Online Illustration Degree

Associate Degree in Illustration

The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) in Illustration degree is a canvas for your creativity. Working entirely online, you'll study illustration in traditional and digital media, learning how to represent what you see—and what you can imagine. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator classes will give you confidence as a computer artist. Professionally oriented classes in technical illustration, commercial illustration, painting, and sequential art will help you realize your strengths and discover your style.

Our online illustration classes provide the training you need to prepare for a career in illustration. Start a path to enhance your career today.

online illustration classes
Student work by Eladia Laines, AOS in Illustration

Launch Your Career with a Degree in Illustration


Creative Classes, Expert Instructors

Focus on Career Preparation

Build Professional Skills and a Portfolio

Program Outline

Illustration Major - Year One

First Semester

  • DES 104 Color Theory
  • ILL 104 Intro to Drawing
  • DES 141 Illustrator I
  • DES 121 Photoshop I
  • GEN 104 English Composition

Second Semester

  • GEN 204 Intro to Marketing
  • ILL 101 Digital Illustration I
  • DES 111 Drawing I
  • DES 151 Digital Photography I
  • GEN 105 Computer Technology

Third Semester

  • DES 105 Design And Composition
  • DES 101 Typography I
  • GEN 106 History Of Art
  • ILL 142 Illustrator II
  • ILL 111 Life Drawing I
Illustration Major - Year Two

Fourth Semester

  • ILL 204 Painting I
  • GEN 107 General Psychology
  • DES 222 Photoshop II
  • ILL 206 Cartooning And Sequential Art

Fifth Semester

  • ILL 207 Portrait Painting
  • ILL 212 Life Drawing II
  • ILL 202 Digital Illustration II
  • GEN 205 Business And Technical Writing
  • Elective (Choose One): ADV 207 Creative Concept Development (Recommended), DES 201 InDesign I, WEB 101 HTML and CSS I, DES 102 Typography II

Sixth Semester

  • ILL 209 Commercial Illustration
  • ILL 210 Technical Illustration and Infographics
  • ILL 208 Watercolor
  • GEN 206 Design Business
  • ILL 259 Capstone Project
  • DEG 260 Portfolio Review

Program Courses

Program highlights for Illustration majors in the AOS in Illustration program.

DES 111 Drawing I - 3 credits

Learn how to analyze what you see in the world around you and communicate it on paper. Through hands-on projects, and guided by a professional artist, you will explore the critical concepts of line, mass, form, perspective, value, and composition, building a solid foundation for all your art and design work. And most importantly, you’ll also discover that drawing can be fun. Did you know that spheres have inner edges? Or why artists measure with their thumbs? Grab your charcoal and chalk pastels... this course is your first step to developing your craft as an artist.

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.

ILL 142 Illustrator II - 3 credits

Create photo-realistic illustrations, complex patterns, rich designs, and learn how to speed your efforts with helpful workflow features. You'll build on your existing Illustrator skills to tackle high-end projects with depth, dimension, and wow-power.

ILL 111 Life Drawing I - 3 credits

Follow traditional method to learn the standard measures and proportions artists use to achieve naturalistic and expressive figure drawings. Illustrations and activities guide students through the structure of the human skeleton and help them understand how the body's anatomy shapes its external form. The course builds progressively from the fundamentals to the challenges of portraiture, three-dimensional form, composition, and expression.

ILL 206 Cartooning and Sequential Art - 3 credits

Explore storytelling through cartoons and sequential art. Learn how to create a narrative by developing a story or character in a series of scenes. Fundamental concepts in comic art are used as the springboard for projects, which may be completed in traditional or digital media.

ILL 209 Commercial Illustration - 3 credits

Explore business applications for your illustration work, from editorial and commercial to advertising and marketing. In this survey course, you will explore different genres of project work, learning how contracts and copyright work and how to represent yourself professionally and effectively.

ILL 210 Technical Illustration and Infographics - 3 credits

This course explores approaches and concepts in technical illustration and infographics. Students learn methods for creating instructional illustrations that communicate clearly and effectively. Information design theories will be discussed and put into practice.

