PhD in Graphic Design

Fortunately, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in graphic design programs do exist. Keep reading to learn more about degree requirements, career options and salaries. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Graphic Design?

Graphic design programs, while more commonly found at lower educational levels, can be found for prospective Ph.D. candidates. Online doctoral degree programs in graphic design are not currently available.

Degree Availability Ph.D. in graphic design programs are available, but rare
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree or master's degree in a related study area, professional experience in the design field, plan for doctoral study, prerequisite coursework
Common Courses Interactive design, Web design, photography, advanced typography, digital design
Mean Annual Wage (2015) $51,640 (for graphic designers)*
Job Outlook 1% increase between 2014-2024 (for graphic designers)*

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Any Prerequisites?

You must have a bachelor's or master's degree in design or a related area of study, such as art, technical communication or architecture. In addition, you should have several years of professional experience in a design field, as well as a well thought out plan for your doctoral degree studies. Applicants that are lacking foundational design courses or proficiency with industry-standard computer programs may be required to take prerequisite coursework prior to admission.

What Will I Learn?

The core of a Ph.D. in graphic design program includes courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods, and design theory and criticism. You'll also take courses in human interaction with designed objects, multicultural communication, design education or design history, depending on your chosen concentration.

A thesis project or dissertation that requires original research is typically a requirement as well. You may also complete a teaching assistantship. Some courses to expect in a doctoral degree program in graphic design might include:

  • Advanced typography
  • Digital design
  • Web design
  • Interactive design
  • Research methods for graphic design
  • Photography

What Can I Do with My Degree?

A bachelor's degree is the most common requirement for a career in graphic design. Work experience and continuing education to stay up-to-date on design trends and new industry software are some ways for graphic designers to advance to higher positions. Doctoral degree programs in graphic design are typically designed for those who would like to teach graphic design courses at the collegiate level. You might also pursue a career researching the technical and creative advances in the field of graphic design.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for graphic designers are expected to increase at a rate of 1% from 2014 to 2024 ( The mean annual salary for a graphic designer as of May 2015 was $51,640, according to the BLS (

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:

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