About This Program
The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) in Illustration degree is an intensive two-year program for students seeking to enter careers in traditional and digital illustration. Developed for high school graduates and adult learners, the program offers a strong foundation in traditional drawing and painting and vector illustration, as well as a working knowledge of software and production techniques used by contemporary illustrators.
Illustration students begin their program with first year studies focused on visual arts skills using traditional drawing and digital drawing media. Classes provide training in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Second-year classes place an emphasis on storytelling and developing illustration concepts.
Going to school online was one of the best choices I’ve made for my illustration career. It was affordable and convenient for my lifestyle: a full-time mommy, who home-schools while running a business online, and growing a social media presence! It provided the structure and discipline I needed to push my career forward.
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 Illustration is a 72-credit program completed in two years. Part-time schedules are available.
- DES 111 Drawing I - 3 credits
- DES 141 Illustrator I - 3 credits
- DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits
- GEN 104 English Composition - 3 credits
- DES 104 Color Theory - 1.5 credits
- ILL 121 Drawing II - 3 credits
- DES 105 Design and Composition - 1.5 credits
- DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits
- GEN 105 Computer Technology - 3 credits
- ILL 204 Painting I - 3 credits
- ILL 212 Life Drawing II - 1.5 credits
- ILL 208 Watercolor - 1.5 credits
- ILL 206 Cartooning and Sequential Art - 3 credits
- GEN 107 General Psychology - 3 credits
- ILL 207 Portrait Painting - 1.5 credits
- ILL 209 Commercial Illustration - 3 credits
- ILL 202 Digital Illustration II - 3 credits
- GEN 206 Creative Businesses - 1.5 credits
- GEN 205 Business and Technical Writing - 3 credits
- DES 222 Photoshop II - 3 credits
- ILL 210 Technical Illustration and Infographics - 3 credits
- DES 102 Typography II* - 3 credits
- ILL 259 Capstone Project - Illustration - 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 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‚Äôll 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.
By completing the program, Associate Degree in Illustration students develop the following competencies:
Draw and paint utilizing traditional media and classic techniques, demonstrating a command of proportion, perspective, value contrast, and the human figure.
Produce and present a variety of illustration projects editorial illustration, sequential art, infographics, and portraits.
Create images and graphics by effectively and efficiently using creative software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, 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.
Conceptualize, create and provide illustrations for a range of commercial applications in traditional or digital media.
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. Art/Design Principles
Demonstrate the ability to produce visually compelling artwork by applying knowledge of color, typography, and composition.
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.
Bill Drastal is an artist and animator who works for Bento Box Entertainment, an Emmy award-winning animation studio that produces network programs. Bill has experience developing character designs and animations for video games.
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.
Fiorella Shalat is an artist and educator with expertise in commercial still life, microscope photography, and creative darkroom techniques.
James Otis Smith is a New York based graphic artist and illustrator. As a freelancer he has worked in comics, illustration, motion graphics, and video and published several graphic novels.
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.
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.
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.
Completing an illustration degree online 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.
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.
- 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.
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 .
Is Financial Aid available?
Get Started Today
Take the first step on a rewarding creative journey towards earning an Associate Degree in Illustration.