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2014′s 13 Best Online Colleges for Design

If you are a creative, artistic person who wants to showcase your skills, then design may be your calling. Designers are the creative minds behind video games, logos, magazines, websites, novel covers, and virtually all artistic products and services. Earning a degree in design will give you a solid foundation in the concepts, tools, and techniques needed to succeed as a designer. Like most traditional design degree programs, the best online college design programs allow students to choose a concentration area such as web design, game design, and graphic design to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific field of design.

Another factor that makes design an attractive field to study is its positive job outlook. Designers, specifically those who work in computer systems design and related services, can expect to see a steady increase in employment until 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Design majors also have the advantage of working in a wide range of careers. A degree from an online design program can lead to jobs in graphic design, web design, and other art disciplines.

Graphic designers use art and technology to create visual concepts that will communicate specific messages to consumers. According to the BLS, graphic designers are the largest design occupation and are highly sought after by various industries. Most graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field, while others may opt for technical training at a vocational or technical school after receiving a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Design graduates may also find work as web designers who design, create, and maintain websites. Most web designers have a bachelor’s degree in design, web design, graphic design or a related field. Some web designers also receive their job training at vocational and technical schools. Working professionals and those who need more flexibility in their academic schedules may prefer to do distance learning through one of the best online colleges’ design degree programs.

Unlike other fields, there are no professional graphic design or web design licensing requirements to work in graphic design or web design, but you can become certified in Adobe and other industry-specific software products. You can also train and be tested in specific Adobe products, such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, or Flash. Since most graphic designers and web designers use Adobe software in their day-to-day work, it is a good idea to become experts in these products. Becoming certified in a specific product or area of work will increase your skills, boost your resume, and give you a competitive edge in the job market.

A design degree will provide you with the technical knowledge and skills needed to work in various design fields. Depending on your area of focus, most design majors will take courses in everything from drawing and color theory to web design and web animation. They will know how to design websites, create multimedia projects, and develop other types of graphic media using the skills they learned in class. The best online colleges design programs will train you in the latest tools and techniques used by current industry professionals.

There is a lot to consider when choosing the best online colleges design program that fits your academic and career goals. First and foremost, you need to verify the accreditation status of your institution and degree program. Accreditation is a stamp of approval given to institutions and programs that meet standards of academic quality. If you are looking for reliable, accredited schools to study design, check out the National Association of Schools of Art and Design for a list of approximately 309 accredited institutions and undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Online design programs will give students plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experience and showcase their design skills in solo and group projects. While you are in school, it is important to build a professional portfolio of your designs, and collect work samples from classroom assignments, internships, and non-school related projects. These design examples will come in handy when you apply to jobs, internships, or graduate schools. The BLS recommends all design graduates and professionals working in the field stay ahead of new and updated software programs and design tools so that they are on par with industry standards and remain competitive in their field.

Rankings

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Rank School Name Average Rating
1 Southern New Hampshire University 11.34
2 Full Sail University 14.07
3 Stevens-Henager College 15.23
4 National University 16.42
5 Champlain College 19.95
6 American Intercontinental University 21.95
7 ITT Technical Institute 23.48
8 Franklin University 24.37
9 Rasmussen College 24.77
10 Harrison College 24.94
11 Bellevue University 26.47
12 Hodges University 26.80
13 Western Governors University 28.13
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