Graphic design is a vital part of marketing campaigns and advertisements. Brands promote their businesses and attract potential clients through visuals like posters, infographics, and package design. If you want to work in the graphic design industry, you can jumpstart your career by seeking out the cheapest online graphic design degree programs.
This article covers the details about the most affordable online graphic design degree programs in the US, such as online tuition rates, program lengths, and curricula content. You’ll also learn about the different graphic design careers you can pursue after graduating from one of the cheapest online schools for graphic design.
Can I Get a Graphic Design Degree Online?
Yes, you can get a graphic design degree online. Many accredited schools offer associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree programs in graphic design that can be completed with full-time or part-time study, with hybrid and online class options. A full-time online student can complete an associate or master’s degree in two years and a bachelor’s degree in four years.
Why Should I Get a Graphic Design Degree Online?
You should get a graphic design degree online because online degree programs are generally more affordable and flexible. Online tuition rates are often cheaper than on-campus tuition, and studying remotely can help you save money on transportation and housing. They are also great choices for working students or professionals who want to learn graphic design on their own schedule.
Online programs are suitable for those who can study independently. You might prefer an in-person program if you learn better through collaboration. Graphic design is also a tech-intensive course, so you might benefit from on-campus facilities. However, anyone with a computer, a stable Internet connection, and a comfortable place to study can learn graphic design online.
What Are the Most Affordable Online Graphic Design Degree Programs in the US?
The most affordable online graphic design degree programs are the associate degree programs at Gateway Technical College and Rasmussen University at Wisconsin and the bachelor’s degree program at Southern New Hampshire University. These schools also offer tuition assistance and financial aid programs that help their students with school expenses.
Cheapest Graphic Design Degree Programs Online That Will Help You Stand Out
- Online AAS in Graphic Design at Gateway Technical College
- Online AAS in Graphic Design at Rasmussen University-Wisconsin
- Online BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts at Southern New Hampshire University
How Much Does an Online Graphic Design Degree Cost?
An online graphic design degree costs between $200 and $1,000 per credit. Associate degrees are generally less expensive than bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. Part-time programs are often more expensive per credit than full-time programs, but some people find the flexibility of a part-time program worth the extra tuition cost.
Will Getting a Graphic Design Degree Online Save Me Money?
Yes, getting a graphic design degree online will save you money because you won’t have to pay for things like transportation, laboratory fees, meal plans, or non-campus housing at your university. The tuition rate for an online program is often cheaper than on-campus tuition.
Online Graphic Design Programs vs In-Person Graphic Design Programs
Both in-person and online graphic design programs have benefits and drawbacks. Your career goals and existing time commitments will determine what type of program is the best for you. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of both online and in-person graphics design degree programs.
Benefits of an Online Graphic Design Degree
- Learn at your own pace. Many graphic design online courses let you study at your own pace, either giving you all of the materials upfront or working with an asynchronous course schedule. You have the flexibility to fit your coursework into your daily routine, work schedule, and personal hobbies.
- Study from the comfort of home. Since you won’t have to make it to campus in time for classes, you can study anytime and anywhere. You can choose the learning environment that feels most comfortable for you, and you can study at the time of day when you feel most alert.
- Save money. Enrolling in a graphic design online program means you will save money on costs like transportation and housing. Online program tuition rates are often less expensive than on-campus programs as well.
- Keep your day job. Many graphic design online programs are designed for working professionals who seek career advancement. Distance learning gives you the flexibility you need to study without sacrificing your job, thanks to self-paced and part-time programs.
- Avoid the hassle of commuting. We’ve already mentioned that you’ll save on commuting costs, but your time is valuable too. By studying online, you won’t have to spend time on public transit or sitting in traffic on your way to and from class. That means you’ll have more time to study, pursue hobbies, or spend time with your friends.
Benefits of In-Person Graphic Design Degree Programs
- Get the full campus experience. In-person graphic design programs give you the opportunity to join campus activities, such as sports and performing arts. In-person classes are also more interactive and you can learn more by exchanging ideas with your peers. Studying on campus gives you the chance to make friends while you study.
