About This Program
The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies in Graphic Design program offers an intensive two-year degree for students seeking to enter careers as graphic designers with a focus on print design. Designed for high school graduates and adult learners, the program offers a powerful foundation in visual design and a working knowledge of contemporary design practices and media.
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. Second year classes help students develop a professional design process as they explore a range of media including advanced graphic design and layout projects, print production, and branding and marketing concepts.
There is no way I could have taught myself everything I’ve learned in school. The programs are so vast and basically unlimited, you have to have someone walk you through them in an organized way. The classes build on each other and you end up using things you’ve learned in previous classes for following classes.
Launch your Creative Career
Earn a degree and launch your creative career in our most rigorous 2-year program.
By Creatives, for Creatives
Collaborate with a community of creative learners and industry professionals.
Maximize Your Portfolio
Projects put you through your paces as you build a body of work. Your program culminates with a guided portfolio review.
Structure and Flexibility
Weekly deadlines keep you on track, but with no set login times you can build your studies around your schedule.
Education You Can Afford
Affordable programs with low per credit tuition, and financial aid available for those who qualify.
Convenient Online Application
Fast, convenient, and student-centered application process.
Studying Online at Sessions
Founded in 1997, Sessions College has delivered accredited and affordable fully online programs for creative professionals for more than 20 years. Take a virtual college tour in this video!
The Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Graphic Design is a 72-credit program completed in two years. Part-time schedules are available.
- DES 104 Color Theory - 1.5 credits
- DES 101 Typography I - 1.5 credits
- DES 111 Drawing I - 3 credits
- DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits
- GEN 104 English Composition - 3 credits
- DES 105 Design and Composition - 1.5 credits
- DES 131 Logo Design I - 1.5 credits
- DES 141 Illustrator I - 3 credits
- DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits
- GEN 105 Computer Technology - 3 credits
- DES 207 Layout Design - 1.5 credits
- DES 211 Graphic Design I - 3 credits
- DES 204 The Study of Graphic Design - 1.5 credits
- DES 206 Branding and Identity - 3 credits
- GEN 205 Business and Technical Writing - 3 credits
- WEB 101 HTML and CSS I - 3 credits
- DES 205 Print Production - 3 credits
- DES 212 Graphic Design II - 3 credits
- GEN 204 Intro to Marketing - 1.5 credits
- GEN 206 Creative Businesses - 1.5 credits
- WEB 222 UX/UI Design - 3 credits
- DES 208 Packaging Design - 3 credits
- DES 232 Logo Design II* - 3 credits
- DES 259 Capstone Project - Graphic Design - 2 credits
- DEG 260 Portfolio Review - 1 credit
* Elective course may be replaced by any other 3-credit course in the program, subject to availability and prerequisites.
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‚Äôll 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
By completing the program, Associate Degree in Graphic Design students develop the following competencies:
1. Art/Design Principles
Demonstrate the ability to produce visually compelling work by applying knowledge of color, typography, and composition.
Produce and present a range of standard professional graphic design projects including graphics, posters, ads, logos, page layouts, and packaging.
Create images and design layouts by effectively and efficiently using design software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and other industry technologies.
6. Critical Thinking and Writing
Employ critical thinking to generate, support, and convey ideas through writing for academic or professional contexts.
Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize concepts and artistic styles, and effectively communicate concepts based upon research.
Apply creative problem solving and constructive feedback to conceive, produce, and present an impactful body of work that showcases your skills to employers and potential clients.
4. Design Process
Develop strategic and compelling designs for a variety of audiences and social contexts.
To learn more about our outcomes assessment process, visit our Academic Team.
Sessions Student Work
VIEW ALL PROGRAM FACULTY
Get expert feedback in classes taught by our industry-leading faculty.
Andrew Shalat is an author, designer/illustrator, educator, and Mac expert who is a regular speaker at Macworld and has written several books on design for McGraw-Hill and Peachpit Press.
Carolyn Zaikowski is the author of the novel A Child Is Being Killed (Aqueous Books, 2013) whose fiction, poetry, and essays have been published widely.
Jordon Schranz is an audio/visual artist and designer whose work has been exhibited internationally in New York, Chicago, El Paso, Berlin, Bogotá, and Ciudad Juárez.
Jose Ramos is a publishing solutions specialist and Adobe consultant for the Caribbean region. Jose has Adobe certifications in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, InCopy, Acrobat Pro, and Dreamweaver.
Kevin Hedgpeth is an Arizona native who makes his home in Phoenix, where he actively writes and illustrates in addition to teaching college-level visual arts courses. He is co-author and illustrator of several published books.
Kristen Becker is an educator and a graphic and business designer specializing in e-commerce. With over 12 years of experience as an award-winning educator, Kristen has developed curriculum and taught courses in graphic design, multimedia, and e-commerce/marketing.
Lynne R. Cuda is a 30-year IT professional who has worked in project management overseeing company-wide information systems selections, implementations and upgrades at hospitals, universities, and private companies.
Margaret Penney is a teacher, designer, writer and media artist. As a Web and motion graphic designer, Margaret has worked on projects for Verizon, DC Immediate Care, TIAA-Cref, Nike, Delia's girls clothing, MTV, author Rosalyn Hoffman and artist Sol Lewitt.
Michael Hamm is a Senior UX Designer who has worked for Oracle Corporation and Expedia, and an Adobe Illustrator expert with over 20 years of experience in the creative field.
Piper Nilsson is a graphic/Web designer and educator. Piper has been working with the Web since 1997, working in various roles as a designer, programmer, and information architect, Piper blueprinted sites for such global clients as MetLife, Pepsi, ETS, and Citibank.
Dr. Taz Tally is the president of Taz Tally Seminars and Taz Tally Photography and author of numerous graphics and print production books and instructional videos, CDs, DVDs and online training courses on scanning, prepress and printing, Photoshop, and color correction.
View all faculty.
What will life look like as a graphic designer? Median salaries are well higher than average. How does it sound to be your own boss? Many graphic designers are self-employed.
Facts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. graphic design careers and the design community visit: AIGA, The Graphic Artists Guild, or Society for Experiential Graphic Design.
Median Income for Graphic Designers in advertising, public relations and related services in May 2017 was $49,530 a year, 31% higher than the median for all workers.
1 in 5
About 1 in 5 graphic designers were self-employed in 2016.
Our online application process makes getting started easy, fast, and convenient.
What's the Admissions Process?
Classes start in January, April, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October.
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 apply, you’ll need to complete our convenient online application and provide an application essay, official transcripts from high school OR for any college degree completed, and 5-10 samples of your art/design work. (Transcripts must be provided for any course you wish evaluated for credit transfer.)
How Long is the Program?
The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) program is a 72 credit program completed in six semesters or two years by a student on a full-time schedule. Students with transfer credit can graduate in under two years and part-time schedules are available.
Will the Program Fit My Schedule?
Weekly deadlines help you stay on track. And with no set login times, you can build your studies around your schedule, wherever you are located. That’s why more than 50% of our degree students complete their programs while working full-time.
What Software or Supplies Do I Need?
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.
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.
What are the Program Costs?
Effective July 1, 2021, the tuition for full-time Associate Degree students is as follows:
|Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Program|
|$510 per credit|
|$6,120 per semester|
|$18,360 per calendar year|
|$36,720 total program tuition|
Per-credit tuition for part-time students is the same as for full-time students. 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. See .