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Online Degrees in Art and Design

The world is a more beautiful place because of the art that is in. Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw recognized this sentiment when he said: "Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." If you have a desire to contribute to the world through your creative and artistic abilities, a degree in art and design could be for you.

Whether it's through photography, fashion design, music, theater art, animation, web design or a similar field, a formal education in art and design can open up opportunities for students to work with both traditional and new media. With interest in art and design growing, a degree in this field can be greatly employable. Take a look at some of the trends and government initiatives to keep the arts alive:

  • Trends show that Americans are more engaged in the arts than ever before and believe more strongly of its power to impact life positively, according to a 2018 public opinion poll conducted by the American for the Arts.
  • Arts is encouraged and supported by companies across the country. In 2017, more than 75 percent of companies made financial contributions to the arts for the building of vibrant communities.
  • Thousands of nonprofit arts and culture organizations act as economic drivers leading to an industry that supports employment, creates government revenue, and promotes the tourism industry.
  • Government initiatives continue to sustain and promote the arts through programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which receives federal funding to keep the arts alive through community projects, making sure that more artists are added to our workforce every year.
  • The Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act, re-introduced in 2017, seeks to invest in the nation's workforce and creative economy. One way they do so is by providing more support to artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Whatever your choice of medium when it comes to art and design, you may find many different ways to launch and sustain a career, whether through arts education, manufacturing and retail, traditional employment or innovation.

Online degrees in art and design are available from the associate to doctoral level and could provide you with that extra push for making a step toward a career and divining your own unique contributions. If you're a high school graduate, working professional or someone who has family commitments, an online degree in art and design may be a good option for you to consider.

Art Directors
Job DescriptionArt directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.
Mean Annual Salary: $105K
Typical Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
Fashion Designers
Job DescriptionFashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they designed.
Mean Annual Salary: $88K
Typical Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Job DescriptionMultimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.
Mean Annual Salary: $78K
Typical Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
Music Directors and Composers
Job DescriptionMusic directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles.
Mean Annual Salary: $60K
Typical Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
Graphic Designers
Job DescriptionGraphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.
Mean Annual Salary: $55K
Typical Degree Required: Bachelor's degree

Art and design are at the heart of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In fact, creativity, innovation and economic growth are said to be fostered by STEAM, rather than STEM. The sections below provide information on diverse online art and design degree programs for you to consider.

Be sure to click on the buttons under each section for detailed information on each program by degree level.

Explore online art and design colleges using our list of the best online schools in art and design. Compare, consider and make your college choice.

Online Programs in Arts

More industries are recognizing the value artists can add to their work creating a wide variety of employment opportunities in schools, community centers, religious organizations, hospitals, neuroscience labs, and senior centers. Whether you seek an education in animation, fine art and crafts, music, photography or theater arts, hybrid or fully online art degree programs could be an option for you.

Just click on any of the buttons below to find more information on degree programs related to the arts. You'll find information on the kind of salary you may be able to expect, career outlook, typical job duties and the coursework you may encounter.

Online Programs in Design

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a growing demand for people with skills in animation and visual effects for the creation of video games, movies, and mobile apps. Graphic designers are also likely to see greater job growth with more and more businesses establishing a digital presence through a variety of media platforms. 

Click on any of the buttons below to discover more about how these programs can help you achieve your career goals. Explore coursework by degree level, estimated wages, top jobs and more.

Below are lists of the top 10 colleges for art and design online degree programs by degree levels. We compiled our lists using key factors that we considered important to the online experience, including the availability of academic and career counseling services, the percentage of students partially or fully enrolled in distance education and the average in-state tuition. Be sure to check out our methodology at the bottom of this page so that you can be fully confident that these colleges present you with the best online degree program options.

Top Colleges for Online Associate Degrees in Art and Design

Associate degree programs in art and design typically take two years to finish. An associate degree program can help graduates to prepare for entry-level work in a field like graphic design or to build the foundations for a higher-level degree.

