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Graphic Design Associate Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Beth Waweru - March 04, 2022


Graphic design associate degrees equip students with design fundamentals and practices to help them launch their careers. Whether you want to start as a junior designer or freelance designer, the best colleges for graphic design associate degrees listed in this article will be valuable for you. Find out what graphic design associate degree requirements you need to start your career path in visual communications below.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design refers to the planning and creating of visual content to convey a message or idea. You can employ design to market a product, develop a brand identity, or communicate with your target audience.

What Is a Graphic Design Associate Degree?

A graphic design associate degree is a program that meets the minimum education demands of entry-level design jobs, such as drafters and print designers. This program also equips graphic design students with the fundamentals to gain advanced education in this field. While most associate degree programs take two years, online graphic design associate degrees may take less time to complete, at around 18 months.

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Graphic Design Associate Degree Requirements

The minimum education requirements for a graphic design associate degree requirements are a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) diploma. Some colleges will have higher GPA requirements while others will have lower ones. Depending on the college or university you prefer, you should evaluate its specific admission details.

How Much Does a Graphic Design Associate Degree Cost?

Generally, a two-year degree program costs $3,621 . This can also be applicable to a graphic design associate degree as well. Costs may further differ depending on your school and the type of program you’ll study, such as on-campus courses or online courses.

Graphic Design Associate Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Graphic Design Degree

You can pay for your graphic design degree through different financing options, such as loans or financial awards. Scholarships are financial awards that don’t require reimbursement which help to eliminate the financial worries of pursuing a program. Alternatively, student loans need to be repaid usually six months after you graduate, so there’s pressure to get a job immediately.

Best Graphic Design Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Delaware County Community College Associate in Fine Arts, Graphic Design Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Gateway Technical College Associate Degree in Graphic Communications Higher Learning Commission
Glendale Community College Associate of Arts in Graphic Design Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Henry Ford College Associate of Arts in Graphic Design Higher Learning Commission
Kingsborough Community College Graphic Design and Illustration, A.S. Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Lone Star College Visual Communication AAS Degree: Graphic Design Track Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Associate Degree in Design and Graphic Technology Higher Learning Commission
Pratt Community College Associate of Arts in Graphic Design Higher Learning Commission
Rock Valley College AAS in Graphic Arts Technology Higher Learning Commission
Sullivan County Community College Associate Degree in Design and Graphic Technology Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Best Colleges for Graphic Design: Top Graphic Design Associate Degree Programs

There’s a wide variety of graphic design colleges that can provide you with quality education and adequate preparation for the job market. Below are the 10 best colleges for graphic design associate degrees to help you choose the one that best fits your needs.

Associate in Fine Arts, Graphic Design | Delaware County Community College

The Delaware County Community College offers an associate degree program that equips students in developing design projects. Students also learn professional skills such as how to produce visual design communication solutions. This program gives graphic design students an opportunity to transition into a four-year degree or get freelance or entry-level graphic design jobs.

Associate Degree in Graphic Communications | Gateway Technical College

Gateway Technical College offers this two-year associate degree that’s suitable for tech-savvy students. Once you complete this visual communications program, you can major in areas like digital publishing or digital photography. Students in this college benefit from experienced instructors in web design, advertising, printing, branding, photography, and multimedia.

Associate of Arts in Graphic Design | Glendale Community College

Glendale Community College’s associate degree prepares students for bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in graphic design. Through this program, you’ll learn the basics of design thinking and design fundamentals required to bring your ideas to life.

Associate of Arts in Graphic Design | Henry Ford College

This school’s hybrid program equips students with a solid foundation in graphic design. It provides education courses on front end web design, motion graphics, and print. In addition, the elective courses help students learn animation, illustration, and digital imaging.

Graphic Design and Illustration, A.S. | Kingsborough Community College

Kingsborough Community College offers an associate degree that equips students to create effective visual communications. The learning process is customized to assist students in creating an impressive portfolio that will help them to secure professional opportunities after completing the program.

Visual Communication AAS Degree: Graphic Design Track | Lone Star College

Lone Star College offers a two-year program covering visual communication, digital photography, and graphic design level 2 certificate courses. The program also emphasizes innovative designs and conceptual foundations on communication to help students create websites, logos, and packaging. You need a total of 72 credit hours to complete this degree.

Associate Degree in Design and Graphic Technology | Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

The Associate Degree in Design and Graphic Technology program prepares students for a broad variety of career options, including public relations specialist, pre-press technician, web designer, and digital print technician. While studying, students create and maintain a professional portfolio showcasing their best projects.

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Associate of Arts in Graphic Design | Pratt Community College

Pratt Community College’s program builds a solid foundation for students who plan to transfer to a four-year design, studio art, or art program. This associate degree offers core courses, ranging from package creation to game design. The school has a small class size, allowing you to get more focus and attention from Pratt’s experienced instructors.

