Online Graphic Design Certificate

Graphic Design Professional Certificate

Prepare for a career in design in the leading online graphic design certificate program. In the Graphic Design Professional Certificate, you'll discover techniques for creating digital images, illustrations, and layouts, addressing fundamental concepts in color, typography, and composition. You’ll be trained to apply these techniques using today's design software tools Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Graphic design course assignments include photo editing, logo design, poster design, magazine layout, and more.

online graphic design training

Student work by Sarah Ivany, Graphic Design Certificate

Kick Start Your Graphic Design Career in Just Nine Months


Study at Your Own Pace

Build Design Skills That Employers Want


Complete Your Program in 9 Months

Program Outline

Designed for the busy adult learner, the Professional Certificate can be completed in nine months studying part time.

Level 1

4218 Photoshop Basics
4017 Color Theory
4226 Illustrator Basics
4221 Fundamentals of Typography

Level 2

4020 Design and Composition
4228 InDesign Basics
4019 The Study of Graphic Design
(or 4211 Fundamentals of Logo Design)
4013 Graphic Design I

Already have some design experience? You can customize the program around your learning goals. Browse our graphic design courses or course list and talk to an advisor.

Program Courses

4218 Photoshop Basics

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.

4017 Color Theory

Focus on developing appropriate color systems for graphic design projects. Projects explore the principles, terminology, and applications of color theory, with an emphasis on manipulating color. A working knowledge of the expression and perception of color, and color interaction, lends credibility and sophistication to a designer’s work.

4226 Illustrator Basics

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.

4221 Fundamentals of Typography

Explore the critical role of typography in graphic design. Course projects build an understanding of the anatomy of the letterform, the distinguishing features of different typefaces, and creative applications of type. An assured grasp of typography is essential in any visual communication project.

4020 Design and Composition

Discover the principles of effective composition in print design and advertising. Composition, literally the assembly of elements, is the artful arrangement that guides the eye and unifies a design work. Case studies and hands-on projects address closed/open space, negative space, movement, and more.

4228 InDesign Basics

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 training in a range of real world print/digital publishing projects: brochures, catalogs, magazines, ePubs, and even an interactive folio for the iPad.

4019 The Study of Graphic Design

A century of innovation has created the language of graphic design we know today. This course provides students with a historical context for creativity. Students learn to use research into and analysis of 20th century art and design movements and designers as a springboard for design projects. Class discussions provide a forum for talking about the evolution of design and incorporating such exploration into the creative process.


4221 Fundamentals of Logo Design

Explore the philosophy and process behind designing a logo. Students learn the importance of corporate identity and the different stages in a typical logo design project. The course establishes a solid conceptual and practical grounding for anyone interested in pursuing a career in visual identity, from a design or a marketing perspective.

4013 Graphic Design I

Establish a firm foundation for taking on professional design work. You'll gain insights from industry veterans and explore the challenges of designing posters, logos, magazine covers, book layouts, 3D designs, and brand identities. Looking to establish a career as a freelance designer? The course provides you opportunities to hone your design process, as you research each project, develop concepts, work with iterative feedback, and begin to develop quality pieces for your portfolio.

Program Objectives

In the program, students learn the following skills:

#1 Digital Imaging - Your work will demonstrate entry-level professional Photoshop skills and effective decisions in selecting and editing images. You will be able to improve images for professional publication by retouching and correction, and create realistic or imaginative images by compositing or collage.

#2 Color - You will develop distinctive color palettes based on the principles of color harmony. Your work will exhibit a sophisticated use of color and contrast, and the ability to research colors and make choices that are appropriate for each client and project.

#3 Vector Art - You will develop entry-level professional skills in creating vector art illustrations in Illustrator, using shape drawing and freehand drawing tools, Pen tool, type tools, and basic effects. You will be able to create simple, stylized logos, icons, and illustrations for effective visual communication.

#4 Typography - You will be able to research and select appropriate typefaces and design typography to support the branding or communication goal of a particular client or project. You will demonstrate the ability to organize text into a clear, readable information hierarchy in page layouts while using display type for impact and expression.

