Why This Matters


    Graphic designers who work to create visually appealing and effective websites are part of a growing industry that will continue to increase in the coming decades.


    According to research conducted by Adobe, 73% of all businesses invest in design to differentiate their brands.


    Graphic designers with a master’s degree earn an average of $59,247-$63,054 a year. Salaries may be higher for designers who work with computers.

Our Research

Our list focuses on master’s-level programs in graphic design, visual communications, and digital media. They are a mix of on campus, online, and hybrid programs that generally take one to two years of full-time study to complete.

All programs are accredited by the regional or national agency that covers their area. These agencies include The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Accreditation is a rigorous periodic process that ensures up-to-date, relevant curriculum; appropriate facilities; and professors with the terminal degree in their fields and real-world experience in their topics.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 74 hours to write this article
  • 180 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 348 education programs we compared

The Top 42 Master’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs

Best Master's in Graphic Design Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

The field of graphic design has changed drastically over the past several decades. In the latter half of the last century, it was a largely paper-based trade, and designers worked for newspapers and magazines or created flyers and advertising for businesses of all sizes.

Now, however, the role of the graphic designer has expanded to include leadership roles in developing content for websites and social media as well as sophisticated branding strategies.

Master’s programs in graphic design are usually meant for those who are already working in the field but want to expand and improve their skill set to tackle new professional challenges. Coursework may investigate emerging digital media trends or the role of the designer in the corporate world.

There is no accreditation required to practice as a graphic designer in the U.S. Designers may earn certificates for particular areas of focus from institutions of higher education or private schools that teach design.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching graphic design programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? A master’s program in graphic design assumes that you will already have a basic understanding of art and design and an undergraduate degree in art or a related field. Many programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. Your application is also likely to include a portfolio review of your best work.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most master’s programs can be completed in one to two years of full-time study, which means taking four classes during each semester with the possibility of summer scholarship as well. If you attend graduate school on a part-time basis, you may take four or five years to earn your degree.

When you research potential programs, don’t hesitate to reach out to an admissions counselor, even if you’re not sure you’ll be applying to that program. They can answer questions about the program’s focus and help you determine if it would be a good fit for you.

A good admissions counselor can also help you get the ball rolling to apply for financial aid. Most schools have merit- and need-based financial aid packages for students. You may also be able to access scholarships, grants, or loans from your employer or any professional organizations to which you belong.