Graphic Designer Education Requirements And Degrees

The education needed to be a graphic designer is normally a bachelor's degree. Graphic designers usually study graphic design, fine arts or design and visual communication. 68% of graphic designers hold a bachelor's degree and 23% hold a associate degree. We found these by analyzing 120,919 graphic designer resumes to investigate the topic of graphic designer education more precisely.

The most common colleges for students to pursue their goal of becoming a graphic designer are The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Savannah College of Art and Design. We also broke down what colleges provide the best overall education for a graphic designer. Students have a great path to earning their graphic designer qualifications at the following schools:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Carnegie Mellon University
  3. University of Southern California

If you're interested in getting a college degree in an affordable college for graphic designers - Brooklyn College of the City University of New York is an excellent option for you. If your SAT or ACT score aren't as high as you'd like, you can look at Notre Dame College, as the admission requirements aren't too selective. On the other end of that spectrum are the Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania and Northeastern University.

For those who would rather stay in your pajamas during the day, we prepared some online courses that can help in graphic designer education paths.

We prepared a list of a graphic designer certifications that you should consider. The necessary certifications that graphic designers must have to succeed are Master Certified Web Professional - Designer (CWP) and Certified Digital Designer (CDD).

What Degree Should I Get to Become a Graphic Designer ?

The most common degree for graphic designers is bachelor's degree 68% of graphic designers earn that degree. A close second is associate degree with 23% and rounding it off is master's degree with 3%.

  • Bachelors, 68%
  • Associate, 23%
  • Masters, 3%
  • High School Diploma, 3%
  • Other Degrees, 3%
Graphic Designer DegreeascdescPercentagesascdesc
Bachelors
68.0%
Associate
22.6%
Masters
3.4%
High School Diploma
3.3%
Diploma
1.8%

What Should I Major in to Become a Graphic Designer ?

Most graphic designers, 55% to be exact, major in graphic design. Some other common majors for a graphic designer include fine arts and design and visual communication majors.

Graphic Designer MajorascdescPercentagesascdesc
Graphic Design
54.7%
Fine Arts
9.3%
Design And Visual Communication
7.0%
Communication
3.6%
Computer Applications
2.8%

Most Common Colleges for Graphic Designer

Here are the most common colleges for a graphic designer career in the US based on their resumes. Advocates often get their degree in The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Savannah College of Art and Design, and School of Visual Arts .

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Savannah College of Art and Design

School of Visual Arts

Full Sail University

Fashion Institute of Technology

Graphic Designer Common CollegeascdescPercentagesascdesc
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
10.24%
Savannah College of Art and Design
10.09%
School of Visual Arts
6.98%
Full Sail University
6.63%
Fashion Institute of Technology
6.60%

Average Graphic Designer Salary by Education Level

Graphic designers with a Masters degree earn more than those without, at $50,414 annually. With a Bachelors degree, graphic designers earn a median annual income of $46,733.

Master's Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Some College/ Associate Degree

Graphic Designer Education LevelascdescGraphic Designer Salaryascdesc
Master's Degree
$50,414
Bachelor's Degree
$46,733
Some College/ Associate Degree
$44,075

Graphic Designer Jobs You Might Like

10 Best Universities For Graphic Designers

In a lot of cases, a higher education can mean a higher salary or even a better job. That's why we found out the best colleges for graphic designers. We based this list on these metrics: admissions rate, retention rate, mean earnings of students working, ratio of working vs. non-working students 10 years after admission, average cost of attendance and median debt for graduates.

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

5. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

7. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

8. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

9. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,230
Enrollment
12,161

10. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108
RankascdescSchoolascdescLocationascdesc
1
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
2
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA
3
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
4
Northeastern University
Boston, MA
5
New York University
New York, NY

19 Best Online Courses for Graphic Designers

Sometimes things are just better when you get to stay in your pajamas all day. That includes school. We found top courses for graphic designers from Udemy, Coursera, EDX, and ed2go that will help you advance in your career. Here are essential skills you need to be a graphic designer:

  • Adobe creative suite
  • Graphic design
  • Company website
If you want to improve graphic designers skills these courses could help you in this.

Advertising Disclosure
advertising-disclosure
Graphic Design Mastery: The FULL Branding & Design Process
udemy
4.6
(676)

Follows the FULL Graphic Design Process for A Company: Logo, Ad, Social Media, T-Shirt, Package, Website Design & More!...

