But which graphic design program should you pursue - a certificate, associate, bachelor's, or master's? The answer depends largely on your career aspirations, available study time, and financial resources. In this article, we will outline each graphic design degree level to provide a clearer picture. We'll also highlight some of the top-ranked online degrees in graphic design available today.
Graphic Design Degree Levels
The choice between a certificate, associate, bachelor's or master's in graphic design will depend largely on your personal goals and circumstances. While a certificate or associate degree in graphic design can help you gain entry to the field, a bachelor's or master's can lead to greater career prospects and higher salaries. Regardless of your choice, each program can unlock a world of creativity and opportunity.
Let’s take a closer look at the graphic design degree levels.
Associate Degree in Graphic Design
A graphic design associate degree is a common stepping stone towards a career in this space. This program typically takes two years to complete and provides a foundational understanding in areas like color theory, digital illustration, typography, and basic design software. Graduates of a graphic design associate degree can pursue entry-level jobs such as a junior graphic designer, production artist, or web designer. An Associate of Arts in graphic design is an excellent choice for those who wish to begin their career quickly or are unsure about committing to a four-year education.
Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design
A bachelor's in graphic design, generally completed in four years as a full-time student, is the standard degree for many jobs in the industry. This program offers a more comprehensive understanding of graphic design, often integrating interdisciplinary studies such as psychology, marketing and business, which are crucial in real-world design scenarios. The curriculum of a graphic design bachelor's degree encompasses advanced design principles, branding, interactive media and more. Graduates of this program can pursue roles such as graphic designer, art director, and multimedia designer.
Master's Degree in Graphic Design
A graphic design master's degree, often completed with 1-2 years of study after a bachelor's, allows students to become highly specialized in a particular niche of graphic design, such as typography, branding, user interface (UI) design, environmental graphic design (EGD), among others. With a master's in graphic design, graduates can aim for leadership roles such as design strategist, creative director, senior graphic designer, or even start their own design consultancy.
Certificate in Graphic Design
A graphic design certificate can be an efficient and cost-effective way to break into this field. A certificate in graphic design, which can often be completed in a year or less, provides focused, hands-on training in key areas of design, such as web design, print design, or select programs from the Adobe Creative Suite. Although not as comprehensive as a graphic design degree, certificates can be beneficial for those looking to upskill, switch careers, or enhance their credentials without committing to a formal degree. Graduates of graphic design certificates can pursue entry-level roles, freelance work, or use the certification to boost their standing in their current design career.
Online Degrees in Graphic Design
Compare top-rated online degree programs in graphic design and related fields.
- Online multimedia certificates in:
- Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop
- Animation using Maya and Toon Boom
- VFX Production in Houdini & Nuke