Online Computer Design Certificates and Certifications

Learn about online certificate programs with computer design courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online certificate programs in computer design include programs that teach students how to create art on the computer. Other certificate programs provide instruction in the creation of computer games. The lengths of these programs vary, but are less than one year. All can be completed entirely online, although there are some hybrid programs available. These certificate programs might be included in an associate's or bachelor's degree program.

In a computer graphic design program, students learn to design for print media and Websites. Courses cover software such as Flash and Photoshop as well as the HTML programming language needed for Web page design. In certificate programs for game design, students learn about artificial intelligence, vector and matrix math and the programming languages needed to create games. Prior to enrollment in either of these programs, students may need to get access to the specific software that they cover.

Professional certifications aren't required for most jobs in the industry, but they may help in finding a job or getting a higher salary. Many software companies, such as Microsoft, offer certifications in their products. These certifications usually require passing a test to demonstrate proficiency.

Certificates for Computer Graphic Design

In a curriculum about computer design for Web applications or print media, coursework generally includes learning specific art and photo-related computer programs. Students learn to draw, paint, illustrate and animate using a computer.

Many certificates include classes in how to design, establish and maintain a Web presence. Certificate programs in Web design do not generally require any prerequisite classes other than basic computer skills. Some certificates include classes in doing business online.

Program Information and Requirements

Online classes in Web design can be part of a degree program or part of the continuing education department. An introductory class might last 4-6 weeks, but a more complete class could last 10-15 weeks. Many courses can be taken simultaneously. Without an industry standard, schools vary widely in time frames for completion of full certificates. Some schools offer a certificate for each individual class; others offer a certificate for completing a group of related classes. Most career-specific certificates take at least a year.

Certificate programs in Web design and their component classes may be offered entirely online or with a hybrid mix of online and in-person work. Many programs are asynchronous, meaning that students can take classes at any time. Some are specifically instructor-led and require the student to log in at a specific time. If the class is on a specific software program like Adobe Photoshop, students need to have the software program installed on their home computers.

Course Topics

For someone who is interested in Web graphics, classes in specific software design programs can be offered at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. Classes in animation software and basic programming are also usually included. Most schools offer singular certificates in each program or one certificate for a related set of classes.


Most Web design certificate programs include several levels of Adobe Photoshop classes. Students learn how to manipulate images and prepare them for online media.


Students who want to learn how to use animations online might take a course in Adobe Flash. Flash classes teach people to prepare moving figures for online use.


HTML is the basic programming language for simple Web applications. Students learn this code so they can compose basic websites and manipulate material already posted online.


Adobe Dreamweaver is a program designed to put content online. Students learn how to develop, produce and maintain a website using this program.

Certificates for Computer Game Design

For students interested in a career designing video games, classes can include art design subjects and programming concepts. Some schools also offer associate's and bachelor's degrees in computer gaming. These programs usually require math and science preparatory classes before students take game design classes. Many different computer programming languages are used to produce video games.

Program Information and Requirements

Game design certificates may offer tracks for design or programming for computer games. Most online programs release one lesson per week. Depending on the topic, they can last from four weeks to a full semester. Completely online programs are available. Programming classes are chosen depending on the language the programmer wishes to use to create a computer game.

Most classes can offer flexible scheduling, but some collegiate programs require online 'attendance' at specific times. A game design certificate requires fast computer hardware. Gaming programs require significant processor speed and memory. Students typically need software development tools for DirectX and C++.

Course Topics

Video game design and development requires programming and math courses. Classes present algorithms for artificial intelligence, extensive programming languages, 3D graphics skills and the architecture of game engines. People interested in designing background art for video games would learn 3D modeling, lighting and animation. Specific math classes could be prerequisites or a part of the certificate curriculum.

C++ Programming

Game design requires a specific programming skill and several different programming languages might be used, but C++ is one of the most common. C++ is an object-oriented programming language that makes it easier to program for the video game industry. A C++ course teaches the proper syntax for coding in this language.

Artificial Intelligence

Designing a successful video game often requires the use of artificial intelligence so that the game gives players an interactive experience. A class in artificial intelligence would present ideas like decision-making and grid or search algorithms.

Mathematics for Game Developers

Students learn to use vector and matrix math, polynomials and analytic geometry to use in game design. The use of 3D mathematical modeling can also be included.

Career Information

Graduates of online certificate programs in Web design can work independently to provide websites for small businesses or work in industry to maintain and develop a corporation's Web presence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most graphic designers need a bachelor's degree, and there were 204,850 of these professionals working in 2015. The median annual wage for web developers was $64,970 during this year. Computer designers find work in small and large companies producing and maintaining websites.

Some companies require a bachelor's degree for employees in entry-level positions. A game designer might specialize in creating a story for a game, writing documentation, game programming or developing attributes for characters. Video game designers in the U.S. earned a median annual wage of $58,894 as of October 2016, according to

Continuing Education Information

Web technologies are changing rapidly and people interested in a career in Web design might need to learn newer software programs or techniques. They can take a new course in a more current version of the software. Most schools regularly update their course offerings with newer versions of software.

Web designers can acquire certification in a specific software program. For example, Adobe offers certification in Photoshop, Flash or Dreamweaver. In order to receive the certification, designers pass an exam on the product.

Computer programming for the Web is a fast-changing industry that requires updating computer programming languages regularly. Students can get certifications in many programming languages by passing a certification exam. For example, Oracle offers certification for Java. Microsoft offers a variety of certifications, such as the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer credential that concerns .Net technologies.

Many non-college companies offer classes and exam opportunities online. Some colleges offer certificates of accomplishment in a specific computer programming language like C++. Opportunities are also available online for game design courses within a bachelor's degree in information technology.

To summarize, online computer design certificate programs teach students how to use the software involved in graphic design and game design. After completing one of these programs, students can earn professional certification from a third party by passing an exam.

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