- Focus on your studies. Sitting in a classroom has fewer distractions than tuning into a class or studying from home. Distance learners sometimes experience unavoidable distractions like loud noises in their homes. It’s also easier to get distracted by television, the internet, or other fun activities when you’re not in the classroom.
- Connect with faculty and students. In-person classes give you a chance to work collaboratively and share knowledge with your peers. You will also have better connections with your professors by meeting them in person, and you can get better coaching from them by attending their office hours.
- Get hands-on experience. Enrolling in an on-campus graphic design program will give you access to the school’s computer labs and arts equipment for hands-on learning. Schools will have the latest software, high-powered computers, and expensive equipment like silk screen presses, all of which can help you become more skilled.
- Avoid technical difficulties. Online students can experience technical issues, like Internet and computer problems. You need good troubleshooting skills if you prefer learning online. If you’re on campus, you can ask the technical support team for help and you won’t miss a whole lecture due to a poor Internet connection.
Online Graphic Design Degree Career Options
Graphic designers can work in a wide variety of fields, like website development, video game development, and advertising. Some of the best career options for graphic design professionals include animation, web design, and art direction. We’ve outlined information about wages and job outlook for graphic designers below.
Graphic Design Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic design jobs are expected to grow at a rate of three percent between 2020 and 2030. While this is lower than the national average, 24,000 new graphic design jobs are still added to the US workforce each year. So long as businesses need to market their products, there will be demand for graphic designers.
Graphic Design Salary
Graphic designers in the US earn $50,710 annually or $24.38 hourly, as reported by BLS. Top companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Nike, Walt Disney, and Target also offer generous benefits packages to their full-time graphic design staff, like life insurance, health insurance insurance, and 401(K) retirement plans.
Can I Enroll in an Online Graphic Design Program for Free?
No, no graphic design schools offer free tuition, but financial aid could help you pay for your tuition fees and other school expenses. Before applying to a program, you should check out the available financial aid options at your school and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can also apply for scholarships aside from federal financial aid.
Cheapest Online Graphic Design Degree Programs
|School||Online Degree||Degree Tuition|
|Gateway Technical College||AAS in Graphic Design||$188.90/credit (in state); $283.35/credit (out of state)|
|Rasmussen College-Wisconsin||AAS in Graphic Design||$260/credit|
|Southern New Hampshire University||BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts||$320/credit|
|Regent University||BFA in Graphic Arts||$395/credit (full time); $450/credit (part time)|
|Bellevue University||BA in Graphic Design||$440/credit|
|Liberty University||MFA in Graphic Design||$565/credit (full time); $615/credit (part time)|
|Savannah College of Art And Design||MA in Graphic Design and Visual Experience||$872/credit|
|Quinnipiac University||MS in Interactive Media and Communications||$980/credit|
|Arizona State University||MFA in Graphic Design||$4,986/semester|
|Full Sail University||BS in Graphic Design||$59,500 total|
Graphic Design Degrees Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Online Graphic Design Programs
We chose the most affordable graphic design degree programs based on tuition and general cost information from the schools’ official websites, the US Department of Education’s database of accredited schools, and the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard tool.
The Cheapest Online Graphic Design Degree Programs: A Deep Dive
Common Online Graphic Design Degree Courses
The common online graphic design courses in most degree programs teach you about the creative process and fundamental skills in graphic design, like creativity, branding, and typography. Courses like Web Design, Principles of Design, Branding, Digital Photography, and your final Graphic Design Portfolio are designed to prepare you for your graphic design career.
Web design courses teach students concepts and techniques for creating interactive web content, including how to design web pages using HTML and CSS coding. These courses also cover dynamic web page design principles, digital publishing, web typography, web authoring and editing environments, user interface (UI), and user experience (UX).
