The 15 Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges
This is our ranking of the 15 Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges in the US. This ranking is designed to help online college students make informed decisions concerning online degrees in Animation and Graphic Design. Online bachelor’s degrees in Graphic Design can potentially teach students the skills and proficiencies necessary for employment as a Graphic Designer (and related careers). Online Graphic Design degrees are available at colleges all across the US. Graphic Design artists are essential positions in the modern world of movies, video games, online media, and advertising. Some careers include Special Effects for film, Art Directors, Stop Motion Animators, 3D Modeling, Compositing Artist, Flash Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Forensic Animator. Graphic Designers may find employment in Animation, and Animators with a graphic arts background may find employment in Graphic Design.
Table of Contents
- What kinds of jobs can you get with a graphic design degree?
- How long does a graphic design degree take to complete?
- What is a bachelor’s degree in graphic design?
- Are Graphic Designers different than Animators?
- What is the best online school for graphic design?
- How much does an online graphic design degree cost?
- Is a degree in graphic design worth it?
- How can I become a graphic designer online?
Featured Online Colleges
1. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Georgia)
The Savannah College in Georgia offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in over 40 areas of study. The diversity of the student body includes 12,000 pupils from all 50 states, 23 percent of whom bring international representation. Online courses, available for the past 12 years, run on a 10-week schedule. The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design requires a total of 180 course study hours. Concentration classes provide detailed study in Topography, Graphic Design Media Management, and Production for Print and Digital Environments. Students are expected to develop comprehensive portfolios throughout the program that will aid in networking and job placement. Nationally-recognized faculty bring personal experience to the classroom. Professors have worked for major brands and companies including General Electric, MTV, American Express, and Walt Disney.
2. University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
The University of Florida traces its origin to 1853 as a seminary in Ocala. It was consolidated with three other colleges to form the University of Florida by the state legislature in 1905. Today U of F offers over 100 online undergrad and graduate degrees. The online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences offers instruction in digital arts, story telling, and video game design. This degree is a mix of communication, art, and technology, and includes instruction in 3D animation, digital storytelling, and computer illustration. The U of F only accepts students to this program starting in the Fall semester. As such, students all start learning at the same time, and can continue together through networks, taking the same sequence of classes. Courses include Design and Production Studio, 3D Digital Animation Technique, and Wearable and Mobile Apps. Seniors will complete a Senior Project. Students also have access to the faculty. Graduates have worked for companies such as DreamWorks and Microsoft.
Since its founding in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University has grown to over 3,000 on campus students and 60,000 online students. These numbers make the school one of the fastest growing institutions for higher learning in America. The online classes offer scheduling flexibility with the same credibility as an on campus degree. The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design offers two concentrations, 3-D Modeling and Animation, or Web Design. Some hardware items and software programs are required to participate in the degree, including a Digital SLR Camera. Classes will cover a plethora of topics including
- desktop publishing
- digital graphic design for the web
- graphic design portfolio which provides students the opportunity to showcase their work.
The smaller class sizes allow for more personal feedback from professors and peers. Students can expect to critique and create interactive websites, advertisements, and TV commercials. Graduation requires a total of 120 total credits completed.
4. Liberty University Online (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Enrolling over 100,000 online students, Liberty is the world’s largest Evangelical Christian University with a strong dedication to distance learning. From Certificates to Doctoral programs, Liberty prides itself in offering a variety of programs both on campus and online. The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design provides extensive practice-based course work. This work prepares students to be competitive in the work force. Three concentrations are available:
- Graphic Design
- 2-D Art
- 3-D Art
Ten pieces from a personal portfolio are required as evidence of interest in the degree and chosen concentration. Sample class topics include: Digital Imaging, Interactive Publication, and Gallery/Museum Fundamentals. The Bachelor’s program can be continued to the Master’s level with the same concentrations offered. Classes explore in more detail the topics of history, research, practice, and discourse of art and design. Liberty offers the Master’s in Studio and Digital Arts as a 60-hour graduate program.
