Online Graphic Design Degree

Associate Degree in Graphic Design

Visual communication plays a vibrant, essential role in our culture and everyday experience. Are you ready to turn ideas into images? The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Graphic Design degree provides a thorough creative and technical online training in everything that designers do. You'll immerse yourself in color, typography, and layout, and learn to navigate Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign with ease, as you gain experience an array of branding and print design projects. Discover your strengths and develop a strong portfolio, working with our faculty of professional designers.

Student work by Chris Telford, AOS in Graphic Design

Launch Your Career with a Degree in Graphic Design

Creative Classes, Expert Instructors

Focus on Career Preparation

Build Professional Skills and a Portfolio

Program Outline

Graphic Design Major - Year One

First Semester

DES 104 Color Theory
DES 101 Typography I
DES 111 Drawing I
DES 121 Photoshop I
GEN 104 English Composition

Second Semester

DES 105 Design And Composition
DES 131 Logo Design I
DES 141 Illustrator I
DES 151 Digital Photography I
GEN 105 Computer Technology

Third Semester

WEB 101 HTML and CSS I
DES 102 Typography II
GEN 106 History Of Art
GEN 107 General Psychology

Graphic Design Major - Year Two

Fourth Semester

DES 201 InDesign I
DES 211 Graphic Design I
GEN 204 Intro To Marketing
DES 204 The Study Of Graphic Design
GEN 205 Business And Technical Writing

Fifth Semester

WEB 211 Dreamweaver I
DES 205 Print Production
DES 206 Branding and Identity
ELECTIVE (Choose One): DES 232 Logo Design II (Recommended), WEB 212 Dreamweaver II, DIG 204 Digital Video Production, WEB 207 Internet Marketing, ADV 207 Creative Concept Development

Sixth Semester

DES 207 Layout Design
DES 208 Packaging Design
DES 212 Graphic Design II
GEN 206 Design Business
DES 259 Capstone Project
DEG 260 Portfolio Review

Program Courses

Program highlights for Graphic Design majors in the AOS in Graphic Design program.

DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits

Get a thorough grounding in Adobe Photoshop, the premiere image manipulation tool for print design, Web design, and photography. You’ll learn to choose and use the best techniques for common Photoshop jobs including selecting and isolating objects, creating image composites, masking and vignetting images, setting typography, and improving images with retouching and effects. Every designer must tame this creative powerhouse of a program.

DES 141 Illustrator I - 3 credits

Build a working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator, the graphic designer’s vector program of choice. Course projects explore selection tools, drawing tools, layers, the Pen tool, transformations/distortions, type tools, and modifying paths and shapes. Tapping the power of vector software allows you to produce detailed and scalable art for almost any application.

DES 201 InDesign I - 3 credits

Explore fundamental techniques for Adobe InDesign and develop an efficient workflow for both print and digital publishing. The course will impart a working knowledge of InDesign’s main capabilities, everything from basic features to using master pages, importing and manipulating objects, controlling text flow and style, and organizing content with tables, layers, links, and conveyor tools. Valuable methods for cutting-edge digital publishing techniques are explored, and projects give you give you training in a range of real world print/digital publishing projects: brochures, catalogs, magazines, ePubs, and even an interactive folio for the iPad.

DES 102 Typography II - 3 credits

Learn advanced concepts in typography including type fusion, information hierarchy, expressive type, and 3D type applications. Assignments include advertising, product packaging, civic branding, and currency design. The focus of the course is on improving your design by learning to see type differently.

DES 205 Print Production - 3 credits

Learn the technical fundamentals of producing professional-looking print publications. Areas of focus include managing a print job effectively, communicating with printers, and identifying the best solution within a budget. Course projects build skills in choosing papers and inks, modifying your materials and processes based on a budget, using Adobe InDesign to prepare designs for print, managing the phases of the production workflow, and most importantly producing high-quality work.

DES 207 Layout Design - 1.5 credits

Take your layout skills to the next level by studying advanced concepts in page design. Students explore how to use esoteric composition and typography and color to create layout designs that attract attention and challenge the viewer. Open-ended projects provide maximum opportunity for portfolio development.

DES 208 Packaging Design - 3 credits

Explore the exciting medium of packaging design by creating branded products for retail display. How do you make a product stand out from the shelves? What makes the targeted consumer want to buy it? Students address these questions via course projects including champagne packaging, pizza box, perfume bottle, and mass versus prestige applications.

DES 232 Logo Design II - 3 credits

Build your portfolio by tackling professional logo and branding design projects. Lessons cover such important concepts as corporate identity, image, branding, and repositioning, with reference to intriguing real-world case studies. Course projects offer a range of challenges from a record company logo to an airline branding system, allowing you to build your personal style within constraints of realistic project briefs.

