Pursue your passion for graphic design
- $320/credit (120 total)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Master advanced design software, such as Adobe Creative Suite
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores
- Accredited by NECHE
- Learn from accomplished instructors with real-world experience
Online Graphic Design Program Overview
Tap into your creative side and learn how to produce designs that inspire and influence with the online BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts from SNHU.
Have you ever found a magazine ad that jumps off the page? A digital banner that cuts through the noise? How about a broadcast spot that's moved you to tears? A degree in graphic design can help develop the skills you need to inspire your audiences into action. You'll build a portfolio that demonstrates visual storytelling through various print, digital and video media platforms.
Whether you dream of the fast pace of an agency, the rigors of a design firm or the independence of running your own shop, our online graphic design degree program will teach you how to translate your ideas through concept, design and digital media.
Learn how to:
- Design, develop, adapt and present professional quality work
- Analyze and recommend media messaging strategies
- Use the latest design tools and technologies
- Work with an interdisciplinary team to solve design challenges
- Apply ethical and culturally sensitive practices to visual media
Pursue Your Passion at SNHU
Graphic design is where art, storytelling and commerce converge. SNHU’s online BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts offers the tools, feedback and support you need to master your craft — as well as one of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
3D Modeling and Animation
Breathe new life into graphic design by earning an online BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts with a concentration in 3D Modeling and Animation. As the field of graphic arts leaps beyond traditional design, artists with cutting-edge skills are in high demand to create visual content for video games, animated web content, movies and other media.
In this program, you'll focus on 3D sculpting workflow, including:
- Foundations in color theory and typography
- Designing wireframe 3D models
- Rendering photorealistic effects
- Animating character functions
In a blend of form and function, you'll be taught by award-winning creative faculty using industry-standard software, including the Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk's Maya and Mudbox. You'll graduate with leading skills that extend your proficiency – and marketability – in industries such as game arts, digital animation, interior design and web development.
SNHU’s 3D modeling and animation degree gives you the skill set to be a player in the multidimensional design world. You’ll explore the stages of game models, including observational and conceptual drawing. You’ll master the basics of modeling using a wide range of techniques. You’ll also study the 12 principles of animation and learn to skin and rig a character. Better yet, you’ll create hands-on projects using emerging technology and be well prepared to take on jobs in game development, advertising, marketing, virtual education and other fields that use graphics to provide spectacular interactive experiences.
A 3D modeling concentration can also help prepare you for roles in experiential graphic design. Experiential graphic designers collaborate with architects, interior and industrial designers and landscape architects to create interactive design environments in retail spaces, museums, public art exhibits and more.
Learn more about what you can do with a 3D animation degree.
Courses may include:
- Intro to Digital Sculpting
- 3-D Modeling and Animation
- Interactive Animation
If you're looking for a career that combines graphic design and digital media, the Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts with a concentration in Web Design at Southern New Hampshire University could be the right fit for you. The web design degree online program supplements the traditional graphic arts foundation with digital-oriented core courses, striking the balance of artistic interests and practical web design.
Equal parts theory and practice, this specialized graphic design program stresses the critical thinking skills and hands-on technical proficiency to complement your designs, along with the know-how to promote yourself and keep your skills sharp in an ever-changing, competitive marketplace.
As the use of mobile devices grows and e-commerce continues to expand, job prospects appear promising for graphic designers with web design skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of designers with experience in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow 24% through 2028.1
Those with knowledge of multiple programming languages and digital multimedia tools will have the best opportunities. Our web design degree online concentration program gives you the advantage you need to succeed in a number of industries, including:
- Advertising and marketing
- Public relations
- Specialized design services
- Digital media outlets
The online graphic design degree curriculum includes the full graphic design course of study, plus four web design-specific courses to expand your skillset. Courses are taught by award-winning creative faculty using the most advanced technology available.
