The 10 Best Online Graphic Design Schools

If you ask most people, they’ll likely say that art doesn’t play a big part in their lives.

But those people probably aren’t thinking about the advertisements they pass on their daily commute to work. They aren’t thinking about the websites they visit. They aren’t thinking about the magazine articles they read.

Simply put, they aren’t thinking about all of the art that they consume every single day. And all of that art comes from graphic designers.

Graphic designers are more than just artists. They are storytellers and marketers, they are communicators who help connect companies with their customers. And that is an art itself.

To hone that art, graphic designers need a degree. None of the graphic design schools on this list can provide students with raw passion or pure talent, but they can teach them the tools designers use to make their art come to life. 

They can teach designers the principles of critical thinking and communication, so they can understand their client’s needs.

Every school on this list provides those qualities. Even better, they do it online, making first-class designers from all over the world.

With a degree from these schools, you’ll be able to enjoy a profitable and satisfying career and fill the world with more art. Even if your audience doesn’t always realize that. Here are 10 of the best online graphic design schools in the US.

University of Maryland Global Campus (Bellevue, NE)

The graphic communication degree at Global Campus from the University of Maryland prides itself on helping students prepare for the high-tech and fast-paced world of advertising.

By taking advantage of the unique opportunities offered by an online degree, UMGC teaches its students to see the internet as a way of connecting with clients from all over the world. 

Working with industry professionals and scholars, the degree program puts together theories and practical skills.

Courses offered through UMGC include Design I, which emphasizes arrangement and color. Throughout the course, students use a variety of techniques to create striking images, displayed in a capstone project.

All of these courses lead to the creation of an online portfolio, certain to demonstrate graduates’ abilities to help clients bring their ideas to life.

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

Arizona State University
Beyond My Ken, 2021 Arizona State University, Tempe Campus, Old Main, CC BY-SA 4.0

With all the resources afforded by a respected state school, Arizona State University provides an excellent education to students anywhere in the world.

That’s particularly true for those who want to go into graphic design. Where most schools offer only one class that involves graphic design basics, ASU has several, ensuring that students will find a track that best fits their interests.

The base online graphic design degree draws from the expertise of artists and designers with experience in the field. Classes range from classical art subjects, including life drawing and color theory, to modern tech classes in programs such as InDesign and Photoshop.

The online graphic information technology degree emphasizes the scientific elements of the field. In addition to studying the fundamentals of design and color, students focus on the usual experience in technologies.

Bellevue University (Bellevue, NE)

Bellevue University
Jared Winkler, Bellevue University 4, CC BY 4.0

Bellevue University’s online programs believe earning a living is a central part of an artist’s life. That’s why they prepare their students to enter the graphic design field without ever asking them to sacrifice their abilities and principles as an artist.

Students take courses in art theory and design, as well as those in business and technology. As they pursue their degrees, students not only build a portfolio to show future employers but also take general education classes to ensure that they enter the workforce as well-rounded individuals.

So seriously does Bellevue take the financial success of its students that it strives to offer an affordable program. Not only do online courses run only a very reasonable $430 per credit hour, but students with a military background enjoy further discounts.

Penn State World Campus (University Park, PA)

One of the best schools in the Big Ten conference, Penn State needs no introduction. With its World Campus, Penn State brings its excellent offerings to students throughout the globe.

The PSWC’s incomparable programs include the digital multimedia design degree, designed to prepare leaders in creative industries. 

The degree is designed to give students the edge as they prepare to enter a complex and ever-changing world. Students become not only excellent artists but also lifelong learners, ready to take on new challenges.

Faculty members include Stephen St. Amant, whose marketing and design work involves statues that integrate everyday designs. St. Amant earned his BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art and brings that knowledge to PSWC students.

In addition to her excellent design skills, assistant teaching professor Anna Divinsky has been recognized as a great instructor by the Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design. Divinsky’s work brings studio techniques to innovative design.

Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (Lakewood, CO)

A first-class student-focused school, the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design not only provides its students with technical skills but also stays by them as they make their way through the job market.

RMCAD continues that commitment even in its online program, with 12 separate programs for students anywhere in the world. While earning a BFA in graphic design at RMCAD, students take courses in fine arts, including art history and design foundations.

But as a forward-thinking program, RMCAD trains students in the latest technologies, including UI/UX and typography. Even better, graphic design students also take liberal arts courses that prepare them for working with clients and operating a small business.

To make their training real, the school regularly hosts events for its students, helping them form a community with one another.

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

One of the greatest benefits of an online degree is not only the ability to take courses from anywhere on earth but also to interact with classmates across the globe. At the University of Florida, online offerings help the school achieve its goal to build a diverse student body.

For that reason, U Florida puts real resources into its online school, ensuring that they have well-trained administrative support and a faculty comfortable with online teaching.

Those aspects make the digital arts and sciences degree particularly compelling. 

The program has been specially designed to train students to meet the needs of an increasingly digital world. With a project-based curriculum, students gain hands-on experience creating projects with real-world significance.

California Baptist University (Riverside, CA)

Whether you’re a graphic design professional with years of experience in the field, a freshman starting your path, or a working adult looking to start a career, California Baptist University’s online degree in graphic design and digital media has everything you need.

With a focus on professionalization, CBU ensures that students learn the same programs they’ll work with later in their careers, including the Dreamweaver and the Adobe Creative Suite. 

To aid students’ growth with these programs, CBU employs a faculty of professional artists and designers, with real experience in the industry.

But despite its eye toward the latest in technology, the degree remains grounded in classical art essentials. Students take courses in drawing and painting, honing the skills that will make them first-class designers.

With this combination of time-honored skills and future-facing teaching, CBU ensures that anyone can become a graphic designer, no matter where they might be located.

Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, GA)

Savannah College of Art and Design
Jud McCranie, Slotin Building, Savannah, GA, US, CC BY-SA 4.0

Considered by most to be America’s best art school, the Savannah College of Art & Design also features one of the greatest online programs.

Part of that success comes from the fact that SCAD employs faculty who are not just excellent artists, but also top-level online teachers. 

The online faculty at SCAD features dedicated professionals ready to meet the unique challenge of teaching art online.

With a focus on brand identity, the online graphic design degree at SCAD trains students to be first-class artists and storytellers. Students learn art fundamentals and the concepts of storytelling, so they can help companies express themselves to the world.

With such unparalleled talent as faculty and students, it’s no wonder that SCAD graduates go onto graphic design careers for companies such as Google, Hasbro, and more.

Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

Academy of Art University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1929, the Academy of Art University at San Francisco has trained some of the finest artists of all time, legends who go on to define their respective fields. Despite this proud history, the AAU remains committed to the future.

You don’t need to go to San Francisco to study graphic design at the AAU, because the degree program offers all of the same resources to its online and in-person students. 

Students from all over the world learn from the same instructors and make the same connections.

That faculty includes Phil Hamlett, whose work has not only increased engagement for his clients but also won awards. He has served as president of the San Francisco chapter of the AIGA and is the advisor for the San Francisco Design Week.

Online director William Culpepper has created works that continue drawing the design community’s attention. His projects have been featured in key industry publications, including Communication Arts and Design Observer.

Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)

To the layperson, Lynchburg’s Liberty University may not seem like the home of a great online graphic design program. But one look at the program’s offerings proves otherwise.

Liberty University online is a great choice for those looking for an excellent program from a faith-based perspective, all at an affordable cost. 

The graphic design program consists of eight-week courses offered entirely online.

In the program, students learn about how art influences thought and the visual design principles needed to ensure that brands can share their message. 

On average, students complete the program in 3.5 years, ready to begin their careers.