Graphic design is a hugely popular field for college students to study, and it has become even more popular in recent years with the rise of social media and careers that exist entirely on the internet. In this article, we’ll be highlighting the top 10 online schools for graphic design to let you know how you can get an affordable education in a creative, emerging, digital field. If you have ever wanted to pursue an online degree in graphic design, hopefully, this list can narrow down some of the schools you choose to apply to.
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What Is A Graphic Design Degree?
Pursuing a graphic design degree is a major step for undergraduate students, and is one you should not take lightly. You might be wondering, what exactly does a graphic design degree encompass? In order to become a graphic designer, you would usually hold a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a closely related field. However, successful graphic designers also possess a knack for creativity and a solid grasp of computer software.
During your graphic design studies, you will likely build significant skills with computers, art, and design, as well as communication. Graphic design requires a lot of knowledge on what is appealing to the human eye, especially if you have plans to apply your graphic design degree to a field like marketing. Your courses will probably cover computer programs like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Blender 3D, or Illustrator. Your coursework will likely push you to not only create 2D and 3D shapes but also collaborate with your classmates to determine what design projects or path is right for you.
The job market for graphic designers has remained steady for years. According to the job outlook reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, a one-percent growth is projected over the next seven years. Without a significant growth rate projected, graphic designers may face strong competition for available jobs. This means that without a bachelor’s in graphic design, entry to the field may not be possible. Also, earning a master’s in graphic design may set you apart from your competition. To help you achieve your goals, online graphic design programs are available at many major, reputable schools around the US.
This ranking was created to find the top institutions offering online undergraduate graphic design degrees. The data collected below was taken from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator based on a particular methodology: student-to-faculty ratio, percentage of applicants admitted (selectivity rate), graduation rate, and the overall cost of in-state undergraduate tuition and fees. We examined schools that offered online bachelor’s in graphic design degree programs, or closely related disciplines. From our original pool of 49 institutions, we applied our ranking criteria and developed a list of 10 best online schools for graphic design.
In the event of a tie, the institution with the lowest undergraduate tuition price was awarded higher placement on our list. Our methodology is listed below.
Student to Faculty Ratio
15:1 and under- 3 Points
16:1 to 20:1- 2 Points
More than 20:1- 1 Point
Less than $10,000/year- 3 Points
$10,001-$20,000/year- 2 Points
More than $20,000/year- 1 Point
Less than 25%- 3 Points
25% to 50% – 2 Points
More than 50%- 1 Point
50% or Greater- 3 Points
25%-49%- 2 Points
Less than 25%- 1 Point
This list is still up for your subjective interpretation, however, and each of the schools on this list are going to work better in some situations for some people. Don’t fully discount a school-based on any of the points systems above, as any school that makes this list is one that is deserving of your attention and application. That being said, below is our list of the top 10 best online schools for graphic design degrees, updated for 2021.
Kentucky Wesleyan University
Full Sail University
Southern New Hampshire University
Arizona State University
Savannah College of Art and Design
California Baptist University
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
University of Florida
Below is our list of the top 10 best online schools for graphic design degrees (2021).
#10 – Kentucky Wesleyan University
Kentucky Wesleyan College is a private institution in Owensboro, Kentucky that offers a preeminent graphic design program for students entirely online. Their Bachelor of Arts in graphic design provides students with a variety of skills in arts courses, design courses, typography, branding, marketing, web design, animation, and more. By the end of their degree, graduates of Kentucky Wesleyan University can expect to feel confident approaching design projects with ease and will likely find work as a graphic designer, illustrator, or photo editor. Kentucky Wesleyan College is one of the more expensive schools on this list, however, with their private education tuition coming in at just over $27,000 a year.
Kentucky Wesleyan College’s acceptance rate is around 62-percent, while its graduation rate is about 38-percent.
#9 Full Sail University
Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University is a private university in Winter Park, Florida that was named after a recording studio in Ohio called Full Sail Productions, which eventually moved to Florida and became a school. Full Sail offers a variety of different degree programs, but their online bachelor’s degree in graphic design provides students with the flexibility they need to succeed in an ever-changing digital world. During your studies, you will take courses on typography and web layout, graphic web design, art, illustration, and digital publishing.
Full Sail University’s acceptance rate is extremely liberal at 100-percent, but its graduation rate is much lower at just over 25-percent.
#8 – Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Tuition/Fees: Around $10,000 a year depending on credits taken for courses alone
Southern New Hampshire University is one of the best online schools for graphic design degrees. The institution offers a bachelor’s in graphic design and media arts with two available concentrations: 3D modeling and animation and web design. All courses are delivered entirely online and taught by the same instructors who teach on campus. SNHU has a higher than average graduation rate, so this is often why it is considered one of the better online schools. Nearly 97-percent of SNHU students would recommend attending, and this specific program has powerfully-connected alumni such as Disney employee and Imagineer Ben Van Beusekom.
