Graphic Design Graduate Programs with Career Information

Essential Information

While a master's degree in graphic design has traditionally been considered the field's terminal degree, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs have been introduced for students seeking further study. Students at the graduate level often have the freedom to customize their own programs of study through studio design courses, research opportunities and work experiences. In many cases, students entering these graduate programs already earned an undergraduate degree in graphic design and have a portfolio of work. Students in graphic design master's degree programs split their time between classroom study, studio work and internships. Those enrolled in a doctoral program must complete a dissertation prior to graduation.

Master's Degree in Graphic Design

Master's degree programs are the most common graduate-level programs in the field of graphic design. Classes focus on both practical and theoretical elements of graphic design.

  • Modern graphic design
  • Typography
  • Graphic design history

Ph.D. in Graphic Design

Ph.D. programs in graphic design, though rare, offer students the opportunity to complete advanced study and research in the field. These programs are often interdisciplinary, drawing on related fields like architecture, studio art and Web design. Some students use their time in a graphic design Ph.D. program to advance their existing design careers. Coursework, where required, most often includes study of design concepts not studied while pursuing a master's degree. Students will complete courses that focus on topics like:

  • Graphic design teaching practicum
  • Sustainable design
  • Conceptual design and model construction
  • Advanced graphic design research

Popular Career Options

Graphic designers often work in fields such as journalism and publishing, shaping the design and appearance of magazines, newspapers and websites. Career options for graduates include:

  • Technical illustrator
  • Multimedia design and production
  • Web design artist and programmer
  • Print media layout artist
  • Photoshop artist

With a Ph.D. in graphic design, students can pursue leadership positions in a variety of fields, while many who pursue a doctoral graduate degree are interested in education.

  • Landscape architect
  • Industrial designer
  • Sustainable design consultant
  • Professor of graphic design or a related field

Graphic designers, especially at the graduate level, find gainful employment in a range of industries. For those looking to grow as artists or to pursue more advanced opportunities, earning a Ph.D. in graphic design may be beneficial.

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