Online graphic design bachelor's degree programs may be found entirely online or as an online-traditional classroom hybrid. Many schools offer distance learning programs at this degree level, but most of the options are private, for-profit institutions. Students often need to purchase graphic arts software programs for hands-on practice.
Individuals can take classes in typography, web design, digital image manipulation and graphic illustration. The program typically allows students to build up a design portfolio that can help them secure a job.
Graphic Arts Bachelor's Degree
An online bachelor's degree program in graphic arts explores the conceptual aspects of visual representation and imparts the practical and technical skills used to express these ideas. Students learn to use digital tools, develop a personal aesthetic and build a portfolio that demonstrates their competence with established graphic design conventions. Applicants must have graduated high school or hold a GED to enroll in a program.
Program Information and Requirements
An online bachelor's degree program in graphic design is typically completed in four years. Online components, including assignments and discussions, are typically transmitted through the school's website. Depending on the program, students may access these materials and participate in online discussions at their convenience.
A multimedia-capable personal computer and Internet access are the basic technical requirements to participate in an online graphic arts bachelor's degree program. Some schools may specify or express a preference for Macintosh computers. These programs also often require students to access or purchase popular graphic and web design software like Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver.
List of Common Graphic Arts Courses
An online graphic arts bachelor's degree program typically includes a general education component and a graphic arts component. The graphic arts component is often further divided into core courses and electives.
Basic Graphic Design
This course introduces beginner-level students to fundamental concepts and techniques used in graphic design. Topics explained in the course include grids, composition, scale, contrast and pattern.
Students in this course learn to use HTML and CSS to create web pages. Design standards, web-optimized images, navigation, web applications and testing are among the topics covered.
Type classification, kerning, fitting, fonts and hand lettering are introduced in this course. Students also explore typographic layout on 2D surfaces, such as posters and book covers.
This course explores the design concepts as they apply to various forms of print media, including brochures, magazines, newsletters and posters. Students learn to consider the target audience and what visual forms will communicate most effectively with them.
Career Information for Graphic Arts Graduates
An online bachelor's degree program in graphic arts qualifies degree holders for entry level and advanced graphic designer positions. Design jobs may be found in the advertising, marketing, broadcasting and printing industries. Graphic designers can also freelance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024, employment of graphic designers will grow 1% (www.bls.gov). Growth is expected to be highest on the web and in other interactive media. According to the BLS, graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $46,900 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Master's degree programs in graphic arts are available online from a small number of schools. Bachelor's degree holders can also consider a lateral move into related online programs in web design, motion graphics and animation.
Online bachelor's degree programs in graphic arts cover fundamental design concepts and introduce students to software programs that can be applied in different contexts, from websites to print media. Graduates may find employment within the marketing departments of businesses in almost any field, or they can work as freelancers.