Principles of Design
This course helps students learn the basic principles of design, including rhythm, pattern, white space, contrast, proportion, and balance. Students sharpen your creativity while learning graphic design theory and how to create compelling graphic design solutions. This course may also cover digital tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
This course teaches about brand identity and basic principles needed to work in advertising and package design. Branding courses teach how to design logos, product packaging, fonts, and other designs related to product brands. Students also learn about the creative process at the corporate or agency level and how to conceptualize and implement brand designs.
Digital photography courses teach the basic principles of digital photography and editing. Students learn the ins and outs of digital cameras and how to use different digital tools for photo editing and manipulation, like Adobe Photoshop. Some schools offering this course may require that you buy or rent a digital camera that meets their standards.
Graphic Design Portfolio
The graphic design portfolio course is a capstone project for graphic design students, where they create projects to showcase their competencies in the field. This helps them finetune their skills through practical application. This course also helps students prepare for professional work, since they finish with a portfolio they can show to prospective employers.
Can I Apply for Federal Aid to Finance My Online Graphic Design Degree?
Yes, you can apply for federal aid to finance your online graphic design degree. As you fill out your application to a school or program, you should fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on the information you provide, FAFSA will determine your eligibility for financial aid.
Options to Help Pay for an Online Graphic Design Degree
Applying to affordable colleges is just one way to save money on your graphic design online degree. Some other ways to decrease your tuition costs include federal and state grants, federal and private loans, and work-study programs. You can also apply for art scholarships offered by your university, state, or local organizations.
Federal and State Grants
Grants are need-based financial aid that students do not need to repay. Grants can come from the federal government or state government. To get federal grants, you must submit your FAFSA form, which includes information about your finances. Some other financial aid and scholarship programs use your FAFSA information to measure eligibility for their awards.
State grants are financial aid awarded to resident students by their state. Examples of these include the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) for New Jersey residents, Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), and Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG). Most states offer grants, so you should research and see which grants are available based on your residency.
Federal and Private Loans
Student loans are money borrowed from the government or private loan companies that help students pay for their educational expenses. Loans, unlike grants, require that you repay the money you borrowed, and loans accrue interest while you study. It is important that you read and consider all of the terms and conditions of any loan you consider.
Federal loans are offered by the government and often have fixed or lower interest rates than private loans. The amount you can borrow is set by the government and may not cover all your expenses. Private loans, on the other hand, are loans from banks and student loan firms. These types of loans may have higher interest rates. Federal loans offer income-based repayment plans, which makes repayment more affordable.
Work-study programs allow students to work and earn money to pay their tuition and other expenses. These are part-time jobs for students who demonstrate financial need, and they are offered through the Federal Work-Study program. Students can often get a work-study job related to their major.
Cheapest Graphic Design Degree Programs Online
Are you wondering about the most affordable online graphic design degree programs at a specific degree level? Keep reading to learn about the cheapest online graphic design associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.
Most Affordable Online Graphic Design Associate Degrees
- Gateway Technical College | AAS in Graphic Design. This program at Gateway Technical College covers the basic principles of graphic design. Gateway has transfer agreements with other colleges, so AAS graduates can transfer credits to four-year degree programs and enroll as juniors.
- Rasmussen College-Wisconsin | AAS in Graphic Design. Rasmussen offers an associate degree as part of their laddered graphic design program. Students can apply all of their credits from their associate degree towards their bachelor’s degree, allowing them to earn their bachelor’s in a shorter timeframe.
- Remington College | AAA in Digital Graphic Art. This program consists of 92 credit hours that full-time students can complete in 18 months. Students learn about and get hands-on experience in digital press operations, website design, and typography.
- Columbus State Community College | AAS in Digital Design and Graphics. This associate degree requires 65 credits to complete. The curriculum includes digital photography, WordPress, storyboarding, and branding.
- Wake Tech Community College | AAS in Advertising & Graphic Design. This 71-credit program teaches how to use graphic design in different contexts, such as social media, web development, multimedia, advertising, and printing.
Most Affordable Online Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degrees
- Southern New Hampshire University | BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts. This program is easier to get into since it doesn’t require test scores or an application fee to apply. Students coming in from associate degree programs or transferring from other schools can transfer up to 90 credits towards this undergraduate degree.
