Top 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Programs in Graphic Design 2020

Graphic design is one of those unique occupations where being able to do the job well is usually far more important than any degree. That’s why many graphic design professionals start their career with online certifications, hands-on practice, or maybe an associate’s degree. But for professionals in advertising, marketing, package design, and other industries that value graphic design, the lack of a degree can also be a barrier to higher positions and pay. The return on investment for a bachelor’s degree isn’t always obvious in an entry-level graphic design job, but when several years go by and you’re still at entry-level salary, a bachelor’s degree might put you over the hump for management and more advanced positions.

Online bachelor’s completion programs in graphic design are built for working adults and professionals who are already in the graphic design field, or working in similar jobs. They build on skills already learned, provide new skills, and offer reputable credentials. The most affordable graphic design schools help do all those things, without sacrificing so much of your hard-earned pay to get ahead. Most of the best online graphic design programs offer credit for work experience, military service, certifications, and other proofs of your skills (like exams). Because when you’re trying to get ahead in your career, unnecessary debt isn’t a value.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Graphic Design Schools

To rank the most affordable online graphic design programs, Value Colleges looked to all of the reputable, accredited colleges and universities offering online graphic design bachelor’s degrees. This was an important baseline, but for establishing an order, the Most Affordable ranking is only interested in one thing: cost. VC used current data from IPEDS and ranked programs from lowest to highest cost, so students can trust they’re making the most off their investment.

Rank School Name Description

Bellevue University

Students can earn the Bellevue University BA in Graphic Design – one of the most affordable graphic design programs in the nation – either on campus or online. Opting for this university allows students to embark upon studies including how to utilize critical thinking processes necessary in graphic design, effective communication, skillful use of software applications, proper production applications, and how to develop a portfolio. When students are researching the cheapest online graphic design degree, they won’t have to sacrifice high-quality education regarding the offerings at Bellevue University.

Bellevue University receives its accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, which one of the many regional accreditation agencies that receive recognition through the U.S. Department of Education. The University has been offering online programs since 1999-2000 and, because all online classes are archived, students can conveniently access them anytime. The university’s motto is ”Real Learning for Real Life,” and one of the most affordable graphic design schools helps make that possible.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Graphic Design

University of Maryland University College

Students with interest in earning their BA in Graphic Communication at the University of Maryland University College can expect one of the most affordable graphic design degrees online. UMUC makes it possible for students to affordably earn their bachelor’s degree online with the flexibility they need. During their course of study, students will learn how to produce effective visual communications. They’ll achieve this goal by applying principles of color theory, composition, context, and layout. They’ll also learn about planning, designing, and creating interactive solutions including mobile applications, motion graphics, user interfaces, and web designs. Students will develop analytical, collaborative, and technical design skills necessary for supporting the roles, responsibilities, and goals of their team. Students will also learn how to define and direct a business environment’s creative strategy. Students who are looking for the cheapest online graphic design degree will find that, at UMUC, the BA in Graphic Communications degree is one that’s portfolio-intensive and will help them achieve their goals.

UMUC receives its accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. UMUM is a public institution that was founded in 1947, specifically with the needs of working adult students in mind – originally, returning WWII veterans. Their core values include putting the students first, having accountability, practicing diversity, using integrity, embracing excellence, honoring innovation, and using respect.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Graphic Communication

Arizona State University

The Arizona State University Online BS in Graphic Information Technology is optimal for students who need the flexibility and convenience of an online degree program. As one of the most affordable graphic design degrees, it’s possible for students to achieve their educational goals affordably. Students will participate in forty total classes that are seven and a half weeks long per class and are a total of one hundred and twenty credit hours. During that time, students will develop a creative, managerial, and technological understanding of content creation and graphics information. That way, students will have preparation to create content across multiple channels including animation, photo, print, web, and video. Those who are researching the cheapest online graphic design degree will find that earning their BS in Graphic Information Technology through ASU Online will not only prepare them for the world of technology but also set them up for their careers as well.

