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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Graphic Design

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Graphic Design

Value

The Academy of Art University wins best online graphic design master’s degree program for value. PayScale.com reports that the Academy of Art University provides a 5.6% return on investment without financial aid and a 6.0% return on investment with financial aid. The Academy of Art University also provides a net price calculator, a financial aid timeline, and live financial aid chat on its financial aid website.

Flexibility

The Academy of Art University wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for flexibility. The graphic design program at the Academy of Art University is offered for online, full-time, or part time students. Students may personalize their online classroom as a profile to other students, and from the online classroom they can access course materials and video demonstrations at any time. Course content is available in several formats, including videos, written lectures, and interactive slideshows.

Career Support

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for career support. SCAD provides online job postings, resume and cover letter advice, job search advice, and testing and assessment for career decision making through its career services website. Students also have access to an alumni mentor database of more than 50 SCAD alumni and job shadowing opportunities to helps determine career prospects.

Financial Support

The Academy of Art University wins best online master’s degree program for financial support. The Academy of Art University provides online chat for questions about grants, loans, scholarships, and FASFA applications. The Academy of Art University also provides alternative loans and veterans’ affairs education benefits. Students may find financial aid worksheets, a net price calculator, and a financial aid timeline on the Academy of Art University financial aid website.

Technology Support

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online graphic design master’s degree program for technology support. Students have access to special software and hardware offers and discounts through MySCAD. Online course work is compatible with Mac and PC, and students may access the SCAD Help Desk for 24/7 technology assistance, including MySCAD and hardware or software issues.

Student Engagement/Activities

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online graphic design master’s degree program for student engagement. SCAD online students have access to the SCAD eLearning Club. The SCAD eLearning Club meets monthly through the university’s online meeting software to listen to featured professional speakers. SCAD online students socialize through course discussions, e-mail and the SCAD eLearning Club to develop networks. Students also have access to peer tutoring, SCAD news and announcements, and Web postings through MySCAD.

Disability Support

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for disability support. SCAD’s disability services comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Student services at SCAD provides learning assistance, counseling, and provides the necessary accommodations for student with disabilities.

Library Support

Suffolk University wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for library support. Suffolk University provides research tutorials, help and research guides, and journal, books, and articles converted to web text on the Mildred F. Sawyer Library website.. The library also provides audio and visual resources, research guides, and tutorial videos for library orientation.

Learning Support

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for learning support. SCAD students have access to mentoring, tutoring, writing workshops, live librarians and digitized library materials, and online academic advising. Course lectures are delivered through both live streaming and recorded audio and video, and may be accessed from tablet computers or smart phones.

Faculty Credentials

The Academy of Art University has more than 100 instructional faculty with courses accessible online. Online faculty have an average of three years of experience teaching online, and the Academy of Art finances online instructor training. The Academy of Art University first started offering online programs in 2003. Online courses are developed in house by certified instructional designers. The Academy of Art University wins best online graphic design master’s degree program for faculty credentials.

Faculty Accessibility and Involvement

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree in graphic design for faculty accessibility and involvement. SCAD offers students an average 24-hour instructor response to e-mail inquiries and live tutoring sessions. Students also have access to mentoring, and communication through online chat rooms, webinars, and Skype.

Alumni Engagement

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for alumni engagement. SCAD provides opportunities to connect through alumni organizations and through online alumni profiles, according to the university website. SCAD alumni also have access to career resources and alumni events, bookstore discounts, and SCAD publications.

Prior Learning Options

The Savannah College of Art and Design wins best online master’s degree program in graphic design for prior learning options. SCAD allows a maximum of 20 quarter hours of graduate credit. SCAD also awards credit for military experience if the course work is relevant to the student’s chosen course of study. Military transfer credit may not exceed 90 quarter hours.

New Student Orientation

The Savannah College of Art and Design enrolls all new SCAD eLearning students in an online orientation course. Presented in the same format as typical online courses at SCAD, the online orientation course familiarizes students with the online learning process, including class navigation, materials, assignments, the Blackboard learning management system, and class communication. SCAD also provides virtual information sessions on eLearning where students may chat with admission representatives and eLearning faculty about the online class environment and admissions process.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design

Graphic designers use a combination of artistic, typographic, and technical skills to create logos, artwork, web pages, and other forms of visual communication. Online master’s degree programs in graphic design are designed to prepare graduates with the artistic training and practical skills they need to work in a variety of industries. Since most companies and organizations have an online presence or are interested in developing one, many graphic designers find opportunities in web design and Internet marketing. For this reason, advanced knowledge of coding languages and other web development skills can give graphic designers an advantage in the job market.

Students enrolled in an online program can take classes full or part time, to better fit their studies around their work schedules and family lives. Since the number of courses a student takes each academic term can vary, the average time needed to complete this type of program can range from one to three years. Other factors, such as whether or not a student applies transfer credits to the program or takes any breaks during their time as a student, can influence time to completion.

Class Curriculum

Graphic design students will complete a variety of survey, seminar, portfolio development, and practicum courses. Core topics typically include fundamentals in web design, print design, art history, color theory, digital photography, illustration, and typography. Some examples of courses that may be required in this type of program are:

  • Advanced Illustration. Students will explore drawing and line art techniques through a project-based curriculum. The course will cover blending tools, transparency, gradients, and the use of multimedia tools for web illustration and animation.
  • Advanced Imaging. This course teaches students advanced techniques in visual design and imagery, as well as how to streamline work projects. Students will learn to use programs such as Illustrator, Flash, and the Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Color Theory. This course will cover basic principles in visual design and composition, with special focus given to color. Discussions will include trends and practices in contemporary art and professional design.

Graphic design students will complete a variety of assignments such as portfolio development, computer laboratory exercises, projects, presentations, and exams. Students should also be prepared to complete a number of group projects, since they are likely to find collaboration an important element in career success when they enter the workplace. Given the nature of this type of program, students will likely be required to present a master’s portfolio prior to graduation. This will demonstrate their ability to apply their technical and artistic skills in practical ways.

Building a Career

Graduates who earn a master’s degree in graphic design are equipped with the artistic and technical skills to work in web design, typography, Internet marketing, or other related positions. Most companies and organizations in today’s digital marketplace have, or are interested in developing, a web presence. For this reason, graphic designers who focus on learning concepts of web design and development will have an advantage in the job market.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of graphic designers is expected to increase by 13% over the projection period of 2010 to 2020. This is on pace with the 14% growth expected for jobs overall. The median annual wage for graphic designers in 2010 was $43,500, the BLS noted. Graphic design graduates with the necessary technical skills to work in web development can earn higher salaries, at a median salary of $75,660 according to the BLS. Note that these statistics may not reflect actual starting salaries or job opportunities, which can be influenced by location, level of experience, education, the specific employer, and the general economic climate.

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