- Regent University | BFA in Graphic Arts. Choosing a BFA over a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Graphic Design is a great choice if you want to spend more time developing your artistic and technical skills. Regent University combines art theory and basic principles of design with plenty of practical application.
- Bellevue University | BA in Graphic Design. Bellevue University’s BA in Graphic Design has a transfer policy that allows students to use credits from their associate degrees. The program also includes general education courses that build soft skills, such as reasoning, analytical thinking, and leadership skills.
- Full Sail University | BS in Graphic Design. This program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree and begin their graphic design careers faster than traditional academic programs because of their accelerated curriculum. Online students can earn their bachelor’s degree in 29 months rather than four years.
- University of Maryland-Global Campus | BA in Graphic Communication. University of Maryland’s Global Campus offers a bachelor’s degree in graphic design that consists of 120 credits. Since UMD is a public institution, Maryland residents get discounted, in-state tuition.
Most Affordable Online Graphic Design Master’s Degrees
- Arizona State University | MS in Graphic Information Technology. The MS in Graphic Information Technology from ASU teaches visual design and how to make content for different applications, including social media, web development, motion graphics, and digital media production.
- Liberty University | MFA in Graphic Design. Liberty University’s MFA in Graphic Design refines students’ skills in 3D graphics, game design, illustration, and digital arts using cutting-edge technologies.
- Savannah College of Art and Design | MA in Graphic Design and Visual Experience. This program includes graduate internships and coursework. This graduate degree qualifies for the school’s accelerated BA/MA program, which allows students to get both a bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Graphic Design in four years.
- Quinnipiac University | MS in Interactive Media and Communications. Enrolling in this program lets students learn graphic design and technical skills from the school’s industry-expert faculty. To earn this degree, you must maintain a 3.0 while earning 30 credits.
- Radford University | MFA in Design Thinking. This is a terminal graduate degree that can be earned in two years with full-time study and four years with part-time study. The is a 60-credit program teaches design management, design history, and design research.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Most In-Demand Graphic Design Jobs With an Online Graphic Design Degree
|Graphic Design Job||Required Education||Job Outlook|
|Animator||Bachelor’s degree||16% growth|
|Web Designer||Bachelor’s degree||13% growth|
|Art Director||Bachelor’s degree||11% growth|
|Product Designer||Bachelor’s degree||6% growth|
|Graphic Designer||Bachelor’s degree||3% growth|
Best Jobs With an Online Graphic Design Degree Explained
The cheapest online graphic design degree programs teach the essential skills needed to land a great job in this field. Graphic designers can work in a variety of industries such as advertising, manufacturing, and publishing. Here, we’ve included essential details about each of the best graphic design jobs included in the table above.
Is an Online Graphic Design Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online graphic design degree is worth it, as it’s an affordable way to get the skills you need to work in graphic design. While there are benefits to studying on campus, there are many affordable online graphic design programs that let students tailor their schedules, making them great options for working professionals and full-time students alike.
Additional Reading About Graphic Design
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Cheapest Online Graphic Design Degrees FAQ
Yes, you can work as a graphic designer without a degree. Self-taught graphic designers and bootcamp graduates with strong portfolios can be qualified for entry-level graphic design jobs. However, many prospective employers will prefer applicants who have degrees.
Many prestigious companies hire graphic designers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. You can search for available graphic design jobs on the official websites of these companies, or you can use other job sites such as LinkedIn, MediaBistro, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
Yes, you can learn graphic design at home. Many useful YouTube tutorials are available for software like Adobe Photoshop. Graphic design courses, bootcamps, and online degree programs also allow you to study graphic design at home. Online learning requires you to work independently, which means you should have good computer and time-management skills.
You can learn graphic design using various free, online materials for beginners. You should first learn the basics of art and design, such as drawing, color, lines, shape, texture, and scale. You should also make sure that you have the necessary materials and software used in the design process.
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.