Graphic design has a proud tradition of ushering in new forms of media—from the humble beginnings of serif typefaces and the Guttenberg press to the bold, industrial fonts that ushered in the age of industry; from the simple shop paintings indicating that a business was a butchery, to interactive flash animations of the internet and branded corporate logos, graphic design has forged innovative ways to communicate visual messages.
Type of Work: One might think “graphic designer” is description enough for what graphic designers do. However, graphic designers can be involved in many different, interesting areas of work. For instance, many graphic designers develop images, text styles and fonts, layout for different print and multimedia content, websites, illustrations, game design, as well as many other areas of design and media. Graphic designers may find careers in web design, video design, animation, and other related industries.
Career paths for graphic designers vary depending on what kind of work you want to do. Some designers are employed by large firms, freelance, work for the government, or are self-employed. Regardless of who you might work for, designers collaborate with clients to present clients’ visions, projects, messaging, information, or branding in an effective and appealing way. In short, you will become an expert in expressing visual information and have command over how to best do this.
Additionally, many skills that graphic designers acquire are also useful to learn in other areas of study and work such as publishing, media production, project management, and communications.
Career Outlook Statistics: According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 2012 median pay for graphic designers was $44,150 per year. Furthermore, BLS expects a 7% growth in the field by 2022. BLS also suggests that most graphic designers benefit from a bachelor’s degree, though this is not required if your work is good enough.
Types of Courses: As a graphic design student, you can expect to take courses in drawing, design, color theory, art and graphic design history, as well as advance level courses in graphic design, photography, web design, typography, vector and raster graphics, 3d graphics, production design, and digital layout.
Self Guided Online Graphic Design Courses
Udemy: Do you want to gain skills in graphic design but don’t have the time or money to get a degree or certification? Udemy offers affordable or free comprehensive courses in Adobe Creative Suite, the basics of becoming graphic designer, as well as advanced level courses in design.
At OnlineCoursesReview.org we really love these courses and cannot speak highly enough of them. You will be exposed to exceptional classes that will challenge and equip you with great skills. Additionally, you will often have lifetime access to all the information and videos these courses have to offer. Join thousands of people who are raving about these courses and learn invaluable skills and knowledge in Photoshop, InDesign, other useful design programs! All courses are currently on sale!
The Graphic Design School: Are you looking for an affordable, yet comprehensive foundation in graphic design? The Graphic Design School is an Australian Registered Training Organization that offers phenomenal graphic design instruction programs. The Graphic Design School offers four courses of study: an (Australian) accredited Certificate IV in Design, the 11 Module Intensive Foundation Course, Certificate IV upgrade, and the Foundation Web Design Course.
These rigorous programs will prepare you with the necessary training to enter the world of design equipped with expert skills and professional knowledge. In particular, the certificate program is a 12 module/course program that will teach you basic and intermediate graphic design skills in basics of design, introduction to typography, color, photography, logos, layout, as well as preparing you with a portfolio and how to seek employment. This program is particularly thorough and will test core competencies in order to ensure that you actually learn the pertinent knowledge and skills to be a successful designer. Furthermore, this program will cost you a fraction of an online degree—at $4290 (if paying in full), this program is a viable option for those on a budget.
Additional fees will apply; in particular, access to Adobe Creative Cloud (see Digital Tools). Unfortunately, only Australian students are eligible for student discounts on Creative Cloud. Furthermore, the validity of this certificate may or may not be applicable abroad; though, at the very least, you will still learn invaluable skills and have a fantastic portfolio that will allow you to freelance and become self-employed.
Skillshare: Are you looking for insightful, proven graphic design courses taught by professionals and experts at an affordable price or for free? Skillshare offers a variety of detailed courses that will prepare you with the skills and competencies needed to excel in graphic design. These courses are particularly interesting because they not only provide expert knowledge but also will engage you in the theory and ideas behind the course content.
Skillshare offers many amazing courses and we have gathered some of the top courses taken by thousands of individuals who applaud them. A few examples of courses include: How to Think Like a Designer; Digital Illustration: Communicate with Color, Pattern, and Texture; Design as Idea; and many more excellent courses.