Programs provided through Arizona State University’s ASU Online receives accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Center Association of Schools and Colleges. According to U.S. News and World Reports, Arizona State University’s online programs are currently ranking #2 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, and the school has long been named the most innovative in America. The university has specific goals including demonstrating leadership, enhancing their local impact, and establishing a national standing regarding academic quality.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BS in Graphic Information Technology

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College provides a BA in Graphic Design for students who wish to pursue their education online, with one of the most affordable graphic design programs online. Those participating in this degree program have many opportunities and options, including Flex Choice®, whereby students can blend self-directed assessments with online education. Students will also have exposure to portfolio development, cutting-edge curriculum, and the preparation to receive industry certification. Because more and more students need to attend affordable graphic design schools, Rasmussen College ensures their online courses and degree programs don’t sacrifice quality.

Rasmussen College receives its accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. Students who embark upon their educational journey at Rasmussen College will find that they’re not only receiving an affordable education but one that’s career focused. The college’s mission is to provide students with an enriching experience using dynamic curriculum and innovative programs to help them achieve academic excellence. For more than one hundred years, Rasmussen college has made it their commitment to providing high-quality education and support to each of their students.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Graphic Design

Regent University

The BFA in Graphic Arts online at Regent University gives students less worry about earning a degree and experiencing high student debt with one of the nation’s most affordable graphic design schools. If you’re a student who loves design, this is the degree that will help you advance your education and career goals. Not only will you develop industry-leading skills but you’ll also learn technical foundations, as well as how to use design software necessary for a career in graphic arts. Other careers could include advertising, marketing, or media integration. Students will have the opportunity to study the fundamentals of corporate branding, design, digital photography, drawing, fundamentals of design, illustration, logo development, web design, and more. Each of the courses offered at Regent University is also from a Christian point of view.

Regent University receives its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. They’re a private institution founded in 1978 with an undergraduate class of 4,660. With the motto, ”Christian Leadership to Change the World,” the university embraces values including excellence, integrity, and innovation.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BFA in Graphic Arts

Hodges University

The online BA in Digital Design and Graphics from Hodges University is designed to be accessible and affordable for students concerned about experiencing high student debt following graduation. Students work one-on-one with admissions counselors to determine where to start in their digital design and graphics degree. The main reason is that the courses students select depend on where they are in their career. What that means is, administrators will work with students to ensure they’re meeting their educational and career goals by applying previous digital design experiences. Hodges University respects the need for students to find affordable graphic design schools, which is why they work hard to ensure high-quality education is available that will meet and exceed expectation.

Hodges University receives its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Founded in 1990, the university is a private institution offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Their motto is, “Stay Near. Go Far.” They follow institutional pillars including programmatic excellence, operational effectiveness, community engagement, institutional growth, and institutional objectives.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Digital Design and Graphics

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University’s BA in Advertising and Graphic Design online program gives students a comprehensive and intensive degree program that won’t leave them with significant student debt following graduation. Students embarking upon this degree program will embrace the necessary tools to develop an understanding of design strategies, so they can produce advertisements. In doing so, they’ll work toward conceptualizing, developing core principles, and software mastery. Grand Canyon University is known for being one of the affordable graphic design schools that prepares students for success in their career field, as well.

Grand Canyon University receives its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. The university was founded in 1949 as a proprietary institution and, despite its namesake, it is located in Phoenix. Grand Canyon University’s mission includes core values that encompass global citizenship, critical thinking, effective communication, responsible leadership, and how things are seen from a Christian heritage.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Advertising and Graphic Design

Kentucky Wesleyan College

Kentucky Wesleyan College’s BA in Graphic Design degree is a bachelor’s completion program designed to meet the needs of the ever-evolving career field. Highly-skilled professionals are continuously in demand in the graphic design industry, as well as related fields. Once students finish their core courses that include foundation design courses and drawing, they’ll move on to graphic design coursework. These courses include branding design, animation, typography, publication, web design, and more. Kentucky Wesleyan College is one of the most affordable graphic design online degree programs in the nation.

