Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM OVER 10 POTENTIAL CAREER PATHS

    Graphic design is a versatile degree that can lead to an array of potential careers in advertising, publishing design, user experience, product development and more.

  • COMPUTER SYSTEMS DESIGN JOBS RISING BY 20%

    As companies continue to rely on their online presence to reach customers, the demand for designers who can create engaging, effective websites is growing.

  • WORK FOR YOURSELF AS A FREELANCE DESIGNER

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of graphic designers are self-employed, giving you the freedom to choose your own projects, and set your own rates and work hours.

Our Research

Students can obtain an education in graphic design at multiple levels. Our list includes associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in graphic design, as well as certificate programs. The type of degree you select will be based on your current level of education and professional goals.

Our list includes schools with both regional and national accreditation. Several programs also have additional accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), which sets standards of quality education in art and design degrees.

All of the programs we reviewed can be completed online, although many also offer on-campus or hybrid delivery formats.

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated them on the basis of cost, course strength, reputation, faculty, and flexibility. Using this data, we calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each program. Our top picks for the best online graphic design degrees are affordable, flexible, and highly regarded.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 66 hours to write this article
  • 58 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 342 education programs we compared

The Top 26 Online Graphic Design Degrees

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Although employment in certain areas of graphic design, like computer systems design and related fields, is growing at a faster-than-average pace, overall job growth in graphic design is expected to be slightly slower than average in the next few years. This is partially due to a decline in newspaper, periodical, and book publishing. There will be competition for jobs, which is why earning a degree, building a strong portfolio, and networking through your university will be key to a successful graphic design career.

Graphic designers typically rely on computer-based programs for their work, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore fine arts-based skills like drawing and color theory. Many graphic design programs, particularly at the undergraduate level, require some foundational coursework in these areas to help you understand visual vocabulary and open up your creative process.

Creativity is key for graphic designers, but in most cases, you will be designing a product for a client, not for yourself. You will have to learn how to tailor your artistic vision to the client’s needs and preferences, and sometimes work with tight parameters and difficult people. As part of your education, you will likely get guidance and experience in this area of professional development.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Graphic Design programs:

  • What type of accreditation does the program have? Accreditation confirms that a school meets high standards of quality. However, there are key differences between regional and national accreditation. Credits and degrees earned at regionally accredited institutions are generally more recognized and transferable. Attending a regionally accredited school will ensure that your credits will be recognized by other institutions if you transfer or apply for an advanced degree.
  • What software programs will you use? Graphic designers rely on software programs like Adobe Illustrator, Corel PaintShop, Canva, and more. Students may also need computers that meet certain technical specifications. Some schools may offer discounts to students for computers and software programs. Find out what your program requires, and include these costs in your budget.

Look into the program’s admissions procedures and deadlines during your research. This will help your application process go smoothly. You can find this information on the school’s website, or by contacting their admissions department.

Financing your education is another consideration. Talk to a financial aid counselor about your options for loans, scholarships, and assistantships. If you are currently employed, find out if your job offers tuition assistance benefits.