A degree from one of the 5 Best Online Master’s in Graphic Design will give you a leg up in the competitive communication technology industry and empower you to present your unique brand to the world.
Graphic designers have a hand in just about every kind of content one consumes on a daily basis. From online, television and print campaigns for politicians and activists, to the logos on coffee cups and soda cans, to the ever-changing look of social media websites, graphic designers take big ideas and translate them into visual and interactive art that makes a big difference in public perception and behavior.
What Is an Online Master’s in Graphic Design?
Online master’s in graphic design programs teach core courses in typography, photography, multimedia design, and sometimes programming. While many graphic designers can learn the basics of these skills in a bachelor’s program, master’s in graphic design programs qualify grads for teaching positions in higher education, management and art director roles, and often provide unique opportunities for collaboration with Fortune 500 companies.
Another major advantage of graduate graphic design programs is that students have a lot of freedom in how they complete their degrees. The programs on our list emphasize faculty mentorship, portfolio development, and even international competitions to help grads fine-tune their unique styles. Some programs offer in-house design studios where students work together on projects for big-name clients, while others help place students in prestigious internships.
A master’s degree is also a good fit for someone with an undergraduate degree in a complementary skill like journalism, communications, or art, who is ready to start their own publishing business or market themselves as a multimedia communications expert.
How Much Can You Earn With an Online Master’s in Graphic Design?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers typically make around $53,000 per year. However, wages vary up to $93,000 per year depending on experience, education, and employer. Additionally, master’s in graphic design programs prepare students for higher-level jobs like art directors in the publishing and motion picture industries, which get paid between $83,000 and $122,000 yearly.
The skills students learn in graduate graphic design programs are invaluable to employers. Because the industry is constantly evolving, graduate students learn how to continue keeping their skills sharp on the job, but also how to translate big ideas into projects and campaigns of various sizes. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, employers will continue to seek intellectual skills like these over specific technical skills when sorting through job applicants.
What Is Required for an Online Master’s in Graphic Design?
Master’s in Graphic Design programs differ in their credit requirements and transfer allowances, and not every program excludes applicants without graphic design experience. This is great news for applicants wanting to add graphic design expertise to a complementary undergraduate degree in something like fine arts or communications.
Some programs require a final portfolio review, some require a thesis, and others require internships for graduation. This variation makes it easy for applicants to choose a program based on their specific needs as a designer. Someone entering a program without design experience, for instance, might want to choose a school that builds and refines a portfolio over time, while another student with more experience might prefer a program that helps them present their signature brand to high-ranking companies.
What Are the Best Online Master’s in Graphic Design?
OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program-specific, OSR checks the median debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.
The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.
- Tuition: $8,217(in state) / $8,217(out of state)
- Up to 30 transfer credits accepted
- Internship required, additional practicum optional
- Program tuition has not increased in six years
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.40%Admission Rate30%Programs offered online23
Program LevelMedian Debt$24,483Programs in Department3Popularity at School1.48%100%OSR Score
Liberty University’s Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design prepares graduates to either enter the visual communication workforce directly, or to teach design classes at the university level. The program stays up-to-date on advanced design technology, and cements classroom training with a required 180-hour internship and optional 90-hour practicum, as well as a final portfolio. Course topics can include vector illustration, digital photography, publication design, and more.
Savannah College of Art and Design
- Tuition: $36,765(in state) / $36,765(out of state)
- Option of Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree
- In-house student design studio works with big-name corporate clients
- Annual workshops with top design entrepreneurs
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.60%Admission Rate93%Programs offered online5
Program LevelMedian Debt$61,220Programs in Department7Popularity at School55.35%78%OSR Score
The Savannah College of Art and Design master’s in graphic design program aims to produce the best graduates in the industry. With internship and in-house collaboration opportunities at big names such as Apple, Disney, and Under Armour, opportunities to enter international competitions, and an annual conference with design leaders, students are primed for powerful careers. Students can attend fully-online, or blended, with classes in Atlanta and Savannah, GA.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
- Tuition: $37,362(in state) / $37,362(out of state)
- Flexible start dates and course loads
- Synchronous and asynchronous classroom formats
- Class sizes limited to promote collaboration
School WideStudent Satisfaction78.40%Admission Rate59%Programs offered onlineNot Reported
Program LevelMedian Debt$25,800Programs in Department1Popularity at School< 1%76%OSR Score
Students at Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s Master of Arts in Graphic and Web Design program can customize their degree paths to their unique interests. All students receive comprehensive training in general design elements, but research individual topics throughout the program and complete a final project in an area of their choosing. To make sure everything stays on track, student portfolios get reviewed halfway through the program, as well as before graduation.
Arizona State University-Polytechnic
- Tuition: 11,338 (in state) / 29,428 (out of state)
School WideStudent Satisfaction61.76%Admission Rate24.00%Programs offered onlineNot Reported
Program LevelMedian Debt$20,000Programs in Department1Popularity at School< 1%62%OSR Score
Arizona State University’s Master of Science in graphic information technology dives deeper than a typical graduate graphic design degree. Besides just training students in the use of design tools, ASU’s program also teaches project management, publishing, and production of various methods of digital communication. Grads are prepared for careers in web development, art directing, multimedia design, and more.
Academy of Art University
- Tuition: $23,568(in state) / $23,568(out of state)
School WideStudent Satisfaction76.80%Admission RateNot ReportedPrograms offered online32
Program LevelMedian Debt$107,297Programs in Department12Popularity at School71.74%57%OSR Score
Academy of Art University’s Master of Arts in graphic design and digital media aims to produce entrepreneurs who want to raise the bar in the communications design industry. Partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and other organizations mean students have access to feedback from design industry leaders, while a final portfolio review ensures grads are ready to take on the workforce.