Program Objectives

Need skills? Here’s an overview of what you can expect to learn:

Foundation studies develop proficiency in the traditional elements of art and design. Software and coding classes build skills in contemporary design tools and technologies for digital imaging, illustration, layout, and Web publishing. First-year courses introduce you to drawing, photography, Web publishing, and general education.

In the second year of the program, you will dig deeper into the tools and techniques that are essential to print designers. Graphic Design majors develop a professional design process as they explore a range of media including layout projects, print production, packaging, and branding and marketing concepts. An elective course allows for further exploration of Web design or digital media.

The program wraps up with studies in design business and portfolio building as well as a live online portfolio review and a capstone project. The AOS program is one of the most rigorous, career-focused graphic design degree programs available.

Graphic Design majors develop the ability to:

  • Create sophisticated, appropriate color palettes and use color and contrast effectively in their work.
  • Design and lay out typography for readability, impact, or expression.
  • Create drawings in traditional media that show a command of proportion, perspective, and value contrast.
  • Prepare images for professional publication with Photoshop retouching, correction, compositing, or collage.
  • Create engaging and readable layout designs that attract the eye using fundamental design and composition techniques.
  • Develop effective logo designs from a client brief using an iterative design process.
  • Create simple, stylized logos, icons, and illustrations in Illustrator.
  • Manipulate framing, perspective, distance, and lighting to take professional-level digital photographs in a range of settings.
  • Create consistent, engaging, and readable layouts in InDesign for multi-page print publications.
  • Create consistent, visually appealing page designs using HTML and CSS via Dreamweaver or via hand coding.
  • Apply in their work an understanding of English composition, business writing, psychology, computer science, marketing, and art history.
  • Write papers and presentations that demonstrate critical thinking, clear organization, and professional style, grammar, and spelling.
  • Represent their design services to potential clients or employers and manage different aspects of the graphic design process.
  • Identify current areas of strength and prepare and maintain a portfolio of their best design work in print or on the Web.
  • Develop competence in various print design genres including poster design, logo/branding design, magazine layouts, cover design, and packaging.

Financial Aid

Did You Know? Eligible students entering Associate Degree programs may be entitled to Federal financial aid. Grants and loans can help you cover the cost of your education.

Student Feedback

"Every class I took during my time here has been a collaborative effort for everyone to learn the techniques and get better..." Kyle Gilbreath, Associate Degree in Graphic Design

Student Work

    "Our program will hone your visual vocabulary and help you develop a fluency that in turn will help you to become an articulate designer, one who not only knows how to read the language of design, but how to create it."

    Andrew Shalat, Department Head of Graphic Design

    Career Information

    Graphic design program graduates are prepared for entry-level graphic design positions in advertising, print production, publishing, and computer graphics. Potential employers for graduates include specialized design firms, advertising firms, printers, publishers, and computer systems design firms. Job titles include Graphic Designer, Layout Designer, Packaging Designer, and more.

    Visit our Career Center for more information, or browse the Federal Occupational Handbook or O*NET database. For Gainful Employment information on this program, visit this page.

    Take advantage of our award-winning programs. They’re accredited, affordable, and delivered 100% online.

    Getting Started

    Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

    Apply

    Complete your application with essay, work samples, and transcripts.

    Chat

    Ask us about program options and financial aid.

    Register

    Select your start date and preferred study schedule.

    Program At a Glance

    Classes start in January, May, and September, with early start options in February, June, and November.

    To apply, you'll need to complete our convenient online application and provide an application essay, transcripts from high school or colleges attended, and 5-10 samples of your art/design work.

    Students entering the program are expected to have earned a high school diploma, GED, or state-approved home school equivalent. Any students under 18 years of age will need to provide the signed permission of a parent or guardian.

    To take this program, you’ll need the following:

    • Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
    • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CC software.
    • MS word or equivalent application
    • Your computer must meet software manufacturer requirements.
    • Basic drawing and painting supplies including pencils, charcoal, newsprint, and sketch paper.
    • Webcam, headphones or speaker, VPN connection, and microphone connected to the computer for live proctored exams.

    Student discount on Adobe Creative Cloud software is available to enrolled students.

    The tuition for full-time Associate Degree students is as follows:

    Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Program
    $325 per credit
    $3,900 per semester
    $11,700 per year
    $23,400 total program tuition

    Tuition for part-time students is $350/credit and paid by semester. Federal financial aid available for eligible students. Ask about our $500-$2,000 scholarships for exemplary applicants.

    A $200 registration fee is required to process your enrollment in the program. Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from the scheduled beginning of program orientation

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