Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

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Updated September 7, 2023

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Graphic designers typically need bachelor’s degrees to enter the profession. Many colleges and universities offer online graphic design degrees.

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Artistic people often pursue careers in graphic design. Many graphic designers combine their love for studio art with a mastery of online digital tools to develop sophisticated logos, billboards, flyers, and other projects. Graphic designers connect with clients, art directors, and writers to create and organize visual designs.

Graphic design is one of the most lucrative fields for visual artists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the field will grow at a slower-than-average rate of 3% from 2021 to 2031. However, the median annual wage for graphic designers was $50,710, higher than the $48,220 annual median for art and design workers.

Entry-level graphic design jobs often require professionals to hold bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine art. So, many aspiring graphic designers pursue their undergraduate studies through online programs. Our rankings help you choose the best online graphic design degree for you.

Featured Online Graphic Design Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic designers create image and text layouts to visually communicate ideas. They make advertisements, design book jackets, and develop graphs and charts to represent information.

Graphic design requires strong visual intelligence. Graphic designers must know how to select images, determine how images and text can best work together, and choose appropriate fonts and styles. In advertising agencies and publishing firms, graphic designers work with art directors to polish their designs.

In addition to creativity and artistic ability, graphic designers need strong technical skills. Most graphic designers use software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Graphic designers also rely on communication skills when working with clients and art directors. Additionally, strong analytical skills help graphic designers communicate information to diverse audiences.

What Is an Online Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design?

During an online bachelor's degree in graphic design, students learn layout techniques, typography, and visual communication. Courses cover design fundamentals, image creation, and digital advertising. Some programs also incorporate classes in web design and digital media design. Graphic design majors often complete a practicum or capstone course to build a portfolio.

In addition to completing online graphic design courses, students complete general education requirements to earn bachelor's degrees. These requirements may include humanities, social science, and natural science courses. A bachelor of fine arts may incorporate courses like photography, drawing, and sculpture.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Program?

The length of an online bachelor's degree in graphic design varies by program. However, most graphic design bachelor's students graduate within four years of full-time study.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree Programs

The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

#1 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

Kentucky Wesleyan College

  • Owensboro, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students looking for rigorous and affordable online learning opportunities should consider Kentucky Wesleyan College's online bachelor's degrees. Located in Owensboro, the college offers six remote bachelor's programs. Enrollees pursuing the bachelor of arts in graphic design prepare for a career in the field. 

The online graphic design degree prioritizes flexibility. Learners can work with their academic advisor to customize their coursework to meet academic and career goals. Students can choose electives, minors, and other modifications to their studies.

At present, undergraduates pay $27,320 in tuition. While at the college, enrollees can explore funding opportunities to apply toward their studies.

Kentucky Wesleyan College at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 197

Total Online Programs: 7

Online Bachelor's Programs: 6

Admission Rate: 60%

Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$27,320
Out-of-state
$27,320
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
887
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

Lesley University

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers 51 online bachelor's programs. The college's online BS in design for user experience offers a flexible online modality that appeals to working professionals and busy students.

Enrollees complete industry-relevant classes throughout their studies, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the graphic design field. Learners complete general education requirements in addition to graphic design classes. Majors choose electives, minors, and concentrations to customize their course of study.

Graduates can benefit from access to more job opportunities and a higher earning potential. The median salary for graduates six years after their degree completion is $33,400, according to the college. Students can meet with the Office of Financial Aid to learn more about funding opportunities and eligibility requirements for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid.

Lesley University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 4,200

Total Online Programs: 104

Online Bachelor's Programs: 51

Admission Rate: 84%

Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$29,200
Out-of-state
$29,200
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,900
Out-of-state
$18,900
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
4,200
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

Bellevue University

  • Bellevue, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Bellevue University, a private not-for-profit college, offers premier educational opportunities across 61 bachelor's programs. Students can explore 59 fully online bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor of arts in graphic design.

The rigorous degree plan features an adaptable curriculum that equips students with industry-relevant knowledge. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to change classes and select electives.

