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Our 2016 graphic design rankings showcase the top online colleges offering the best distance-based undergraduate graphic design programs this year. We based our calculations on the quantifiable factors that we believe contribute to the ideal online learning experience: program cost; student-to-faculty ratio; and institutional financial aid, acceptance, retention, graduation, default, and default rate. Learn more

Top Online Graphic Design Colleges

  1. RankSchoolStudent to
    Faculty Ratio
    Graduation
    Rate
    Retention
    Rate
    Acceptance
    Rate
    Enrollment
    Rate
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    Default
    Rate
  2. Rank
    1
    School

    Savannah College of Art and Design

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    18/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    68.3%
    Retention
    Rate
    80.71%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    65.47%
    Enrollment
    Rate
    31.15%
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    95%
    Default
    Rate
    8.70%
    Tuition
    $11,490 per semester online
    Address
    342 Bull St
    Savannah, GA 31402-3146
    (912) 525-5000
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has locations in Georgia, Hong Kong, and France. It launched its online eLearning program in 2003 and maintains a very high standing for its online bachelor program ranking #11 Best Online Bachelor Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. Flexible scheduling and a self-paced course of study allows students to pursue their degree fully online at their convenience.

    The Graphic Design department offers BA and BFA degrees. Because of the interdisciplinary character of the graphic design field, students often choose to double major in a related area. The school prides itself on offering access to diverse learning opportunities and its staff of full-time professors teaching all online classes. 97% of graduates report being employed within 10 months of graduation.

    • BA in Visual Communication with Concentration in Graphic Design – 180 credit hours
    • BFA in Graphic Design – 180 credit hours

    Online Experience

    eLearning at SCAD coincides with the 10-week academic calendar. There are no specific meeting times for online classes and students complete assignments by set due dates. The online platform is Blackboard, where students can participate 24/7 in critiques, discussion forums, and lectures. The school offers a multitude of free software for its design students. Other student resources include: resume and portfolio development, interview prep, guidance on self-promotion, and networking opportunities guided by a dedicated advisor, even post-graduation.

    eLearning recognition:

    • Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching Award, United States Distance Learning Association
    • Outstanding Student Services Award, Instructional Technology Council
    • Outstanding Online Course Awards, Instructional Technology Council
    • Silver Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning Programming, United States Distance Learning Association
    • Technology Innovation Certificate of Merit, National Academic Advising Association
    • Blackboard Greenhouse Exemplary Course Award Finalist
  3. Rank
    2
    School

    Liberty University

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    18/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    50.17%
    Retention
    Rate
    68.51%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    21.65%
    Enrollment
    Rate
    45.07%
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    80%
    Default
    Rate
    7.90%
    +
    Tuition
    $375 per credit hour online
    Address
    1971 University Blvd
    Lynchburg, VA 24515
    (434) 582-2000
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Liberty University’s online school was launched in 2009 and now serves more than 80,000 students. Its online programs are consistently highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The online BFA in graphic design is offered by Liberty University’s School of Communication and Creative Arts. Students take courses in publication design, vector illustration, typography, animation, and fundamentals of design. No on-campus classes are required, but students can choose to visit the campus for one-week intensive classes and seminars.

    • Prospective students must submit a portfolio
    • SACSCOC accredited
    • Must have a 2.0 cumulative GPA for all accredited colleges attended or for high school

    Online Experience

    Online classes are delivered through Blackboard and are designed to be flexible, personal, and challenging. All classes are taught from a Christian point of view and are offered in an eight-week format. Programs can be completed from any location and at any pace. There are no set log-in times. Students can work at their own pace provided they turn in assignments at times specified by the professor. There is no distinction between traditional and online diplomas.

  4. Rank
    3
    School

    Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    7/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    48.76%
    Retention
    Rate
    66.32%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    98%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
    +
    Tuition
    $464 per credit hour online
    Address
    1600 Pierce St
    Lakewood, CO 80214
    (303) 753-6046
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design was founded in 1963. The college strives to develop a “community of creatives” and remains committed to providing personalized education for its students. The school offers a BFA and BA in graphic design completely online. Courses are taught by industry-leading faculty, and students can expect to receive rich and personalized academic content. Tutoring support is available online or through the Student Learning Center.

