top online graphic design schools

Top Online Graphic Design Schools

When your higher education options are limited by your place of residence, online programs can offer really great alternatives.

Just because it’s online doesn't mean you can’t get a quality education in a career that’s only going to grow as culture relies more and more on technology. Because you won’t spend your time in a traditional classroom, however, it does mean you need to do your research and find a quality online program. Here’s a look at 5 of the top ranked* schools’ online graphic design programs.

*Findings based on Graphic Design Degree Hub (GDDH) and The Best Schools (TBS) top ranking programs.

Academy of Art University

Cost Per Class: $873-982
Yearly Tuition: $21,252*

Academy of Art University ranked 1st for GDDH's 2014 Top 20 Best Affordable Graphic Design Degree Programs. With just over 11,600 students (over 7,600 of which are undergrads), The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, offers multiple distance-learning degrees around the topic of graphic design. These programs include computer graphics, computer software and media applications, virtual environments and simulation modeling, and digital/multimedia and information resource web page design.

*For the 2017-2018 academic year according to the NCES

Savannah College of Art and Design

Cost Per Credit Hour: $782
Yearly Tuition: $35,910

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) ranked 7th for GDDH, but 1st for TBS. SCAD offers four different graphic design program degrees: bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of fine arts (BFA), master of arts (MA), and master of fine arts (MFA), in addition to a graphic design minor. SCAD also has many students who choose to double major, churning out graduates who have been able to “explore new perspectives, harness diverse creative approaches, and develop a unique, well-rounded style.”

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Cost Per Credit Hour: $470
Yearly Tuition: $17,016

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh came in 3rd for GDDH and 6th for TBS. Pittsburgh’s Institute offers multiple tracks in graphic design: BS in graphic design, AS in graphic design, diploma in digital design, as well as two separate associate's programs intended only for residents of Minnesota and Pennsylvania. They estimate their bachelor’s program at 15 quarters, and associate’s at 8 quarters. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s programs differ from other graphic design programs in that they focus on both graphic design and web design. Once students have the basics of the program, a concentration is chosen to focus more specifically in upper-level courses.

Full Sail University

Cost Per Credit Hour: $475
Estimated Program Cost: $57,000

Full Sail University came in 4th for both GDDH and TBS. The university originally focused on film and video, but has since expanded to a variety of media, art, and communication. Their online program, in particular, has been thriving since 2007. Their bachelor’s program takes an estimated 29 months to complete, compared to about 20 on campus. Full Sail aims to teach their students how to “apply...artistic talents to modern design tools, technology, and production processes.” They also offer a variety of scholarships to help cover costs.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Cost Per Credit Hour: $724
Estimated Program Cost: $57,072

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) came in 3rd for TBS, but didn’t make GDDH’s list. Based in Denver, CO, this college offers online graphic design bachelor’s degrees in both fine arts and art. RMCAD understands the differences between traditional art and graphic design, and their online program uses “well-rounded, challenging, and relevant coursework that teaches students to approach design with impactful communication and user experience in mind.”