Web Graphic Design Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a web graphic design degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Web Graphic Design: Associate and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Web graphic designers are responsible for creating websites that are visually appealing and functional. As a student of web graphic design, you will learn how to use industry-standard software and technology to create professional websites tailored to your clients' needs.

In addition to learning about the fundamentals of design, you'll also learn how to use marketing strategies to create the most effective websites. Graduates can find jobs with advertising agencies, creative departments of corporations, web design studios, animation studios and public relations companies, among others.

With the continued explosion of Internet use, companies and individuals need well-designed websites. In May 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average salary for web developers was about $82,000. The BLS predicted that web developers would see a 22% employment growth from 2010 to 2010, which is faster than average. Although these figures are good, you should be aware that competition for web design jobs might be stiff because you'll be competing with applicants with formal education, as well as self-taught applicants who learned their craft through years of trial and error.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Students interested in getting a solid foundation in web creation and design Students who want to deepen their understanding of web design and learn programming skills
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) Although these jobs are open to applicants with associate degrees, employers may give preference to applicants with bachelor's degrees.
- Web designer ($62,000 - experience and/or a bachelor's degree may be required for this salary)*
- Graphic designers ($44,000)**
- Web architects or programmers ($78,000 - web developers with programming experience)**
- Art directors ($81,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - 18 credits of general education courses
- 54-66 credits of courses in web design fundamentals, technology and software
- Portfolio review/exhibit
- Web design fundamentals, technology and software
- Courses in multimedia and animation
- Programming and scripting classes
- Advanced courses in web design and production
- Portfolio review/exhibit
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma, GED or associate degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *Salary.com (May 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Web Graphic Design

Associate degree programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Web Graphic Design or AAS in Web and Interactive Media, provide the fundamentals you'll need to get an entry-level job as a web designer. You'll learn which software is standard in the industry and how to use them. These programs also provide a solid background of the history of graphic design and its use for the Internet. The basics of HTML/XHTML, typography and web layouts are a few of the core topics you'll cover. You'll also be introduced to important web tools like Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop and others.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • After you get your foot in the door or find your niche, an associate degree may be the only long-term formal training you will ever need throughout your career.*
  • There is a lot of overlap in web design-related jobs, especially at the entry-level, so you may have a broad range of employment options after graduation.*
  • You may be able to put your web design skills to use almost immediately by creating your own website or troubleshooting existing websites.

Cons

  • Many may consider web design a fun or glamorous job, so competition for the best jobs will be strong.
  • Some employers may prefer to hire applicants with bachelor's degrees even for entry-level jobs.*
  • Because of the broad nature of web design, you could risk getting lost in the crowd unless you find a specialized niche early in your career.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

At the associate level, you may not need a strong foundation in programming. Because of this, most courses will focus on the design aspect of web graphic design. Core courses you may complete include:

  • Digital imaging
  • Color typography
  • Web layout and design
  • Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Web animation

Building a portfolio can also be an important component of this degree, and you may also need to submit a portfolio for review to successfully complete this program. Some schools may also require a capstone project, such as a solo or group project.

Online Degree Options

The online degree options are similar to those for on-campus associate degree programs. Students must take a similar number of core courses, including the same amount of general education courses. Online students may also have to build their portfolios throughout this 2-year degree program and submit them for review in order to graduate. Some online schools use technology to have live online portfolio reviews. A capstone project may also be required for graduation.

Stand Out with this Degree

Treat your portfolio as the vital job search tool it will become. Determine if you have what it takes to be an excellent generalist, or if you need to focus on perfecting a specific area of web design. In addition to building a great portfolio, you should have a professional-looking web page that you designed from scratch to refer employers to for another sample of your work. If you don't have any on-the-job experience, consider volunteering your web design services in order to add to your design portfolio.

The BLS also notes that it's important for those who work in graphic design areas to stay current with industry software in design and computer graphics. You can learn more about these types of software in your program or by training with them on your own.

Bachelor's in Web Graphic Design

You can find a variety of bachelor's degree programs that offer training in web graphic design, such as the Bachelor of Art in Graphic Information, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Web Design and Interactive Media or B.S. in Media Arts with a concentration in web design. These degree programs generally delve deeper into the technology you'll be using as a web designer.

It can also help you develop your own creative voice after you have learned the fundamentals of web design. Like the associate degree, the bachelor's program will qualify you for entry-level positions web development, graphic design or other related fields.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The minimum education many employers expect is a bachelor's degree, even for entry-level jobs.*
  • Many degree programs provide the type of practical project management and Internet marketing training you'll need to impress potential employers, especially if you don't have work experience.
  • Once you've established yourself as a good web designer, you may be able to successfully work as a freelancer, either part-time or full-time.

Cons

  • You'll be competing with applicants with associate degrees, as well as experience, for the same jobs.
  • Many talented people are attracted to these jobs, so the competition for the best jobs will be strong.*
  • You may need to complete continuing education to stay current with industry software and technology.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program expands on the courses offered in an associate degree program. In addition to teaching the basics of designing a web page, the bachelor's program also covers the more advanced programming aspects of website design. The additional two years of a bachelor's program also allow more time for you to find your creative voice and hone your technical skills. Examples of courses include:

  • Web design programming
  • Implementing web campaigns
  • Using scripting for the web
  • Usability and web design
  • Illustration
  • Independent portfolio building and review

Online Degree Options

You will primarily find online bachelor's degree programs in this area through private, for-profit institutions. Some programs may include web design as one of the areas of focus under the umbrella of a multimedia design or graphic design degree program.

These schools offer 4-year degree programs that are comparable to the degree programs for on-campus schools. In addition to coursework, online students may also be required to work on building their portfolios and complete other research and design projects before graduation.

Stand Out with this Degree

As a graduate with a bachelor's degree, you may be competing with people who have real-world experience in some area of web design. You may consider pursuing internship or volunteer opportunities outside of any program requirements. For example, you could work with a nonprofit organization that may need help in establishing a web presence.

Another way you could enhance your training would be to pursue professional certification in related areas, like web development and graphic design. You can find a variety of certification options, such as the web design specialist credential from the Certified Internet Web Professional organization.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Web Design and Development
      • B.S. - Game Design
      • B.S. - Computer Animation
      • B.S. - Game Art
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - IT - Web Development
      • Bachelor: Information Technology
      • BS - Business Administration - IT
      • BS - IT - Security
      • BS - Management - Cybersecurity Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security - Information Assurance
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Marketing - Digital Advertising, Promotion and Branding
      • B.S. Digital Communication
      • B.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cyber Security
  • Campus Locations:
    9. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Management Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Technology: Information Assurance and Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Web Design and Development
  • B.S. - Game Design
  • B.S. - Computer Animation

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BSIT - Information Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • BS - IT - Web Development
  • Bachelor: Information Technology
  • BS - Business Administration - IT

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Marketing - Digital Advertising, Promotion and Branding
  • B.S. Digital Communication
  • B.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology

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ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
  • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cyber Security

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