Undergraduates pay $7,176 in tuition. The college's accreditation status allows students to access funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships.

Bellevue University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 12,555

Total Online Programs: 88

Online Bachelor's Programs: 59

Admission Rate: Data not available

Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$7,176
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$10,710
Retention Rate
51%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
13,059
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

California Baptist University

  • Riverside, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California Baptist University develops accessible and affordable undergraduate programs. The private college enrolls distance learners in 19 online bachelor's programs. The bachelor of arts in graphic design and digital media balances rigor with flexibility.

Students can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework to meet academic and career goals. Online learners can also choose minors and electives to individualize the degree.

Undergraduate graphic design students can expect to pay $33,930 in tuition. Students at the accredited institution can pursue funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships, to support their studies.

California Baptist University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 9,356

Total Online Programs: 33

Online Bachelor's Programs: 19

Admission Rate: 80%

Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$33,930
Out-of-state
$33,930
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,410
Out-of-state
$13,410
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
11,317
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Best Online Graphic Design Degrees 2023

Full Sail University

  • Winter Park, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

At its main campus in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University designs bachelor's programs for learners from all walks of life. The private school enrolls distance learners in 32 online bachelor's programs. The bachelor of science in graphic design gives students a comprehensive education in design principles and techniques applicable to print publishing and other mediums.

Majors work with academic advisors to select classes that match their interests and fit their schedule. Electives, minors, and other options help learners tailor the program to meet career goals.

Graphic design students can expect to pay $21,973 in tuition. At this accredited institution, students can access external and internal funding opportunities, such as scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid.

Full Sail University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 24,615

Total Online Programs: 90

Online Bachelor's Programs: 32

Admission Rate: Data not available

Transfer Credits Accepted: Accepted

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$21,973
Out-of-state
$21,973
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,087
Out-of-state
$16,087
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
24,627
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

What Can You Do With an Online Bachelor's in Graphic Design Degree?

An online bachelor's degree in graphic design prepares graduates for careers in art and design. In addition to working as graphic designers, graduates may work as production artists, graphic artists, and art directors. Many advertising agencies, marketing firms, and publishers offer graphic design jobs for bachelor's graduates, though some employers also require work experience.

In addition to full-time graphic design jobs, graphic designers can pursue freelance opportunities, including starting their own businesses. After completing an online graphic design bachelor's degree, graduates can also advance their education with an online master's in graphic design.

Graphic Design Careers and Outlook

Graphic designers can work in a variety of areas, including marketing, advertising, publishing, and business. Successful graphic designers can later work as postsecondary teachers, instructing others in graphic design courses, or as art directors who develop design strategies and visions for organizations. Some graphic designers may also become marketing managers.

To start working as a graphic designer, you will need a portfolio to show to potential employers. You may also pursue an internship during or after your degree and seek certification in graphic design software programs.

Graphic Design Careers
Careers Median Annual Wage (2021)
Art Directors $100,890
Graphic Designers $50,710
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Marketing Managers $133,38
Art and design workers $48,220
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

As the table above demonstrates, graphic designers can pursue careers in many different industries. As they advance, they may also be able to apply for several different high-paying roles.

Graphic Design Jobs

Earning a graphic design degree prepares graduates for jobs like graphic designer, art director, and marketing manager.

Art Directors

Art directors determine the visual style of magazines, advertisements, videos, and other media. They create an overall design and manage a team of production artists who create artwork and layouts. Art directors then review and approve designs, which can include illustrations, graphics, charts, and sets.

Art directors also oversee staff, work directly with clients on projects, and create budgets and timelines. They often work in advertising agencies, public relations firms, and publishing companies. Theater, television, and movie productions also hire art directors. Most art directors hold a bachelor's degree in an art or design field.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers visually communicate ideas, working with images and text to create designs. Graphic designers may develop the visual style of advertisements or work with art directors or clients to design layouts for magazines, brochures, book jackets, or product packaging.

Graphic designers rely on software to create designs, including digital illustration programs and photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Most graphic designers have a graphic design bachelor's degree and a professional portfolio.

