Graphic Design Degree Programs

Graphic designers use their creative and artistic skills to design advertisements, magazine layouts, websites and related materials. Read on to learn more about degree programs and employment prospects in this field. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Graphic Design Degrees Are Available?

Some schools offer a 2-year program leading to an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design. Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design programs are also available; these programs usually require four years of study. Admissions prerequisites for associate's and bachelor's programs include a high school diploma and submission of SAT or ACT scores. Some schools ask prospective students to take an assessment exam; you may also need to submit some examples of your own creative work.

You might be able to earn a Master of Fine Arts or Master of Arts in Graphic Design in 2-3 years. Most master's programs only admit students who hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a graphic design-related field. If you have a degree in an unrelated field, you may need to complete some introductory graphic design courses prior to enrollment. Prospective master's degree candidates are also expected to submit portfolios of their work.

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees available
Common Courses Typography, 3-D design, history of design, multimedia presentation techniques, digital photography
Learning Environment Traditional classroom, fully online and hybrid programs are available
Median Annual Salary (2014) $45,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

In an associate's degree program, you might take courses like digital photography, typography, drawing and Web design. You'll also take general education classes, including English composition or college algebra. Most of these programs culminate in the creation of a final portfolio. Earning an associate's degree may lead to entry-level work as a graphic design assistant. Many graduates of these programs go on to pursue bachelor's degrees in the field.

Graphic design bachelor's programs usually offer more extensive hands-on training than do associate's programs. While these two types of programs may feature similar courses, additional topics could include 3-dimensional design, multimedia presentation techniques and the history of design. You might receive regular feedback on studio work from professors and classmates. Completion of a professional portfolio and an internship may be required.

Master's programs can often be tailored to meet your specific goals, focusing on advanced proficiency in computer-based image creation or promotional design methods. Some of these programs emphasize the acquisition of college-level teaching and research skills. Depending on the type of program you choose, you might complete a teaching internship, a final project or a research-based thesis paper.

Can I Earn It Online?

A few schools offer associate's, bachelor's or master's degree programs in graphic design in a distance learning format. Some programs require a combination of in-person and online coursework. You'll need a computer with high-speed Internet access in order to participate. Some of your courses may require specific software applications, like Adobe Flash or Illustrator.

What's the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed graphic designers was expected to increase by one percent from 2014-2024 ( As of May 2014, the median annual wage for graphic designers was $45,900. Many of these professionals worked for specialized design firms, advertising companies or publishers. A bachelor's degree is usually required to work as a graphic designer.

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

  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Liberty University

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    Popular programs at Liberty University:

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  • Independence University

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

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  • University of Florida

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    • Florida: Gainesville
  • Boston University

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    • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Iowa State University

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    • Iowa: Ames
  • University of Pennsylvania

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Temple University

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia