The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
-Leonardo da Vinci
Many graphic designers, whether self-taught or college-educated, choose to continue their educations after spending time in creative careers. City-based graphic designers often have easy access to colleges and consequently sign up for on-campus classes. But what if you live out in the country or up in the mountains?
For many years, students who lived far away from their preferred colleges chose to complete degrees by mail correspondence. Nowadays, online graphic design programs give pupils in remote locations the chance to pursue a bona fide higher education via the internet. Here are X of the best design degrees you can complete without setting foot in a classroom—all of them hosted by colleges with an above-average graduation rate.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design is America’s self-ordained “University for Creative Careers.” This university has two physical campuses in the state of Georgia: one in Savannah and the other in Atlanta. It also operates two schools abroad, one in Hong Kong and the other in France, offering American students the chance to study overseas and the opportunity to mingle with creatives from other countries.
Savannah College’s online Bachelor of Arts in graphic design program is a contemporary, forward-thinking array of courses based on several areas of study. Students learn about the fundamentals of art, liberal arts, and their chosen major. You’ll also learn about best business practices, production design and how to craft a stellar portfolio. With a 66.7 percent graduation rate, SCAD certainly knows how to keep its students interested, both online and in person.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University’s online graphic design program works as well for seasoned professionals as it does for recent high school grads. If you already have credits from a previous learning attempt, you can transfer them to gain a foothold at SNHU—up to 90 out of 120 total credits, in fact, which is far more than many other less flexible colleges allow. Encouragingly, SNHU has a 59 percent graduation rate, which is just slightly above the national average
Students at SNHU gain access to a host of resources, including student pricing on Autodesk’s Maya and Mudbox programs and Adobe’s suite of products. As well as the basics, you’ll learn about 3D modeling, typography, animation and more. Apply at the Southern New Hampshire University Online Programs department to get started and lose yourself in the luxury of learning for the next 3.5 years.
Originally established as a residential college, Salt Lake City-based Independence University now caters exclusively to distance learners—including its many graphic design students. IU uses the Blackboard learning management system to put its remote students in touch with peers and instructors. Well-designed and comprehensive, IU’s online bachelor’s degree in graphic design wraps classes on Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator in with real-world courses on internet commerce, business management and bookkeeping. Consequently, graduates emerge genuinely ready for success.
If you choose to pursue a degree with Independence University, you’ll study full time for about 36 months and emerge with 99.5 credits under your belt. A full 63 percent of all students who enroll in IU graduate successfully, highlighting the school’s supportive and professional status. To get going, apply to IU’s Online School of Graphic Arts department. Courses start monthly, so you can begin learning almost immediately.
Full Sail University
Initially created to train students in the art of filmmaking and music production, Full Sail University has come a long way since its inception in Ohio in 1979. Now located in Florida, Full Sail provides online degrees in a number of subjects, including various creative pursuits. Unlike some other colleges, FSU offers a Bachelor of Science in graphic design, rather than a BA. Students get to play with professional-level tools and software programs, so they’re ready to compete for sought-after jobs immediately upon graduation.
Because it’s a BSc rather than a BA, course requirements for the graphic design degree at FSU are a little different than they are at other schools. Among other things, you’ll learn about advanced mathematics, corporate branding, digital literacy and digital audio design. Full Sail University has an impressive graduation rate—66.8 percent—which indicates a high student satisfaction rate. In other words, you’ll probably really enjoy FSU.
California Baptist University
In operation since 1950, California Baptist University is a small-but-mighty educational powerhouse in Riverside County, California. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, CBU offers a 48-credit bachelor’s degree in graphic design which takes as little as 16 months to complete, making it an ideal choice for busy professionals. Students gain access to Dreamweaver, Muse, Photoshop and other Adobe programs as they study.
There is a slight catch, though it’s not necessarily a negative: because CBU is a Christian university, attendees are required to take a couple of religious courses along with their regular classes. If you decide to further your education with California Baptist University, you’ll be assigned an academic advisor, who’ll support you through your distance learning experience. Just over 59 percent of students graduate successfully from CBU.
Maybe you want to cement your knowledge with an official undergraduate degree or professional certificate; perhaps you already have a four-year degree and want to embark upon a master’s program. Under both circumstances, online graphic design programs can help you expand your knowledge base, advance your career and infuse you with a sense of accomplishment.