Online Computer Design Certificates and Degree Programs

Find out the degree and certification options available in computer design. Get the facts about classes offered and jobs available as well as average salary and employment outlook. Schools offering 3D Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are My Educational Options as a Computer Design Student?

Computer design fields include both computer-aided drafting (CAD) and graphic design professions. Schools that offer online certificate and degree programs for either field are frequently private, for-profit trade or vocational schools. Coursework is often provided through interactive learning platforms, allowing you to view lectures, download assignments and submit projects and tests via the Internet. Communication with peers and instructors is available through e-mail, message boards or online chat.

You can learn and study both graphic design and CAD online through a short certificate program, providing you with education solely in the selected vocation. The core curriculum for a certificate program assumes you have some drawing abilities, though an extra drawing class can be added to the syllabus. Schools offering associate and bachelor's degrees online generally focus on graphic design, though some CAD may be introduced.

Degree LevelsCertificates and associate's for CAD and graphic design, bachelor's for graphic design
CAD TopicsIndustry-standard software, blueprint reading, manual drafting
Graphic Design TopicsPhotoshop, digital photography, advertising, vector imaging
Software OptionsBundle purchases, free downloads, free trials
Career FieldsCivil engineering, advertising, multimedia design, architecture

What Will I Learn in a CAD Program?

Online CAD programs teach you how to use mechanical drafting software to create blueprints and product designs. You'll usually be introduced to industry-standard software, learning basic and advanced features. If you have no experience in blueprint reading or manual drafting, you may find certificate programs that offer these foundational skills. Others may assume some degree of previous knowledge, focusing on applying your current expertise to computer-aided projects and designs.

What Will I Learn in Graphic Design Program?

Whether you choose to earn a certificate or degree in graphic design can determine the type of instruction you'll receive. Most programs typically introduce you to the basic techniques of using image manipulation software, such as Adobe Photoshop. Other common courses include typesetting, color mixing and vector imaging.

Online associate and bachelor's degree programs may also incorporate advanced training in website design, opacity and layering, 3D imaging and prepress preparation. Bachelor's studies may add graphic animation, digital photography and advertising courses and electives. Degree programs may also offer you the opportunity to apply your training to hands-on learning experiences through optional internships with affiliated companies.

Will I Have to Purchase My Own Software?

Most schools require that you provide and install the required software for the program. You may complete a certificate program in time to utilize free trial-based software that can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website. However, many software companies offer students significant discounts to purchase an application or suite. Computer design applications typically come bundled, saving additional costs over having to buy software separately. In some instances, necessary software may be available as a free download.

What Are My Career Options After Graduation?

Earning an online certificate or degree in CAD or graphic design can lead to entry-level employment in a variety of professional industries, such as aeromechanics, architecture, civil engineering, advertising, multimedia design or journalism. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil and architectural CAD technicians may see a three percent decrease in employment between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salaries for computer-aided drafting professionals were $51,940 in 2014. Some graphic designers start their own business, finding niche markets in corporate branding, website development or specialized photography services. The BLS reported a 1% growth in graphic design jobs in the same time period, with a typical median 2014 salary of $45,900.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Full Sail University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Capella University

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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Brenau University

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