Tuts+: At $19/month, Tuts+ offers designers over 851 hours of tutorials covering everything you might need to know to become an amazing designer. Providing hundreds of step-by-step instructional videos, Tuts+ will ensure that you are learning as you are doing. This hands-on approach will provide you with excellent instruction in courses ranging from Adobe Creative Suite elements, coding and web design, and even video and sound design. If you are interested in taking some highly recommended courses, Tuts+ may be perfect for you!
Accredited Online Graphic Design Degrees & Certificates
SCAD (BFA in Graphic Design): If you are looking to gain invaluable design skills and knowledge, SCAD offers a rigorous graphic design program that will prepare you with the experience and expertise to start your career as a designer.
Tucked away on the eastern seaboard of Savannah, Georgia, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has gained a solid reputation as a great art school. In 2013, SCAD’s online bachelor’s program was ranked #25 by US News & World Report as one of the top online degrees.
As a student enrolled at SCAD you will receive the same excellent instruction, coursework, and support as students in its on-campus program without having to put your personal and professional life on hold. Coursework at SCAD covers foundations of drawing, color theory, and art history, as well as advanced level courses in graphic design, web design, typography, vector and raster graphics, and business practices to prepare you to become a professional graphic designer. Additionally SCAD requires all students to complete a final portfolio in order to prepare you to enter the professional world of graphic design as highly-qualified, skilled designer.
For more information about SCAD’s online graphic design program, as well as information about tuition, financial aid, and admissions please visit their website!
Parson’s School of Design – New School (Online Graphic Design Degree Program (AAS) at Parsons): The Parsons School of Design at The New School is a world-renowned design program located both in the heart of New York City and the chic streets of Paris. Offering the same curriculum as the on-campus Associates of Applied Sciences (AAS) Graphic Design program, Parsons will provide you with a rigorous and rewarding course of study that will prepare you to enter the workforce with a strong command of graphic design skills, as well as the confidence to communicate your client’s vision.
At Parsons, you will take courses in graphic design, typography, digital layout, color theory, interactive/web design, drawing, and critical reading and writing courses, among others. Furthermore, Parson’s faculty is comprised of some of the best instructors in graphic design and have years and years of professional and professional teaching experience. Learning from top professors will be a boon for your education and the skills and knowledge you will learn. Parsons has garnered a reputation for a reason; they have some of the best instructors, students, alumni, courses, and access to resources that will help you become an phenomenal graphic designer. In fact, US News & World Report ranks Parsons School of Design as the #10 program in graphic design.
At Parsons, you will receive an outstanding education, as well as a degree with a reputation that will make employers take note. A degree with Parsons not only provides you with all the benefits, prestige, and resources of an on-campus student, but as an alumni, you will have access to job listings, career services, one-on-one advising, and access to other alumni, which will be an incredible advantage when you begin to look for work. If you want to make a splash in the world of design, Parsons might be right for you.
Full Sail Online (Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree): Hidden away in the swamps of Orlando, Full Sail has become one of the premier campuses for digital and media education. Full Sail offers bachelor’s programs that are designed to prepare you for the intricacies and nuances of working in a media and digital production environment. In particular, Full Sail offers online degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Web Design & Development, as well as Graphic Design. At Full Sail, you will learn how to master design principles, communication theory, and different multimedia platforms.
Full Sail’s curriculum goes beyond the basics of design and prepares you with professional experience you will need to excel. You will learn how to effectively work with clients, understand copyright and intellectual property law, and learn how to communicate your ideas to rock presentations. This program can be a full-time, intensive 20-month commitment, though also allows for a less time-intensive course of study. Regardless of how long it takes you to finish your degree, the program requires you to put together a detailed portfolio, which will prepare you for real world employment.
Full Sail’s graphic design program may not be for everyone—students who seem to excel are prepared for the rigorous course of study and are tremendously focused on becoming a graphic designer. Furthermore, if you ever have to transfer from Full Sail, your credits may not be transferrable; while nationally accredited, Full Sail lacks the regional accreditation many universities require for transferring credits. That being said, Full Sail boasts a high recent graduate employment rate in jobs related to the degree. Additionally, Full Sail offers comprehensive job placement services to all alumni, as well as an extensive and impressive alumni lists in leading businesses and media firms.