    • Student-to-teacher ratio of 7:1
    • 82 enrolled graphic design students
    • Average online student age: 30
    • Transfer credits most likely to be accepted from regionally accredited schools
    • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design
    • Applicants must submit a creative portfolio and artist statement
    • Degree requirements: 57 credits core classes, 3 credits elective classes, 12 credits foundation classes, 48 credits liberal arts

    Students can consult the academic catalog for specific requirements.

    Online Experience

    Students work with the Learning Management System (LMS) online to view course material, participate in class discussions, submit projects, receive feedback, and track their progress. Features of this platform include direct and group messaging, a notification system to track projects, an internal discussion and critique board, file type flexibility, and easy navigation.

    A graphic design “gearbox” is available for purchase and includes:

    • MacBook Pro 15″
    • LoJack 4-year subscription
    • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
    • Microsoft Office
    • Nikon D5200, lenses and battery pack
  5. Rank
    4
    School

    Southern New Hampshire University

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    26/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    54.2%
    Retention
    Rate
    69.18%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    78.66%
    Enrollment
    Rate
    23.81%
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    70%
    Default
    Rate
    6.80%
    +
    Tuition
    $320 per credit hour online
    Address
    2500 N River Rd
    Manchester, NH 03106
    (603) 626-9100
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution and serves more than 60,000 online students. It is one of the fastest growing universities in the country and is highly ranked for its online degree programs.

    The 120 credit online BA in graphic design and media arts is built on the principles of creative problem solving and aesthetics. Students learn to use the latest technology and learn about the cultural and social context for their work. This affordable program is designed to offer maximum flexibility with expert instruction. Professors bring real-world knowledge to the classroom and students can count on dedicated academic and career advisors for support outside of the classroom.

    • Concentration in Graphic Design & Media Arts/3D Modeling & Animation – 120 credits
    • Concentration in Graphic Design & Media Arts/Web Design – 120 credits
    • Up to 90 credits can be transferred toward undergraduate degrees
    • Accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
    • Six 9-week terms per year

    Online Experience

    Students have 24/7 access to the online classroom via Blackboard. The Online Writing Center helps students who need assistance editing and fine-tuning their written work. Tutoring services are free and available 24/7 from Smarthinking Tutoring Services. Students can work one-on-one with the Career Services development team and take advantage of their recruitment and employment database. Academic, technical, and disability resources are also available online, as is full access to the Online Library, wellness center and online bookstore. A virtual community center, SNHUconnect, is designed to bring students, faculty and staff together in a “lounge” environment where they can collaborate on projects and homework.

    Graphic design students must meet minimum hardware and software requirements including:

    • Digital SLR Camera
    • Adobe Creative Cloud
  6. Rank
    5
    School

    The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    16/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    38.95%
    Retention
    Rate
    54.18%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    78%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
    +
    Tuition
    $470 per credit hour online
    Address
    420 Boulevard of the Allies
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1328
    (412) 291-6200
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was founded in 1921 and is dedicated to design education, which prepares students for careers in the creative sector. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division, launched in 2000, offers a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design completely online and is accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, The Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The graphic design program helps students develop their ideas through words, symbols, images, and visual messaging and to develop their business savvy. Students typically take nine credits per quarter for bachelor’s programs, and usually 15 quarters (45 months) are required to complete the degree. Continuously enrolled students, depending on transfer credits, complete the program in 17 quarters (51 months). There is a one-time $50 application fee and a $100 enrollment fee.

    Students learn to develop key computer graphic skills, design logos, and posters for a range of applications, explore typography, design and color theory, and create graphic design portfolios to showcase their work and to use in applying for jobs. A career services team is provided to support and prepare students in their search for career opportunities. The Art Institute Portfolio Gallery is an exclusive online network for students to further develop their work and connect with other students, alumni, and professors.

    • At least three general education electives must be taken at the 2000 level or higher, and three additional courses must be taken at the 3000 level or higher.
    • A three-person graduation team consisting of an Admissions Representative, Student Finance Counselor, and Academic Counselor will support individuals through their studies.
    • There is a $100 technology fee per course and a $50-$75 digital resource fee per course.

    Online Experience

    Access to online content is found via the Student Portal at MyAiCampus.com. Students can log into classes anytime 24/7 to view lectures, discussion forums, and to view learning modules, objectives, and assignments. Readings are interactive and link directly to a virtual bookshelf. Students can check grading criteria and professor expectations. Tech support and access to the online library are also offered.

    The online platform is designed to engage students through text, video, animation, and chat. Students should be sure they meet the minimum technology requirements, as much of their work will be completed with the latest versions of design programs.