AAS in Graphic Arts Technology | Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College’s graphic arts technology program provides a well-rounded education, covering both the creative and technical aspects of graphic design. This helps students be adequately equipped with the necessary graphic design skills for career opportunities in areas like customer service, press operations, and electronic imaging.

Associate Degree in Design and Graphic Technology | Sullivan County Community College

This associate graphic design program requires 62 or 64 credit hours. The program includes lab facilities with graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe InDesign. To earn this degree, you must complete the required credit hours and demonstrate knowledge in design, computer graphics, and typography principles.

Best Online Graphic Design Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Academy of Art University Associate of Arts in Graphic Design Senior College and University Commission
Columbus State Community College AAS in Digital Design and Graphics Higher Learning Commission
Community College of Vermont Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design New England Commission of Higher Education
Foothill College Associate in Arts in Graphic & Interactive Design Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Mohave Community College Online Associate in Graphics and Web Design Higher Learning Commission
Penn Foster College AS in Graphic Design Distance Education Accrediting Commission
Remington College Digital Graphic Art Associate Degree Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Sessions College for Professional Design Associate of Occupational Studies in Graphic Design Distance Education Accrediting Commission
Surry Community College Associate Degree in Digital Media Technology – Graphic Design Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges
Wake Tech Community College Associate in Applied Science Degree in Advertising and Graphic Design Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Best Colleges for Graphic Design: Top Online Graphic Design Associate Degree Programs

If you’re a full-time employee who wants to pursue an associate degree in graphic design, online options are available to fit in your busy calendar. Below are the best online colleges to earn an online graphic design degree that can flexibly meet your schedule and location requirements.

Associate of Arts in Graphic Design | Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University offers one of the top associate degrees in graphic design. The 66-credit online program ensures students understand the basics of design thinking, typography, branding, and packaging. After program completion, you can advance to a bachelor’s degree.

Associate of Applied Science in Digital Design and Graphics | Columbus State Community College

This school’s 64-credit program focuses primarily on digital design across areas like audio and video production, photography, and web design. Students prepare impressive portfolios inspired by innovative visual design concepts and present them to their prospective employers.

Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design | Community College of Vermont

Community College of Vermont offers a 60-credit associate degree that equips students to use digital technologies in design. Student graphic artists also learn how to apply design thinking and problem-solving skills to create solutions for clients. It also prepares students to enter the job market seamlessly or take advanced study through other degree programs.

Associate in Arts in Graphic & Interactive Design | Foothill College

This college offers a 60-credit hour associate degree with 58 major hours. Its curriculum covers web design, game design, UI/UX design , and illustration. Through this program, learners acquire basic and advanced skills as well as practical application of design processes and principles.

Online Associate in Graphics and Web Design | Mohave Community College

Located in Arizona, Mohave Community College’s associate degree is a 65 credit-hour program focusing on web design and computer graphics. It provides a comprehensive foundation of graphic design technology.

AS in Graphic Design | Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College has an associate program in graphic design that covers photo image editing, HTML coding, multimedia development, and art appreciation. You’ll also get to create animations using Adobe Creative Cloud. Upon completion, you can apply for entry-level jobs as an illustrator, multimedia designer, production artist, graphic designer, or web designer.

Digital Graphic Art Associate Degree | Remington College

Remington College offers a 92-credit hour online associate degree on digital graphic art, which can be completed in 18 months. Here, you’ll learn about the graphic design theories and design fundamentals such a color theory, which you can apply in industries such as advertising and publishing.

Associate of Occupational Studies in Graphic Design | Sessions College for Professional Design

Sessions College for Professional Design has an intensive online associate degree that equips students with a solid foundation in print design. This program’s curriculum covers contemporary design practices and how to implement them.

Associate Degree in Digital Media Technology – Graphic Design | Surry Community College

This school’s online associate degree in digital media is a 71-credit program that you can complete in two years. With this program, students learn technical skills like interface design, multimedia formats and application programming. They also learn soft skills like problem-solving and critical thinking.

Associate in Applied Science Degree in Advertising and Graphic Design | Wake Tech Community College

Based in North Carolina, Wake Tech Community College offers a flexible program with 8-week and 12-week core courses. Depending on your needs, you can leverage the online or hybrid option. Here, you’ll mainly create promotional materials and use industry-standard software to create web designs.

What’s the Average Graphic Design Associate Degree Salary?

A graphic designer creates a marketing project on a laptop.
You can use your associate degree in graphic design to secure entry-level job opportunities.

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of associate graphic designers is $53,327 in the US. However, depending on the city you work in, your salary can either be lower or higher. Some of the top-paying cities include Massachusetts, Washington, and Maryland.

Top Graphic Design Associate Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Graphic Design Associate Degree Jobs Average Salary
Multimedia Artist $77,700
Digital Designer $77,200
Product Designer $71,640
Drafter $57,960
Graphic Designer $53,380

Best Graphic Design Associate Degree Jobs Explained

Multimedia Artist

  • Average Salary: $77,700
  • Job Outlook: 16%
  • Number of Jobs: 62,400
  • Highest-Paying States: Connecticut, California, New York, Oregon, Washington

Multimedia artists use computer design software to develop multimedia content for television, website, or film. Some of the content they create include animation, audio, and visual effects.

