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Best Graphic Design Master’s Degree Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Sunday Erhunmwunse - May 09, 2022


The field of graphic design has seen dramatic growth over the last decade. With that growth comes better pay and more job opportunities. The best graphic design master’s degrees will put you ahead of the competition and open up new job opportunities. You’ll learn more skills, gain more hands-on experience, and earn higher wages.

Many universities offer a graphic design master’s degree. So, you have many options to choose from, although that also presents a problem. How do you find the degree program that’s right for you? Not to worry, we’ve compiled a list of the master’s degree in Graphic Design options to help you achieve your career goals, and we’ve also listed some top graphic design master’s degree jobs.

Where Can I Get a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

Some of the best schools to get a master’s degree in graphic design are Arizona State University (ASU), Yale University, Southern New Hampshire University, California Institute of Arts, and Boston University.

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What Schools Offer the Best Graphic Design Master’s Degrees?

  • Arizona State University
  • Yale University
  • Art Center College of Design
  • California Institute of Arts
  • Boston University

What Are the Admission Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

The admission requirements for a graphic design master’s degree are an undergraduate degree academic transcript, application fee, letters of recommendation, letter of intent, and work portfolio. However, the exact requirements for graduate applicants will vary from program to program.

While some programs emphasize having a strong portfolio of work, others don’t have a portfolio requirement. Most programs will require an English proficiency test if you are not a native English speaker. Make sure to check with your chosen school and take note of their specific requirements when you’re getting ready to apply.

Graphic Design Degree Admission Requirements

  • Academic transcripts
  • Application fee
  • Statement of purpose
  • References
  • Portfolio of work
  • English proficiency test for non-native speakers

How to Get a Graphic Design Master’s Degree

You get a graphic design master’s degree by meeting all the graduation requirements specified by the program, such as completing 60 credits and a thesis. Every university or program has its specific requirements, which you have to fulfill.

Regardless of these specifics, an essential requirement is meeting the stipulated credits for the program. Completing these credit hours means you have acquired the knowledge and skills that qualify you for your master’s degree.

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

You need between 36 and 60 credits for a master’s degree in graphic design. The credits are typically categorized into core courses, studio, electives, and thesis. Some programs also feature preliminary courses for students without a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design or a related field.

Graphic Design Degree Requirements

  • Core courses, such as typography and design theory
  • Upper-level courses, such as interactive design and the Internet
  • Electives, such as letterform design
  • Thesis
  • Preliminaries, where applicable

Best Graphic Design Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Arizona State University Master of Science in Visual Communication Design Higher Learning Commission
Art Center College of Design Master of Fine Arts in Graduate Graphic Design National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
Boston University Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design New England Commission of Higher Education
California Institute of the Arts Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
Maryland Institute College of Art Master of Arts in Graphic Design National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
North Carolina State University Master of Graphic Design Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Otis College of Art and Design Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
Rochester Institute of Technology Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Savannah College Of Art And Design Master of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Yale University Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design New England Commission of Higher Education

Best Schools for Graphic Design: Top Graphic Design Master’s Degree Programs

Several factors come into play when choosing a graphic design master’s degree program. These factors include program quality, tuition, graduation rate, and job placement. Based on these factors, here are the best graphic design master’s degree programs.

1

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University started as Arizona State College in 1886 and has grown to become one of the most innovative colleges in the country , according to the U.S. News & World Report. The university boasts 87 elite programs, 1000-plus national scholars, and over 400 prestigious faculty members, making it one of the most sought-after colleges in the country.

Master of Science in Visual Communication Design

The Master of Science in Visual Communication Design program is tailored for graphic designers interested in visual language, design processes, and contemporary technologies and methodologies. This two-year program helps students develop a strong knowledge of common design issues with courses on visual communication and design skills.

