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Graphic Art Degree and Training Program Information

Degrees in graphic arts are commonly offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels, with all programs examining design theory and trends, as well as providing opportunities for creative study. Learn about the programs and design careers.

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Essential Information

An associate's in graphic art program provides students with the necessary education to apply for entry-level jobs. Many graduates of two-year associate's programs go on to pursue four-year bachelor's degrees. Bachelor's degree programs offer more advanced studies, and students often learn through internships.

For admission into an associate's or bachelor's program, students need a high school diploma or equivalent. To enter a bachelor's program, students need SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation from previous instructors and a portfolio. Bachelor's degree programs also offer internships, allowing students to gain experience in the field of graphic design.

A master's degree program focuses on research, examining the history of graphic art, and projecting future trends. Most schools require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in art or graphic design. A school may also require students to submit letters of recommendation, a portfolio with examples of their work, and an essay stating why they want to study graphic design at the graduate level. A thesis is generally a graduation requirement, and most master's programs take two years to complete.


Associate's Degree in Graphic Design

Associate's degree programs introduce students to the fundamentals of graphic art. Students learn the basic principles and theories of graphic design as well as hone their skills in using computer illustration software. Students learn about illustration and print production as well as Web design and page layout related to graphic art. They're taught the basic principles of designing a company or product logo. Students also get a chance to build their portfolios. Graduates of an associate's degree in graphic design usually go on to continue their education at the bachelor's level. Course subjects may include:

  • Logo design
  • Graphic design
  • Advertising design
  • Marketing
  • Web design

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Undergraduate degree programs in graphic design introduce students to the fundamentals of graphic arts and allow them to develop their drawing, artistic, technical and conceptual thinking skills. They are instructed about the various computer programs popular within the discipline. In addition, degree programs offer students workshops to develop their portfolios. Undergraduates take courses in illustration and design. Students learn visual communication theory and concepts in order to develop artwork that can be used for branding and promotion. Other coursework may include:

  • History of graphic design
  • Art history
  • Web design
  • Figure drawing
  • Animation

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

Master's Degree in Graphic Art

Master's degree programs in graphic art delve deeper into the history and theory of graphic design to identity issues that may influence the discipline in the future. Those who pursue a graduate degree in graphic design are often interested in becoming design researchers or instructors or professional designers. Students are taught how to analyze visual concepts and apply them to design. Students also learn how to solve problems relating to design and communication. Other coursework may include:

  • Design theory
  • Design history
  • Design research

Popular Career Options

Many students pursuing an associate's degree in graphic design go on to continue their undergraduate education. Most positions available for graduates with an associate's degree are usually assistant positions. Graduates may find work in advertising or design firms or may work as freelancers. Career titles:

  • Assistant illustrator or photographer
  • Publishing or advertising assistant
  • Illustrator
  • Logo designer
  • Web designer
  • Photo editor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in the field of graphic design were expected to see little to no change for the decade 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Graduates who find jobs in media like websites and print publications were expected to have the best opportunities. The BLS reported that the annual median salary for graphic designers as of May 2015 was $46,900.

Students in the associate's program for graphic art learn the fundamentals and strengthen their skills in computer illustration software. Bachelor's and master's students develop their artistic skills to prepare for a future career in graphic design as possibly an illustrator, web designer, or photo editor.

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