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2023 Best Online Art Design Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/28/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Art & Design Badge

Art design is a broad field that encompasses careers in animation, product development, fashion, fine art, video games, film, and more. Graduating with an online degree in art design, or a specific industry within the field, prepares you to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to use digital technology and visual storytelling methods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that arts and design occupations will only grow by 2% in the next decade, amounting to roughly 20,500 new jobs. This is below the average job growth of 5% across all U.S. occupations. Earning an online bachelor's in art design, or an online bachelor's in graphic design, can give you a leg up in this highly competitive field.

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2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Art & Design Badge
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Online Art & Design Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

List Of Accredited Online Art & Design Schools

School Online Enrollment Annual Tuition
Southern New Hampshire University Online 86,849 86,849 $9,600 $9,600
Arizona State University 33,410 $24,413
Rasmussen University Online 19,336 $10,935
DeVry University 16,922 $18,197
Full Sail University 14,908 $24,513
Bellevue University 7,352 $7,851
Academy of Art University 2,911 $23,412
LA Film School 2,492 NA
Upper Iowa University 1,872 $31,685
Central Michigan University 1,326 $24,120
University of Florida 1,029 $28,659
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design 851 $19,670
Savannah College of Art and Design 598 $38,075
Lindenwood University 494 $18,100
The University of Montana 346 $26,218
Prescott College 167 $32,553
Maharishi International University 108 $16,530
Cogswell College NA $20,800

Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Annual Tuition: $9,600

Southern New Hampshire University Online (SNHU) is a private university that features an online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Photography requiring 120 credit hours. If studying full time, students can generally complete a bachelor's degree in around four years. SNHU accepts 94% of its applicants, and 40% of its students earn their degrees.

SNHU utilizes Brightspace's learning management system for their remote courses, which feature 100% online instruction. Students have 24/7 accessibility and may attend class on their own schedule. The digital photography program provides students with the necessary skills in camera operation, image editing, and lighting — as well as how to build an online brand through social media and sound business practices. Courses include Media Communication and Visual Literacy, Photography Practice in the Digital Age, and Innovations in Digital Imaging. Students are also required to complete a digital photography portfolio.

Alternatively, students enrolled in SNHU's online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts can gain a broader understanding of the images and artwork that make up websites, advertising campaigns, and the media. Career opportunities for graduates of either bachelor's program include professional photographers (corporate, portrait, or news), art directors, and digital artists.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $10,243
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Recommend Rate: 62%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 86,849 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 19,526 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 877 enrolled

Arizona State University

  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Annual Tuition: $24,413

The Arizona State University (ASU) is a large, public institution. ASU offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Art and an online Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies, each requiring 120 credit hours. These degree programs can be completed in between three to four years with a full-time schedule. ASU students take composition classes, art history classes, and have a language requirement in order to graduate. ASU provides their students with assistance finding internships and focuses on creativity, technology, and history as they prepare their graduates to work in the field of art, film, and design.

At ASU, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is entirely online. ASU’s online students have access to all university resources.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $12,536
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Recommend Rate: 63%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 33,410 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 10,843 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 542 enrolled

Rasmussen University Online

  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Annual Tuition: $10,935

Rasmussen University Online is a private institution with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design requiring the completion of 180 credit hours. Typically, full-time students graduate within four years. Rasmussen accepts 100% of applicants.

All online courses at Rasmussen are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system, where students can study fully online. This online degree focuses on building practical skills in graphic design through emerging technologies — along with professional skills in digital fluency, communication, and portfolio building. Among the major requirements are The Art and Business of Design, Sketching for Designers, and Typography. Upon graduation, students are prepared to work as graphic specialists, creative graphics designers, and visual media producers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 87%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $4,554
  • Repayment Rate: 82%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Retention Rate: 100%
  • Recommend Rate: 36%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 19,336 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 252 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 106 enrolled

DeVry University

  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Annual Tuition: $18,197

DeVry is a private university offering a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Design and Development, which requires a total of 122 credit hours. This 100% online program features two tracks: (1) Graphic and Multimedia Design and (2) Web Design and Development. If studying at a full-time pace, students can complete this program in around four years. DeVry accepts 44% of its applicants, with 19% of its students earning degrees.

At DeVry, online students use the Canvas learning software to access their core courses, the majority of which are delivered asynchronously. The curriculum for this program challenges students to create projects using the latest applications and software, all the while exploring multimedia standards and the graphics industry as a whole. Required courses include Multimedia Standards, Visual Design Fundamentals, and Business of Graphics. A Senior Project and Media Portfolio are also required before graduation. Students may go on to explore careers as multimedia artists, graphic designers, and animators.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $5,833
  • Repayment Rate: 82%
  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Retention Rate: 50%
  • Recommend Rate: 59%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 16,922 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 4,399 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 75 enrolled

Full Sail University

  • Locations: Winter Park (FL)
  • Annual Tuition: $24,513

Full Sail University (FS) is a large, private university. FS offers several online Bachelor of Science degrees that focus on art and design, each requiring 120 credit hours and 27 months of dedication with a full-time schedule. The university provides students with the professional and creative skills necessary to succeed in their field. FS hosts hiring and networking events, and each program offers classes in art history and career readiness as well as several projects to build art portfolios. Graduates go on to work on musical albums, movies, video games, and events.