Master of Science in Visual Communication Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $645/credit
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 66%

Master of Science in Visual Communication Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $70 (national); $115 (international student on a non-immigrant US visa)
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree in a related design discipline
  • Other Requirements: Contact information for two references, portfolio, letter of intent, resume, official educational transcripts, proof of English proficiency if it is not your first language

Applying to Arizona State University

  1. Ensure you meet the minimum admission requirements.
  2. Complete the Graduate College application form.
  3. Pay the $70 or $115 application fee to submit your application.
  4. Receive a 10-digit ASU number and use this to submit a Design School SlideRoom application form with an additional $10 application fee.
  5. Submit additional materials, such as your official educational transcripts and portfolio on SlideRoom.
  6. Talk to an ASU advisor if you need assistance or would like to schedule a campus visit.
2

Art Center College of Design

Pasadena, CA

Art Center College of Design is a private art college in Pasadena, California. It opened its doors in 1930, and currently has an eight-to-one student to faculty ratio. The college is renowned for being active in social impact initiatives and the design industry.

Master of Fine Arts in Graduate Graphic Design

Art Center College of Design’s MFA Graduate Graphic Design program focuses on raising leaders that will extend the frontiers of design in communication. The two-year program has four semesters, with a specific focus on project management and entrepreneurship. There’s also an internship program and a studio-based summer session, culminating with the submission of a thesis project.

Master of Fine Arts in Graduate Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
  • Tuition: $25,012/term
  • Required Credits: 75 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 71%

Master of Fine Arts in Graduate Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: Not required
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Portfolio, written essays, resume, letters of recommendation, proof of English proficiency if English is not your first language.

Applying to Art Center of College Design

  1. Complete an online application form. You’ll need to pay a non-refundable application fee of $50 to submit it.
  2. Submit unofficial college transcripts. Official transcripts will be required if you are given an offer of study.
  3. Submit a portfolio of six to ten graphic design projects that show your skillset.
  4. A 750-word essay that reflects your educational and professional qualification is also required, alongside a resume.
  5. One letter of recommendation is needed, but you can submit up to three.
  6. You’ll receive an email with login details for the Application Portal, where you can track your application’s progress.
3

Boston University

Boston, MA

Boston University is a private research university in Massachusetts. The university's Board of Trustees was inaugurated in 1869, and the institution has continued to offer exciting academic programs. While it has two campuses in Boston, students worldwide can attend via its online programs.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program at Boston University focuses on a studio approach to help students develop the skills to solve complex problems in the real world. Students also get the chance to be mentored by faculty members, providing them easy access to the professional world of graphic design.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $1,018.93/credit (full-time); $955/credit (part-time)
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 89%

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: Not required; 3.0 preferred
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $95
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: College transcripts, portfolio, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, artistic resume

Applying to Boston University

  1. Enter all your academic and personal history within an online application via the common application or coalition application route.
  2. Submit two letters of recommendation from educators or professionals in the field.
  3. Fill in a one-page personal statement.
  4. Submit your digital portfolio.
  5. Submit an artistic resume.
  6. Upload college transcripts.
  7. Pay the $95 non-refundable application fee to submit your application.
4

California Institute of the Arts

Valencia, CA

California Institute of the Arts is a private university with a special focus on visual and performing arts. The institute has over 70 programs, including undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Founded in 1970, numerous professional artists have passed through the doors of CalArts.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The graphic design program at California Institute of the Arts is a Master of Fine Arts program that presents students with interdisciplinary opportunities. Students of the program learn research skills and practical skills to excel in any career in arts and design. There is a two-year option for students with a bachelor’s degree in a design discipline and a three-year option for those without a bachelor’s degree in a design-related subject.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
  • Tuition: $27,220/semester
  • Required Credits: Unspecified
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 66%

Master of Fine Art in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $70 (domestic); $85 (international)
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: Artist statement, portfolio, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, video introduction is preferred, interview

Applying to California Institute of the Arts

  1. Review application requirements.
  2. Pay $70 or $85 to submit your application and graphic design portfolio.
  3. Upload a 30 to 90 second video introduction talking about your artistic influences and a specific piece within your portfolio.
  4. Submit a 500-1000 word artist statement.
  5. Submit any other supplementary documents, such as college transcripts.
  6. Attend an in-person or video interview if you are invited.
5

Maryland Institute College of Art

Baltimore, MD

The Maryland Institute College of Art employs contemporary approaches in the design process. Founded in 1826, the college is renowned for producing professional artists and creators, with 1,892 students studying in over 30 programs.