As a graduate of this online web online design degree program, you'll build the skills to concept and develop your work using the Adobe Creative Cloud. You'll learn how to conduct usability testing on multiple platforms and interfaces, from mobile phones to tablets to desktop computers. Using these skills, you’ll be prepared to execute various media projects, including interactive animation, digital publications, video and other rich media.
Learn more about web design degree concentration offerings including:
- Interactive Animation for the Web
- User Interface and Experience
- Advanced Digital Imaging and Digital Publishing
Graphic Design Career Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for graphic designers is projected to grow 3% through 2028.1 However – with many employers continuing to grow their digital presence – graphic design jobs in computer systems design and related services are projected to grow 24%.1
In addition, job growth for multimedia artists and animators is on pace with the national average, with a reported median annual wage of $75,270 in 2019.1
Here are a few roles you can pursue as a graphic design major:
Creative director. If your ultimate goal is to lead creative teams and develop big-picture brand strategies, this job is for you. Creative directors are the brand visionaries – the captains of the ship who manage teams of designers, copywriters, photographers and production staff to sell products and build brands. As a creative director, you'll pitch concepts for national ad campaigns, build relationships with executive leadership and help a team of creatives grow through direct feedback and support. Above all, you'll be the person people turn to when they're looking for creative solutions to their organization's biggest marketing challenges.
Multimedia designer. As a multimedia designer, you'll integrate multiple forms of media – such as art, sound and design – in a number of creative contexts. For example, you may work in the film industry as a prop or set designer. You may have a hand in designing a 3D environment for a video game, or work with an ad agency to create a compelling animated video that grabs the attention of consumers. By pairing technical expertise and boundless creativity, you'll explore interactive and immersive visual storytelling techniques that engage audiences in new ways.
UX designer. Perhaps more than any other role on this list, a UX designer (or user experience designer) dives deep into the ways a consumer interacts with a product. As a UX designer, you'll blend elements of psychology, computer science and creative storytelling to help create user-friendly experiences across various media. You'll use wireframing tools like Axure RP and Balsamiq, as well as design software like the aforementioned Photoshop and Illustrator. Additionally, you'll interpret research that can help you predict future consumer behaviors, identify pain points and develop relevant persona profiles.
Production artist. The production artist is responsible for day-to-day, hands-on production tasks. This is a perfect starting point for someone looking to grow their career in the field, as it gives you an opportunity to apply your skills in the final stages of creative development. You'll need a strong eye for detail, as you'll help crop, retouch, scale and finalize files before they go out into the world. Not only will you develop your technical abilities, you'll also have a chance to collaborate with teams of creative directors, web developers, copywriters and videographers who can help you fine tune your craft.
Product developer. If your game plan is to use graphic design as just one skill in your toolkit, you may consider a career as a product developer. Combining engineering and industrial design with 3D modeling and graphic design skills, product developers must demonstrate an ability to excel from both a technical and creative perspective. You'll be highly strategic – helping to ideate, lead and manage the creation of products from home appliances to sports cars. A background in industrial design, architecture or engineering is usually required for entry-level product developers, but proficiency in graphic design will help you develop some of the critical skills you need to flourish in this role.
Logo designer. Ask some of the biggest marketers in the world, and they can attest to the power of a great logo. As a logo designer, you'll be responsible for creating smart, simple, memorable visual representations of your brand. You'll work for a design firm, publishing house or ad agency to create graphics or typographical treatments audiences remember.
Marketing specialist. A marketing specialist is a Jack (or Jill) of all trades – someone who can collect and analyze consumer data, initiate marketing campaigns and create branded digital or print pieces for an organization. You may have a hand in building a brand's social media presence, or managing a company website. In essence, you'll be a brand ambassador – combining storytelling with tech expertise to "sell" audiences on your company or product. Beyond design, marketing specialists usually require skills in data analytics, coding and written and verbal communication.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Graphic Design Degree
Why SNHU For Your Graphic Design Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.2 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of SNHU's mission statement is to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get an acceptance decision within days of submitting all of your required materials.
Decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
The online graphic design degree curriculum is taught by award-winning creative faculty using the most advanced technology available. Enjoy small classes where feedback comes directly from instructors who understand the creative process.
“[With the online graphic design program at Southern New Hampshire University,] you can be flying across the world and carry your computer with you,” said SNHU student and Disney imagineer Ben Van Beusekom. “SNHU gives you this ability to carve out the best education, pull in all of your experiences, apply it to your homework and do it on your own time. For me, that was a big deal.”
SNHU's bachelor's in graphic design will help you build a number of key skills, including:
- Design thinking
- Digital media
- Brand identity
- Professional practice
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BA in Graphic Design & Media Arts|
|Courses May Include|
|BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts Online|
|COM 128||Language and Practice of Media Arts||This is an introduction to the practice of media production and the study of visual media literacy. The course examines the fundamental components and structure of moving image texts, explores how dynamic relationships between those elements convey meaning, and then exercise that knowledge through media production. Production design, language, technology, and methods will be discussed enabling all students in the class to have a common language of image analysis and creation. Readings and discussions on topics such as cinematography, narrative meaning, image and sound design, editing, genres, and culture will be included. Creative interpretative and expression of ideas will be exercised in the production of media.|
|COM 230||Graphics and Layout in Print Media||This course is an introduction to the principles and practices of graphic design. Students are introduced through lecture, demonstration and hands-on computer work to the basic elements of graphic visual communication. Adobe Illustrator is used as a primary tool in exploring visual perception through a variety of creative exercises that familiarize the student with basic visual principles such as figure/ground manipulation, shape grouping, letterform shape creation, and grid and system creation. Formal elements of graphic design such as line, shape, color, texture, pattern, balance, symmetry, rhythm, space and unity are thoroughly explored by example and hands-on computer exercises; special topics included are: designing with type, layout strategies, logo design, symbol and pictogram development and stationery systems.|
|COM 232||Desktop Publishing||This course is an introduction to the software application Adobe InDesign designed for the novice user. Students are introduced to the creative and practical aspects of the desktop publishing program that is considered indispensable in the contemporary communications and design industries. This course is based on a series of introductory exercises and a regimen of hands-on practice that teaches software and design skills; students learn how to combine the use of professional graphic design and word-processing software applications.|
|GRA 101||Basic Design and Color Theory||This course examines the basic elements and principles of design, including balance, emphasis, proportion and rhythm. Students are introduced to visual designing systems that guide the student through the application of computer graphics tools. The basic visual design elements of line, space, texture and color are creatively explored as students complete a series of projects that relate to advertising layout and design and visual merchandising.|
|GRA 220||Introduction to Digital Imaging||Using Photoshop and Illustrator software, this course is an introduction to professional computer graphics creation and to the software and hardware typically used in the graphic design, video, photography and interactive Web/multimedia industries. Emphasis will be placed on the professional use of image-capturing devices, such as scanners, digital still cameras and video cameras. Image editing and color management systems will be discussed and demonstrated. The important differences between vector and bitmap graphics will be defined, as will the significant differences in preparing images for print, broadcast and Web distribution. Students will be encouraged to experiment with their own and pre-existing images using sophisticated digital editing techniques such as layering, channel masking, filtering, cloning and montaging. Special attention will be paid to copyright awareness in the age of digital image.|
|GRA 310||Digital Graphic Design for the Web||This course focuses on digital graphic design theory and its application to web design. Students learn about the technical requirements of professionally created digital web documents. Students will be focused on designing communication and marketing applications for the World Wide Web all the while considering user experience and functionality. Differences in designing for the desktop computer and mobile internet appliances will be a topic for discussion and incorporated in hands-on exercises and projects. Each student will develop several minisites and by the end of the semester will have produced at least one deployable site. Topics include design strategies, web authoring/editing environments, color calibration and aesthetics, web typography, style sheets, template use, graphics format selecting and optimization, and HTML coding and debugging.|
