Top Online Graphic Design Schools
Graphic design is—at its core—a creative industry that blends technology and art into a singular whole to communicate a message, an idea to a targeted audience. To develop that message or idea, graphic designers typically rely on two central tools: typography and imagery. According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), graphic designers may venture down several design paths when using typography and imagery, such as the following:
Image and type
Logotypes, images and symbols
In order to develop an understanding of not only design principles, but the profession as a whole, prospective graphic designers can enroll in a graphic design degree program from either traditional campus-based or online colleges or universities. In its 2012 rankings of graduate degree programs, US News & World Report listed the best graphic design schools, and the top 5 universities included the following:
1. Rhode Island School of Design
2. Yale University
3. Maryland Institute College of Art
4. Carnegie Mellon University
5. Virginia Commonwealth University
Learn more about online graphic design schools and programs
Depending on your personal or professional needs, you have a choice when it comes to graphic design programs. Generally speaking, degrees are available at several levels, including associate, bachelor’s and master’s.
Online graphic design schools traditionally teach you about and how to use a variety of design software, programs and tools including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Apple Aperture, desktop publishing software and more. In addition to training in tools and technology, you may also learn about visual communication, digital design and animation, 2D and 3D design, computer animation and more.
Example graphic design courses include illustration techniques, lettering and typography, printmaking, history of design, composition, color theory and more.
Learn more about graphic design careers
Graphic designers are employed across industry and business sectors, such as advertising and marketing, public relations, newspaper publishing, online media and more. For all industries that employ graphic designers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14 percent job growth nationally between 2010 and 2020.
One sector, computer systems design and related services, is expected to see significant job growth between 2010 and 2020, according to BLS. The BLS projects 61 percent job growth nationally during that period (BLS.gov, 2012). The BLS also expects national job growth between 2010 and 2020 in the two following areas of graphic design:
Advertising, public relations and related services: 17 percent growth
Specialized design services: 27 percent growth
Graphic designers earned a national annual wage of $44,010 media in 2011, with the lowest 10 percent earning $26,210 and the top 10 percent earning $77,370 in 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012). California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois were the five states with the highest employment rates for graphic designers in 2011, according to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012).