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Online Computer Graphics & Commercial Design Schools

Several schools offer programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree level that can prepare students for a career in commercial design and computer graphics. Online programs in graphic design are offered at art schools as well as some public colleges and universities.

Students who are considering a career in computer graphics or commercial design have several options if they wish to pursue a degree online. Before deciding on a program, it may be helpful to evaluate the program's delivery method, whether it's available entirely online and what degree level you will achieve upon completion.

How to Select an Online Computer Graphics and Commercial Design School

Professionals in the field of computer graphics use advanced animation and graphic design programs to design websites, print ads, product packaging and more for employers and clients. Students in these programs can develop a strong understanding of basic art and design concepts as well the use of design software while building a portfolio of personal work. Students should then consider the award level with the program delivery.

Award Level

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that most graphic designers need a bachelor's degree, but those with an associate's degree can qualify for assistant positions. A master's degree program offers students additional study of design theory and project management.

Program Delivery

Online computer graphics and commercial design programs generally don't require students to attend classes on-campus. In an online immersion program, students interact using Web-based materials and platforms that include live streaming, virtual classrooms, a content system such as Blackboard and pre-recorded lectures. Students can post their assignments, graphics and links to personal Web portfolios directly into the class discussion forum.

List of Popular Online Computer Graphics and Commercial Design Programs

Online Associate of Arts in Graphic Design

An associate's degree program in graphic design typically takes two years to complete. In addition to core liberal arts courses such as English, social science and mathematics, students take classes exploring the fundamental concepts of art and visual design. The focus of the program is to give students a chance to learn basic principles of art and help them gain a familiarity with the editing and designing software used by professionals in the field. During Web conferences, instructors not only critique student assignments but also provide hints on art direction and technical execution. Depending on the area of interest, courses in graphic design include:

  • Color theory
  • Typography
  • Internet multimedia
  • Streaming technology

Online Bachelor of Science Graphic Design

Students enrolled in this program begin by taking general education and core art courses. A Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program covers the basics of any fine art degree such as principles of composition, color theory and typography, but it also gives students more guided studio time to master some of the top graphic design software and tools. Students end the final year of the program by compiling a senior portfolio. The program usually includes courses in graphic illustration, multimedia, packaging or print design. A significant amount of class time is devoted to improving the student's individual technique through close student/teacher communication. Core art courses include:

  • Psychology of play
  • Media industry technology
  • Art history
  • Brand experience creation

Online Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The online master's degree program in graphic design offers students the opportunity to review and expand on principles and techniques learned in undergraduate art study by working on creative projects in an academic environment. Classes for a Master of Fine Arts degree focus on individual creative development and professional studio practice. Over the 2-year course of study, students have a chance to develop strong individual portfolios and experiment with new techniques. Students can also take courses in project management and idea generation to prepare them for leading professional art projects. Advanced courses are offered in:

  • Typographic communication
  • Integrated design media
  • Media practice and strategy
  • Aesthetics and perception
  • Complex data set transformation

Schools with Online Computer Graphics & Commercial Design Schools

Penn Foster offers an online associate degree in graphic design that students could complete in four semesters. This programs offers an introduction into graphic design, editing and production by familiarizing students with Adobe design software.

Full Sail University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design which can be completed in 32 months. Many of the courses are designed to help students build their portfolio so they have many examples of their design capabilities to show to prospective employers upon graduation.

The Savannah College of Art and Design offers a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Experience, which requires students to complete 90 credit hours. An internship is required. For students looking for a less lengthy program, SCAD also offers a Master of Arts program in the same field that only requires students to complete 45 credit hours. Students can complete courses at campuses in Savannah, Hong Kong, or Atlanta, or opt to complete the entire program online.

Individuals aiming to earn an online degree in computer graphics have a number of options. They should consider the program level desired, how rigorous they want their program to be, as well as whether it is offered entirely online, before selecting a school

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