1
Academy of Art University(San Francisco, CA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
Allen County Community College(Iola, KS)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$1,920
No. of online programs
81
% of students in distance education
70%
Avg. amount of Aid
$2,944
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
3
Surry Community College(Dobson, NC)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$2,128
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
47%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,953
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
AI Miami International University of Art and Design(Miami, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$17,604
No. of online programs
N/A
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,504
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
29%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Jackson College(Jackson, MI)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$6,944
No. of online programs
11
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,277
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
10%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Dakota College at Bottineau(Bottineau, ND)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$3,607
No. of online programs
23
% of students in distance education
76%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,040
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
7
West Kentucky Community and Technical College(Paducah, KY)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$3,888
No. of online programs
22
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,391
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Lansing Community College(Lansing, MI)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$6,180
No. of online programs
13
% of students in distance education
41%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,501
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
SUNY Empire State College(Saratoga Springs, NY)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$6,670
No. of online programs
56
% of students in distance education
62%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,446
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
14%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
10
Maranatha Baptist University(Watertown, WI)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$13,750
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
51%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,527
Admissions Rate
73%
Graduation Rate
50%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Top Colleges for Online Bachelor's Degrees in Art and Design

A bachelor's degree is considered foundational for many different occupations in art and design. For example, occupations for art directors, fashion designers, interior designers and animators require a bachelor's degree, the BLS reports. And an online bachelor's degree in art and design can usually be completed in four years.

1
Academy of Art University(San Francisco, CA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
AI Miami International University of Art and Design(Miami, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$17,604
No. of online programs
N/A
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,504
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
29%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design(Lakewood, CO)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$16,268
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,534
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
46%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
University of Florida(Gainesville, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$4,477
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
58%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,517
Admissions Rate
42%
Graduation Rate
88%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Full Sail University(Winter Park, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$19,929
No. of online programs
64
% of students in distance education
98%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,334
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
27%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Valley City State University(Valley City, ND)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$5,493
No. of online programs
13
% of students in distance education
72%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,376
Admissions Rate
76%
Graduation Rate
35%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
North Carolina Central University(Durham, NC)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$3,728
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,233
Admissions Rate
83%
Graduation Rate
44%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Bellevue University(Bellevue, NE)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$7,152
No. of online programs
70
% of students in distance education
88%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,557
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
17%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
9
Judson College(Marion, AL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$16,736
No. of online programs
18
% of students in distance education
19%
Avg. amount of Aid
$10,315
Admissions Rate
51%
Graduation Rate
32%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
Northern Arizona University(Flagstaff, AZ)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$9,366
No. of online programs
64
% of students in distance education
42%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,741
Admissions Rate
81%
Graduation Rate
55%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Top Colleges for Online Master's Degrees in Art and Design

A master's degree can usually be completed in two years or more. This degree might be right for someone who wants to advance in their profession, teach at a community college or learn more advanced skills.

1
Academy of Art University(San Francisco, CA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
University of Nebraska at Kearney(Kearney, NE)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$5,753
No. of online programs
24
% of students in distance education
55%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,930
Admissions Rate
82%
Graduation Rate
61%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Southern Utah University(Cedar City, UT)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$5,918
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
53%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,828
Admissions Rate
76%
Graduation Rate
47%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Northwestern State University of Louisiana(Natchitoches, LA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$5,180
No. of online programs
55
% of students in distance education
78%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,161
Admissions Rate
80%
Graduation Rate
39%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania(Edinboro, PA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$7,492
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,524
Admissions Rate
93%
Graduation Rate
43%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
6
Eastern Kentucky University(Richmond, KY)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$8,996
No. of online programs
45
% of students in distance education
42%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,779
Admissions Rate
87%
Graduation Rate
44%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Full Sail University(Winter Park, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$19,929
No. of online programs
64
% of students in distance education
98%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,334
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
27%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
New Mexico State University-Main Campus(Las Cruces, NM)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$5,323
No. of online programs
29
% of students in distance education
40%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,026
Admissions Rate
64%
Graduation Rate
46%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
National University(La Jolla, CA)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$13,032
No. of online programs
120
% of students in distance education
77%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,083
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
42%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
University of Florida(Gainesville, FL)
Additional Info
Average in-state tuition
$4,477
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
58%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,517
Admissions Rate
42%
Graduation Rate
88%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
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Before you decide to commit to a program, it may be smart to see what the in-demand occupations are in art and design and whether you would like to align your interests with them to maximize your career potential. Take a look at this list compiled from BLS data presenting top art and design occupations along with their related employment numbers and average salaries.

