How do I Choose the Best Graphic Design Distance Learning Program?

Elle Jay

Graphic design distance learning offers a nontraditional path to become a graphic designer. Some graphic designers get their educations via traditional colleges, but online graphic design courses may help certain students become graphic designers in a way that better fits their lifestyles. If you are interested in going the online route, choosing the best graphic design distance learning program requires good information and smart choices. Before choosing a graphic design distance learning program, you should determine your career plans; consider accreditation and reputation of potential schools; and review program requirements, including course load and costs.

Be sure to check the program requirements before choosing a graphic design program.
Be sure to check the program requirements before choosing a graphic design program.

Research different jobs that require a degree in graphic design and then decide what fits your goals and desires. Once you know the degree you want, find a distance learning program that offers graphic design classes for your major. Graphic design degree options can include certifications or associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.
A graphic designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.

As you gather information, compare distance learning programs with traditional college and university degree programs. Find out if a distance learning school is accredited, as this can have an impact on future jobs as well as the ability to transfer to another educational institution. Schools gain accreditation through an outside agency based on a number of factors, including program quality. Some employers may not recognize a diploma from an unaccredited school, and many colleges will not accept transfer credits from a program without accreditation.

Check into the program requirements when you find a graphic design distance learning program that meets your needs. Learn about educational prerequisites, and find out if a high school diploma or GED is sufficient for admission. Some schools base entrance decisions on academic history, and some may want letters of recommendation. Also ask about experience credit, because certain programs offer school credit for life or work experience.

Before applying and enrolling, research the job placement statistics for the graphic design distance learning program you're considering. Also consider the time it will take to finish your degree. Bear in mind schedule requirements as well as the way online classes are conducted. Some online graphic design courses are available anytime, but others are scheduled at a specific time to allow interaction with teachers and classmates.

Cost is another important consideration when choosing a graphic design distance learning program. Find out the total cost of the program, and do not forget to include non-class expenses such as computer equipment, software programs, textbooks and Internet service. Ask about financial aid or scholarship programs the school may offer, along with any payment plan options that might ease the burden of paying tuition.

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Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- That may be true to an extent, but isn't that quite a risk to take? There are a lot of employers who want to see a degree and a transcript, and they may not be impressed by a degree with a college that isn't accredited.

You may save some money and you may come out fine by completing a distance learning program from a college that is not accredited. But why take that chance? I would think it is a good idea to err on the side of caution here.


@Melonlity -- Hold on there. There are some very good distance learning programs out there that are not accredited. No, you will probably not get a degree that is worth much, but you could learn some valuable skills.

So, why bother with one of those? You may save some money and you may wind up with a set of skills that will help you land a career in graphic design. There are more than a few companies out there that are more interested in whether a graphic designer can do the work rather than whether one has a degree from an accredited college or university.


You can't stress enough the importance of getting an accredited degree program. The problem with distance learning is that there are a ton of fly by night offerings out there that are set up primarily to take your money.

Do some research before jumping into one of those online programs. There's a very good chance that a local university offers such programs and those are probably legit.

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