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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Web Design

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Web Design

Value
The best online master’s degree in web design for value is the University of Florida, a renowned public research university that recently started offering an online master’s degree in web design and online communication, in January 2012. This university ranked among PayScale.com’s top 2012 ROI Rankings, with an annual return on investment (ROI) of 10.3%, and an annual ROI of 11.8% for students receiving financial aid. According to the university’s Facts and Rankings page, UF has ranked on plenty of other national lists as well, including U.S. News & World Report’s National University Rankings, Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges list, and the Princeton Review’s Best Value Public Colleges.

Flexibility
The Academy of Art University online master’s degree in web design wins the award for best flexibility. Students gave AAU a high score for most flexible class schedules on College Prowler, and the About Online section of AcademyArt.edu features information about how and why AAU has made flexibility a crucial component of their exclusive Innovative Learning course model.

Career Support
Graduate students at the Academy of Art University recognize the advantages of a dedicated career services team. On College Prowler, students gave the Academy of Art University a high score for career services. On the university’s own website, AcademyArt.edu, students can explore the Industry and Recruiters section for available jobs and internships, see sample portfolios, view videos of past campus visits by major industry representatives, and check the schedule for upcoming presentations. AAU ensures its graduates will “enter the job market with invaluable, hands-on experience.”

Financial Support

The University of Denver wins the award for best financial support for its online master’s degree in web design. The financial aid section of DU.edu guides students through the financial aid process, step-by-step. Among the vast resources available via this department, students are able to not only research how to request financial aid and properly apply their awards, but also have the option of exit counseling and loan repayment assistance, as well.

Technology Support
The award for best online master’s degree in web design for technology support goes to the University of Florida. UF features an advanced and highly organized IT department and corresponding sub-website, developed especially to help resolve technical issues for online university students. On the Information Technology page, students can see IT updates, policies, and projects, and join all kinds of IT-related student committees and social communities, among other helpful resources.

Student Engagement
The University of Florida is committed to going the distance to ensure healthy student engagement among the on-campus and online student bodies. The UF website’s Student Activities and Involvement section plays a major role in helping students engage with others in their learning community. Here, students can find a multitude of ways to get involved by being directed to one of several online UF student networks, checking the calendar of upcoming events and activities, or providing feedback directly to staff, in order to develop new online communication tools. For its many outstanding efforts, the University of Florida wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for student engagement.

Disability Support

The University of Florida wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for disability support. The Disability Resource Center at University of Florida maintains a physical presence on campus, as well as a comprehensive online sub-site; both have made a wealth of resources for students with disabilities available to all students. As outlined on the web page above, students can research services like conflict resolution, counseling, and crisis intervention, just to name a few.

Library and Research Support
The University of Denver wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for library and research support. Students gave UD 1,132 out of 1,141 points in the Best Library category among top universities, on College Prowler. According to the Penrose Library section of the university website, “the Library is central to discovery and creative interaction among students and faculty.” Online, students can search for and request materials in various digital databases, look through government documents and/or special collections, and even take a virtual library tour, just to name a few services available on the site.

Learning Support
The award for best online master’s degree in web design for learning support goes to the Academy of Art University. AAU ranked highly on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best Student Services and Technology among top online degree programs. On the Resources page of AcademyArt.edu, among the many innovative resources available here, students can customize their learning program, with the careful assistance of counselors and advisors, and take advantage of interactive online course demos.

Faculty Credentials
The Academy of Art University wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for faculty credentials. According to AcademyArt.edu, the faculty in this department have spent years collectively honing their skills in the editorial, technology, and new media industries, to be able to impart this invaluable wisdom to their students. The Academy of Art University ranked in the top 50 online education programs for Faculty Credentials and Training, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Faculty Accessibility
The Academy of Art University wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for faculty accessibility. The Faculty section of AcademyArt.edu outlines the many ways for students to reach teachers for support and guidance throughout the learning process. Through innovative programs aimed at faculty development, AAU proves its willingness to take great steps to cultivate both student and teacher development. It’s no surprise students gave the Academy of Art University a high score for Most Accessible Professors, on College Prowler.