Around 90-percent of SNHU applicants are accepted, and about 44-percent of SNHU accepted students graduate from the university.
See also: Does Graphic Design Pay Well?
#7 – Arizona State University
Tuition/Fees: $10,806 in-state, $19,398 out-of-state
Arizona State University gets the ninth spot on this list because they have some of the most unique and innovative degree programs on the market for graphics students. The undergraduate online degrees they specialize in include their Graphic Information Technology programs, which focus on user experience, user interface, and backend web development topics. These specializations are great for those who want to focus less on the creative end of graphic design and work more on user experience for websites, programs, and applications.
The acceptance rate for ASU is around 87-percent, while the graduation rate is about 67-percent.
Related: 5 Careers in Graphic Design
#6 – Bellevue University
Bellevue University is listed among our top online graphic design degrees schools primarily due to its highly affordable undergraduate tuition for in-state residents. The university offers a bachelor’s in graphic design degree that is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education. The program is conveniently offered online with courses taught by university professors. Some of the program courses include design basics, fundamentals of print design, and web page design. Students also develop a portfolio that can be used when seeking employment. Bellevue is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the best regional university in the Midwest.
Bellevue is by far a promising contender on this list of best online graphic design schools, and you should not overlook it when searching for a school to attend. Bellevue University is extremely easy to get into with a 100-percent acceptance rate, and about 58-percent of students graduate.
#5 – Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah College of Art and Design earns a top spot on our list of graphic design schools online due to the student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1 and the above-average graduation rate of 67 percent. While the school’s undergraduate tuition is pricey, the online bachelor’s programs are ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks Savannah’s online bachelor’s programs #75 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. Students have the option of earning a bachelor’s or BFA in graphic design from one of the best online graphic design degree schools in the country, and without leaving the comfort of home to attend classes.
SCAD is another school that is extremely easy to get into with an acceptance rate of 96-percent, and about 66-percent of the students who attend SCAD graduate.
#4 – California Baptist University
California Baptist University is one of our top online graphic design degree schools due to its low student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1 and higher than average graduation rate. The institution offers a bachelor’s in graphic design and digital media program that is designed to help students leverage their existing careers or transition into new ones. All courses are delivered online and taught by the same university professors who instruct on campus. The university is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 40th best regional university in the West. The online bachelor’s programs rank #67 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs, making California Baptist University one of the top online graphic design schools on our list.
CBU has an acceptance rate of around 78-percent, making it relatively easy to get into. Additionally, around 58-percent of the students who attend CBU finish with their degree from the university.
#3 – Liberty University
Liberty University earns a spot on our list of graphic design schools online due to its low student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1, affordable undergraduate tuition, and selective admission rate. Students may earn a BFA in graphic design that may be completed entirely online. The requirements include 120 total credit hours and a 180-hour internship and a 30-hour practicum. The program is designed for working students who want to advance their careers in graphic design or pursue graduate studies at the master’s and doctoral levels. U.S. News and World Report rank Liberty as a top national institution. Also, the online bachelor’s programs are ranked #242 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. Liberty is one of the best online graphic design degree schools on our list.
Liberty University is one of the more difficult schools to get into on this list, with an acceptance rate of around 51-percent. However, only around 34-percent of the students who attend actually end up graduating.
You might also like: 5 Scholarships for Graphic Design
#2 – Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
One of the best online schools for graphic design degrees on our list is Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. The school offers the lowest student-to-faculty ratio on our list (10:1) and affordable undergraduate tuition. While the school has open enrollment and a 100% admission acceptance rate, courses are rigorous. The undergraduate graphic design degree may be completed entirely online with classes taught by faculty members who are also practicing industry professionals. Rocky Mountain is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as one of the top graphic design schools online in the nation.
#1 – University of Florida
One of the top online schools for graphic design degrees on our list is the University of Florida. The School of Art and Art History at UF offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in graphic design that may be completed entirely online. Undergraduate students may earn a BFA with a concentration in graphic design. This degree is essential for career advancement or entry into a graduate-level graphic design program. The institution is our #1 pick for graphic design schools online due to its highly affordable undergraduate tuition and high graduation rate of 87%. Also, the University of Florida is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 30th best national university and 6th top public school in the country. The online bachelor’s programs rank #3 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
What Can You Do With an Online Degree in Graphic Design?
Today’s online degree programs are every bit as robust and reputable as their on-campus counterparts, and in most cases, they use the same curriculum and are taught by the same faculty as a traditional program.
The career options for graphic design graduates are varied, and there is no one answer to the question, “what can you do with a graphic design degree.” However, here are just a few things you can do after (or while) completing a program in graphic design: