5 Characteristics of an Excellent Graphic Design Program
- Graphic Design Curriculum
- Hands-on Training
- Degrees Offered
- Meets Career Goals
One of the largest tasks for an aspiring graphic designer is finding an excellent graphics design program, which is one that offers more than just a graphic design program. It should offer the training and software required to keep up with technology. The competitive global business marketplace we live in relies heavily on the internet, and this reliance results in a demand for graphic designers who can stand out in the marketplace. The first step is finding the right graphic design program. Here are five hallmarks of an excellent graphic design program or school.
Related resource: 10 Best Online Schools for Graphic Design 2017
1. Graphic Design Curriculum
Whether a student is in a one-year certificate program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program, it’s important that the program have a full curriculum of the latest graphic design software and courses. Applicants should make sure the program has enough depth and breadth to fully support the student’s learning of graphic design. This is specifically important if the student is interested in a specific area of graphic design. The program should provide the student with enough training to be able to put together a good portfolio for when the student begins the job search upon graduation.
Accreditation is extremely important in any academic program or school, whether it’s for law, business, healthcare or graphic design. Choosing a graphic design program that’s accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design is recommended because this is an accredited body that’s highly recognized and respected in the graphic design world. NASAD has set specific standards on what the programs should include. When a potential employer sees that the applicant graduated from a NASAD-approved school, the employer knows the applicant has the most updated design skills. There are more than 320 NASAD-accredited graphic design schools in the U.S.
3. Hands-on Training
When choosing a graphics program, it’s important that the student learn how much hands-on training is included. An excellent graphics design program will not just teach students about graphic design and include the latest software and design but will also provide a lot of hands-on training. Hands-on training and practical experience give the students the opportunity to put to use what they learned in the program. If the student isn’t sure of certain designs or illustrations, it’s better that the student learn this in class than in a potential job interview. The more hands-on, supervised training the student receives while in the program, the better the student will be prepared for work in the real world.
4. Degrees Offered
Graphic design programs are usually offered in several degree levels.
• Certificate program – generally can be completed in less than a year
• Associate’s degree – a two-year program
• Bachelor’s degree – a four-year program
• Master’s degree – two years plus the bachelor’s degree
The type of program a student chooses should depend on what the student wants to do after graduation. If the student wants to pursue a specific job that requires a bachelor’s degree, he or she could be wasting time choosing a school that only offers a certificate or associate’s degree program. Additionally, a student may also want a program that allows the student to transfer credit should the student decide to advance his or her education at a later date.
5. Meets Career Goals
Graphic designers are not all created equal, and their career goals are not always going to be the same. One designer may specialize in logos while another may wish two work in website animations. Graphic design programs generally offer training on a variety of graphic design types, but some may allow the student to specialize in a specific area of graphic design. Students pursuing a graphic design program should make sure the program meets their career goals by offering the courses that best meet their career goals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that although the job growth for graphic designers isn’t strong overall, high, graphic designers working in computer systems designs are expected
to see a growth of 22 percent during the 2016-2026. Choosing an excellent graphic design program can put a graphic design graduate at the top of the pile in terms of employment options.