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Graphic design is a subject that perfectly lends itself to studying online. The advent of modern computing has meant that hardly any work is now done by hand, and instead the tendency is for designers to spend hours hunched over their PCs to work on their masterpieces.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to choose an online school or college. Unlike traditional schools, where you can go to an open day, speak to current students, and assess the quality of the facilities, the quality of an online school is hard to gauge apart from hours of heavy online research.
So we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on to find out which are some of the best online schools for learning about graphic design.
Why Should You Study Graphic Design?
Graphic design is becoming an increasingly important (and popular) career. We now live in a creativity-driven world, and those who work in the design industry are at the forefront of it. If you already have a passion for photography, digital imaging, or illustration, then graphic design is a natural progression.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of graphic designers is $44,150 per year, but the potential job titles are hugely diverse. The entry point for everything — from art director to editorial designer, from typeface designer to design director — starts with a qualification in graphic design.
The subtopics within the subject are equally diverse. Typical fields of study include animation, web graphics, photography, color theory, and corporate identity, but the list is almost endless.
Remember, you can get either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science qualification in the field, so make sure you understand which one is a better fit for your own career goals.
Tuition Estimate: $34,500 per year
Considered to be one of the leading creative schools in the country, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) boasts two physical campuses (in Savannah, GA and Atlanta, GA) as well as affiliate schools in France and Hong Kong.
There are eight schools within the college, with the “Online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design” curriculum being hosted by the School of Design.
The course has received considerable praise for its modernity, with students being given access to the same technology that’s used in actual business.
Topics covered within the course include Business Practices in Graphic Design, Production Design, Graphic Design Portfolio, and Graphic Design Studio.
Tuition Estimate: $23,100 per year
After being founded in 1931, Berkeley originally focused on business studies, but it has now expanded into multiple areas of professional study. There are nine physical locations around New York and New Jersey which are home to approximately 9,000 undergraduates.
The graphic design path, officially titled “Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design”, is split into two broad areas: theory and application.
The theory looks at the language, history, and tools of the industry, while the application side focuses on using theory and knowledge to solve real-life industry issues such as typography problems, raster and vector manipulation, and even web design.
Tuition Estimate: $12,900 per year
Herzing is the first school on our list which offers a Bachelor of Science qualification, officially called “Online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design”.
It was founded in 1965 and initially specialized in computer programming, but now has 15 campuses across the United States and Canada, and also includes a standalone online school.
The curriculum lasts 36 months and can be tailored to your specific interests (such as a concentration in print media or web design). It’ll focus on print- and web-related projects, and you’ll get to use a wide variety of software packages and design techniques.
They claim to offer their online students the same level of personal attention as offered to students who are physically on campus, and they also promise to help you build your various portfolios and liaise with prospective employers when the end of your studies draws near.
Tuition Estimate: $18,500 per year
California College San Diego offers a three year program titled “Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts”.
This school offers a couple of neat features which help distinguish it on this list. For one, courses and classes start every month throughout the year in rolling fashion, meaning you can dive straight in as soon as you’re ready instead of having to wait for semesters to end.
Another benefit is that there are over 50 broad graphic design courses to choose from, including topics like Computer Fundamentals, Print Production and Color Design, and Typography, all of which give you the same qualification at the end.
They also offer an extra-curricular course on becoming a freelance design professional for those who’d prefer solo work over being employed by traditional design firms, production companies, and corporate communications. It’s a career path that an increasing number of graduates are choosing to take.
Tuition Estimate: $11,800 per year
Rasmussen College is a well-known for-profit school in the United States with 24 campuses across six different states: Minnesota, Illinois, North Dakota, Florida, Wisconsin, and Kansas.
It’s one of the oldest colleges on our list, having been founded in 1900, and throughout its history has expanded into seven distinct schools: Health Sciences, Design, Business, Justice Studies, Education, Nursing, and Technology.
Their graphic design program offers specializations in animation, motion graphics, web design, and interactive design, all of which help students to master relevant software and design concepts.
In addition to its high graduation rate, the college also boasts an exceptionally high 85% satisfaction rate from students. That alone makes it worth serious consideration, especially for an online school.
Tuition Estimate: $17,000 per year
Independence University is both the oldest school on this list (it was founded in 1891 as the California College for Health Sciences) and the only not-for-profit school on the list. It’s based out of Salt Lake City.
It started life as a place for studying health sciences, but branched out into additional fields and has now been offering distance learning courses for more than 35 years. Talk about being ahead of its time!
They offer two programs based around graphic design: the Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design (20 months) and the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design (36 months).
Have you ever enrolled in a graphic design program online? Which school did you study with? Was your experience positive or negative? Can an online course ever replace completing a course on-campus and in-person?
We’d love to know your thoughts and feedback! Let us know your opinions in the comments below.