Master of Arts in Graphic Design

The intensive Master of Arts in Graphic Design program at Maryland Institute College of Art focuses on graphic design language and practice. An outstanding feature of the program is its design studio, which emphasizes building projects across several media. Students have dedicated workspaces in the program building.

Master of Arts in Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
  • Tuition: $2,160/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 73%

Master of Arts in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: Application form, resume, statement of purpose, two references, proof of degree or equivalent, portfolio of artwork, proof of English proficiency if it is not your first language

Applying to Maryland Institute College of Art

  1. Fill out the MICA Graduate Application Form using SlideRoom.
  2. Upload a two-page resume and a portfolio of 15 to 18 digital images.
  3. Upload unofficial college transcripts to SlideRoom. Official transcripts may be requested later in the admission process.
  4. Submit two letters of recommendation via SlideRoom.
  5. Submit a statement of purpose with a maximum of 500 words discussing your artistic inspirations, professional and personal goals, and history with design work.
  6. Pay the $75 application fee to submit your online application to the graphic design program.
6

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State University is a top public research university in North Carolina . Founded in 1887, the university has 12 colleges and 68 departments providing undergraduate, graduate, and online degree programs, including courses in visual arts.

Master of Graphic Design

The Master of Graphic Design program at North Carolina State University requires 48 credits spanning four semesters. However, students can choose to take on additional coursework to improve their knowledge. The curriculum has a STEM Classification due to its focus on UX/UI design, data visualization, artificial intelligence-informed design, and graphic design software.

Master of Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition (and Fees): $727.91/credit (in-state); $1,727.19/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 48 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 84%

Master of Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: GRE (can be waived)
  • Application Fee: $75 (national); $85 (international)
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: Resume, academic transcripts, three letters of recommendation, portfolio of work, personal statement, statement of purpose

Applying to North Carolina State University

  1. Begin an NCSU Graduate School Online Application.
  2. Include a personal statement with your career goals and experience with graphic design, along with your intentions behind studying this program.
  3. Attach five examples of your work as a small design portfolio, then provide a URL to a portfolio website within your resume.
  4. Attach a PDF copy of your resume to your online application.
  5. Upload three letters of recommendation from teachers or creative professionals who know your work and academic history.
  6. Upload unofficial academic transcripts. Official transcripts should be sent if you are accepted to the graduate school.
  7. Pay $75 or $85 to submit your online application, then pre-register for the program if your application is considered.
7

Otis College of Art and Design

Los Angeles, CA

Otis College of Art and Design is a prestigious private art school in Los Angeles, California, that was established in 1918. This school of art offers several undergraduate and graduate programs in the fields of arts and design, with a small student population of 1,073.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program is a one-year master’s degree comprising four semesters. Students looking for a shorter route to a master’s degree will find this program a great fit. Courses feature design exploration, applied projects, and research.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation
  • Tuition: $2,730/credit
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 14 months
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 73%

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree, art or related field preferred
  • Other Requirements: Official academic transcripts, portfolio, personal statement, resume, three letters of recommendation optional but preferred

Applying to Otis College of Art and Design

  1. Begin an online application on the Otis website .
  2. Upload a resume and a personal statement describing how you are hoping to advance your design work through art school.
  3. Submit a work portfolio of 15 to 20 images through SlideRoom.
  4. Upload unofficial transcripts with your application. Official transcripts will be requested later in the application process.
  5. Upload three optional letters of recommendation and then submit your online application by paying the $50 non-refundable application fee.
8

