Bachelors In

Graphic Design Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.
on January 25, 2021

Why We Love It

  • $51,640
    Potential Avg. Salary*
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for 27-1024 Graphic designers 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

With a bachelor of arts in graphic design, you’ll learn how to transform vague concepts into graphics, images, logos, and packaging to form brands, stand out, and make an impression. You’ll do this by learning how to use a variety of digital programs and traditional techniques—from photography to Photoshop—and will be able to use your skills after graduation to work for an agency or yourself.

What is a Degree in Graphic Design?

Graphic designers are talented digital artists who use their talents to form the visual components of a brand. From designing brand color palates to creating images that create the perfect impression, graphic designers are involved in every part of the brand design process. They create logos, design product packaging, and assist with website layouts, designs, and imagery. Iconic logos like the Nike swoosh, McDonalds arches, and Macintosh apple likely all began with a graphic designer’s idea for a simple image to build brand recognition.

In a bachelor of arts in graphic design program, you’ll learn how to use both traditional and digital art tools to develop eye-catching and memorable graphics and designs. You’ll study drawing, learn how to use Adobe Creative Suite programs, study photography best practices, grow your understanding of visual marketing, and—in some courses—even study coding and web development. With these skills, you’ll be prepared to work as a freelance graphic designer, for a design agency, or for a major corporation.

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What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Graphic Design?

  • Color Theory and Application
  • Art History
  • Drawing
  • Typography
  • Web Design
  • Idea Visualization
  • Interactive Design
  • Print Production

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Graphic Design?

Images lay the groundwork for modern websites, and since websites are no longer a nice-to-have for modern businesses, all businesses with a digital presence depend on talented graphic designers. In the same way that demand for individuals in technology jobs is skyrocketing, demand for talented graphic designers is greater than ever. Graduates should find ample opportunities after graduation, working for marketing, advertising, or design agencies, or running their own freelance graphic design business.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Graphic Design will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Graphic Design Degree

Graphic design is commonly available as a major within Bachelor of Art and sometimes Bachelor of Computer Science programs. It is however offered as an independent degree by some universities. Students are required to complete around 120 – 180 credit hours in addition to a capstone project to earn the bachelor degree. Some programs allow choosing a specialization as product packaging, entrepreneurship, mobile technology or interface design.

What Can You Do With a Graphic Design Degree?

Graphic design is an art that is important for many fields including animations, movies, advertisement and video games. The demand for graphic designers is growing in the recent years and this is expected to continue in the future. Graphic design can be divided into several types with the use of tools as typography, photography, iconography and illustration. Graphic designers are needed for making logos, brands, editing of magazines, newspapers and books, advertising, web design, packaging and signage.

What does a graphic design student learn?

Graphic design is currently a discipline that integrates art with the use of advanced computer technology. The following courses are commonly offered in graphic design degree programs:

  1. History of art and design: this is usually among the first courses to be studied in a graphic design program. Learning the history of art helps in establishing the foundations for the current trends and making artistic work that can relate strongly to culture and history.
  2. Color and form: the course is focused on the principles of choosing the right color or combination of colors for a specific purpose. It also introduces the effect of colors on the audience psychology.
  3. Presentation techniques: this course introduces the visual presentation techniques and how to use them in the most effective way. A successful designer has the ability to combine images, symbols and words in a way that attracts and maintains the attention of the audience and delivers a clear message.
  4. Technical drawing: this is a specialized form of graphic design which is focused on making drawings for machines, buildings or maps that are used mainly for engineering purposes. Technical drawing requires much attention to the accuracy and clarity of the details.
  5. Other courses: graphic design students may also have to learn some courses that help them make designs that are more related to their audience including sociology and science applied to design.

Now I have the graphic design degree…where can I work after graduating?

Graphic designers are needed by almost all companies and organizations to deliver their message and/or promote products or services. The following career options are available for graphic designers:

  1. Art director: the role of this position is to supervise the artistic aspect of work whether it is a film, video game, publication, music or other media.
  2. Creative director: he/she is responsible for leading the production team regarding the generation of new ideas and concepts. The creative director may also be called art director, copywriter, or lead designer.
  3. Drafter: the role of the drafter is to make technical drawings or plans for machines, equipment, infrastructure, buildings or cities. Drafters are usually specialized in one type of work as aeronautical, architectural, civil, electrical or mechanical drafters.
  4. Film and video editor: the role of editing is to convert the video footage into the final product that will be broadcasted to the audience. They must have professional experience with editing programs as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Premiere Pro.
  5. Marketing manager: graphic designer is among the main players in marketing and some of the graphic designer may specialize in this field
  6. Web designer: building a website requires careful attention to details regarding the design including the colors, images and structure of the website.

Should I choose a graphic design degree?

Graphic design is an art that requires innovation and creativity. Successful graphic designers must have the passion towards this art and be comfortable working with computer programs that are commonly used in this field. If you will work as designer then you should consider having the following skills:

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. Computer and technical skills
  3. Accuracy and attention to details: little details as the colors or arrangement of the objects can make your design a success or a failure.
  4. Time and organization skills: similar to other jobs graphic designers are sometimes subject to much stress to deliver a product within a tight deadline, complete a challenging task or satisfy an annoying client.
  5. Following the updates regarding the recent trends: the world of design changes regularly and what is appealing at one day might be completely unacceptable at a later day. Additionally, the designer should follow the cultural events that can affect the design trends.

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Best Jobs for Graphic Design Degrees

Graphic design graduates work as traditional and digital artists in a variety of roles. Some take on graphic designer, brand manager, or web designer roles with advertising and design agencies, while others offer their services to clients as an independent contractor. Additionally, major brands in nearly every industry depend on graphic designers to help their brands stand out and create the right impression.

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Graphic Design degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

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Get a Certificate in Graphic Design First

Certificate programs are generally less than one year in length and provide an overview of major graphic design tools and concepts. By earning a certificate in graphic design before enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program, you may be able to find work in the field as a freelance or part-time graphic designer. This will help you earn income and experience sooner, which could help you while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Best of all, your credits may transfer to reduce the number of credits required for a bachelor’s degree.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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