Graphic Design Masterclass - Learn GREAT Design
udemy
4.6
(30,095)

The Ultimate Graphic Design Course Which Covers Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Design Theory, Branding and Logo Design...

Master Graphic Design & Software with Practical Projects
udemy
4.3
(471)

Conquer Popular Graphic Design Projects: Logo, Package, Magazine, Book Cover Design, Branding, Digital Graphics & More!...

T-Shirt Design Workshop 02: Mixed Media Design
udemy
4.9
(889)

Create T-Shirt Designs using Photoshop, Illustrator, and hand-drawing techniques...

The Business Graphic Design (In 2021)
udemy
4.2
(319)

Learn to create professional graphics with photoshop and illustrator and create living from it. logo, web design & more...

Introduction To Graphic Design
udemy
4.1
(2,743)

Learn the basics of graphic design using Canva to create real world projects...

Graphic Design Masterclass Intermediate: The NEXT Level
udemy
4.7
(2,360)

Up Your Graphic Design Skills: Logo Design, Photo Manipulation, Package Design, Infographics, Portfolio Building, Grids!...

Graphic Design Bootcamp: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
udemy
4.4
(14,933)

Bestselling Beginner Course! Use Photoshop, Illustrator, & InDesign for logo design, web design, poster design, and more...

Graphic Design Masterclass: Learn Graphic Design in Projects
udemy
4.4
(2,190)

Graphic design principles, typography, & color mastery using Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. For beginners & more!...

Digital Design Masterclass For Graphic Designers
udemy
4.7
(646)

Icon Set Design, E-book cover, Digitizing Sketches, Social Media Design, Wordpress Web Design, Adobe Xd, GIFS and more!...

Become a Professional Graphic Designer
udemy
4.5
(1,090)

Learn what you need to know to break into the world of graphic design...

T-Shirt Design Workshop 01: Foundation
udemy
4.2
(1,159)

Design a t-shirt like a professional: specialty printing methods, fabrics, inks, dyes, and washes...

The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course
udemy
4.6
(10,270)

Learn Graphic Design Theory and the Basic Principles of Color Theory, Typography, Branding, Logo Design, Layout & More!...

Graphic Design with Photoshop
ed2go

Graphic Design with Photoshop...

Graphic Design Certification - Legendary Edition
udemy
4.3
(1,279)

MBA in Creative Arts, Design and Animation: Level 1 - Part 1 course that focusses on Graphic Design Tools and Software...

Graphic Design - An Overview of the Field
udemy
4
(2,623)

A survey course that explore nine graphic design specialties...

Canva for Beginners - Graphic Design Theory Volume 1
udemy
4.5
(309)

Learn Canva and Graphic Design Theory in this course so that you can use Canva for your next graphic design project!...

Canva Graphic Design Complete Guide 10+ Projects
udemy
4.5
(444)

Learn how to become a professional graphic designer in Canva by creating real world projects...

Graphic Design with Photoshop (Software Included)
ed2go

Graphic Design with Photoshop (Software Included)...

Best Graphic Designer Certifications in 2021

There are certain things that come along with being certified. In addition to earning a credential that proves you know what you're doing, you might also receive some extra benefits or a salary raise from your company. Sometimes it pays to do the extra work. If you're interested in making more money as a graphic designer, you might consider earning these certifications:

  • Master Certified Web Professional - Designer (CWP)
  • Certified Digital Designer (CDD)
  • Certified Graphics Communications Manager (CGCM)

1. Master Certified Web Professional - Designer (CWP)

Certification Details
  • More than two years of education or training after high school required? No
  • More than two years of work experience required? Yes
  • Oral or Written Exam Required? Yes
  • Renewal Required? Every 3 year(s)
2. Certified Digital Designer (CDD)

Professional Certification is an on-line examination provided by ADDA to establish a credentialing system based on an individual's competency level. The examinations are based on years of experience or training level. Examinations are Professional Level but are available to students. Examinations may be taken at any approved testing site or through a proctor approved by ADDA. Professional Certification through ADDA is a 3 year lifespan, from date of certification and requires renewal.

Professional Certification is an on-line examination provided by ADDA to establish a credentialing system based on an individual's competency level. The examinations are based on years of experience or training level. Examinations are Professional Level but are available to students. Examinations may be taken at any approved testing site or through a proctor approved by ADDA. Professional Certification through ADDA is a 3 year lifespan, from date of certification and requires renewal.

