Education

Best Online Design Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Design programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Design degrees are interdisciplinary programs that combine the study of art, media, and technology. Design degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in design, including graphic design, web design, and industrial design.

Design degrees offer a broad overview of the design field, covering topics such as color theory, composition, and typography. Students in design degree programs learn about the different aspects of creating designs, and how to use design to communicate messages.

How to Choose the Right Design Program

When it comes to choosing the right design degree program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are just a few of the things you’ll need to take into account. Additionally, you’ll need to decide which type of design program is right for you. Do you want to study graphic design, interior design, or fashion design?

Graphic design programs focus on the creation of visual communications. Students in these programs learn how to use typography, color, and imagery to communicate messages. Interior design programs focus on the creation of functional and aesthetically pleasing indoor spaces. Students in these programs learn how to select and arrange furniture, lighting, and other elements to create comfortable and stylish interiors. Fashion design programs focus on the creation of clothing and accessories. Students in these programs learn how to sketch designs, select fabrics, and construct garments.

Once you’ve decided which type of design program is right for you, you can begin to narrow down your choices. Consider the cost of each program, as well as the location and the time to degree. If you want to graduate sooner, look for programs with accelerated tracks or generous credit transfer policies.

Finally, make sure to research the curriculum of each program you’re considering. You’ll want to make sure that the program offers courses in the areas that interest you most. For example, if you’re interested in graphic design, you’ll want to make sure that the program you choose offers courses in typography, color, and imagery.

By considering all of these factors, you can be sure to find the right design degree program for you.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Design Programs

The best online programs for Design ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA

The Bachelor of Design in Digital Multimedia Design degree from Pennsylvania State University is an interdisciplinary program that helps prepare students for a career in a variety of creative industries including technology, media, product design, and marketing. The program integrates courses in visual arts and design, information sciences and technology, communications, and General Education electives. Students in the program will create projects using leading multimedia applications and programming languages in this dynamic, project-based curriculum.

Rank 2
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The graphic design major at Arizona State University is focused on teaching students how to visually communicate messages and ideas. Lower-division courses focus on design principles such as typography, layout, and color. In advanced courses, students apply their knowledge of design principles to professional computer-based projects in publication design, motion graphics, web design, animation, and interface design. The graphic design bachelor’s degree online is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Rank 3
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Millersville, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Interactive and Graphic Design from Millersville University of Pennsylvania is a cutting-edge degree that offers both breadth and depth of study in the field of design. The program provides students with opportunities to learn best practices and design with new technology. By keeping current with technological demands placed on the discipline, graduates can work in different environments that contribute to local, regional, and global economic vitality. The online program is typically completed part-time and courses are offered year-round to allow students to complete their degree faster.

Rank 4
California Baptist University
Riverside, CA

The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media degree program at California Baptist University is designed to prepare students for a career in graphic design or to help them advance their career by improving their skillset and knowledge in the field. The program is based around hands-on projects and portfolio building, and covers a wide range of topics in design and digital media.

Rank 5
Lindenwood University
Saint Charles, MO

The online Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design degree program from Lindenwood University provides students with a well-rounded education that is focused on the principles of design. The interdisciplinary curriculum allows students to specialize in an area of their choosing, with a focus on areas including art history, photography, video, and web design.

The program helps students diversify their skillset and prepare for a career in one of today’s art and design fields. It explores creativity, mastery of technique, craftsmanship, problem-solving, project development, and teamwork.

Rank 6
Bellevue University
Bellevue, NE

The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Bellevue University is a 100% online degree program that is designed to prepare students for careers in graphic design. The program focuses on teaching students how to use critical thinking skills to solve problems visually and how to master visual communication. Students will also learn how to use industry standard software and hardware tools, and apply the proper production methods in print and/or web design.

Rank 7
Boise State University
Boise, ID

The Boise State Bachelor of Arts in Digital Innovation + Design is a 120-credit program that prepares students for careers in digital design and related fields. The program is delivered entirely online and features three certificates that students can choose from to customize their degree. These certificates are in content production, user experience design, and data analysis. The program also includes a student success curriculum that helps students develop the skills they need to thrive in the modern workplace.

Rank 8
Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Liberty University is designed to challenge and equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the fast-paced world of graphic design. The program is focused on providing students with a solid foundation in the principles of design, so they can be better prepared to pursue a variety of creative roles in the field. The curriculum is centered on practical field applications, so students can gain real-world experience that they can use outside of the classroom. Additionally, the program provides students with access to the Adobe Creative Suite, so they can learn how to use industry-standard software like Photoshop and InDesign.

Rank 9
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts & Practices from University of Arizona provides students with a foundation in design history, theory and practice from an interdisciplinary perspective. The degree is project-based, with courses that focus on innovation with new technology and the development of creative strategies to address contemporary issues. Students will take courses in art, design, information studies and technology, progressing from core skills into larger theories and issues. The degree culminates in a final capstone project.

Rank 10
Sessions College for Professional Design
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Sessions College for Professional Design is an online program that takes 3.3 years to complete. The program is focused on helping students develop the skills and attributes they need to be successful in a global creative industry. Students will take courses in design, software, critical thinking, and communication, and will have the opportunity to customize their education plan to fit their career goals. The program culminates in a final portfolio and exhibition.