|GRA 340||Typography||Typography deals with the language of type, the history of typography, typeface and character recognition, legibility, appropriate uses of measure, manuscript specifications and the individual visual dynamics of letterforms. In this class students will learn how to work with type as a stand-alone design element. Students will also learn how to incorporate type successfully with imagery. The assignments will cover a broad range of type applications. Students will primarily focus their efforts towards developing a greater understanding of typographic form through exercises based on the setting of words, phrases, sentences and short paragraphs. Students will first focus on the appropriate setting of spaces in-between the letters that make up words and projects will gradually increase in scope and complexity up to the setting of pages of text with multiple levels of hierarchical meaning.|
|GRA 410||Advanced Digital Graphic Design for Web||This course engages upper-level design students in current industry standards used in designing content for multimedia and interactive communication. Emphasis is placed on designing for computers, tablets and phones. The course is divided into teaching modules emphasizing the integration of several software packages for design problem solving. Emphasis is placed on conceptualization and the mastery of professional site mapping and wire framing techniques. Exercises and projects provide challenging design problem-solving experience. Project themes involve self-promotion and client-based work. All projects rely on the student's ability to integrate previously mastered techniques in a broad range of software.|
|GRA 420||Advanced Digital Imaging||This hands-on computer graphics course combines skills from previous design courses to explore the history, process and essential skills required to develop successful brand identity systems. Topics such as logo design, selection of fonts and colors, and the development of branded marketing materials are covered in depth. In addition, the important techniques of imaging software integration and file format compatibilities are discussed and applied while preparing images for print, video and Web. At the conclusion of this course, students will have developed a complete branded identity system and assembled a portfolio presentation for public viewing.|
|GRA 491||Graphic Design Portfolio||Students create both digital and print portfolios that demonstrate competency in the graphic design and media arts program outcomes. Students showcase their professional design work, establish branded identities as working professionals, and engage in peer and professional critiques of design work in preparation for formal employment and contract interviews.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Graphic Design & Media Arts (including Web Design) Required Hardware & Software
The below computer specifications are recommended for students to meet the minimum system requirements of the software programs required for download in the program. Student discounts are available, and your academic advisor can provide details.
MacBook Pro 15-inch or iMac (desktop) 27-inch or higher
2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor or higher
32GB (64GB recommended)
320GB (1TB recommended)
Mac OS® X v10.7 or higher
A Mac is preferred for this program.
A digital SLR camera is required in FAS-226 and is recommended for students to use throughout the program. You may also need an external hard drive (2TB).
Students pursuing the BA in Digital Photography or the 3D modeling and animation concentration will need to be responsible for additional requirements.
Adobe Creative Cloud is required by all students in the graphic design and media arts program. Creative Cloud licenses are available at an educational discount directly through Adobe.
Adobe’s terms and conditions require a full-year contract for Creative Cloud.
Tuition & Fees
As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation—and haven't raised our costs in a decade.
We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get a graphic design degree online?
Yes. Along with SNHU's other 200+ degree programs, you can earn your bachelor's in graphic design online, on your time.
While we've developed a reputation as a leader of online education, we also offer campus and blended learning experiences. All of SNHU's programs are regionally-accredited, and some, such as our nursing and accounting programs, have additional industry-specific accreditation. That means, when you finish a program with us, you'll get a respected degree from a university you can trust.
Just ask one of our online students:
"Southern New Hampshire University, when it comes to online education, is top of the league," said SNHU grad Adam Schumacher. "I may be sitting here in Kingsland, GA, nowhere near New Hampshire, but I still feel like I'm part of SNHU. I still feel like I'm part of the university."
What qualities and skills should a good graphic designer have?
