Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs
When most people think of graphic design, they may just think it has something to do with designing a company, team, or group logo, but there is much more to it than that. Creative minds now use computers for conveying messages and creating all kinds of visual media. Companies and organizations still turn to the expertise of graphic designers for their logos, but today’s world also needs them to provide web design, brochures, magazine layouts and ads, photography assistance, animations, typography, and more.
Due to the digital nature of graphic design, it is the perfect degree to earn online. Completing this degree online will allow you to continue your daily demands of work, family, or church. It may even save you money as opposed to attending a brick and mortar location.
Several online schools claim accreditation, but it may not be from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) approved list of accrediting organizations. Future employers need to know that your education meets the standards required for you to do the job correctly. The list of approved organizations can be found here: https://www.chea.org/regional-accrediting-organizations.
Graphic Design degrees can are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels, but a bachelor’s degree is sufficient in most cases. Whichever level you seek to achieve, choose a program from a nationally or regionally accredited school. Then you can begin your artistic education towards a career full of creativity.
EDsmart has dug through the data trenches to bring you an easy to read, easy to digest ranking of the Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs.
Schools are ranked based on four data points in three categories:
- Affordability (financial aid, net price)
- Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
- Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
- Student Outcome (20-year net ROI according to Payscale.com)
Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.
In the case of a tie in scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking.
Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs
1. Arizona State University
Average Net Price: $11,163
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 66%
Hosting nearly 90,000 on-campus students and another 38,000 studying virtually, Arizona State University is among the largest public universities in the country. The institution offers more than 370 different degree options and nearly 400 professional certificates. First-year students’ GPAs average 3.53, and the standard SAT score is 1216, which indicates the school is highly selective.
ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts offers the best online graphic design programs in the country. The online bachelor of fine arts in art (digital photography) was the first virtual program in the nation to offer a studio-based curriculum, facilitating student interactions with professional graphic artists and enabling students to create for themselves.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, the university is one of the most innovative schools in America and ranks #6 among the best online bachelor’s programs in the nation. Nearly 83% of students receive acceptance into degree programs. The university also supports 4+1 programs that offer master’s degrees just one year after earning a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Niche.com ranks it the #1 best college in Arizona.
2. University of Massachusetts – Lowell
Average Net Price: $19,322
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 56%
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is the second-largest public institution of higher education in the state. It offers over 120 different bachelor’s, 43 master’s, and 25 doctoral programs, and maintains an acceptance rate of 72%.
UML offers several online courses that contribute to a wide variety of degree programs. For example, the certificate program in graphic design and digital imaging prepares students for a variety of design and digitial artistic careers. These virtual courses equip students with skills in multimedia design, web development, desktop publishing, and software design that they will be able to use in future graphic design careers.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, the school ranks #29 among best online bachelor’s programs. Niche.com places it at #2 among the top public universities in Massachusetts.
3. Pittsburg State University
Average Net Price: $14,214
Retention Rate: 74%
Graduation Rate: 54%
Among the largest public institutions in Kansas, the university has a total enrollment of more than 7,400 students. The main campus is located Southeast of Kansas on sprawling 223 acres ground. It’s also the location of the Kansas Technology Center, which is the largest academic building in the state.
According to Peterson’s, the acceptance rate is 90% and the average high school GPA for freshmen is 3.37. The vast majority of students are White or Caucasian comprising 79% of the total student population. While international students only make up 2% of the students, nearly 29% of students are from out of the state.
The PSU is organized into four schools: College of Arts and Science, Kelce College of Business, College of Education, and College of Education. The Linda & Lee Scott performance hall is popular for its state-of-the-art facilities housing 250-seat theater, 2000 sq foot art gallery, reception hall, lobby, and other public spaces of interest.
The institution competes in the NCAA Division II currently fielding 10 sports teams. Its mascot, Gus, is a Gorilla, and the university is known to produce a number of NFL stars.
4. Bellevue University
Average Net Price: $11,938
Retention Rate: 61%
Graduation Rate: 43%
Bellevue University is a non-profit, post-secondary educational institution situated in Bellevue, Nebraska. The school earns accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and supports more than 8,600 students annually. As an educational institution, it is widely renowned for providing affordable education to students from all walks of life. Bellevue ultimately aims to equip its students with the skills necessary to achieve career success.
BU’s online programs allow distance learners and working students to pursue their post-secondary education from the comfort of their own homes. In completing 127 credit hours to obtain their bachelor’s degree in graphic design, students will effectively be able to communicate ideas through visual modes of digital art. This program enables creative individuals to become qualified for careers in marketing, advertising, or even website design.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Bellevue ranks #176 among the best online bachelor’s programs in the nation. Niche.com considers it the #13 best value college in Nebraska. CollegeChoice ranked Bellevue at #3 among top online graphic design programs of 2018, and the school takes the #1 spot in Value Colleges’ top 10 most affordable online bachelor’s programs in graphic design 2019.