ILL 212 Life Drawing II - 1.5 credits

Tackle advanced techniques for life drawing. Learn how to observe and capture the clothed human figure and explore basic techniques for animal drawing. Form, structure, and motion will be essential concepts as you find ways to address subjects that interest and engage you.

ILL 208 Watercolor - 1.5 credits

Watercolor painting has a rich tradition dating back centuries, and is still enjoyed by today's artists for its unique color effects and wide range of techniques. Explore traditional watercolor techniques including washes, glazes, scumbles, resists, and more, and learn how to make the techniques part of your personal painting style.

Program Objectives

First-year classes in the Illustration program include digital imaging and vector graphics, still life and figure drawing, color theory, typography, photography, and composition. Second-year classes place emphasis on development of illustration concepts, styles of traditional painting and drawing, and specific genres of illustration including commercial, technical, and sequential. Classes in the Illustration major provide training in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator as well as studies in drawing, painting, and concept development.

The final semester of the online Illustration degree concludes with studies in design business and portfolio building as well as a live online portfolio review and a capstone project. The online Associate program at Sessions College is one of the most comprehensive and creative online illustration degree programs available

Illustration majors develop the ability to:

  • Create sophisticated, appropriate color palettes and use color and contrast effectively in their work.
  • Create drawings in traditional media that show a command of proportion, perspective, value contrast, and contemporary stylistic and media approaches.
  • Prepare images for professional publication with Photoshop retouching, correction, compositing, or collage.
  • Design and lay out typography for readability, impact, or expression.
  • Create engaging and readable layout designs that attract the eye using fundamental design and composition techniques.
  • Create vector drawings in Illustrator that demonstrate realistic and stylized techniques and that communicate complex concepts in digital form.
  • Manipulate framing, perspective, distance, and lighting to take professional-level digital photographs in a range of settings.
  • Represent through figure drawing the characteristic shapes and proportions of living subjects and apply these to a range of illustration projects.
  • Paint still life and portrait subjects that capture different painting techniques, media, and conceptual approaches.
  • Develop series of illustrations representing large-scale, professional creative projects with commercial intent.
  • 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.
  • Manage all aspects of the illustration creation workflow and effectively prepare projects for professional use.
  • Identify current areas of strength and prepare and maintain a portfolio of their best illustration work.
  • Develop competence in various illustration genres including commercial illustration, sequential illustration, and technical illustration.

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

Sessions provided me with opportunities to learn so many things I always wanted to formally study, inspired me to make serious commitments to myself about goal, taught me to focus my energy, and offered valuable debate, interaction, and feedback from faculty and classmates.

Kim Schiavone, Associate Degree in Illustration

Student Work

"We suggest through illustration new possibilities, new ways of thought. We tell our stories, we inform the masses, create detailed instruction, and entertain both for education and to escape."

Jordon Schranz, Department Head of Illustration

Featured Faculty

Jordon Schranz Jordon Schranz is an audio/visual artist and designer.
James Smith - Illustration faculty James Smith is a graphic artist and illustrator.
Fiorella headshot Fiorella Shalat is a sculptor, textile artist, and art educator.

Career Information

Careers in the illustration industry are numerous and varied. Do you like the sound of being your own boss? Many illustrators are self-employed or independent, though most are employed with existing organizations.

Our Illustration Associate Degree program helps our students build a strong foundation for careers across the media spectrum. Here are a few examples.

  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Print Media
  • Promotions
  • Publishing
  • Video
  • Animation

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

Job Facts

A degree in illustration can help you land a position in a growing field with a great outlook. Here are some statistics to consider:

Facts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. For more information about photography careers and the community visit: ,Association of Illustrators, AIGA, or National Cartoonists Society.


Median Income for Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators in Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services in May 2017 was $49,520 a year, 31% higher than the median for all workers.

7 in 10

About 7 in 10 Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators were self-employed or independent artists in 2016.

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

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.


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


Ask us about program options and financial aid.


Select your start date and preferred study schedule.

Program At a Glance

Classes start in January, May, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October.

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.)

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.
  • A digital camera that offers manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance .
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CC software.
  • 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
$350 per credit
$4,200 per semester
$12,600 per year
$25,200 total program tuition

Tuition for part-time students is $400/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. See Associate Degree Tuition and Payment options.

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