5. University of Advancing Technology
The University of Advancing Technology is a leading online university for education in the digital arts, such as gaming art and animation. The Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation degree is available online. This degree focuses on animation for video game art. Online Courses Include:
- Concept Art
- Figure and Character Sculpting
- Game Art and Animation Fundamentals
- Introduction to Game Art and Animation
This degree teaches 2D and 3D art techniques for video games. UAT prepares graduates to work as a:
- character artist modeler
- texture artist
- character artist animator
- environment artist modeler
- environment artist animator
- mechanical mesh modeler
- mechanical mesh animator or rigger
Credits Required: 120
6. California College San Diego (San Diego, California)
As a smaller, private, independent, non-profit college, CCSD offers personalized attention and flexible scheduling. Though the school started as the California College of Health Sciences, CCSD was purchased by California College, Inc. in 2003. Then it expanded its curriculum to include programs in business, technology, and medical specialties. One popular degree recently added is the online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts. Students may complete this program between 30 and 36 months. A variety of engaging classes are offered including: Psychology of Motivation, Layout and Package Design, Branding and Identity, Digital Photography, and Entrepreneurship. At the end, an independent or group Capstone project is completed allowing students to integrate and demonstrate mastery of skills. A total of 54 courses, or 183 credits, are required for completion of the degree.
7. Rasmussen College (Bloomington, Minnesota)
The Rasmussen Colleges are a network of schools dedicated to practical, hands on education that allows for direct application in the marketplace. A number of cutting edge programs are on-campus and online. The online Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design is 36 months in duration, and requires 90 credit hours (23 courses). Rasmussen also offers an online Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design: concentration in Animation and Motion Graphics. This program completion may be as little as 18 months with Flex Choice options available. Students may choose to take a combination of faculty-led and self-paced courses which allows for more flexible scheduling and lower tuition costs. Students in this program can easily continue on to a Bachelor’s degree with the same concentration. Graduates from the Animation and Motion Graphics program have found employment with top companies such as Polaris, Apple, Staples, and the Diamond Media Group. Additionally, an Associate’s degree and Bachelor’s degree is offered in Graphic Design with a concentration in Web and Interactive Design. These focus on learning and utilizing Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash, to create motion graphics, websites, and other media projects. Before graduation, students must choose between an internship or a final design project to demonstrate mastery of skills.
8. California Baptist University (Riverside, California)
California Baptist University offers over 40 online majors and concentrations, of which most can be completed in 16 months. The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media is offered completely online. 48 credit units are required in Graphic Design. California Baptist University teaches from a Christian tradition, and includes focus on ethical standards within the course work. Courses include:
- Advanced Design
- Intermediate Typography
- History of Graphic Design
- Fundamental Web
CBU Online includes accelerated degree programs in bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels, and can be completed online, on-campus, or a combination.
9. Full Sail University (Winter Park, Florida)
Full Sail University offers a wide variety of degrees related to Animation and Graphic Design. The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Animation is an engaging and comprehensive option for students. Classes review the basics of drawing, shading, and lighting and move to more complex principles of physics and anatomy. Students will have the opportunity to direct a professional motion capture session in Studio classes. Through the online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design students will receive training in 2-D design, marketing collateral, environmental design, interactive media, and more. Throughout all classes, students will work with professors to develop a comprehensive and competitive digital portfolio. The Bachelor of Science programs require 120 credit hours to graduate. Full Sail also offers the Master of Fine Arts in Media Design as a graduate degree. Study areas focus on brand development, design strategy, and production workflow. Master’s students participate in the final Design Solution project, which expects students to propose solutions to a complex media design challenge. The Master’s degree requires 58 total credit hours for completion.
10. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (Lakewood, Colorado)
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design has a large diversity of programs. Drawing inspiration from the natural surroundings, the school encourages the pursuit of unique and creative ideas. The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design holds challenging expectations for its students. Students will learn mastery of research techniques, written and verbal presentations, and storytelling. Completing 123 credits is required for graduation. A sampling of class topics include:
- experience design
- 3-D packaging
- raster image processing
- visual sequencing
- signs and symbols
- user prototyping
Students will complete the program with the Senior Graphic Design Seminar. At the end of the seminar students will have completed a thesis project, writing portfolio, and produced marketing materials. Professors bring field experience to the classroom from companies such as Sapient, Texas Instruments, the Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, FL, and personally-owned businesses.
11. Academy of Art University Online (San Francisco, California)
Incredible opportunities for all students can be found at the Academy of Art University. This includes over 70 student and alumni art shows and gallery exhibitions each year. Since 2002 academic opportunities have expanded to include online education for the Arts. The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design requires 132 credits for completion. Credits are broken down into 36 Core units, 42 Major units, 9 elective units, and 45 Liberal Arts units. Classes provide detailed instruction in branding, typography, packaging, user experience, motion graphics, and more. In addition to the technical skills provided in the classroom, creativity, visual literacy, innovation, and conceptual problem solving are fostered. Professors bring a variety of their own talent and experience to the classroom. The Executive Director, Mary Scott, alone has completed projects for Hitachi, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Avon, Max Factor, and others.
12. Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy (Chicago, Illinois)
Tribeca Academy is respected as a leader in the educational field of Media Arts. Tribeca has a distinct educational model that’s focused on project-based curriculum, industry connections, and intensive career support. The online Bachelor of Science in Digital Media with a focus in Digital Art is a good choice. In addition to the traditional animation classes, students will also gain exposure to special effects, motion graphics, and interactive design. The accelerated option allows students to complete the degree in less than three years. An Associate’s degree in Digital Media is available offering a general introduction to the field that is easily transferable into the Bachelors programs. Classes will cover principles of design, digital image manipulation, recording arts foundations, and motion graphics aesthetics.
13. Bellevue University (Bellevue, Nebraska)
Offering over 70 degrees in rapidly advancing fields, Bellevue University is growing into a leadership position in the academic arena. The online student body currently represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and seven international regions. The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design requires industry standard graphic design software and hardware. Computer requirements include:
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 or 10.7/Windows XP or Windows 7
- digital camera or scanner
- current version of Adobe Creative Suite software
Major requirements consist of 42 credit hours covering a variety of course topics such as Web Design, Interactivity Basics, and Branding. Throughout the degree program students will develop a professional portfolio representing the range and diversity of skills mastered. Faculty members have access to the Center for Online Operations, which aids in the creation of online classes. This program is taken through the College of Arts and Sciences. Students in the Graphics Design program can expect content instruction in a highly engaging, interactive, and effective environment.
14. Post University (Waterbury, Connecticut)
Responding to the student demand for more scheduling flexibility, Post University has been a pioneer in online and hybrid education. Now offering an eight-week accelerated format with no set log-in times, students are able to finish programs quickly (and at their own pace). Of the various online programs, the online Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology has been a popular choice. The 120 credits are broken down into 60 general education requirements. 51 are Major, Core, and Concentration requirements; 6 career and self-awareness requirements; and one 3-credit Leadership requirement. Class topics for the major include end-user computing application design, principles of instructional technology, and the design of e-learning. All professors emphasize project-based learning activities. The small class sizes with an average of 13 students makes peer review simple and gives ready access to professors. The program ends with an Instructional Design Capstone project.
15. Berkeley College (White Plains, New York)
Berkeley College offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs that include hands-on education and internship experience. Enrollment includes over 8,000 students with over 900 international pupils from over 100 countries. Berkeley College began offering online degrees in 2003, and has since grown the online community to include over 1,100 students and 170 professors. To help engage the distance learning students as much as possible, Berkeley offers online clubs, social media engagements, and student success workshops. The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program equips students with the skills and critical thinking strategies to be successful. Required major courses review material such as Raster and Vector Graphics, Digital Photography, Web Design, and Branding. The program culminates in a Capstone Individual Research Project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Students complete an internship in the last quarter of study. Upon graduation, students will have completed 180 quarter credit hours.