What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Design Program

Students in a bachelor’s in design program can expect to learn about the design process, from ideation to implementation. They will also learn how to use various software programs to create designs, as well as how to work with clients. In addition, they will take classes in art history and theory to better understand the role of design in society.

Most bachelor’s in design programs require students to complete a capstone project in order to graduate. This project gives students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the program to a real-world design problem.

Design programs typically offer concentrations in specific areas, such as graphic design, web design, or fashion design. Students should choose a concentration that aligns with their career goals.

Prospective students should be aware that a bachelor’s in design is not the same as a bachelor’s in fine arts (BFA). BFA programs focus more on the creative aspects of design, while bachelor’s in design programs emphasize the practical applications of design principles.

Common Design Courses

Design degree programs offer a mix of technical and creative courses. Students learn design principles and software skills while also developing their own style. The courses below are some of the most common for design majors.

Color Theory

This course covers the relationships between color, light, and the human visual system. Topics include the physics of light and color, the physiology of human color vision, color mixing, the color wheel, color harmony, the psychology of color, and the use of color in design. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of color theory to the design of effective visual communications.

Drawing

This course covers the principles of drawing including composition, perspective, light and shadow, and the use of various drawing media. Emphasis is placed on the development of drawing skills through a variety of still-life, landscape, and portrait studies. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of drawing to create finished drawings in a variety of mediums.

3D Modeling

This course introduces the concepts and skills necessary to create three-dimensional models using computer software. Topics include an overview of 3D modeling history and applications, an introduction to modeling terminology, an exploration of the different types of 3D models and their uses, and a survey of the different software programs used to create 3D models. Students will use various software programs to create 3D models of objects, people, and environments. Upon completion, students should be able to create 3D models using various software programs and apply the principles of design to create models that are aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Intercultural Communication

This course explores the role of culture in human communication. Topics include the influence of culture on communication, verbal and nonverbal communication, listening, and conflict management. Emphasis is placed on developing an understanding and appreciation for cultural differences and similarities and their impact on local and global communities. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of culture in human communication and apply that understanding to real-world situations.

Principles of Design

This course covers the elements and principles of two-dimensional design and their application to the visual arts and graphic design. Emphasis is placed on the relationships between the elements of design, the principles of composition, and the various design media. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the elements and principles of design to the analysis, composition, and evaluation of visual images.

Career Options for Design Graduates

Graduates of design programs work in a variety of industries, including fashion, architecture, interior design, and graphic design. They may also work in fields such as advertising, web design, and event planning.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and websites. They create the graphics used in advertising and marketing campaigns. Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line spacing of headlines, headings, and text. They also incorporate images, illustrations, charts, and videos into designs and decide how they should be arranged. Graphic designers use computer software to create designs. They also create prototypes of products such as cell phones, computers, and websites.

Web Designer

Web designers create the look, feel, and overall layout of websites. They work with clients to understand their needs and come up with concepts that meet those needs, often using a combination of text, images, videos, and other multimedia elements. Once a design is approved, web designers work with developers to turn it into a functioning website. In addition to design, web designers also need to have a good understanding of user experience (UX) principles in order to create websites that are easy to use and navigate.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and oversee the production of their garments. Fashion designers work in many different ways. Some work for large companies, designing mass-produced clothing. Others work for small companies, designing one-of-a-kind pieces or made-to-order garments. Some fashion designers create their own labels, while others work for design houses, clothing manufacturers, or retailers.

Interior Designer

Interior designers are responsible for the look and feel of the interiors of homes, office buildings, restaurants, and other commercial and public spaces. They work with clients to determine their needs, develop a design plan, select furniture and decor, and oversee the installation of the finished product. Interior designers often specialize in a particular type of design, such as residential design, hospitality design, or healthcare design.

Product Designer

Product designers are responsible for the look, feel, and overall user experience of a product. In many cases, that product is a software application, but it could also be a physical product, such as a toy, appliance, or piece of furniture. To create a product that is both useful and appealing to users, product designers must have a strong understanding of user needs and behaviors, as well as aesthetics. They use this knowledge to inform the product’s features, design, and user interface. In some cases, product designers also create prototypes or mockups of their designs to help communicate their vision to stakeholders.

Insights From a Design Graduate

Aron Villegas is a Graphic Designer at Pentagram. He has a bachelor’s degree in design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Aron has over 10 years of experience in graphic design and branding.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Design degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Aron Villegas: I took advantage of the opportunities that were available to me, such as internships and extracurricular activities. I also made sure to get involved in as many projects as possible. I think it’s important to get as much experience as you can while you’re still in school, so that you’re prepared for the real world.

ClimbtheLadder: What should students interested in Design be good at?

Aron Villegas: Students interested in design should be able to think creatively, solve problems, and be able to work within constraints. They should also be able to work collaboratively, as most design projects are done in teams.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Design program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Aron Villegas: I didn’t expect my design program to be so rigorous. I was constantly challenged to think outside the box and to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. I also didn’t expect to learn so much about the business side of design.

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