However, many students find it hard to attend university due to several obstacles such as the cost, location and time flexibility. With technology and internet available to almost everyone, providing online degrees has become available with many universities giving students a chance to attend courses from anywhere around the globe.
Over the past few years the online or the distance learning education system has become very popular. Online degrees are gaining more credibility than ever before especially after top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology started providing distance-learning programs as well. This gives students who seek an academic education in graphic design and other design related fields a vast choice of different options.
How to Choose Your Online Design Degree
Whether you take an online degree or decide to attend an on-campus university, there are many factors to consider before choosing which design degree to take and which university to attend. Therefore, you should ask yourself the following questions before making your choice:
- Does this degree meet your expectations in terms of your long-term career plan?
- Is the the degree required in the area of design you wish to pursue?
- Is the university accredited and does it have a good rating?
- Can you afford the university degree? Does it provide funding such as scholarships?
- Can you dedicate the time and effort required to complete the degree successfully?
Based on your above answers, you should be able to choose a degree and a university that you would like to attend whether it be on-campus or by distance-learning.
The Pros and Cons of taking an Online Design Degree
Before making the decision to apply for an online degree rather than attending an actual university it is important to analyze both the advantages and disadvantages. An online degree has many advantages over on-campus degrees such as the following:
- You do not have to physically be anywhere, the online courses can be taken onine through e-learning applications such as Moodle and BlackBoard.
- You do not have to quit your job in order to travel/ attend the university. Some degrees allow you to work and study at the same time, especially for those designers who wish to obtain new skills to help improve their career by taking post-graduate degrees.
- Whilst the cost of an online degree is similar to on-campus degrees, you save the relocation costs for example which sometimes equate to two times the amount of the actual degree.
- as you can imagine e-learning gives you time flexibility. In most cases you are not tied down to a specific schedule. You can study any time of the day and submit your assignments based on the deadlines given.
- A lot of the online university degrees are accredited in the same way that on-campus degrees are.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of the online education that you have to bare in mind when choosing the distance-learning route. Some of them include the following:
- There are no face-to-face meetings with your colleagues or instructors, which for some people isn’t always easy.
- It requires good time management to study and meet the deadlines.
- Some people and some companies still may not know much or appreciate online education.
- You are not given as much choice/ variation in the courses when you compare them with courses given at on-campus degrees.
- While the online degree helps some people in terms of reducing the overall cost of their degree (for example the cost of relocation/ accommodation), the fact that both online and on-campus degrees cost the same amount of money, to a certain extent cannot be justified. There are no logistics or materials really needed when studying online. On-campus everything is provided from lecture rooms to art studios.
Universities That Offer Online Design Degrees
Many universities that offer online design degrees are located in United States and United Kingdom. Below is a list of the best schools that offer online design degrees in United States information about each one:
Based in Orlando Florida, Full Sail University has been offering design degrees for more than 30 years. Their focus is graphic design and digital design. It offers a large variety of design degrees with a special focus on the digital design and practical skills.
Full Sail provides online certificates, bachelor degrees and masters in the following fields:
• Graphic design
• Computer animation
• Creative writing
• Digital cinematography
• Game art and design
• Media communication and internet marketing
• Web design and development
The cost to study in Full Sail is high if you compare it with other universities. It can cost an average of $55,000 for a bachelor degree and $30,000 for a masters degree.
Savannah College is another school that focuses on design and creativity. Besides the online degree programs, the college has four locations: Atlanta, Hong Kong, Lacoste and Savannah.
Savannah College offers certificate, bachelor degrees, a master of fine art and a master of arts. The degrees include the following areas:
- Design Management
- Graphic Design
- Interactive design and game development
- Interior design
- Motion Media Design
Savannah Collage is once again quite costly with fees being very similar to Full Sail University.
The Academy of Art is one of the oldest art and design universities in United States and has an extremely good reputation. The university started offering online degrees in 2002 and currently provide a wide range of undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in different art and design fields.
The online degrees offered by the Academy of Art include fine art, advertising, graphic design, game design, illustration, industrial design, photography, web design and more.
The fees are lower than Full Sail and Savannah universities.
Southern New Hampshire is one of the reputable universities and most affordable schools. Its online education includes a number of different degrees, with few of them related to the design field. Currently, it provides Master of Information Technology with concentration game design and development and web design for example.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh provides several design-related degree both on-campus and online. Most of the degrees are offered as associate and bachelor. There are no post-graduate degrees offered. The programs offered are more generic than the other universities.
Rasmussen is a community college. This makes the cost more affordable for many students and the online division makes it easier for students overseas to obtain their degree. Similar to The Art Institute in Pittsburgh, Rasmussen only offers under-graduate degrees. The college has a graphic design degrees with two specializations: Web and Interactive Design as well as Animation and Motion Graphics.
Rocky Mountain College is an old school that offers different online design degrees such as Animation, Commercial Photography, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design and Emerging Technology.
Online Design Degrees open a lot of doors to people wishing to gain a degree, especially for those who otherwise might not have been able to study a degree if distance learning had not been an option. Without having to relocate or leave a job students are able to learn and gain a degree from the comfort of their only home.
If you can’t find a local university that satisfies your creative needs and education plans, you might be able to find something suitable by choosing the online route. Although there is not a huge variation of different design courses when compared to what traditional on-campus universities offer, I am sure that with time there will be increasingly more choices to suit everyone’s needs.