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, NY

Rochester Institute of Technology is a private research university in the metropolitan area of New York. It started as a technical training school in 1829, then it changed to its current name in 1944, awarding its first degree eleven years after. Today, it has 78 bachelor’s degree programs, 73 master’s degree programs, and 11 PhD programs.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design

The Master of Fine Arts degree in visual communication design takes students through intensive training in motion graphics, user experience design , and 3D design. In this advanced degree, students learn how to utilize user experience design to create designs for various products and use cases, including mobile phones, wearables, and medical devices.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $54,176/12-18 credit hours
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 71%

Master of Fine Art in Visual Communication Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0 preferred
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $65
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: Portfolio, resume, official college transcripts, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, official test scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE if English is not your first language

Applying to Rochester Institute of Technology

  1. Start an online graduate application on the RIT site.
  2. Submit your current resume and a personal statement.
  3. Enter information for your two recommenders through the online application form. This will send an email request to your recommenders for their letters. Recommenders should be educational or workplace professionals who are familiar with your work.
  4. Submit unofficial college transcripts. Official transcripts will be necessary if you’re admitted.
  5. Submit your art and design portfolio through SlideRoom, with 10 to 20 examples of your work, then pay the $65 application fee to submit your application.
9

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, GA

Savannah College of Art and Design is a professional art college established in 1978. The college has over 100 degree programs, including options for online learning. It has a student enrollment of 15,000, including international students from more than 100 countries.

Master of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience

The Master of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience at Savannah College of Art and Design is an intensive graduate program that prepares graduate students for several roles in the graphic design field.

Course areas in the program include design research, ideation models and process, typographic voice and visual narrative, and professional practice for visual design. Students also get the opportunity for more real-world experience in the graduate internship.

Master of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $872/credit
  • Required Credits: 45 to 70 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person or online
  • Grad Rate: 73%

Master of Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience Admission Requirements

  • GPA: Not required
  • Standardized Tests: Not required, GRE preferred
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Minimum Education: Undergraduate degree
  • Other Requirements: Design portfolio, two letters of recommendation, resume, statement of purpose, evidence of English proficiency if English is not your first language

Applying to Savannah College of Art and Design

  1. Fill out your application online.
  2. Pay the $100 application fee to submit your online application.
  3. Log in to the MyAdmission portal with your invitation and be assigned an admission adviser.
  4. Submit your supporting documents to your admission adviser via email or mail, including your portfolio, resume, statement of purpose, and official college transcripts.
  5. Continue to stay in contact with your admission adviser, who will inform you of the next steps. This may include an interview and submission of GRE scores.
10

Yale University

New Haven, CT

Yale University is a private Ivy League university in Connecticut with over 300 years of providing reputable academic programs. The university has hundreds of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with a student enrolment of over 12,000 in 2020.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The graphic design MFA program at Yale University only admits ten students every year, which gives a very impressive student-to-faculty ratio. Students get a graduate studio space where they are expected to develop an outstanding thesis project, which is the emphasis of the entire graduate program.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Overview

  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $1,523.33/credit
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In-person
  • Grad Rate: 96%

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Three references, statement of purpose, official college transcripts, digital portfolio, interview, proof of English proficiency if English is not your first language

Applying to Yale University

  1. To apply to the Yale School of Art, begin your online application on the Yale applicant portal .
  2. Submit a 500-word maximum personal statement discussing your design inspirations, your reason for applying to Yale graduate school, and your art and work history.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation from education or design professionals.
  4. Submit a portfolio of work digitally, and submit unofficial college transcripts.
  5. Attend an interview if you are invited, after which you will be required to provide official college transcripts.
  6. Await the final selection and follow any other instructions provided to you by the graduate school.

