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Online Certificate in Graphic Design: Program and Course Overviews

Research online graphic design certificate programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Numerous postsecondary schools across the United States offer certificate programs in graphic design, and these include a select few that are offered exclusively online. Some are also offered in blended formats, offering students the option of taking on-campus classes.

As short-term courses of study, these certificate programs may be of interest to students who want to enter the field, as well as to professionals already working in the field looking to update their design skills. Prior to enrollment, students need to install design software on their computers.

Certificate in Graphic Design

Graphic design undergraduate certificate programs can be found at public and private not-for-profit colleges or universities, including those that offer continuing and extended education programs. Admission requirements can vary, and individual schools may require a formal application.

Information and Requirements

Those who want to study graphic design online will need good computer skills and may be required to have proficiency with specific computer operating systems. Through schools' online classrooms, students typically have access to a variety of tools to allow them to study lessons, complete assignments and interact with classmates or teachers. These include videos, instructional graphics and message boards. Online students may also need to purchase design software in order to complete projects on their home computers. Some companies may offer these design programs at a reduced cost for those who verify their status as a college student.

Course Topics

In addition to core studies in graphic design, course topics may include the study of the following:

  • Raster and vector graphics
  • Color theory
  • Digital imaging
  • Production design
  • Typography

Students also receive training in the use of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign software; some programs also allow for electives in package or Web design, desktop publishing, film graphics and multimedia. Individual programs may culminate in the development of a professional portfolio. In addition to the distance learning programs, some schools allow students to complete their certificates through a combination of on-site and online study.


Career Information

Graduates of an associate program may obtain jobs as production assistants; those with a bachelor's degree might qualify for entry-level jobs in design. Qualified graduates of a master's program in graphic design may find employment as production, publication or Web designers.

Continuing Education

Credits earned through an online certificate program in graphic design may be transferable to an associate or a bachelor's program in the same field of study, and some programs are available online. Associate and bachelor's programs are typically found within an arts and sciences division, often in the communications or art departments. Although program requirements vary, students enrolled in a bachelor's program usually develop portfolios and may participate in internships.

At the graduate level, students who pursue a master's program in graphic design have the opportunity to explore complex design concepts, develop their digital graphic design skills and take advanced courses in branding and typography. Additional training in the use of computer design software may also be included.

Online certificate programs in graphic design explore the fundamental technological and art-related concepts in the subject. Depending on students' educational and professional backgrounds, this training can provide a foundation for higher degree programs, or it can serve as preparation for entry-level employment or career advancement within the field.


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