5. Lesley University
Average Net Price: $31,401
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 60%
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lesley University is a private institution that enrolls a total of more than 7,500 students. The school is known for its writing, fine arts, graphic design, and expressive therapy programs, and it operates some of the best online graphic design courses in the nation. LU’s undergraduate programs also afford students with leadership opportunities tailormade for both personal and professional growth.
The online bachelor of science in design enables students to have an impact on the world through art. For working students and distance learners, this is a great option. The interdisciplinary program focuses on helping students become masters in the arts of user testing, concept-delivery, and digital interactions, all of which will benefit students in their future careers.
Lesley University earns accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts endorses several of its unique programs. Lesley’s College of Art and Design is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design.
6. California Baptist University
Average Net Price: $31,231
Retention Rate: 77%
Graduation Rate: 63%
California Baptist University is a private liberal arts institution located in Riverside, California, that operates in affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention. The university enrolls over 11,000 students.
The school’s online BA in graphic design and digital media is one of the best in the country. Students who participate in this program gain skills in typography, imaging, web design, scripting, and photography. Students in this field can pursue careers as art directors, graphic designers, desktop publishers, or multimedia artists and animators.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, California Baptist University sits at #52 among best online bachelor’s programs in the nation. Niche.com places it at #76 among best Christian colleges in America, and Value Colleges ranks it among the top 15 on Value Colleges’ list of online graphic design programs.
7. Midway University
Average Net Price: $24,366
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 51%
Midway University was founded in 1847 as a private, Christian, liberal arts institution near small-town Midway, Kentucky. It was the first school in the country to support disadvantaged women, marking it as historically significant. Today, the school enrolls 1,600 students annually and offers accelerated degree options for full-time students, as well as working individuals and distance learners. Ultimately, the university aims to cultivate personal responsibility, individual growth, and academic excellence within its students.
The online graphic design program is a part of the marketing communications degree, which students also have the option of pursuing on-campus if they so choose. The online format offers a fully-comprehensive, interdisciplinary experience. Virtual courses effectively equip students with vital skills in Photoshop, animation, digital storytelling, brand management, and social media management. These skills come in handy for graduates pursuing careers in advertising agencies, design firms, commercial printing firms, marketing departments, or in-house art departments.
Midway earns accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It sits at #73 on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of regional universities south and takes the #3 spot for top performers on social mobility. BestColleges.com ranked it at #4 among the best online bachelors’ in graphic design for 2019.
8. Southern New Hampshire University
Average Net Price: $40,617
Retention Rate: 55%
Graduation Rate: 68%
Since its foundation in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University has grown to become one of the most innovative institutions in the country. As of 2019, the school supported a total enrollment of nearly 3,000 on-campus students and an additional 90,000 online students.
SNHU offers a variety of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but its online art and design programs are some of the best. The virtual track awards bachelor’s degrees in game art & development, digital photography, and graphic design & media arts–with emphases in 3D modeling and animation, as well as web design. Online graphic design students also have the option of earning a bachelor’s of science (BS) in game programming & development.
Currently, Southern New Hampshire ranks among the most innovative universities in the United States, according to the U.S. News and World Report. It takes first place among most innovative schools in the country and sits at #92 in regional universities north. The institution is also credited with the Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology. The New England Commission of Higher Education accredits all courses.
9. Savannah College of Art and Design
Average Net Price: $40,870
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 66%
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private institution that enrolls more than 12,000 students and supports two Georgia locations, along with campuses in both Hong Kong and France. Of nearly 12,000 students, 14% of the study body is from outside the United States, making this school one of rich diversity and artistic, cultural celebration.
SCAD’s online coursework incorporates essential elements of the on-campus learning environment, such as hands-on experience and collaborative projects. The School of Digital Media houses the digital arts programs, enabling online students to earn their bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the comfort of their own homes.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, this school ranks #58 among the best online bachelor’s programs in the country. Niche.com places it at #40 among best colleges for design in America, and #73 for best colleges for art in America.
10. University of Maryland – University College
Average Net Price: $14,861
Retention Rate: 40%
Graduation Rate: 25%
The University of Maryland-University College is also one of the largest institutions in the country that offers online degrees. Satellite campuses throughout the state and across the globe in different cities provide quality education to students in more than 120 various degree programs. It’s known for offering some of the best online bachelor’s in graphic design degree programs in the nation.
The online bachelor’s of graphic communications equips students with skills necessary to future success in the field of graphic design. It is a portfolio-building program through which students can enter a variety of artistic spheres in areas of business, politics, marketing, communications, and many more. The 120-credit program immerses students into a world of composition, color theory, layout, interactive designs, and web pages, as well as collaborative projects by which those elements can combine.