Kentucky Wesleyan College receives its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The college was initially founded in 1858 as a private institution, and its current undergraduate enrollment consists of 714 students. KWC ranks as one of the top Regional Colleges South, according to U.S. News and World Report. Kentucky Wesleyan College’s mission is to help students communicate effectively, learn to think critically, and live ethically in a rapidly changing and complex world.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BA in Graphic Design

Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University offers a BFA in Graphic Design to students who wish to pursue their education online. Even though students will be working online, AAU students will still be receiving the same education from industry experts and hands-on experiences. Every student is part of an engaging and vibrant online learning community that’s filled with engaging coursework, digital documentation, audio-enhanced slideshows, instructional videos, and more. Participating in this program is optimal for those who have busy schedules because it’s flexible, as well as convenient. The Academy of Art University is one of the most affordable graphic design degree programs out there.

Academy of Art University receives its accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The university was originally founded in 1929 as a proprietary institution, and currently has 7,652 in its undergraduate class. Their motto is, “Built by artists for artists.” Their core values include valuing inclusion, valuing faculty, the benefits of collaboration, the planet, their urban campus, and your time and schedule.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BFA in Graphic Design

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design online BFA in Graphic Design helps with a passion for non-verbal and artistic communication thrive. Not only will they develop the skills necessary for translating their passions into brands and storytelling but they’ll also learn how to integrate them using written and typographic presentations professionally. Coursework will include typography, user interface, storytelling, real-world clients, written and verbal communications, and design software. When students are researching the cheapest online graphic design degree, they’ll see they’re getting a high return on their investment from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design receives regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. The university was initially founded in 1963 as a private art school. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design embraces ten value statements. These include putting students first, being a campus of innovators, welcoming individuality, celebrating community, communicating campus pride, fostering innovation, being financially sustainable, being risk-takers, valuing professionalism, and embracing a culture of communication, leadership, and trust.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Degree: BFA in Graphic Design

How Do I Enroll in an Online Graphic Design Bachelor’s Completion Program?

Want to study graphic design online? Out of all the degrees that you can get online, graphic design is one of the best-suited for internet learning. Since it’s a technology-based field, it fits naturally with the online learning lifestyle. As a result, you’ll find no shortage of affordable online options. If you want a completion program, then you have even more options. So, what exactly is a completion program? It’s a program for those who already have an online graphic design associate degree or comparable experience. A completion program allows you to count the courses that you’ve already taken toward your degree. This option lets you save time and money because you won’t have to review information that you already know.

if you’ve already got some experience under your belt, then an online completion program may provide your best option. If you have an online graphic design associate’s degree, for example, then a completion program will have what you need to get the most out of your education. Most graphic design completion programs require that you earn at least an associate’s degree first. However, a few will accept work experience in place of an associate’s degree. Check for requirements on your target school’s website.

Can I Get an Online Graphic Design Degree Free?

Although getting an online graphic design degree free isn’t impossible, it is very difficult. That said, you have lots of options is you want to test the waters for a while. You can find graphic design short courses online by doing a simple search, and many MOOCs offer free graphic design courses, but not for college credit – they’re just valuable for practicing new skills. You might also find free graphic design courses through your local library. While these free graphic design courses won’t give you degree credits, they will give you great opportunities to build your portfolio, learn new skills and technologies, and decide if graphic design is the right career path for you.

What If I Don’t Want a Full Bachelor’s in Graphic Design?

You don’t necessarily need a full bachelor’s degree to get graphic design work. However, you’ll have better chances of landing a great job if you have proof of skills. If you don’t want a full degree but still need chances to build your portfolio, then look into online graphic design courses with certificates. Graphic design certification programs will help you learn the basics and sharpen your skills. You can earn your certificate in less than half the time from online graphic design certificate programs than it would take for you to earn a full degree. Plus, a certification can be much cheaper than even the cheapest online graphic design degree.

If you’re unsure about the graphic design degree vs certificate question, then understand that it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. If you’d like, you can start by checking out online graphic design certificate programs. You can earn your certificate to get yourself started in the workforce. Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you can always expand your work opportunities by seeking out a bachelor’s degree program. A graphic design certificate vs degree isn’t a battle – it’s a step in the right direction.

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