#5 Composition - You will be able to create engaging and readable layout designs that blend text and imagery using fundamental design and composition techniques. You can create a professional-quality poster, print ad, or cover design that attracts the eye and guides the viewer through your layout.

#6 Page Layout - You will be able to create consistent, engaging, and readable layouts in InDesign for multi-page documents using master pages to control the style and positioning of text and graphics. Your page layout work will demonstrate proficiency in designing information for print publications such as newsletters and brochures.

#7 Design History - You will have a basic ability to identify and discuss important eras, designers, genres, and techniques in 20th and 21st century graphic design. You will be able to apply the concepts of important designers and design movements in your own work and develop an effective workflow of research, conceptualization, and design.

#8 Graphic Design - Your work will exhibit professional competence in various print design genres including poster design, logo/branding design, magazine layouts, cover design, and packaging. Your design work will show evidence of in-depth research in order to produce a striking, memorable, and creative solution.

Student Feedback

The courses did exactly what I wanted. What I didn't bank on was the great feedback from the instructors. They really seemed like they wanted me to do great things. Even when I missed the objective a little, the feedback was constructive and allowed me to get back on track.

Craig Davis, Graphic Design Professional Certificate

Student Work

Featured Faculty

Piper Nilsson Faculty profile image Piper Nilsson is a graphic/Web designer and award-winning instructor.
Michael Hamm Michael Hamm is a senior visual designer, Web developer, and all-round Illustrator guru.
Boris Margolin Boris Margolin is a veteran graphic designer.

Ask about our Payment Plans

Take care of your tuition with 11 monthly payments of $415

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.


Complete our free application form online.


Ask us about payment options and customizing your program.


Confirm your payment and register online.

Program At a Glance

Open Admissions. The Professional Certificate is open admissions, with classes starting each month. To apply for the program, simply complete our free, no-obligation application and select your program options. Applicants are expected to have graduated high school.

Nine Month Program. Classes start at the beginning of each month. The program can be completed in nine months studying on a part time schedule. If you need more time to complete, there is a painless extension policy for an additional 6 months of access for students who qualify based on academic progress.

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

  • Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CC.
  • Your computer must meet software manufacturer requirements.

There are no textbook or course material costs to participate in this online program. Student discount on Adobe Creative Cloud software is available to enrolled students.

Sessions College programs are flexible and affordable. There are no textbooks required; tuition costs include all digital materials.

Professional Certificate 
Registration Fee$200
Total Cost$4,500

Enrollment in any certificate program requires a $200 registration fee (non-refundable five days after beginning of Orientation class or submission of first assignment). All tuition and fees must be paid on time, including those paid by third parties.

Payment Plan

Affording your education just got easier with our Payment Plan.

  • Pay for your Professional Certificate with 11 monthly payments of $415.
  • Your first payment (which includes a $200 Registration Fee) is due at enrollment.
  • A $65 payment plan charge is included.

Job Facts

You want to make sure your work towards a graphic design certificate is worth it. That means, you need to have a good outlook for potential jobs. Thankfully graphic design is a growing field with some nice opportunities.

Facts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. For more information about art and design careers and the design community visit: AIGA or The Graphic Artists Guild.


Median Income for Graphic Designers in May 2017 was $48,700 a year, 24.4% higher than the median for all workers.

1 in 5

About 1 in 5 graphic designers were self-employed in 2016.

Career Information

What types of careers are there in graphic design? Professional opportunities are expanding. Graphic designers combine technology and art in order to develop graphics for advertisements, logos, websites, product illustrations and more. 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.
A certificate in graphic design from Sessions College will prepare you to apply your skills to these types of careers:

  • Advertising
  • Creative Design
  • Print Design
  • Publishing
  • Computer Graphics
  • Visual Design
  • Production Art
  • Graphic Design

Visit our Graphic Design Career Guide for more information, or browse the Federal Occupational Handbook or O*NET database.

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