Graphic designers play a major role in any creative team. Here are a few key skills you'll need to succeed in the field:
Creativity. An appreciation for art and creativity is probably what brought you here in the first place – and it's a highly valuable skill in the field. By using your knowledge of color, composition and typography, you'll find new ways to push designs in unexpected directions. As a contractor, you may help a small business redesign their company website. In an ad agency setting, you may spearhead an interactive out of home (OOH) experience. As long as you know how to apply the skills in your personal toolkit, you'll have the power to influence and innovate through your work.
Collaboration. The ability to work with a team is another crucial skill, as you'll need to collaborate closely with writers, web developers and videographers to make your vision come to life. In addition, clients, stakeholders and creative directors will provide feedback to help fine tune your work. This means finding a happy middle ground between owning your ideas and redirecting creative executions as needed. It's a delicate balancing act, but when done right, it can help you create some of your best designs.
Tech savvy. Marketers are always looking for new cutting-edge ways to appeal to consumers. To keep up, you'll need to have a solid understanding of today's technologies. This means knowing how to use the latest design software tools, and keeping an eye on current trends in marketing, UX, web design and more.
Problem solving. There are many moving parts from the ideation to implementation stage of every creative project, and that can make for a whole host of challenges. For example, a client may have strict budgetary restrictions that limit the scope of your design. Time can also be a major factor – if you're producing work for a specific event, like a national conference or job fair, you'll be expected to complete it with very little lead time. In these situations, you'll have to find out-of-the-box ways to deliver great designs that satisfy client requests (and, ideally, exceed their expectations).
Attention to detail. In many situations, yours will be the last set of eyes to view your design before it gets printed or published. That means you'll need to have a sharp eye for details, spotting errors like typos as well as inconsistencies in line spacing and alignment. You'll also need to make sure that file types and sizes match the request of the stakeholder, giving them everything they need to put your work out into the world.
Do I need a degree for graphic design?
While not required, typical entry-level education for graphic designers is a bachelor's degree.2
For those who have yet to break into the field, a bachelor's program can offer a safe space to grow, test and develop compelling work in various media. You'll learn about industry-leading graphic design software, and challenge your limitations as an artist by creating fully-formed, marketable ideas and creative executions.
Plus, a grounding in a liberal education and the humanities will give you a cultural frame of reference that can help enrich you both professionally and personally. You'll be prepared to take on "real-world" visual communication projects that demand an understanding of a broad range of content.
Programs like SNHU's BA in Graphic Design also offer internships where you can gain critical workplace experience. In addition to putting your technical skills to the test, you'll learn firsthand how to collaborate, solve problems and implement creative design solutions for real stakeholders working in the industry today. These experiences, and the resulting portfolio work, can help you stand out in a highly competitive market.
What kind of jobs can you get with a degree in graphic design?
Graphic design often combines images and words to tell compelling stories – making it a critical skill in "selling" products, ideas and brand identities. As a graphic designer, you'll be a key player in:
- Public Relations
See the Career Outlook section above for a more detailed look at potential career paths with a graphic design degree.
Is graphic design in demand?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for graphic designers is projected to grow 3% through 2028.1 However, graphic design jobs in computer systems design and related services are projected to grow at a much faster rate – 24% through 2028.1
When it comes to computer systems design, graphic designers play a major role in creating compelling, user-friendly experiences on both web and mobile environments. They must blend form and function to create layouts that are at once visually striking and easy to use.
With website development driving much of this job growth, graphic designers with a background in web design may possess a more marketable skillset for today's employers.
Can I work from home as a graphic designer?
Graphic designers will have the option to work in a number of different professional settings, such as studios, ad agencies and design firms.
You may also have the option of working as a contractor, giving you more flexibility with both remote and onsite work. Collaboration, however, is crucial in this professional, so you'll need to facilitate consistent communication with clients, stakeholders and fellow creatives throughout every project – whether in-person or through remote channels.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the Internet at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-6 (viewed May 4, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-1 (viewed May 4, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm (viewed May 4, 2020)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2 According to survey responses from over 9,200 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2019.