What Is a Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

A graphic design master’s degree is a graduate program that improves your knowledge and skills in graphic design. The advanced-level program comprises courses in typography, user interface, motion graphics, advertising and design, titles, and more. Most graphic design master’s degrees take two years to complete, although there are three-year options.

A master’s degree in graphic design is different from a bachelor’s degree because it allows you to specialize in a particular field, like digital design. So, if any area of graphic design interests you and you already have a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s degree program is your best bet. Plus, you can find in-person, online, and hybrid programs to suit your needs.

How Important Is a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

A master’s degree in graphic design is important because it helps you gain proficiency in the graphic design field. It opens the doors to more job opportunities with a higher average base salary.

However, some people posit that you don’t need a master’s degree to have a rewarding career in graphic design. Still, specialization always gives you a competitive edge in every field.

What Types of Master’s Degrees Can You Get in Graphic Design?

You can get a Master of Arts degree in Graphic Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. A Master of Arts degree focuses on research and theoretical learning, while an MFA focuses on professional artistic work within a specialized field. Some programs have thesis options, while others don’t.

In addition, you can get the Master of Science in Graphic Design, as offered by Arizona State University. This type of master’s degree requires a thesis and, in some cases, takes longer than two years to complete. It is also more technical and scientifically theory-based, making it somewhat of a hybrid program incorporating both STEM and arts.

Is It Better to Get a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Graphic Design?

There are no metrics to rank a Master of Arts in Graphic Design over a Master of Science in Graphic Design, and vice versa. Both programs involve an intensive study of core graphic design courses.

However, the Master of Arts option is the most common program of the two. Some schools also offer a research option for individuals looking to go into arts and design education.

What Is the Difference Between a Graphic Design Master’s Degree and a Graphic Design Graduate Certificate?

The difference between a graphic design master’s degree and a graphic design graduate certificate is the curriculum and level of award. A graduate certificate in graphic design typically has courses in studio skills, design theory, and software skills like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.

A graphic design master’s degree typically entails a deep study of graphic design, with emphasis on hands-on experience. Some programs offer graduate internship or fellowship, which helps students build a strong portfolio. Also, graduate certificate programs offer open enrolment. Meanwhile, master’s programs in graphic design have a strict admission process.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

The average cost of a master’s degree in graphic design is $19,314 , according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, this cost varies by program and institution. Public institutions generally charge less than private institutions.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

Typically, it takes two years to get a graphic design master’s degree. With a complementary undergraduate degree in arts, design, and related fields, you only need four semesters to complete the two-year graduate program. However, some programs take three years if you’re new to graphic design.

You need to complete 60 credits in a graphic design master’s program. The number of credits per semester varies by school. However, expect the second year to be more intensive.

How Hard Is It to Get a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

It is not very hard to get a master’s degree in graphic design. If you already have a complementary undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, then most courses in the graduate program will not be very difficult for you. However, the student sessions might present a problem if you don’t have prior design experience.

Why Should You Get a Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

You should get a graphic design master’s degree because it focuses on advanced aspects of design and presents you with an opportunity for mentorship. In addition, graduating from a graphic design master’s degree program qualifies you for higher salaries, and you can find lucrative roles as a graphic designer, art director, industrial designer, and animator.

What Courses Do You Need to Take in a Master’s Degree Program in Graphic Design?

During a graphic design master’s program in graphic design, you will typically need to take courses such as design theory, design history, typography, design studio, and visual design. Let’s take a look at these five courses in more detail.

Design Theory

Design theory deals with the basics of visual communication and other art types. In this course, students learn how to understand design principles and analyze design practice. Students are taught the fundamental design principles that allow them to produce practical design solutions.

Typography

In arts and communication, typology aims to create effective designs that can pass information succinctly. So, there is a focus on font types, font sizes, line-spacing, letter-tracking, and typefaces.

Design History

Design history is a typical course in all graphic design master’s degree programs. The course deals with the study of design elements in their stylistic and historical context. Students will learn about the cultural, social, economic, and even political contexts of various design objects.