Q: What kinds of jobs can you get with a graphic design degree?
Graphic designers can work for companies in-house, such as web developers or marketing firms, or may work independently, as freelancers. There are lots of opportunities and flexibilities with jobs potentially attainable with an online or on-campus graphic design degree.
Q: How long does a graphic design degree take to complete?
A bachelor’s degree in Graphic design takes approximately four years to complete, attending full time. This time frame is usually the case for bachelor’s degrees. Depending on the amount of courses and hours taken per semester, the time to completion can be shorter or longer.
Q: What is a bachelor’s degree in graphic design?
A bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, like other bachelor’s degrees, involves basic courses and major courses in graphic design. The degree includes four years of time to complete, with two years spent completing the requisite major classes. The major classes include technical education in the digital arts. This includes an education in visual storytelling, design softwares, digital graphics, and modern technologies for creating digital art, such as 3D and 2D animation.
Q: Are Graphic Designers different than Animators?
Graphic Designers develop art and graphics in digital formats. As such, graphic designers may develop designs used in digital or print media. Examples of print media are magazines, billboard advertisements, brochures, or corporate reports. Digital graphic design involves video games graphics, website graphics, movie graphics, and the like. Animators may use traditional media to make art, whereas graphic designers use computers for art–combining traditional art concepts with modern technology. Graphic Designers may find employment in Animation, and Animators with a graphic arts background may find employment in Graphic Design jobs.
Q: What is the best online school for graphic design?
According to our ranking, the best online school for graphic design is The Savannah College of Art and Design. They’re a private arts college, with online and on-campus degree options. They specialize in digital art degrees, such as graphic design and game design. The campuses are located in Savannah and Atlanta Georgia, and Lacoste, France.
Q: How much does an online graphic design degree cost?
Depending on the school, the tuition rates differ. The least expensive online Graphic Design degree in our ranking is the University of Florida, at $4,477.00 per semester. See our College Table below for tuition rates.
Q: Is a degree in graphic design worth it?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Handbook, Graphic Designers earn a median salary of $52,110.00 per year ($25.05 per hour). Depending on the online school attended, the out-of-pocket cost of a bachelor’s degree can be recouped in one or two years of employment at this salary amount. This makes earning a degree in graphic design worth it.
Q: How can I become a graphic designer online?
The surest way to become a graphic designer online is to first get an online graphic design degree. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is usually required for employment as a Graphic Designer (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
|School||Stated Tuition Per Semester||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate|
|01. Savannah College of Art and Design||$36,630.00||70%||67%|
|02. University of Florida||$4,477.00||39%||87%|
|03. Southern New Hampshire University||$30,756.00||73%||56%|
|04. Liberty University||$15,837.00||56%||54%|
|05. University of Advancing Technology||$15,936.00||83%||22%|
|06. California College San Diego||$18,480.00||100%||37%|
|07. Rasmussen College||$10,935.00||100%||43%|
|08.California Baptist University||$31,668.00||80%||60%|
|09. Full Sail University||$20,268.00||100%||25%|
|10. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||$17,160.00||100%||47%|
|11. Academy of Art University Online||$22,008.00||100%||34%|
|12. Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy||$13,125.00 for 15 credit hours||90%||53%|
|13. Bellevue University||$7,152.00||100%||13%|
|14. Post University||$15,258.00||53%||15%|
|15. Berkeley College||$22,053.00||100%||31%|
Factors that were considered in the ranking: academic reputation, availability of online resources, variety of courses, flexibility of course schedules, and courses relevant to modern animation and graphic design occupations. As always at Successful Student, this ranking is considered from the student’s point of view.