Certification Details
  • More than two years of education or training after high school required? No
  • More than two years of work experience required? Yes
  • Oral or Written Exam Required? Yes
  • Renewal Required? Every 3 year(s)
3. Certified Graphics Communications Manager (CGCM)

The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's (IPMA) Certified Graphic Communications Manager (CGCM) designation was created in 1976 to establish a professional standard of proficiency for the in-house graphic arts and printing management profession.

The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's (IPMA) Certified Graphic Communications Manager (CGCM) designation was created in 1976 to establish a professional standard of proficiency for the in-house graphic arts and printing management profession.

Certification Details
  • More than two years of education or training after high school required? Yes
  • More than two years of work experience required? Yes
  • Oral or Written Exam Required? Yes
  • Renewal Required? Every 5 year(s)

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Graphic Designer

Top 10 Affordable Universities For Graphic Designers

If those top 10 were a bit out of your price range, you might want to check these schools instead. After factoring in in-state tuition and fees, average cost of attendance, admissions rate, average net price and mean earnings after 6 years, we found that these are the most affordable schools for graphic designers.

1. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

Brooklyn, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,240
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$13,991

2. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$21,034

3. Brigham Young University

Provo, UT • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,620
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$18,136

4. Fashion Institute of Technology

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,740
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$17,864

5. Lehman College of the City University of New York

Bronx, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,210
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$14,359

6. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,306
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$16,091

7. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$22,430

8. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,222
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$20,422

9. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,796
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$24,514

10. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Cost of Attendance
Cost of attendance is the estimated annual cost of attending a particular college or university. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.
$25,275

Top 10 Hardest Universities To Get Into For Graphic Designers

Some people like a challenge. Well, we challenge you to get into one of these schools. It's not going to be easy. We know this based on these institutions' admissions rates, average SAT scores accepted, median ACT scores accepted and mean earnings of students 6 years after admission.

1. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

Admissions Rate
17%
SAT Average
1,507

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

Admissions Rate
8%
SAT Average
1,492

3. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

Admissions Rate
19%
SAT Average
1,466

4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

Admissions Rate
8%
SAT Average
1,508

5. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

Admissions Rate
13%
SAT Average
1,445

6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

Admissions Rate
22%
SAT Average
1,420

7. New York University

New York, NY • Private

Admissions Rate
20%
SAT Average
1,419

8. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

Admissions Rate
5%
SAT Average
1,520

9. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

Admissions Rate
42%
SAT Average
1,380

10. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

Admissions Rate
9%
SAT Average
1,516
RankascdescSchoolascdescLocationascdesc
1
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA
2
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
3
Northeastern University
Boston, MA
4
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL
5
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

Top 10 Easier To Apply Universities For Graphic Designers

Why make getting a job harder on yourself than it has to be? With these colleges, you're sure to be accepted in no time. We compiled admissions rates, average SAT scores, average ACT scores and average salary of students 6 years after graduation in order to uncover which were the easiest schools to get into.

1. Notre Dame College

Cleveland, OH • Private

Admissions Rate
90%
SAT Average
994

2. Notre Dame de Namur University

Belmont, CA • Private

Admissions Rate
82%
SAT Average
983

3. Cardinal Stritch University

Milwaukee, WI • Private

Admissions Rate
71%
SAT Average
1,035

4. Marymount University

Arlington, VA • Private

Admissions Rate
91%
SAT Average
1,065

5. Grand View University

Des Moines, IA • Private

Admissions Rate
92%
SAT Average
1,060

6. Centenary University

Hackettstown, NJ • Private

Admissions Rate
67%
SAT Average
987

7. Linfield College

McMinnville, OR • Private

Admissions Rate
81%
SAT Average
1,117

8. Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Valley, PA • Private

Admissions Rate
92%
SAT Average
1,031

9. Longwood University

Farmville, VA • Private

Admissions Rate
89%
SAT Average
1,065

10. Mount Saint Mary's University

Los Angeles, CA • Private

Admissions Rate
84%
SAT Average
1,031
RankascdescSchoolascdescLocationascdesc
1
Notre Dame College
Cleveland, OH
2
Notre Dame de Namur University
Belmont, CA
3
Cardinal Stritch University
Milwaukee, WI
4
Marymount University
Arlington, VA
5
Grand View University
Des Moines, IA

Graphic Designer Internship Jobs

Graphic Designer Jobs