  7. Rank
    6
    School

    Full Sail University

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    22/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    78.35%
    Retention
    Rate
    50.23%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    50%
    Default
    Rate
    19.90%
    +
    Tuition
    $450 per credit hour online
    Address
    3300 University Blvd
    Winter Park, FL 32792-7429
    (407) 679-0100
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Full Sail University was founded in 1979. It is accredited by the ACCSC and is generally considered to be one of the leading entertainment and media focused schools in the country. The school provides students with real-world education and helps them develop their “power of creativity.” The online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design can be completed 100% online and is designed to provide students with the greatest freedom and flexibility in scheduling their coursework. The program typically takes 32 months to complete.

    • 49% of students finished in 32 months in 2013-2014
    • Job placement post graduation is 74%
    • 96% of graduates rely on loans to complete the program

    With demand for expert graphic designers at an all time high, Full Sail promises to teach students how to meet deadlines, produce high-quality work in a multitude of formats, work with the latest software, and develop fruitful careers in the design industry. Topics of print and 2D design are paired with courses in marketing collateral, publishing, environmental design, and product design. Students can also concentrate in the new and exciting field of digital and interactive media design. The focal point of all classwork is the creation of a project portfolio that showcases the best of each student’s work and will aid them in their post-graduation job search. Areas of focus within the graphic design program include:

    • Concentration in Print and 2D
    • Concentration in Motion Graphics
    • Concentration in Interactive Design

    A total of 120 credit hours (128 weeks) are required to complete the program. Seven, one-credit Career Modules are incorporated throughout the curriculum. Examples of student work can be viewed here.

    Online Experience

    Students access online content through Full Sail University Connect. The activities page provides links to assignments, discussions, and tests. Though classes can be taken any time, live sessions enable students to interact with professors in real-time and can also be accessed later in the archive. Each course has a dedicated homepage that contains all assignments, projects, access to mail, chat, and online library resources. Creative media students will often engage with content in the form of videos, podcasts, and animation.

    Project LaunchBox provides graphic design students with discounted hardware and industry leading software required for their classwork (cost is included in tuition) and includes:

    • Apple MacBook Pro and Warranty
    • Office 2011
    • Adobe Creative Cloud
    • Final Cut Pro X
  8. Rank
    7
    School

    Herzing University - Madison

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    15/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    35.66%
    Retention
    Rate
    43.24%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    80.71%
    Enrollment
    Rate
    68.14%
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    26%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
    +
    Tuition
    $6,450 per credit hour online
    Address
    5218 E. Terrace Dr.
    Madison, WI 53718
    (800) 582-1227
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Herzing University is a non-profit institution founded in 1965 as a computer programming school. The online campus was launched in 2003 and is accessible only within the United States. Online programs are designed to work with any busy schedule and can be completed 100% online. The school prides itself on offering flexibility, personalization, and support to students to succeed in the competitive job market.

    • Ranked #90 Best Online Bachelor Program by U.S. News & World Report 2015
    • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • EdFlex program enables students to take classes online and on-campus

    The 124-credit Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design program can be completed in 36 months and focuses on design and production of work in print and web formats. Students will use a variety of up-to-date software programs and design techniques as they work to create their portfolios. Development of a creative portfolio is the key focus of this program as they are used to show prospective employers. Students can choose to focus in two areas:

    • Concentration in Print Design
    • Concentration in Web Design

    A minimum of 30 credit hours of open electives is required. A four-credit capstone or internship is required for graduation in the final semester. Online students should check with an advisor regarding the internship program, as there are restrictions for some out of state students. A typical course of study requires 40 credits of general education and nine credits in upper level courses.

    Online Experience

    Herzing uses the Blackboard Student Learning Management System to deliver program content. All coursework, lectures, communication and tests can be viewed online, and students can also access the payment center, student portal (used to view grades and upload documents), the online bookstore, transcript requests, and email all conveniently online.

  9. Rank
    8
    School

    Academy of Art University

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    16/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    31.88%
    Retention
    Rate
    71%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    14%
    Default
    Rate
    15.50%
    +
    Tuition
    $835 per unit
    Address
    79 New Montgomery
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    (415) 274-2200
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Academy of Art University was founded in 1929. It is accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges, National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The school states it is the “largest private school of art and design in the U.S.” Online education at the Academy of Art has been offered since 2002 and serves students worldwide. Students complete coursework at their own pace.