At FS, students receive a Launchbox, which includes a computer, custom learning system, and professional software to do their coursework. The curriculum's pacing is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Online students have access to all of FS’ student resources.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 81%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,083
  • Repayment Rate: 80%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Recommend Rate: 45%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 14,908 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 1,256 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A
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Overview of the Best Online Art Degrees

Online bachelor's in art degrees are available in several subfields. Curricula vary based on the program, but students can major in commercial art, architecture, computer animation, fashion, graphic design, visual communication, art history, and web design, to name a few. It’s also possible to double major or get a dual degree in multiple disciplines.  In general, online learners should spend some time determining which medium, style, and subject matter they find most appealing so they can begin mastering specific techniques and developing their creative processes. This way, art students may graduate with a set of professional and technical skills, an understanding of the creative industry, and a polished portfolio in their chosen arena.

Enrollment in an online bachelor's in art program requires applicants to have a minimum 3.0 high school GPA, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Competitive programs may further require that students submit a portfolio of artwork. While an online degree in art typically takes four years to complete, accelerated programs are designed to be finished in as little as two-and-a-half years.

What Kind of Art Degrees Are There?

Below we list some of the most common art degree concentrations available: 

Computer Animation: This type of animation is used in film, television, games, and more to add special effects or create a new work from scratch. Specializing in computer animation can teach you how to use technology in order to create digital art.

Game Art and Development: This focus centers around the concepts, technology, and storytelling that become video games. Through both traditional and digital media, game artists and developers work through the various phases that lead to a complete game.

Fashion: Specializing in fashion can lead to careers in designing, retail, management, and textiles. An art degree with a fashion focus provides students with an understanding of business, current trends, and industry technologies.

Interior Design: Interior designers create comfortable, creative spaces in all kinds of buildings, from homes and bars to hospitals and offices. Specializing in interior design helps students learn some skills of the trade, like how to bid on projects and lead teams with a creative vision. 

Painting: Painters should have a thorough understanding of materials, art history, and art theory. Pursuing a painting specialization provides students with the skills and knowledge to improve their skills and work as professional artists.

Photography: Photography has a long history and utilizes many different technologies. Specializing in photography can teach students to use both film and digital cameras, editing software, photo development, and how to publish their work.

Are you unsure about pursuing an art degree? Explore our comprehensive list of online bachelor's programs, including online degrees focused solely on fashion, photography, video game design, and more.

Accredited Online Art Schools

Accreditation is a process in which third parties evaluate colleges and universities to determine whether they offer students a quality education. Attending an accredited institution has several benefits, and it's especially important for online students because it signals a program's credibility to potential employers and qualifies students for federal financial aid.

Prospective students seeking an online art degree should consider enrolling in an art school accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design — an organization that sets nationwide standards for higher education in the arts. Alternatively, students should ensure that their school has been evaluated by an accrediting agency recognized by either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Common Courses in Art Degrees Online

Students enrolled in an online bachelor's of art program often have some flexibility when developing the coursework to fit their educational goals. For instance, they can choose to take online classes in visual marketing, consumer psychology, and design technology. Many modules also involve gaining hands-on experience with specific tools or software, thus helping students develop applied skills in their chosen area of expertise. 

While classes vary by program, the following is a list of common online courses students can expect to take with a Bachelor in Art Design:

Art History

Students taking this class gain an understanding of historical art forms with the objective of contextualizing their personal work in a particular style or movement. In addition to learning about how techniques have evolved, art history classes also cover how cultural movements influenced artistic expression.

Color Theory

In this fundamental course, students learn about the basics of color harmony. Specifically, they explore why and how different color combinations complement each other from a psychological and visual arts perspective. Students also learn about the differences associated with applying color theory in two- and three-dimensional mediums.

Composition and Visual Design

Usually aimed at students majoring in certain niches, including digital photography, film, or multimedia, this course introduces the basics of visual storytelling. Students delve into foundational concepts — such as exposure, depth of field, and movement — and learn how these factors affect image quality. They also typically gain hands-on experience with an array of camera equipment.

Design Thinking

In this course, students learn how to effectively visualize and present their ideas to an audience. Topics covered include digital media, graphic design, and streamlining the creative process. Students taking this class have the opportunity to gain valuable problem-solving and communication skills in marketing and interior design.

What Can You Do With an Art Degree?