Occupations In-Demand for Art Design
Job Openings (2016-26)
Average Salary (2018)
Typical Entry Level Education
Graphic Designers26,200$54,680Bachelor's degree
Producers and Directors14,000$89,840Bachelor's degree
Art Directors8,000$104,590Bachelor's degree
Music Directors and Composers7,800$59,790Bachelor's degree
Multimedia Artists and Animators6,800$78,230Bachelor's degree
Interior Designers6,600$59,120Bachelor's degree
Film and Video Editors4,000$86,830Bachelor's degree
Commercial and Industrial Designers3,900$71,430Bachelor's degree
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators2,500$58,370Bachelor's degree
Fashion Designers2,300$87,610Bachelor's degree
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
Methodology and Sources
Methodology and Sources

Methodology:

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in art and design by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
  4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor’s and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:

  • 40 colleges for online associate degree in art and design
  • 31 colleges for online bachelor’s degree in art and design
  • 34 colleges for online master’s degree in art and design

We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

Associate/Bachelor’s

  1. Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans (4 variables considered)
    1. Payment
    2. Guaranteed
    3. Prepaid
    4. Other
  11. Services (2 variables considered)
    1. Academic/Career
    2. Placement for Completers
  12. Credit offerings (4 variables considered)
    1. Dual
    2. Life
    3. AP
    4. Military

Master’s

  1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
  4. Credit offerings (2 variables considered)
    1. Life
    2. Military
  5. Services (2 variables considered)
    1. Academic/Career
    2. Placement for Completers
  6. The availability of any tuition plans (3 variables considered)
    1. Payment
    2. Prepaid
    3. Other
  7. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media

Methodology Source:

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources:

  • "10 Reasons Why the Arts are So Important in Our Lives," Swari Swami, May 31, 2016, The Odyssey Online, https://www.theodysseyonline.com/10-reasons-why-arts-are-important-in-our-lives
  • About Americans for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Accessed November 2018, https://www.americansforthearts.org/about-americans-for-the-arts
  • Art and Design Occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed November 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/home.htm
  • Arts and Healing Exploring the Potential for the Arts in Healthcare Settings, https://www.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/TCB-Business-Contributions-to-the-Arts-2018.pdf, accessed January 2019
  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed November 2018, https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag71.htm#workplace_trends
  • Associate of Arts, Graphic Design Degree, Payscale.com, Accessed November 2018, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Associate_of_Arts_(AA)%2C_Graphic_Design/Salary
  • Frequently Asked Questions, the National Endowment for the Arts, February 2018, https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Facts&Figures_FY2019_budget_update8.2.18.pdf
  • Master of Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Payscale.com, Accessed November 2018, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Fine_Arts_(MFA)%2C_Graphic_Design/Salary
  • Multimedia Artists and Animators, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed November 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm
  • PhD in Art and Design, MIT Press Journals, Ken Friedman and Jack Ox, Accessed November 2018, https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/LEON_e_01472
  • Postsecondary Teachers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed November 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-1
  • The Create Act, Americans for the Arts, Accessed November 2018, https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/legislative-issue-center/the-create-act
  • Valuing the Art of Industrial Design, Art Works, Accessed November 2018, https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/Valuing-Industrial-Design.pdf
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