Graphic Design MOOCs (Open College Courses) and Free Courses
Alison: Alison.com offers free courses in Adobe Creative Cloud as well as introductory lessons in design and design theory. If you are looking for a quick introduction to graphic design and don’t want to spend any money on courses, Alison.com might be right for you. Alison.com offers courses in short, digestible video lessons that you can view at your own pace. Alison.com has a huge range of courses that cover many different areas of study, so be sure to check out more of the courses if you are looking to expand your skill set!
Creative Live: Creative Live is an amazing resource designed to help you advance your creative skills. Offering amazing, free courses in all sorts of areas, Creative Live has some amazing design courses that will teach you both the basics and advance levels of Adobe programs. These courses are taught live by professional instructors over the span of a few days and will give you the skills to take on all sorts of desktop publishing courses. We love these courses at Online Courses Review and cannot recommend them enough!
MIT OpenCourseWare: Are you interested in taking classes that will challenge you as well as equip you with amazing graphic design skills? MIT OpenCourseWare provides you with free graduate and undergraduate coursework designed to engage you to critically think about the work you are producing, as well as learning great skills to become a professional graphic designer. These courses may be taken at any time and you will have full access to the course materials, though, without the benefit of direct instructor guidance. If you are interested in studying courses such as Media in Transition, Digital Anthropology, Social Visualization, or Introduction to Media Studies, MIT OpenCourseWare will provide you with a way to engage thoughtfully and innovatively with your graphic design work.
Cousera: Coursera is an amazing, free online resource to learn just about anything. Offering hundreds of courses with real instructors from accredited universities, they currently have two amazing design courses that will interest beginners and professionals alike.
Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society, taught by Karl T. Ulrich though University of Pennsylvania, examines design over a wide domain of different specializations including: architecture, graphics, services, apparel, engineered goods, and products. This course will further examine the theory and practice of process, user needs, concept selection, testing, brands, and aesthetics of design. Prior courses have been comprised of about half novices and half professional designers, which enhances peer engagement as some assignments are shared and critiqued by classmates. This is an 8-week course and is offered pretty consistently.
Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps, taught by Marco Gillies, Matthew Yee-King, and Mick Grierson through the University of London, this advanced-level course is for anyone looking to apply technical skills to creative projects with an emphasis in computer programming. This course will teach you to develop and apply programming skills to a variety of creative work including the creation of mobile apps, digital music, video games, art installations, or interactive media. This 6-week course will let you expand your creative output and make you think about the relationship with digital media and art. Prior programming and artistic work is highly recommended.
Graphic Design Resources
Evolutionary Designs: is a new media blog dedicated to bloggers, web developers, small business owners and anyone interested in learning more about new media. Our topics include web design,, graphic design, SEO, social media, photography tutorials, inspirational articles, and Blogging.
InkBot Design: InkBot Design is a phenomenal resource for up-and-coming graphic designers to learn more about the history of graphic design, logo design, brand identity, as well as important ideas one might need to think about when designing. Curated by Stuart Crawford—a freelance graphic designer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland—InkBot features amazing, in-depth portraits of highly-accomplished designers that changed the design world.
Promise Tagemen Creative: Are you looking for sharp, cutting-edge design firm to help intrigue clients and grow your business? Promise Tagemen Creative’s beautiful design and gorgeous layout services will be sure to awe and instill confidence to those visiting your website. In addition to a robust and extraordinary client list, Promise Tagemen Creative also runs an on-site website design workshop, SiteHouse, that will help you learn what separates good design from great design. We highly suggest looking into one of their classes if you are nearby!
Type and Title: Type and Title is a gorgeous website from designer Maggie Waller who specializes in handmade, elegant typography-focused design. Type and Title’s portfolio is impressive and her blog provides thoughtful and intelligent meditations on art and how design interacts with everyday life. This website is not to be missed! Be sure to check out the sassy Valentine’s day cards! Additionally, you ought to stop by Type and Title’s Etsy page for some spectacular and inspired design products.
Believe Creative Studio: Rosie Martinez-Dekker has almost 20 years of major textile and apparel design experience, which means that Believe Creative Studio is a major resource for designers at any point in their career. Specializing in projects aimed toward babies, kids, and teens, Believe Creative Studio creates inspirational and brilliant graphics, patterns, illustrations, and textiles. Believe CS provides great inspiration and heart for all those designers looking to bring joy into their design.