Annual tuition for a bachelor's in web design varies by state, though you can usually find affordable programs. You can expect to pay between $9,000 and $30,000 of annual tuition for your web design degree.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Web Design Prepares For
- Business Certificate
This certificate is ideal if you want to work as a freelancer or run your own business, since you need to register your business with the state and file for a certificate. The associated fees and other specifics vary by state.
- Certified Professional Web Designer
Post-graduation, you can take an exam from the nonprofit WebProfessionals.org for professional web designer certification. Certification measures your competency in areas such as web media, legal issues, and HTML and WYSIWYG editors. The exam costs $95 and consists of 70 multiple choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes.
- Certified Professional Web Developer
Alternatively, students can take an exam from WebProfessionals.org for professional web developer certification. Applicants may need to present a portfolio pre-exam. Certification measures competency in areas such as server scripting, databases, and web project management. The exam costs $95 and consists of 70 multiple choice questions in 60 minutes.
Resources for Web Design Students
The ESA offers scholarships to students studying computer technology-related degrees, including the Foundation scholarship to women and minorities interested in computer and video game arts. Students must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA to qualify.
Microsoft offers resources to students majoring in computer technology-related fields. Funding includes opportunities like the Imagine Cup, a coding competition that attracts tens of thousands of students from around the world.
The PGSF offers scholarships to learners in print and graphic arts related degrees. The organization awards 300 scholarships a year to both high school and college students, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.
The AIGA offers its Worldstudio scholarship to graphic arts majors. The institute's publication, The AIGA Guide to Careers in Graphic and Communication Design, also offers tips on how to move forward in a career post-graduation.
The GAA offers scholarships to students in graphic arts-related degrees, including its Harry V. Quadracci Memorial Scholarship. Learners must have 3.0 GPA at minimum and demonstrate financial need.
Professional Organizations in Web Design
Students should consider joining a web design-related professional organization. Professional organizations offer recent graduates and working professionals opportunities for networking, continuing education, and job assistance. Resources, such as the Graphic Arts Guild's webinars, can keep professionals up-to-date on contemporary technology and skill sets. Annual conferences and local events help foster a sense of shared community.