If being creative, creating brands, and utilizing your artistic skills to make businesses successful is where your passions lie, then graphic design is for you!
To some, working in a field that allows them to innovate and flex their creative muscles is the most important aspect of any job. Luckily, those with a degree in graphic design don’t have to sacrifice good pay for their passions!
Our top 25 accredited online colleges for graphic design give you the tools and experience necessary to turn your passion for art and design into a rewarding career. For those out there new to graphic design or who don’t really know what the field entails, keep reading to learn all you need to know!
What Do You Learn in Accredited Graphic Design Courses Online?
According to Dictionary.com, graphic design is “the art or profession of visual communication that combines images, words, and ideas to convey information to an audience, especially to produce a specific effect.” You can tell by this definition that graphic design is a creative pursuit often used to persuade people to purchase a service or product offered by a business.
During the process of earning a graphic design degree, you learn about a wide variety of topics in your online courses, including, but not limited to:
- Web design and web development
- User interface and interactive design
- Motion graphics and animation
- Digital photography and imaging
- 3D Modeling
- Interface design
- Digital filmmaking
- Advertising and page layout techniques
- Publication and typographic design
- Color theory
- Design principles
- Graphic arts
Likewise, you’ll most likely spend a lot of time learning how to use specific software for graphic design, like the programs in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Some of the programs listed below are concentrated in web design, general communication techniques, or business aspects of graphic design. One thing in common among the programs in our ranking is that they focus on harnessing and fostering their students’ artistic ability while giving them the skills necessary to earn a living.
After all, both components are important for your development as a graphic designer. You obviously need the graphic design skills to be successful. But you also need to know how to apply those skills in the real world. What’s the point of learning about graphic design if you don’t know how to be a graphic designer? The programs we’ve ranked below help you do both.
What are the Best Accredited Online Colleges for Graphic Design Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics as a basis for devising these rankings.
Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering the same degree to determine the final score. That score is presented by each ranking.
Accredited Online College considers many different factors when ranking online graphic design degree accredited programs. This includes the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. For more information regarding how we’ve developed this ranking method, see our methodology page.
Let’s explore our list of the best online schools for graphic design!
At the top of our list of accredited online graphic design programs is Penn State’s World Campus.
Affordability and world-renowned quality education are what separate Penn State World Campus’s Bachelor of Design in Digital Multimedia Design from its competition.
This is an interdisciplinary program that gives you the skills needed for digital media design, marketing, and technological proficiency, among other skillsets. You’ll use your newly obtained knowledge from this program to design processes that solve real-world design issues.
This program consists of 120 credit hours of coursework, with tuition rates ranging from $620 to $664 per credit hour, depending on how many credits you’ve already completed (the lower figure is for students that have 59 or fewer credits). Also, if you take 12 or more credits per semester, you pay a flat fee of $7,527 or $8,125 per semester. Again, the amount depends on whether you have 59 or fewer credits under your belt.
Through Penn State’s project-based curriculum, you will develop a portfolio consisting of relevant digital multimedia design content to showcase your skill set to future employers when it’s time to apply for jobs. You will take 75 credit hours of major-specific coursework while working toward your degree. This provides ample opportunities to explore various digital multimedia design areas and find the niche about which you are most interested.
While you may have a natural talent for creating art, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at Liberty University focuses on honing your natural abilities in a career in which you get paid to do what you love. It’s also important to know your future career inside and out, which is why this university allows students to dive deep into the history of art and how this field has progressed over time.
Accredited graphic design programs like this allow you to work in a collaborative environment. Both peers and instructors will assess your work and provide constructive feedback on how you can take your art to the next level. This type of learning environment strengthens your knowledge and skills while opening up many different avenues for learning from many different people.
The BFA in Graphic Design from this university teaches you to work with Adobe Creative Suite, which includes programs like Photoshop and InDesign. Additionally, students enrolled in this program are required to complete a 1-credit-hour practicum experience. The purpose of the practicum is to introduce you to the world of working in graphic design. Usually, you’ll spend a few hours in a graphic design work setting where you observe the daily activities of a practicing graphic designer. You might even get to contribute to a project!
There’s a 3-credit-hour internship experience to complete before getting your diploma as well. The internship is a much more hands-on learning experience than the practicum. You’re expected to treat the internship like a job and contribute in a positive manner to real-world projects. Think of the internship as the final step you need to take before graduating and becoming a full-on professional graphic designer yourself.
3. National University
The professors at National University realize that art and the people who create it influence how people see the world. As such, the faculty take their job of teaching students digital media design very seriously.
The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design from National University gives you the experience that’s necessary to work with a variety of creative design tools within this field. Upon completion of this graphic design degree online accredited program, you’ll be equipped to step into jobs ranging from marketing to education to entertainment.
Choosing National University may be the best financial investment you can make. Currently, the school offers millions of dollars in new scholarships to students. The classes offered through this university are held in four-week modules, so those who tend to get bored with subjects fast may find their ideal degree program at National University – and pay less for it, too!
A complete, well-rounded education in graphic information is what you’ll get if you choose the Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Bellevue University.
This program combines the creative aspects of design with the technical skills needed to implement design for businesses. The program has a specific focus on teaching its students how to effectively utilize graphic design for print and web mediums.
The BA in Graphic Design from Bellevue University includes 127 credit hours of work. Of those, 49 credit hours are dedicated to the graphic design major course requirements. There are 37 general education credits and 41 elective credits required for graduation, too.
All students enrolled at Bellevue University must complete the Kirkpatrick Signature Series. This series consists of three courses: American Vision and Values, Tradition and Change, and Freedom and Responsibility. This program leads you to explore the role you have as citizens in the United States.
Rasmussen University has a unique design program that allows you to earn an Associate’s in Graphic Design. You can then transfer the credits in your Associate’s degree to a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design program.
To complete the associate’s degree, you will take 25 courses for a total of 91 credits. Examples of classes you may take in the associate’s program are:
- Digital Photography and Image Editing
- Web Design Fundamentals
- Graphic Design Portfolio
- Audio/Video Editing
The Associate’s in Graphic Design from this college helps you develop the skills needed to get into the graphic design field and start utilizing your graphic design knowledge. The bachelor’s degree is a continuation of this graphic design information. It consists of 180 credit hours, which you can complete in four years of full-time study.
Rasmussen University also allows transfer students from other colleges. The average student transfers 26 credit hours into this accredited online graphic design degree.
Are you searching for a graphic design program with a curriculum laser-focused on the applicable skills necessary for working in the graphic design field? You’ll find a program that exceeds your expectations at the University of Maryland Global Campus.
The curriculum in this Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Communication is organized around creating a portfolio of projects that can be shown to future employers. Having a portfolio of completed work is a great asset for a recent college graduate to have. Without actual work experience, a portfolio allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills, and gives employers a look at why they should hire you.
This is a 120-credit-hour program. There are 33 credit hours of major-specific coursework. You can also select a minor, which can be completed through the program’s 46 credit hours of minor and elective coursework.
Whether you decide to work for yourself or for a communications company following graduation, this degree will prepare you for success. That’s because you’ll have professors who have experience working for design groups. This can be an excellent resource for focusing your skillset on precisely what employers are looking for in applicants.
Arizona State University is known for its innovation. The same can be said for the school’s Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology program, which focuses on web design.
After completing this program, you’ll be ready for employment as both a graphic designer and web designer. Graduates of this program have gone on to work for large companies such as Boeing and Shutterfly, among many others.
Online classes at ASU are held in 7.5-week blocks. The BS in Graphic Information Technology requires you to complete 40 courses, which is 120 credit hours. Some classes you may take while pursuing this degree include:
- Introduction to Web Authoring
- Graphic Communications
- Digital Video Techniques
- Digital Publishing
- Introduction to Commercial Print
To gain unconditional admission to this program as a transfer student, you must have an associate’s degree with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, for Arizona residents, or a 2.5 GPA, for non-Arizona residents.
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from Full Sail University can be completed in as little as 29 months of full-time, online study. The program promises to hone your practical skills in integration, advertising, and branding.
Full Sail makes it easy for students to know exactly what each month of their degree program will look like. With its online program overview on the school’s website, you can see what courses you take, and when.
The courses in the BS in Graphic Design program are held in one-month blocks. Many of these four-week blocks require you to take only one class at a time. This can be an advantageous approach because it helps you focus on a single subject.
What’s more, the school allows online students to apply to the Momentum Scholarship. This scholarship awards up to $25,000 toward tuition! If you’re interested in this program, be sure to fill out a scholarship application!
Doesn’t it make sense that if you’re going to a university to learn graphic design then the information should be taught utilizing beautiful layouts and design techniques? This is what the Academy of Art University thinks, which is why its online graphic design program is presented using the very methods that are taught.
You review the materials presented through videos, Powerpoints, and live streams, and you submit coursework in ways that are open to instructors and classmates for feedback.
You can even attach audio files or videos of yourself explaining the submitted coursework, making for a more interactive and collaborative learning environment.
The Academy of Art University points out that its online students learn the same content as its on-campus students. The major difference, of course, is the flexible schedule that comes with the online degree.
