Associates Degree Programs in Graphic Design

Graphic design associate degree programs train students for careers in this field through coursework emphasizing the use of industry standard software to design a variety of media.

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Essential Information

Graphic designers create images for commercial use in products ranging from brochures to billboards. Associate degree programs in graphic design include instruction on industry-specific software and incorporate hands-on desktop practice to prepare students for entry-level careers in the publishing and advertising industries. Many programs require students to complete graphic design internships for course credit or allow students to design projects that can be incorporated into professional portfolios.

Prospective students should submit completed applications and transcripts from high school, GED programs and any previously attended postsecondary institutions. Some programs require students to complete prerequisites, such as basic design, computer and writing classes, prior to beginning the core curriculum.

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Associate Degree in Graphic Design

In an associate degree program, students learn about the fundamentals of color theory, 2D and 3D designs and how to combine text and images to create graphics that are visually appealing and easily understandable. Typical coursework includes:

  • Desktop publishing
  • Image manipulation
  • Typography
  • Drawing
  • Web design
  • Photography

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS,, employment opportunities for graphic designers overall should increase 1% between 2014 and 2024. Those with animation, print and web design expertise will have a competitive advantage over graphic designers who specialize in only one type of media. The BLS reported in May 2015 that graphic designers made a median annual wage of $46,900.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of associate degree programs in graphic design who wish to increase their marketability for jobs can pursue bachelor's degrees in graphic design or a related field. Graphic designers can take advantage of continuing education courses at local colleges in order to keep their skills up-to-date or learn new design software. Professional organizations, such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, offer professional development and continuing education resources.

Students in an associate degree program in graphic design learn how to integrate basic design principles with the latest publishing and advertising technology. Many programs offer internship opportunities and require students to create design portfolios that can be useful when applying for prospective jobs.

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