    The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program is offered through the School of Graphic Design and emphasizes conceptual development, strategic thinking, technique and presentation. Students develop skills in the areas of typography, print media, packaging, branding and identity, web design, and motion graphics. Professors are culled from a wide base of working professionals. Final creative portfolios demonstrate students’ proficiency and reflect the school’s high standards of graphic design.

    There is a $50 application fee, a $20 registration fee, and a $100 tuition deposit (all non-refundable). Tuition is paid by semester and each course is three credits. Students are encouraged to submit a creative portfolio with their application. Transfer credits are evaluated on an individual basis, but students must have received a “C” grade or better.

    Online Experience

    There are no set class schedules at the Academy of Art online, and students can complete their work any time 24/7. Content is divided across 15 modules per semester. Each module’s coursework contains instructional videos, audio-enhanced slideshows, digital documents, and interviews all available at the start of the module period. The school uses its own custom-designed Learning Management System, allowing students to receive detailed feedback and audio commentary by professors on their work. This unique online system also allows students to access class news, updates, grades, ESL support, scheduling, one-on-one tutoring sessions, and many other utilities. A class discussion forum enables students to share their work and engage in conversation as they work to develop their ideas as a community. Other online learning resources include:

    • Academy of Art University Tutorials and How-To Library
    • Online Library
    • Online Tech Support
  10. Rank
    9
    School

    Brown College - Mendota Heights

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    6/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    50%
    Retention
    Rate
    33.33%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    10%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
    +
    Tuition
    $36,800 program total
    Address
    1345 Mendota Heights Road
    Mendota Heights, MN 55120
    (651) 905-3400
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Brown College, now known as Sanford-Brown College, is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology. Sanford-Brown has recently united with International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT) in various locations across the U.S.

    The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at Sanford-Brown can be completed in 38 months. It is not available to residents of all states. The program is designed to educate students as to the role of form, function, creativity, and critical viewpoint in visual communications. Students will examine psychological, cultural, and environmental aspects of color, shape, and form and will apply design elements to the creation of effective visual materials for use in print and web design. 56 general education credits and 124 concentration credits are required for degree completion.

    • 46% of students completed the program in 38 months in 2013-2014
    • The post-graduation job placement rate is 62%

    Online Experience

    Students access the online system through the Sanford-Brown Student Portal. No further information is available.

  11. Rank
    10
    School

    Stevens-Henager College - Murray

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    20/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    56.88%
    Retention
    Rate
    63.58%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    N/A
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
    +
    Tuition
    $74,664 program total
    Address
    383 W Vine St
    Murray, UT 84123-5671
    (801) 281-7620
    Websites
    Program Page
    School Description

    About the Program

    Stevens-Henager College has campuses in Utah and Idaho. It was founded in 1891 and is accredited by the ACCSC. The Bachelor Degree in Graphic Arts is designed to teach students the basics of graphic art to convey meaningful messages. Online programs are offered through the affiliated Independence University.

    The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts typically takes 36 months to complete but can be completed in as few as 30 months fully online. Students will take 54 courses totaling 183 credits. All admissions applications can be completed online or over the phone. An admissions consultant will aid prospective students through the application process and help them with any questions they have.

    • 64% of students finished in 36 months in 2013-2014
    • Job placement rate is 71%
    • New laptop offered to enrolling students

    Online Experience

    Online education is offered through an affiliated school, Independence University. All online programs are accessed through the Student Portal and offer students the same material that traditional on-campus students use. The online format is conducive to working, traveling or military students and courses can be completed online 24/7. There are no rigid class schedules or “office hours;” students can message instructors directly to receive personalized attention and all assignments, objectives, and exams are available online.

Additional Schools

  1. Rank
    11
    School

    Bellevue University

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    33/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    39.42%
    Retention
    Rate
    50%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    50%
    Default
    Rate
    5.30%
  2. Rank
    12
    School

    Westwood College - Denver North

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    22/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    32.31%
    Retention
    Rate
    75%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    10%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A
  3. Rank
    13
    School

    Berkeley College - New York

    St to Faculty
    Ratio
    24/1
    Graduation
    Rate
    30.69%
    Retention
    Rate
    57.68%
    Acceptance
    Rate
    N/A
    Enrollment
    Rate
    N/A
    Institutional
    Aid Rate
    91%
    Default
    Rate
    N/A

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