Ask a Graphic Designer About Pursing a Degree

Portrait of Alex Bryant

Alex Bryant

Alex Bryant is an Emmy-award-winning media relations director for children's media and educational publisher The Trevor Romain Company (TRC), based in Austin, Texas. Bryant has experience with social media, television production, and graphic design. Named a Modern Man of Distinction from Black Enterprise, Bryant has received four American Advertising Awards, a $100,000 graphics scholarship from General Motors, and a Sprout Spotlight Awards Best-in-Class nomination. He was also an official Guinness World Records participant at Podfest Expo. Previously, Bryant worked at CBS, Dick Clark Productions, the Daytime Emmys, and NBCUniversal. He has a BFA in graphic design from Angelo State University.

What was your favorite part of earning a bachelor's in graphic design degree?

For someone growing up in a special needs program in primary school and told I won't make it to college, earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Angelo State University means a great deal. As well as also being a first-generation student to earn a college degree — [that] would have to be my favorite aspect.

What advice do you have for a potential student of graphic design with no or limited experience in the design field?

For any student who wants to pursue graphic design with no-to-limited experience, I would share: If you're willing to put in the real hard work in harnessing your craft, learning from the masters, and being open to constructive feedback, I believe you have what it takes, for sure.

What makes graphic design a popular field for online study?

I think graphic design is growing in popularity because of its flexibility to be taken almost anywhere, unlike other professions that need to be fulfilled at the physical college or university.

Are there any advantages to studying graphic design online as opposed to in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting?

A benefit to studying graphic design online instead of in person at an educational institution is the ability to learn design software and make creative projects from the comfort of your home, and not needing to navigate traffic and the weather getting to class.

Graphic Design Versus Digital Media Design

Graphic design and digital media design are similar but distinct fields. Graphic designers create visual, static media that may be part of virtual or physical projects.

Digital designers, on the other hand, develop interactive digital media, including video, audio, and animation.

Graphic designers may work for companies that produce digital and print materials, whereas digital designers may become web designers or animation designers.

Students in four-year bachelor’s degree programs in graphic design often take courses in studio art, design, web design, and graphics. Graphic design is a more-established field, with more than 360 postsecondary institutions offering programs in art and design. Fewer bachelor’s degree programs in digital design exist.

Graphic Design

  • Includes visual designs for both online platforms and physical objects.
  • Focus on drawing and design.
  • Learn tactile skills like printmaking and painting.
  • Produce static images with which users can’t interact.

Commonalities

  • Digital focus
  • Media careers
  • Visual elements
  • Software-oriented

Digital Design

  • Includes any type of media content, including video, animations, etc.
  • Focus on holistic web and media design.
  • Learning digital skills like video editing and audio production.
  • Produce animated designs for user interaction

Featured Online Graphic Design Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Common Questions About Graphic Design Degrees

What is graphic design?

Graphic design involves creating and laying out illustrations, logos, text, and other visual elements. Professionals create images using a variety of tools, including pens and pencils, software programs, and tablets. They also make decisions about which typefaces, colors, and artwork to include in their designs.

What does a graphic designer do?

Typically, graphic designers work with clients, art directors, and writers to add interest to written text or communicate ideas through images. They may work in fields like advertising, publishing, or public relations.

What is the best degree for graphic design?

Aspiring graphic designers should prepare to earn bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine arts. A graphic design major is more focused on preparing learners for a profession than a major in fine arts. Some graphic designers also complete bachelor’s degrees in other fields before pursuing graphic design training.

Are degrees in graphic design worthwhile?

Few graphic designers enter the field without bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or fine arts. So, if you know you want to become a graphic designer, you likely need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design (or a related area) to enter the field. Otherwise, you will have to complete additional graphic design training to be competitive in this area.

Is a graphic design degree difficult?

Graphic design degrees require students to take courses in principles of design, web design, studio art, and commercial graphics production, among other subjects. Students may also take classes in marketing, business, and writing. Most bachelor’s programs in graphic design take four years to complete.


Page last reviewed June 8, 2023. All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the TBS Rankings Team.

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