Hodges University offers two degree options in graphic design. There’s an Associate of Arts in Digital Design & Graphics and a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies with the Digital Design & Graphics Track. Both are attractive options for prospective graphic design students.
The associate’s program instills in students essential concepts and skills required to start working in the graphic design field. The bachelor’s program aims to further develop that graphic design knowledge and teaches you soft skills that will set you apart from other candidates as you apply for jobs.
The AA in Digital Design & Graphics has monthly start dates and carries additional certification from the American Digital Design Association (ADDA) for graphic design schools online. Students enrolled in the AA program are able to explore subjects such as:
- 2D and 3D graphics
- Video game design
- Print and media design
You can also study marketing graphics to develop a stronger sense of the relationship between graphic design and marketing.
Next up on our list of the best online colleges for graphic design is Southern New Hampshire University.
The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts from Southern New Hampshire University has two tracks. You can choose between User Experience Design or Web Design.
Examples of courses you may take while enrolled in either the User Experience Design concentration or the Web Design concentration include:
- Digital Graphic Design for the Web
- Fundamentals of Design
- Digital Design Tools
- Designing a Brand Identity
SNHU’s Bachelor’s in Graphic Design aims to create foundational skills in design thinking and digital media. Likewise, you’ll learn about brand identity and professional practice.
You can transfer up to 90 credit hours of the required 120 credit hours from another university. Tuition is also set at a reasonable rate, too. You’ll spend $320 per credit hour, and the degree’s net price at just over $39,000.
The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media from California Baptist University is an excellent option if you want to start your journey in graphic design. It’s also a good option if you wish to build upon your knowledge to move up in your current company.
This is another program that designs its curriculum around applicable job skills and the creation of a professional portfolio. In addition to the portfolio, the digital media and graphic design major consists of 48 credit hours of coursework.
CBU Online reports that the average student enrolled in this program is able to complete their degree in only 16 months. If you become a student in the BA in Graphic Design and Digital Media program, you can expect to take classes such as:
- Fundamental Design
- Fundamental Typology
- Fundamental Image
- Fundamental Web
Then, you’ll move on to more advanced courses in graphic design, like the history of graphic design, intermediate and advanced courses in design, and the senior capstone project.
As a student at this university, you’re also required to take an Overview of the Bible and Foundations of Christian Thought before graduating with your degree.
Do you want to break into a new web design career? You should take a minute to look at Herzing University’s Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design with a concentration in Web Design.
This program is 124 credit hours in duration. The core graphic design curriculum includes 13 courses. What’s more, while other graphic design programs may not spend a significant amount of time on the business side of graphic design, this university incorporates a course in the curriculum to do just that.
The Web Design concentration consists of 24 credit hours of coursework spread over eight classes, which gives you exposure to all aspects of the specialty.
Herzing University requires students pursuing their Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design with a concentration in Web Design to complete a capstone course. You must also finish an internship in graphic design in your final semester. Both of these courses are worth four credits each.
Do you need a program that starts by teaching the very basics of art theory before diving deeper into graphic design specifics? You’ll find the Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Kentucky Wesleyan College exactly what you’ve been looking for!
With this program, everyone in your cohort starts at the same level. This gives those with less experience in art and design time to catch up with their peers.
This is a 120-credit-hour BA in Graphic Design program. The graphic design major’s core curriculum requires 42 credit hours. It should be pointed out that the major’s core curriculum includes a senior seminar class and two internship classes, totaling nine credit hours.
This program specifies that you must also complete nine credit hours of art history electives consisting of three classes: Art History, Prehistoric and Neoclassic; Art History: American Art; and Art History: Modern Arts.
15. LA Film School
Pushing the creative edge of artistic innovation is what the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design degree from the LA Film School is designed to do. Who better to teach how to push the envelope of creativity than a school dedicated to the arts?
The school outfits its students with the tools needed to be successful in the program. The degree includes 120 credit hours that can be completed in three years.
Once enrolled in this program, you will be trained in subjects such as:
- Digital image-making
- Experiential design
- Web design
- Brand development
- Portfolio development
The school’s website touts that its graduates have gone on to work for companies such as Disney, Marvel, news stations, and many others. Plus, since the school is located in Hollywood, you’ll be taught by world-class entertainers and artists who work in the art industry!
If you choose to pursue Upper Iowa University Bachelor’s in Graphic Design, you’ll start learning graphic design in your first year of studies. This university also focuses on teaching students problem-solving skills, which is an often under-advertised skill by other schools.
If you find that your interest lies more in communications or marketing, then you may want to choose the Graphic Design minor, which consists of 24 credit hours of coursework.
The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design degree is a 120-credit-hour program in which you will take 42 credit hours specific to the Graphic Design major. Examples of courses you may end up taking in this major include:
- Advertising Design
- Web Publishing and Social Media
- Publication Design
The minor’s core curriculum in graphic design includes the three classes listed above as well as Introduction to Graphic Design, Typology, a photography or video-editing class, and a digital imaging or digital illustration class.
17. UMASS Lowell
The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s certificate program in Graphic Design and Digital Imaging may be the ideal program for someone who wants to learn the skills necessary to work in the graphic design field but doesn’t want to earn another degree.
This certificate program includes 10 courses for a total of 30 credit hours. As part of this curriculum, you’ll take classes such as Introduction to Graphic Design, Fundamentals of Typology, and Photographic Imaging. Students admitted into the program also participate in the Portfolio Production Seminar. The seminar takes place in the spring and summer semesters.
If you complete this certificate program and then decide you want to go back and complete a bachelor’s degree, rest assured that all the work you put into the certificate won’t go to waste. Some of the coursework completed in the certificate program counts toward the school’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology’s credit requirement.
18. Midway University
Once enrolled in the online Bachelor’s in Marketing Communications from Midway University, you’re able to concentrate your studies in either Writing or Graphic Design.
As the name of the degree suggests, a major focus of the program is in marketing communication and advertising. This is a perfect complement to graphic design.
The school maintains small class sizes, with a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, so you’re sure to get the attention and help you need when encountering difficult topics.
Those who select the Graphic Design concentration will be introduced to topics such as:
- Digital storytelling
- Social media management
- Brand management
The program takes four years to complete, and classes are held in accelerated eight-week modules.
The BS in Graphic Design offered by the Department of Visual Arts and Media at South Eastern University was created to teach, guide, and inspire generation after generation of visual artists.
The university also holds to the servant-leadership model. This means the school expects its students to serve through participation in their local communities.
Students in the graphic design program become proficient in programs like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to create graphic designs.
South Eastern University also offers various other programs if you’re not committed to completing a bachelor’s degree in this subject. For example, you can choose from a minor in graphic design, an Associate of Arts in Graphic Design, or an Associate of Arts in Graphic Design with an emphasis in Web Design.
You’ll also want to check out some of the scholarships that this university has to offer its online students, which could end up saving you thousands in student loans.
Rocky Mountain College believes that a well-rounded, thorough education requires multiple sources and perspectives on a particular topic. This is exactly what you’ll get with the school’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
Students in this program will be exposed to a liberal arts education while learning the technical knowledge and skills required to effectively utilize design software. If you’re curious about the kind of knowledge you’ll obtain in this program, you can visit the college’s website and check out the examples of work past students have completed.
With the BFA in Graphic design, you’ll become proficient in subjects such as:
- Visual storytelling
- Creating written and verbal presentations
- Operating design software
What’s more, some of the professors in the program are still working in the design field, so you’ll be exposed to the latest and most applicable knowledge.
21. Berkeley College
Berkeley College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design is a program designed to teach you how to think critically and creatively about solving problems.
This program also offers you small class sizes, access to the most current design technology, and numerous networking opportunities. Berkeley College promises to expose you to past media artforms and cutting-edge graphic design theories, too.
Students in this program learn about a broad range of topics including:
- Web design
- User interface and interactive design
- Motion graphics and animation
Once admitted into this program, you can submit your work to the school’s web department so that, if chosen, the entire school can admire your newly acquired graphic design skills.
22. Boston College
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at Boston University is a degree program that starts by easing you into the basics of visual concepts. Year two is defined by taking a deep dive into graphic design courses, giving you the basic foundation of your future career.
Year three of the program focuses your attention on the audience and how to formulate and deliver effective graphic design products.
The final year of the program is when you combine all you’ve learned into an applied-thesis project. This project is an opportunity to showcase your skills and your ability to complete complex projects.
Over the course of these four years, the university incrementally introduces you to new skills that you’re able to build over time. This culminates in a graphic design graduate ready to change the world through visual communication.
The faculty at Lesley University knows the importance of being able to apply the knowledge learned to the kinds of problems you’ll face after graduation. That’s why an internship is a core requirement for graduating with the school’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree.
The school has developed relationships with big companies like Hasbro, New Balance, Puma, and others. Landing an internship with one of these companies can give you experience working with national brands. This is not something that students elsewhere typically get to do.
Lesley University gives you the ability to customize your degree around what interests you. This becomes particularly valuable when you’re interested in graphic design and another subject such as political science or sports marketing and management.
Enroll in this program, and you can combine your graphic design major with one of more than 45 dozen minors for an educational experience tailored to you and what you love.
The graphic design program at Millersville University is unique. It’s a Bachelor of Design (B.Des) in Interactive and Graphic Design.
This degree offers you the chance to learn the creative and technical skills required for graphic designers. The coursework you complete was developed using the standards recommended by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA).
As such, this program gives you all the opportunities you need to discover your voice as a graphic designer. You’ll learn how to design with the latest technologies. You’ll also learn best practices that enable you to be the best graphic designer you can be.
You must have at least 30 transfer credits already completed before enrollment in this program. Once admitted, you will complete 90 additional credits for a total 120 credit hours.
The Master of Science in Biomedicine and Digital Media program from Drexel University is a program that combines digital art design with science and technology. This makes graduates uniquely qualified to create media designs for the health and science fields.
Students in this program are taught by professors at Drexel University’s College of Medicine as well as by those in its College of Media Arts and Design. In both cases, you learn from experts in their specific field.
The MS in Biomedicine and Digital Media is a 36-credit-hour program that can be completed in as little as one year of full-time study.
If you decide to enroll in this program, you won’t have to worry about completing a thesis. Additionally, the school works with you to ensure you complete an internship that works for you and your schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Requirements Will You Need to Meet to Apply to a Graphic Design Degree Program?
What you’ll need to be a competitive applicant and gain admission to your chosen online colleges graphic design program will depend on a few factors. This includes the program for which you’re applying, the type of degree you wish to pursue, and whether you are entering the program as a freshman or transferring from another university.
It’s important to note that each program may have specific requirements that can differ from others. Always check the admission requirements for your desired program, which you can find on the school’s website. That being said, there are a few requirements that most schools want their applicants to meet before admission.
Freshmen without previous college experience or completed coursework will need to submit proof that they completed high school or a GED program. Additionally, many schools require that freshmen submit their ACT or SAT scores. However, some schools have programs that waive the SAT or ACT requirements if applicants complete a sequence of prerequisite courses. Again, this requirement varies from one school to the next, so be sure to inquire about it with the schools to which you apply.
Students transferring from another university or who have completed college coursework in the past will be asked to submit their official transcripts from each school they previously attended. Many programs require that students with previous college experience have maintained at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Individuals who don’t meet this minimum GPA requirement may be asked to take specific classes to prove to the school that they can be successful in the program.
While the above general requirements often apply to a BS or BA degree, those wanting admission to a BFA degree may also have to submit artwork or have specific experience working in the arts to gain admission. Because a BFA program emphasizes applied skills, some programs want to make sure you have the ability and talent to be successful in your studies.
What are the Differences Between Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees?
The decision to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree comes down to what you want to learn throughout your coursework at the best graphic design schools online.
A Bachelor of Arts degree has more of an emphasis on a liberal arts education, which develops a broad knowledge base of critical thinking and complex problem-solving. Students in a Bachelor of Arts program take science-related courses, art courses, and courses in psychology and sociology.
A Bachelor of Science degree has more of a focus on a particular subject matter than does the Bachelor of Arts degree. Typically, those enrolled in a BS program plan to pursue graduate or professional education after graduation. As the name suggests, those in a Bachelor of Science program are likely to study more science-related topics such as mathematics or natural sciences, such as biology or chemistry.
A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is designed for undergraduate students that want a focused, practical education in the arts. The emphasis of this degree is on teaching students how to create art through classes that provide opportunities for hands-on implementation of in-class learning. BFA degrees require the completion of a portfolio or capstone project, which is a collection of your best work from your time in the program.
See also: The Easiest Bachelor’s Degrees to Get
What Kind of Job Can I Get With a Degree from Graphic Design Online Colleges?
If you earn a graphic design degree, you’re able to work in a wide variety of fields because of the range of skills and knowledge obtained during your education. Many graduates of these programs go on to careers in graphic design that can earn a median income of $50,710 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
You might have a passion for advertising, web design, creative direction, or video editing. Advertising and promotion managers earn an excellent annual salary of $127,150. Web designers bring in a median yearly salary of $77,030. Meanwhile, creative directors can expect $100,890 per year, and video editors make a median wage of $62,680 per year.
These are just a few examples of common careers that those with graphic design degrees enter. But remember that the skills taught in these degrees, namely the ability to recognize and create art, can be utilized in many different kinds of businesses. Art directors, marketing managers, and interior designers are related graphic design careers you might pursue.
The ability to see opportunity and your motivation to pursue the exact niche that excites you are the only limiting factors in what you can do with an online bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field.