In 2019, the university changed its name to Global Campus during a half-billion-dollar marketing campaign that promoted it as one of the leading online institutions in the world. Today, it ranks #20 among most innovative schools, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Niche.com also ranks the school at #10 on their list of best college locations in Maryland.
11. Upper Iowa University
Average Net Price: $24,710
Retention Rate: 60%
Graduation Rate: 54%
Upper Iowa University has a population of nearly 1,000 on-campus students, along with another 5,000 online learners. The school’s distance education system covers 15 centers across the United States and reaches globally as well. UIU’s unique education pattern comprises two eight-week terms per semester, and distance education is the institution’s strength, but it also offers hybrid options–mixing online and classroom experience–for some degree programs. 75-percent of UIU faculty hold doctorate degrees, making both online and on-site instruction fully-comprehensive and enriching.
The school’s online bachelor of arts degree in graphic design is one of the best virtual options available. The coursework equips students with a variety of skills in the realms of interactive media design, photography, software literacy, and many more. Students who pursue this degree often advance toward careers as art directors, film and video editors, industrial product designers, photographers, marketing managers, web designers, and multimedia artists/animators.
The U.S. News and World Report places the institution at #171 among best online bachelor’s programs in the nation, and it sits at #86 among top performers on social mobility. Niche.com puts it at #348 for most diverse colleges in America.
12. Liberty University
Average Net Price: $27,573
Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 44%
As one of the largest private Christian universities in the nation, Liberty University is the center for Evangelical Christian values on the east coast. As of 2017, almost 15,000 students were studying at the Lynchburg campus, with an additional 90,000 taking the school’s online tracks. Virtual students and distance learners enjoy a selection of 289 different online courses, which all contribute to potential major options and degrees.
The online bachelor’s of fine arts in graphic design is a visual communication program that equips students with skills in design and digital advertising. The program helps them work toward future careers as art directors, copy editors, corporate team builders, publication editors, web developers, or multimedia artists/animators. Students will become literate in art history and development, the principles of mass audience communication, and digital art tools.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Liberty University sits at #223 among the best online bachelor’s programs in the nation. The school also takes second place among best online colleges in America, according to Niche.com, which also ranks it at #46 for best Christian colleges in America.
13. Kentucky Wesleyan College
Average Net Price: $26,160
Retention Rate: 68%
Graduation Rate: 39%
Kentucky Wesleyan College is widely known for its liberal arts study and associated online degree programs. The total enrollment sits at just 785 students, who get the opportunity to select from among 24 different degree programs and 12 pre-professional subjects.
KWU offers one of the best online graphic design degrees in the nation. Students pursuing their bachelor of arts in graphic design can take the required courses entirely online, cultivating skills in visual communication, web design, and digital animation/artistry from the comfort of their own homes. The core art courses concentrate on typography, branding design, publication, web design, animation, and other essential elements within the field.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Kentucky Wesleyan ranks at #80 among best online bachelor’s programs in the nation. It sits at #16 among regional colleges south and takes the #40 spot in top performers on social mobility.
14. Southeastern University
Average Net Price: $23,066
Retention Rate: 69%
Graduation Rate: 44%
Southeastern University is a private, Christian, liberal arts institution located in Lakeland, Florida, that operates in affiliation with the Assemblies of God. It is the largest institution in the country dedicated solely to the ministry. More than 7,700 students are enrolled, and many of them participate in the online curriculum.
The school offers 23 different virtual programs, but one of the most popular is its graphic design track, which enables students to obtain their bachelor’s of science in digital media and design. The courses cultivate skills in photography, mass communication, web page design, advertising design, digital marketing and analytics, and many more.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits Southeastern, qualifying it to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. According to U.S. News and World Report, the school sits at #92 among regional universities south, as well as #43 in top performers on social mobility. Niche.com ranks it at #31 among the most conservative college in America.
15. Hodges University
Average Net Price: $19,746
Retention Rate: 36%
Graduation Rate: 38%
Founded in 1990, Hodges University is a private institution located in Naples, Florida. As of 2019, the university enrolls a total of 1,676 students, supporting a wide variety of degree programs. The school offers 11 associate’s, 16 bachelor’s, and nine master’s degrees through its five schools of study. There are also several certificates and online degree programs offered to employed students and distance learners.
The university is more widely known for its graphic design program. Hodges students pursuing their bachelor’s in digital design and graphics gain skills in digital animation, web design, and computer graphics. Online students gain collaborative experience alongside the curriculum’s hands-on projects using AutoCAD and Adobe Creative Cloud products.
Hodges’ curriculum for its digital design and graphics program earns accreditation from the American Digital Design Association. Hodges placed #6 in Value Colleges’ list of top 10 most affordable online bachelor’s programs in graphic design, as well as on Best Value Schools’ list of best cheap graphic design degrees online.
Sources: US World News for Salary
CollegeTuitionCompare.com for Tuition, Graduation and Retention Rate
Wikipedia and School Website for Info