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2022 Best Online Art Design Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 6/14/2022

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 4% in the next decade, amounting to roughly 37,000 new jobs. This is well below the average job growth of 8% across all US occupations. Earning your online bachelor’s in art design can give you a leg up in this highly competitive field.

View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Salary Score Median Starting Salary
Southern New Hampshire University Online 106,375 106,375 NA NA NA NA
Arizona State University 44,253 63 $27,181
DeVry University 21,321 NA NA
Rasmussen University Online 19,588 NA NA
Full Sail University 16,164 10 $18,264
Bellevue University 10,503 NA NA
University of Florida 4,430 84 $30,849
Academy of Art University 4,209 75 $29,153
Central Michigan University 3,811 NA NA
LA Film School 2,492 NA NA
Upper Iowa University 2,386 NA NA
Lindenwood University 1,536 NA NA
Savannah College of Art and Design 1,096 NA NA
Maharishi International University 967 NA NA
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design 851 NA NA
The University of Montana 609 NA NA
The Art Institutes NA NA NA
Cogswell College NA NA NA

University of Florida

  • Salary Score: 84
  • Median Starting Salary: $30,849
  • Locations: Gainesville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Florida (UF) is a medium-sized, public university. It offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences requiring 120 credits. This program can be done in four years with an online schedule, including a senior project. UF combines art, communication, engineering, and technology to provide their students with an understanding of design and production. Some courses for this major include Principles of Digital Visualization, DAS Design & Production Studio, and Writing for Interactive Media. Graduates work as game designers, concept artists, graphical user interface programmers, and digital storytellers.

At UF, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is fully online. At UF, online students have access to all university resources.

Academy of Art University

  • Salary Score: 75
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,153
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Academy of Art University (AAU) is a medium-sized, private institution that offers several online Bachelor of Fine Art degree programs, each requiring 132 credits. An art program at AAU takes about four years to complete with a full-time schedule. These degrees focus on critical and creative thinking, conceptual skills, and professional readiness. Students graduate with a portfolio that they can use to find work in motion pictures, jewelry making, interior design, game development, fashion, and more. Every degree program requires courses in art history, field-specific technology, and professional skills.

At AAU, students use Brightspace to access their coursework, which is fully online. At AAU, online students have access to all university resources. AAU also helps students find internships in their field, preparing them to enter their industry with experience.

Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 63
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,181
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

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.

Full Sail University

  • Salary Score: 10
  • Median Starting Salary: $18,264
  • Locations: Winter Park (FL)
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

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 29 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Art Degrees

Can I Get an Art Degree Online?

With many schools offering distance learning options, it is possible to get an art degree exclusively 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.

What Kind of Art Degrees Are There?

Given the broad nature of the field, students can pursue an art degree at multiple levels and in various specializations — ranging from dance to political art. Associate degrees cover foundational training in different areas of art, while a bachelor's degree may focus on specific subdisciplines, such as graphic design or cinematography. Graduate degrees are typically designed for students who hope to hone their artistic skills. Some programs — particularly at the doctoral level — offer students the chance to conduct interdisciplinary research in the humanities, such as art history or art education.

How Long Does It Take To Get an Art Degree?

A bachelor's degree in art requires a minimum of 120 credit hours and takes four years of full-time study to complete. 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, 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.

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. However, an art degree may not be as flexible as other bachelor's credentials — particularly when it comes to developing widely applicable skills.

Online Bachelor's in 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, and web design, to name a few. 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 art bachelor's typically takes four years to complete, accelerated programs are designed to be finished in as little as two-and-a-half years.

Are you unsure about pursuing an art degree? Explore our comprehensive list of online bachelor's programs.

Common Courses in an Online Art Program

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's in art.

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, they also cover how cultural movements influenced artistic expression.

College Mathematics

Many art programs include math courses to help students develop transferable skills. This class typically includes foundational concepts in algebra and calculus, with some versions focusing on how to apply quantitative reasoning to subjects, including architecture, sculpting, and painting.

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 arts, 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 non-profits. 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 COVID-19 pandemic caused a decrease in art sales in 2020, but employment in galleries began to rebound in 2021.

Graduates with an art degree may find employment in a range of settings, including galleries, museums, studios, schools, and non-profits. As an alternative to traditional employment, many artists choose to work as independent contractors or freelancers.

Artists with a bachelor’s degree typically qualify for a range of employment opportunities. Additionally, an online art degree offers the chance to develop 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 information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers
Median Annual Salary: $52,140
Job Growth Rate: 19%

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 to help private collectors acquire specific kinds of artwork.

Art Directors
Median Annual Salary: $97,270
Job Growth Rate: 11%

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
Median Annual Salary: $49,120
Job Growth Rate: 14%

Fine artists create pieces that typically convey emotions or meanings 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
Median Annual Salary: $53,380
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.

Median Annual Salary: $41,280
Job Growth Rate: 17%

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
Median Annual Salary: $77,770
Job Growth Rate: 16%

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.

Accredited Online Art Programs

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, they 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.

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.

For more information, students may visit OnlineU's comprehensive accreditation hub.

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