Graduates with an art degree may find employment in a range of settings, including galleries, museums, studios, schools, and nonprofits. As an alternative to traditional employment, many artists choose to work as independent contractors or freelancers providing specific services or selling artwork to clients. 

As with other professions, job opportunities in this field largely depend on the wider economy — especially the demand for artistic services and products. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts only a 2% job growth for art and design jobs, which is significantly slower than the average for all occupations. 

Artists with bachelor’s degrees online may qualify for a range of employment opportunities. An online fine arts degree offers the chance for students to develop their skills in a particular area, signaling to employers that a graduate has formalized knowledge and training. 

Below is a list of potential career paths for art graduates, along with median annual salary and job outlook data from the BLS:

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Annual Median Salary:  $52,120
Job Growth Rate: 12%

Archivists, curators, and museum workers manage private and public artwork collections. This may involve identifying and appraising new pieces, maintaining existing catalogs, and planning exhibitions. Some professionals in this vein may also work as independent consultants helping private collectors acquire specific kinds of artwork.

Art Directors

Annual Median Salary:  $100,890
Job Growth Rate: 4%

Art directors are managers that oversee the work of an artistic team. Their job involves conceptualizing artistic objectives, approving designs, and overseeing the completion of projects. Art directors can work for publications, movie studios, or even public relations firms.

Fine Artists

Annual Median Salary:  $49,960
Job Growth Rate: 6%

Fine artists create pieces that typically convey emotions or meaning through various mediums. They may also fashion everyday items into artwork, like furniture or cutlery, that perform specific functions. Many fine artists display their work in museums or galleries.

Graphic Designers

Annual Median Salary:  $50,710
Job Growth Rate: 3%

Graphic designers are responsible for visualizing and communicating complex ideas to different audiences. They tend to work with specific design software in order to present important information to clients. Graphic designers often use their skills to construct websites, develop product packaging, or create logos.


Annual Median Salary:  $39,950
Job Growth Rate: 9%

Photographers are usually freelancers and may specialize in specific genres, such as photojournalism, portraiture, wedding photography, or cinematography. Photographers may also work in postproduction, editing pictures and videos to meet client needs.

Special Effects Artists and Animators

Annual Median Salary:  $78,790
Job Growth Rate: 5%

Special effects artists and animators use software to create images, videos, and other visual media designs. They may work on movies, video games, television commercials, and diverse media art forms, often completing a specific part of a larger project.

Is an Art Degree Worth It?

The worth of an art degree can vary based on an individual's career goals and financial circumstances. For example, students interested in a career emphasizing creativity and self-expression may benefit from the skills and industry connections sometimes derived from earning an art degree online. However, an art degree may not be as flexible as other bachelor's credentials — particularly when it comes to developing widely applicable skills.

Consider the following pros and cons of an online art degree: 

Potential Benefits

Passion projects

CareerExplorer reports that most artistic careers have a high job satisfaction rate. It's common sense that when you pursue a career in a field you love, you’re more likely to find satisfaction in the work.

Interesting people

Art is a creative pursuit, so the people who pursue this field of study can be some of the most fascinating, compelling folks. You’re almost guaranteed to engage with a plethora of captivating artists during your higher education experience and beyond.

Career options

Art is a diverse field with many degree and career options. From music and acting to public installations and cultural histories, art takes many forms and paths.

Potential Drawbacks

Fluctuating stability

In 2020, UNESCO reports that 10 million creative jobs were lost because of COVID-19. Due to the collaborative nature of the arts, there are many factors that play into job availability. Funding, public interest, and location can make it difficult to find and keep work.

Inconsistent pay

If an artist is working based on commissions, then they may only make small sums on an inconsistent basis. Pay differs greatly between high-ranking jobs and self-employed freelance artists. For example, art directors — a position that most often requires at least a bachelor's degree — have a median annual salary over six figures, while craft and fine artists make barely over the median for all U.S. workers, at just $49,960. 

Lack of respect

Although art is seen as an important part of our culture and lives, artists aren’t always valued in our society. Often, jobs in science, business, and politics are more respected than creative careers

FAQs About Online Art Degrees

Can I Get an Art Degree Online?

With many schools offering distance learning options, it is possible to get a fine art degree 100% online. Online students typically use tools, such as video streaming, to learn asynchronously. However, degrees that include project-based learning may use a hybrid model, combining online learning with on-campus visits to attend collaborative workshops.

How Long Does It Take To Get an Art Degree Online?

A bachelor's degree in art requires a minimum of 120 credit hours and takes four years of full-time study to complete, whether it's online or in person. By contrast, students can achieve an associate or master's degree in just two years. Part-time learners who take fewer courses per semester generally take longer to finish.

What Art Degree Makes the Most Money?

Depending on their chosen specialization, art graduates may qualify for well-paying careers in education, creative writing, and web development. While a bachelor's is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions, a master's or doctoral degree can lead to lucrative roles — such as a postsecondary art teacher.

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