Alumni Engagement
The Academy of Art University wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for alumni engagement because of its technically-minded Alumni Association department. The Academy of Art University’s diverse and well-connected alumni community, now totaling more than 25,000 members worldwide, also maintains a vibrant website, with the latest news and events, video interviews with award-winning alums, and direct links to social media sites, just to name a few. Students on College Prowler gave this university 797 out of 816 points for Best Alumni Network.

Prior Learning Options
The University of Denver wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for prior learning options. At UD, there are many special services just for those who need prior learning consideration. On the Apply page of UD.edu, transfer students can find all of the information they’ll need regarding the application process — transcript evaluation, submission deadlines, and which supplemental materials may be required. There is even a separate downloadable application form, exclusively for transfer students.

New Online Student Orientation
The University of Florida wins the award for best online master’s degree in web design for its new online student orientation resources. With the New Student and Family Programs section of Ufl.edu, the Division of Student Affairs department has implemented a unique effort dedicated to providing new students, and their families, with a preview of what life at UF will be like. Here, students can learn about the university’s signature orientation programs — Preview (also known as Orientation), First Year Experience, New Student Convocation, and Gator Families.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Web Design

Web designers play a key role in the graphic, interface, and user experience design of websites. They may also work on the coding of websites, depending on their specific skill set. With the growing prevalence of electronic marketing and e-retailing, many companies are focusing their business strategy on building a strong web presence, increasing the demand for qualified web designers across many industries. Graduates of online master’s degree programs in web design are prepared with the theoretical knowledge and technical skills to fill positions in design, Internet marketing, or user experience management, in both the private and public sectors.

Online students have the flexibility to adjust their course load to fit with the demands of their personal and professional lives. Since students can enroll full or part time and the number of courses they take each term can vary, the average time to completion can range from one to three years for this type of program. The number of transfer credits brought in to the program and whether or not the student remains continuously enrolled can also affect time to graduation.

Class Curriculum

Those enrolled in a web design program should expect a mixture of survey, seminar, computer laboratory, and practicum courses. Core topics often include digital imaging, user interface development, page conceptualization, web page structure, coding languages, scripting, web animation, and design theory. Some specific examples of courses that may be required for this type of program are:

  • Digital Imaging Fundamentals. Students will learn about basic imaging concepts such as editing, optimizing, and preparing images for web pages. Students will also gain skills in coloring, effects, and compression.
  • Information Design. This course will focus on analyzing, explaining, and communicating ideas, instructions, and information with the goal of designing web-based text and graphics. Collaboration and real-world applications will be the focus of most course work.
  • Instructional Design for Multimedia. Students will learn concepts and techniques for developing online learning materials and systems for multimedia training and education.

Web design students will typically complete computer laboratory assignments, projects, presentations, web development exercises, and exams. Given the importance of collaboration in web development, students should also be prepared to complete a number of group projects and exercises throughout the program. Students in this type of program will also be required to demonstrate a working knowledge of design concepts as well as a variety of coding languages and technical skills in order to reach graduation. Students may submit a professional portfolio as a final deliverable to their program faculty.

Building a Career

Graduates with a master’s degree in web design should be prepared with the necessary theoretical knowledge and technical skills to work in design, user experience, Internet marketing, or development capacities. Most companies and organizations have a web presence or are interested in developing one. Therefore, web design majors can find job opportunities in a variety of industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of web developers is expected to increase by 22% from 2010 to 2020. This is significantly faster than the 14% growth expected for all occupations during the projection period.

The median annual wage for web developers in 2010 was $75,660. Web developers working in the securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage industry earned the highest salaries at a mean annual wage of $109,480. However, those who work in a graphic design capacity earned notably less, at a median of $43,500. Note that national salary statistics are only estimates. Actual salaries and job opportunities can vary based on location, level of work experience, education, the specific employer, and the general job market.

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