Design Studio

Design studio is an advanced workshop where students create complex design projects. There are usually different design studio courses throughout a graphic design master’s degree program.

Visual Literacy

The visual literacy course teaches students how to glean information from visual texts. This course helps improve students’ visual perception cues. They will be able to learn how to get meaning from visual texts.

Continuing Education Paths for Graphic Design Master’s Degree Graduates

Graphic design master’s degree graduates can pursue a doctorate to earn a PhD. A PhD is worth it if they are pursuing a career in academia or looking to teach graphic design at the university level. Otherwise, graduates can pursue professional certification in different aspects of graphic design if they don’t already have them.

Some professional certification options include UI/UX Design Specialization, Adobe Certified Associate, Certified Digital Designer, and Certified Graphics Communications Manager. Still, after graduate school, graduate students can explore different career options to begin building their portfolios.

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What to Look For in the Best Graphic Design Master’s Degree Programs

The things to look for in the best graphic design master’s degree programs are accreditation, format, cost, career services, employment outcomes, program reputation, and electives. We will examine five of these qualities in more detail below.

Accreditation

Most graduate programs in the United States are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Attending a program with the right accreditation will add credibility to your degree and help you reach your professional goals faster. No matter the level of education, you don’t want to have a degree from an unaccredited program.

Flexibility

When it comes to the graduate degree level, flexibility is important because of work schedules. Online programs that allow you to learn essential technical skills in graphic design are great if you don’t want to travel to attend graduate school. You should also check if there are options for a hybrid program or part-time options.

Cost

Prospective students need to check if they can afford the tuition and extra costs of their program of choice. If you go for an online learning option, your cost can be significantly lower because you won’t have to pay for accommodation or transport. So, you should consider getting a graphic design online degree or a degree from a public university to lower tuition costs.

Career Services

Graphic design schools with top-notch career services are always preferable. You should get a mentor to help you build a strong portfolio, even without prior professional experience in visual arts or graphic design. The goal is to get all the assistance you need to succeed in the graphic design industry. Graphic design students who are mentored find it easier to find jobs.

Program Reputation

Whether it’s an online degree program or an advanced degree program from a public university, reputation is key. Learning what other students say about a school’s academic programs can help you avoid enrolling in a less-than-excellent program. You want a program that pays attention to the design process and enables you to build a professional portfolio.

What Is the Most Affordable Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

The most affordable graphic design master’s degree is the Master of Graphic Design offered by North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Attending the program costs $9,095 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This means that the full tuition cost will be around $18,190 for this degree.

Salary and Job Outlook for Graphic Design Master’s Degree Graduates

A woman drawing on a tablet computer while working on a laptop with magazines Best Graphic Design Master's Degrees
Once you have an in-depth understanding of graphic design principles, you can find high-paying design careers.

Graduates of graphic design master’s programs enjoy a great job outlook with competitive salaries. A graduate graphic design degree means you can execute high-level design requirements and work in different career paths, such as visual animation and game design.

How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

It is not very hard to get a job with a graphic design master’s degree. The typical design program teaches students the fundamentals of the design process, plus includes courses in interaction design, game design, studio art, and more. Students have to take design studio courses where they put their design skills to the test.

In addition, some graduate programs have a mentorship program where students are primed to develop a design portfolio. Regardless of the students’ design backgrounds, the goal of each graphic design and visual experience program is to coach creative professionals. These factors combine to make it easy for graduates to get jobs post-graduation.

What’s the Average Graphic Design Master’s Degree Salary?

The average salary for someone with a graphic design master’s degree is $67,000 annually, according to PayScale. However, depending on the career path, your salary can be higher or lower than the typical average. Graphic designers earn the lowest, with an annual average of $59,970, compared to UX designers, who make $75,742 per year , according to PayScale.