Digital Designer

  • Average Salary: $77,200
  • Job Outlook: 13%
  • Number of Jobs: 199,400
  • Highest-Paying States: Washington, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey

Digital designers work with web developers to ensure that the layout and interface of a website are on-brand and visually appealing. They also consider user experience when designing for the web.

Product Designer

  • Average Salary: $71,640
  • Job Outlook: 6%
  • Number of Jobs: 31,500
  • Highest-Paying States: Arizona, California, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts

Product designers oversee a product’s creation process. They determine a product’s problem areas and create a solution for them. This role also involves enhancing the existing product’s design, user experience, and performance.

Drafter

  • Average Salary: $57,960
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Number of Jobs: 191,800
  • Highest-Paying States: Maryland, New York, Maine, West Virginia, California

Drafters usually covert an architect’s or engineer’s designs using software. A typical day of a drafter involves drawings collection, materials and equipment calculation, and adding details to architectural plans.

Graphic Designer

  • Average Salary: $53,380
  • Job Outlook: 3%
  • Number of Jobs: 254,100
  • Highest-Paying States: District of Columbia, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia

Also known as graphic artists, graphic designers communicate ideas through visualizations. They ensure that all design elements are attractive and effective on any communication medium. Their practice involves creating layouts of web or print media.

Graphic Design Bootcamp vs. Graphic Design Associate Degree: Which Is Better?

A bootcamp may be better than an associate degree if you have specific career goals. A graphic design bootcamp is a short-term training program that equips learners with the professional skills and knowledge to perform their future roles effectively. Most programs offer flexible schedules, career services, and lower tuition costs than traditional degree programs.

An associate degree, on the other hand, is usually a two-year or three-year program that provides students with the foundation for studying in colleges or universities in the graphic design field. Tuition is typically higher than a bootcamp program and follow a typical educational format or schedule.

Benefits of a Graphic Design Associate Degree

  • Affordable. Compared to a baccalaureate degree, graphic design associate degrees are more affordable because of the shorter duration of academic study.
  • Opportunity for advanced education. An associate program in graphic design equips students with the solid design foundations they need for advanced study.
  • Short-term. A graphic design associate degree takes a shorter period of time to complete than a four-year bachelor’s degree.
  • Flexible. Associate programs offer options for campus, online, or hybrid education. This helps you plan ahead on how to arrange your schedule if you have other important priorities such as a full-time job or a family to support.
  • Entry-level career opportunities. Some jobs will demand that you obtain a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree before you can secure a graphic design career opportunity. However, with a graphic design associate degree, you can become an entry-level graphic designer .

Benefits of a Graphic Design Bootcamp

  • Fast-paced. Bootcamps take anywhere from three to six months to complete, so they won’t be too time-consuming and won’t prolong your job search.
  • Hands-on training. Bootcamps can equip you with the right practical skills to ensure you perform your role exceptionally.
  • Affordable. Compared to other programs, graphic and visual design bootcamps have fewer course requirements, making them more affordable.
  • Market-led curriculum. Bootcamps focus on subject areas that are important to the job market and critical for learners to help them perform their job.
  • Built-in career services. Graphic design bootcamps have career services that help graphic design students find a job after graduation and develop their career as it progresses.

Should You Get an Associate Degree in Graphic Design?

Yes, you should get an associate degree in graphic design. Whether you want to kickstart your career as a digital designer or print designer, an associate degree in graphic design can help you accomplish this. All you need is to evaluate which college for graphic design is best for you and whether you’ll take on-campus courses, fully online courses, or enroll in a hybrid setup.

Graphic Design Associate Degree FAQ

Is graphic design in high demand?

Yes, graphic design is still in demand even though its employment rate will increase 3% slower than other occupations , according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why do entry-level graphic designers earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level graphic designers earn an average annual salary of $31,720 . Median salaries across all entry-level employment within graphic design vary depending on the branch of design you work in, such as package design or digital imaging.

What’s the standard pay for a logo design cost?

Top-quality logo designs cost between $300 and $1,300. However, some graphic designers may charge more or less depending on different factors such as experience, visual design tools and resources used, and time constraints.

What’s the difference between a logo and a brand?

A brand refers to the marketing concept of a company or a business, while a logo is the brand’s trademark. As a graphic designer, you’ll encounter these two quite often.

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Beth Waweru

About the author: Beth is an experienced content writer who has most recently been creating SEO content for clients in the SaaS, home and living, and digital marketing spaces. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Kenyatta University, a Certificate in Digital Marketing from Hubspot Academy, and a Content Marketing Certificate from Hubspot Academy.

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