Many schools offer online degree programs in graphic design that include instruction in computer graphics. These programs are most commonly offered at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Students can go online at a time of their own choosing to access archived lectures and course materials. Some programs are entirely online, while many others are in a hybrid format, with on-campus requirements as well as distance-learning offerings.
Courses in computer graphics are, by nature, technical, so students will probably need special software such as Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Illustrator, in addition to a high-speed Internet connection. They'll need an up-to-date computer, plus additional hardware such as a scanner, digital camera and a printer.
Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs call for general education courses such as English composition, social studies and science. In a graphic design degree program, students will learn about the principles of design, animation and web design. They also may study the fundamentals of marketing and advertising.
Computer Graphics Associate's Degree
Computer graphics is often a course taken in association with a graphic design degree program. Some programs provide a general overview of graphic arts while others focus on developing images for websites. Because this field is often related to marketing and advertising, all students learn to design a concept via computer software that can effectively be received by a specific audience. They also learn the basic functions and applications of related hardware, such as digital cameras and scanners. Associate-level graphic design courses are readily available online.
Program Information and Requirements
Associate's degree programs can be anywhere from 60 to 110 credit-hours in length. Because online coursework offers flexible pacing, students can graduate in five semesters, but typically take two years. Some schools offer a hybrid format with campus-based components, but students can still decide when to attend on-campus courses. Online, students are able to communicate via email with professors and peers.
Technical requirements may vary based on whether the student uses a PC or Mac. Typically, aspiring graphic designers need to have Microsoft Office, Adobe Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Flash Professional. Additionally, they must have continued, reliable, high-speed access to the Internet.
In the distance-learning format, study materials are all provided online, and students often have access to virtual tutorials and other resources. In addition to computer graphic design courses, students must complete required general education courses to graduate.
Animation on the Web
This course discusses the parameters one must work within when designing animation to be used on a website. Students learn about formatting, optimizing file sizes, automating animation and other design principles.
Fundamentals of Graphic Design
Students learn about the programs that are used when designing graphics. This course provides training in basic print production, typography, layout principles and vector graphic design.
Advanced Web Design
In this course, students build upon prior training as they learn about web design and web coding. Peers compare work and analyze how websites are put together by studying examples that already exist.
Computer Graphics Bachelor's Degree
A graphic design bachelor's degree program instructs students on computer graphic standards and the basics of working in the field, either through an advertising agency or as a freelancer. Enrollees work with computers, fixing digital images and designing material for use on websites, ads and instructional materials. In addition to learning about computer graphics in terms of composition, design, typography and color, participants also learn about production and electronic imaging.
Program Information and Requirements
Online graphic design bachelor's degree programs are generally between 120 and 180 credit-hours in length. Most programs incorporate general education into the curriculum and can be completed in four years. However, some programs are specifically designed for those who already hold an associate's degree in graphic design or a related field. This type of accelerated degree program is generally two years in length and does not require students to enroll in any general education courses.
Applicants are expected to own a computer that has a reliable connection to the Internet. Some programs require the student to have access to a scanner and printer, along with other hardware. Software requirements typically include Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop.
Most programs combine core graphic design courses with elective and general education classes. Web design degree programs may not cover graphic design fundamentals due to prerequisite requirements already covering the subject.
This course provides an overview of the different types of visual arts that have influenced the graphic design field. Students also learn about modern trends in the industry and how they relate to what has happened in the past. The course outlines the social and economic impact graphic design has had on industries such as marketing.
This course employs the use of computers in the preparation of digital media for physical production. Students learn the specifics of color, image reproduction and typesetting. Upon completion of digital production, enrollees learn how to physically assemble pages by binding and trapping paperwork.
Design for Communication
Visual stimulus plays an important role in a corporate setting. Students analyze how typography and other graphic engagement techniques are employed to effectively communicate the messages to employees and customers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most entry-level graphic design careers require candidates to hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree. With an associate's degree, students can usually find work as a graphic designer's assistant. The same source states that those who specialize in web-based and animated graphic design have a better chance of finding entry-level employment due to high demand in the field. Job prospects are reportedly good for those who have studied advertising and marketing (www.bls.gov).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of graphic designers is expected to grow by 1% nationwide between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also states that the average annual wage for a graphic designer was $51,640 as of May 2015. Job prospects are expected to be better for those who focus their education and training on computer and technology-based design degree programs.
Continuing Education Information
There are very few computer graphics degree programs available online at the graduate degree level. Options include a Master of Fine Arts in Computer Art or Graphic Design. Prospective graduate students can more easily find these advanced programs on the physical campuses of colleges and universities, although some classes may be completed on the Web.
Students can complete associate's and bachelor's degrees online in graphic design, though they should keep in mind that some bachelor's programs may require students to already have an associate's degree. These programs will prepare students for a variety of entry-level design jobs.