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The Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges

Graphic Design and Animation
Updated:
The Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges
Rank School Location
1 Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, Georgia
2 The North Coast College Lakewood, Ohio
3 California Baptist University Riverside, California
4 Kentucky Wesleyan College Owensboro, Kentucky
5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, New Hampshire
6 University of Advancing Technology Tempe, Arizona
7 University of Florida-Online Gainesville, Florida
8 Grand Canyon University Phoenix, Arizona
9 Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia
10 Columbia College Hollywood Tarzana, California
11 Full Sail University Winter Park, Florida
12 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design Lakewood, Colorado
13 Rasmussen College-Minnesota St. Cloud, Minnesota
14 Academy of Art University San Francisco, California
15 Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska

This is our ranking of the best online Animation and Graphic Design colleges in the U.S. We combined these disciplines since they are similar and are used in similar and related purposes in Animation and Graphic Design careers.

About this ranking

This ranking is designed for online college students to find the right Animation and Graphic Design colleges and degrees. Informed students make better decisions.

We use data from the National Center for Education Statistics and academic influence as the criteria in our ranking. For more information on our ranking methodology see our College Calculator.

Online bachelor’s degrees in Graphic Design can teach students the skills necessary for employment as a Graphic Designer and related careers, such as Marketing.

Graphic Design Artists are essential positions in the modern world of movies, video games, online media, advertising, and designing digital art and selling them as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) on the blockchain.

Featured Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges

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Salary Information

Animation CareersMedian Salary: Bachelor’s degree
Art Directors$97,270
Special Effects Artists & Animators$77,700
Fashion Designers$75,810
Industrial Designers$71,640
Interior Designers$57,060
Graphic Designers $53,380
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020)

Online Animation and Graphic Design Specializations

Animation and Graphic Design are popular online degrees, and many colleges and universities have online undergrad and graduate degree options. These include certificates, associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Animation, and Graphic Design, are their own particular, individual degrees, but they are sometimes specializations within other degree subjects.

Here are three popular degree subjects that often have Animation and Graphic Design specializations:

  1. Computer Animation
  2. Game Art and Animation
  3. Advertising and Marketing

1. Computer Animation

Computer Animation

Computer Animation is more technical in instruction, and teaches special effects, computer generated graphics, and other digital aspects of the art. This can include the non-technical aspects as well, such as storyboarding, the history of art, and world and character building.

2. Game Art and Animation

Game Design

All games need visual artist and animation. This is true regardless of the game device or game type. Game Artists and Animators are a vital part of game design.

Online students in Game Design: Animation and Graphic Design programs learn design practices relevant to creating games. This includes instruction in courses that teach 2D and 3D animation, character modeling, world-building, level designs, and storyboarding.

See our ranking of the Best Video Game Art and Animation Degrees

3. Advertising and Marketing

Marketing Animation and Graphic Designers

Animation and Graphic Design degrees are vital aspects to creating effective marketing campaigns. Advertising agencies employ in-house animators and graphics designers for their ongoing marketing projects. Also, freelancers are often hired on a per-project basis. Online Advertising and Graphic Design programs teach students how to use Graphic Design for marketing purposes, and measure effectiveness in campaigns. It’s a hybrid of Marketing and Graphic Design programs.

See our ranking of the Best Online Marketing Degrees

The Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges

Ranking Methodology

This Best Online Animation and Graphic Design Colleges ranking was created using Successful Student's ranking algorithm. This algorithm uses the following data points to calculate a school's ranking placement:

Learn more about our methodology.

1.
Savannah College of Art and Design

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic 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.
The North Coast College

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Lakewood, Ohio

The North Coast College offers the online BFA in Graphic Design degree. This degree teaches online students in these important domains of Graphic Design:

  • digital video production
  • web design
  • motion graphics
  • mobile and responsive design

This Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design also fosters the spirit of entrepreneurship with two Career Development seminars and a Career Development internship.

The program usually takes 48 months to complete. However, online students who attend all year long can complete this degree in 36 months.

Courses include:

  • History of Graphic Design
  • Verbal Communications of Visual Concepts
  • Design & Layout 1: Advertising Design
  • Design Principles: Theory and Practice
  • Design Thinking

The program is 180 total credit hours taken over 12 quarters.

3.
California Baptist University

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media

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.

4.
Kentucky Wesleyan College

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

Owensboro, Kentucky

Kentucky Wesleyan offers the online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design degree. The course schedules are flexible, which means that online students can complete classes at their own pace. Access to professors through phone, text, and email make the process of getting questions answered efficiently.

Courses include:

  • Graphic Design Topics
  • Art Survey
  • 2D Design
  • Digital Painting

The program is 120 hours for completion: General Electives are 36 hours, Major courses are 42 hours, and General Education is 39 hours.

No application fee and no entrance exam are required.

5.
Southern New Hampshire University

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

Manchester, New Hampshire

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 range 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.

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6.
University of Advancing Technology

Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation

Tempe, Arizona

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

7.
University of Florida-Online

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences

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.

8.
Grand Canyon University

Bachelor of Arts in Animation and Digital Design

Phoenix, Arizona

Grand Canyon University, one of the largest online colleges in the U.S., offers the online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design: Animation degree through their College of Fine Arts and Production. This online degree focuses on Animation in multimedia settings. Online students have the opportunity to join the Digital Design Club and foster relationships and collaborate with other students.

Students learn Graphic Design within these three domains:

  • motion graphics
  • foundational creative and skill development
  • portfolio development

Courses include:

  • 2D Motion Design
  • Motion Graphics
  • Typography
  • Motion Technologies
  • Design Professionalism
  • Interface Design

120 credit hours are required for graduating, with 80 credits going towards the Major credits.

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9.
Liberty University

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

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.

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10.
Columbia College Hollywood

Bachelor of Science in Digital Media: Digital Art

Tarzana, California

The online Bachelor of Science in Digital Media with a focus in Digital Art is an online degree that teaches students art within various digital media contexts.

In addition to the traditional animation classes, students will also gain exposure to special effects, motion graphics, and interactive design.

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. This programs is transferable into bachelor’s programs.

Classes will cover principles of design, digital image manipulation, recording arts foundations, and motion graphics aesthetics.

11.
Full Sail University

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design

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.

12.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic 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.

13.
Rasmussen College-Minnesota

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

St. Cloud, 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 of Arts 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.

14.
Academy of Art University

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

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
  • 45 Liberal Arts units

Classes provide detailed instruction in branding, typography, packaging, user experience, motion graphics, and more.

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, has completed projects for Hitachi, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Avon, Max Factor, and others.

15.
Bellevue University

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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. 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 fields, and Animators with a graphic arts background may find employment in Graphic Design fields.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What is the best online school for graphic design?

According to our ranking, the best online school for graphic design is Savannah College of Art and Design. They’re a private arts college, with online and on-campus degree options. As a non-profit, privately owned art school, they specialize in digital-oriented degrees, such as Graphic Design and Game Design.

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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.

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Is a degree in graphic design worth it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Handbook, Multimedia Artists and Animators earn a median salary of $76,560.00 per year. Depending on the online school attended, the out-of-pocket cost of a bachelor’s degree can be recouped in a few years of employment at this salary amount. The upper 90% of the highest earners make an average salary of $123,060.00 per year. The average median salary and upwards earning potential make earning a degree in Graphic Design worth it.

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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).

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