Online Web Design Graduate Degrees: Program Options

Essential Information

Graduate degree programs in web design, or web development, are commonly offered online, primarily at the master's degree level. Students can usually complete the entire program via distance learning. Prospective students need to have a strong background in computer programming and website development, in addition to a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.

Students gain mastery of various types of software, such as Adobe Illustrator and Dreamweaver, as well as database management systems such as MySQL. The school may allow students to access free software labs or sell them software, like Adobe Reader or Flash Player, at a reduced rate. Programs vary, and classes may be live, or students may have the option of viewing them as their schedules permit.

These programs prepare students for professional certification. Software companies such as Microsoft and Adobe offer many certifications that allow students to show proficiency in using their products.

Web Design Graduate Degrees

Graduate-level web design programs go beyond basic HTML programming and focus on the elements needed to create interactive and e-business applications. Students obtain an in-depth knowledge of web databases, scripting and programming languages, such as .NET. Some schools offer students the option to specialize in multimedia design, through which they can gain advanced skills with programs like Adobe Flash.

Program Options and Requirements

Completion of a degree takes approximately two years. Individuals enrolled in an online program are responsible for their own computer equipment and software. To help students save money, many colleges will sell software programs at student discounts. Others will provide remote access into virtual labs, giving students the opportunity to use software for free. Additionally, students need to check with their instructors to determine what audio and video plug-ins they need to download, such as Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player.

Common Organizational Leadership Classes

Coursework in a web design program covers both the technical and artistic components needed to create visually appealing and functional websites.

Database Design and Programming

Students gain advanced knowledge on the design and development of databases. Coursework focuses on data normalization, database integrity and information security.

IT Technologies and Trends

This web design class covers the core software and hardware technologies used in the information technology (IT) industry. Students review networking systems, databases, user interfaces and technical security requirements.

Web Graphics Production

Color and image correction, painting tools and production techniques are the focus of this web design course. This type of course covers the skills web designers and developers need to create, fix and integrate images on a website.

Website Design and Management

Students learn how to plan and develop sophisticated websites. Topics include site navigation and webpage optimization.

Career Information for Graduates

Careers in the IT field are growing faster than average, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Although many careers in this area only require bachelor's degrees, those who've earned master's degrees can increase their employability for such positions as web architect and webmaster.

Continuing Education Information

Ph.D. degrees in web design are not common. However, individuals who are interested in achieving education beyond their master's degree can look into doctoral degrees in computer science and management information systems. These degree programs prepare IT professionals for advanced job roles in business and education. Additionally, web designers can enroll in various continuing education programs or earn an industry certification, such as the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD).

Online master's programs in web design are widely available and focus on topics like database design, web graphics production and website management. After completing one of these programs, graduates should be well prepared to gain certification through various software providers, such as Microsoft and Adobe.

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