What Types of Jobs Can You Get With a Graphic Design Master’s Degree?

The jobs you can do with a graphic design master’s degree include careers within the fields of graphic design, craft and fine arts, game design, animation, and more. This cross-disciplinary field of study allows you to use your professional skills in different areas.

Graphic Design Degree Jobs

  • Graphic Designer
  • Visual Animator
  • Industrial Designer
  • Art Director
  • Design Director

Potential Careers With a Graphic Design Degree

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How Much Money Can You Make With a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design?

You can make between $60,000 and $115,000 with a master’s degree in graphic design. Earning a master’s degree in graphic design opens you up to high-paying job opportunities. For example, landing a Vice President of Design role will get you an average of $170,735 annually , according to PayScale.

However, several factors decide what you earn with a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design. Some of these factors include location, career path, experience, and work portfolio.

Highest-Paying Graphic Design Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Graphic Design Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Art Director $115,430
Digital Interface Designer $95,460
Special Effects Artists and Animator $86,220
Industrial Designer $79,680
Graphic Designer $59,970

Best Jobs for Graphic Design Master’s Degree Grads

Graduates from a reputable arts college can find the best graphic design master’s degree jobs. In addition to educational experience from a school of art, a strong portfolio will make you outstanding in the applicant pool. Here are the best jobs you can land after graphic design studies in a postgraduate program.

1

Art Director

Average Salary: $115,430

Art directors create visual concepts and stylistic elements in print and media. In addition to managing graphic designers and other design staff, they are responsible for the artistic approach and visual concepts of any project. These professionals earn a high annual income.

2

Digital Interface Designer

Average Salary: $95,460

Digital interface designers design websites and interfaces across mobile and desktop platforms. They ensure that the interfaces on digital devices and software are well optimized and user-friendly.

3

Special Effects Artists and Animator

Average Salary: $86,220

Special effects artists and animators create 2D and 3D images and other effects for games, PCs, and films. They use different software and applications to develop these animations and effects for a target production.

4

Industrial Designer

Average Salary: $79,680

Industrial designers are responsible for designing different manufactured products, like cars and appliances. They combine their product research skills with graphic design abilities to create designs that meet user needs.

5

Graphic Designer

Average Salary: $59,970

The role of graphic designers involves creating graphics for different purposes, which could be advertorial, informational, or educational. They employ diverse design skills and different styles to create goal-specific designs.

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Is a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design Worth It?

Yes, a master’s degree in graphic design is worth it if you want to land high-paying graphic design jobs or specialize in a unique design field. A graphic design master’s degree program will improve your knowledge and skills in the field and help you build a professional portfolio with its mentorship and graduate internship offers.

Graduates are positioned for better job opportunities in graphic design and other related industries. Also, in addition to being able to work on rewarding projects, they tend to earn better salaries as master’s degree holders.

Additional Reading About Graphic Design

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Graphic Design Master’s Degree FAQ

How long does it take to complete a graphic design master’s degree?

Most graphic design master’s degrees take two years to complete. However, some programs are much faster, with some taking only a year. You can also find three-year options, especially if you don’t have a background in graphic design.

Is getting a degree in graphic design worth it?

Yes, getting a degree in graphic design is worth it. A degree will qualify you for many job roles in the graphic design industry. There are some job opportunities you won’t even be qualified for if you don’t have the required formal education, regardless of the skills you may have gained somewhere else.

Can I do a master’s degree in graphic design online?

Yes, you can do a master’s degree in graphic design online. Many programs offer this flexible study option, which allows you to deepen your understanding of graphic design fundamentals anywhere you are.

What are the best schools that offer a master’s degree in graphic design?

Some of the best schools that offer a master’s degree in graphic design include the Rochester Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, Yale University, Boston University, and California Institute of Arts.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Sunday Erhunmwunse

About the author: Sunday is an experienced content writer and passionate educator. His professional interests include coding, data science, and product management. He holds a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Benin.

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