Getting a Degree in Graphic Design
Graphic Design Degrees
If you love to create art and figure out ways to make designs look a little better, graphic design can be a smart career path for you. Those who study graphic design have a strong sense of creativity, style, originality, have excellent communication skills, know computers, and know how to use design software. All of these skills go into a flexible, and creative career.
Those who have degrees in graphic design work for companies, organizations, nonprofits, and for themselves. In fact, according to BLS, 19% of graphic designers are self-employed. It is the type of job that you can easily do online and from home as well as being able to work for yourself.
For most jobs in graphic design, you will need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, although you can get degrees from the associate level up to graduate.
Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design
An associate’s degree in graphic design will take you around two years. With an associate’s degree in graphic design, you can pursue entry-level graphic design work, web design, and desktop publishing positions. You could also work as an intern.
In an associate’s of graphic design program, you might take classes such as typography, 3D design, and computer illustration. Community colleges can be a great option for going to get an associate’s degree in graphic design. They also might offer certificates in graphic design.
Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design
Getting your bachelor’s degree in graphic design is a must for many of the jobs in graphic design. This will take four years, and you can do so online or in-person, depending on what would work best for your schedule. Graphic design is a good major for going to school online and can work well if you can’t attend in person.
Some of the classes you could take might be visual design, graphic design technology, and typography.
When looking for programs, The Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design, and The Pratt Institute are all highly rated. For online programs, The University of Florida, Maryville University, and Bellevue University are all highly rated.
Jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design
- Graphic Designers, who create visual concepts using software or possibility by hand for brands, companies, or other organizations, have an average salary of $46.894, according to Payscale.
- Multimedia Animators, who create special effects and animations for different projects for anything from TV to video games, have an average salary of $57,476, according to Payscale.
- Web Designers, who plan, create, and code internet websites and pages using media elements such as graphics and video clips, have an average salary of $52,247, according to Payscale.
Master’s Degree in Graphic Design
If you want to go further along the graphic design career path, you should go on to get your master’s degree in graphic design. Most programs will take around two years and you should be able to find either an in-person or online program.
In a master’s of graphic design program, you might take classes such as design history and theory, design research, and open studio time. You might also need to complete an internship.
When looking for programs, Yale University, The Rhode Island School of Design, and North Carolina State University are all highly rated. For online programs, Syracuse University, Samford University, and Radford University are all highly rated.
Jobs you can get with a master’s degree in graphic design
- Creative Directors, who focus on the bigger picture when it comes to designs and other creative decisions, have an average salary of $90,111, according to Payscale.
- Brand Managers, who control and oversee the company’s trademarks and work with graphic designers, have an average salary of $71,695 according to Payscale.
- Graphic Design Teachers, who teach students about the best practices and help students understand all the production stages of a design, have an average salary of $55,683 according to Glassdoor.
Doctorate in Graphic Design
If you are interested in holding an academic position at a college or university or go into the research side of graphic design, you would want to go on to get your doctorate or Ph.D. in graphic design. Most people who do so become college professors or senior researchers.
- Commercial Art
- Commercial Photography
- Interior Design
- Fashion Design
- Fine Arts
Graphic Design Scholarships
Getting your degree in graphic design means you can apply for certain scholarships just for graphic design or similar majors. Here are a couple of them:
Dream in Color Grant
This grant is funded by Vera Bradley and awards $5,000 to two women of color who are making a difference in their communities. One will go to a student and one a woman who is working on an exciting project that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Students need to self ID as a woman of color, be currently in school pursuing a creative career, or pursuing a creative project that celebrates diversity. They will also need to show financial need. For more info, please go here.
The GraphicDesignDegreeHub.Com Scholarship
This scholarship is for students that are majoring in graphic design, multimedia design, animation, gaming, or art and attending school full-time at a college or university. The award is $1,500. For more info, please go here.
VA-Approved Schools with Design Degree Programs
The New School has approved programs covered by the GI Bill®. Their campus is in New York, NY, but they also offer many online options. The New School offers Associates and Bachelors in Design.
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.