There are many ways to get a master’s degree in graphic design online because so many schools and colleges offer this popular major to students. These degree programs help students to develop their artistic skills, increase their spatial intelligence, expand their design literacy and deepen their critical thinking abilities. Online schools and colleges will either offer students a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or a Master of Arts in graphic design. The MFA focuses more on design tools and technology used for advanced graphic design practice. The MA will focus more on the conceptual elements and theories behind graphic design, such as art history, media arts, art psychology and communication.
Anyone who applies to a master’s degree in graphic design online program must be proficient in hardware and software solutions used within the field of graphic design. Program applicants must have a working knowledge of Macintosh systems and Adobe Creative Suite software programs. Familiarity with online learning blackboards, communication and Internet-based file sharing services is expected. Online degree applicants should know the basic history and evolution of graphic design as well as contemporary topics visual design. Students may benefit from having already studied creative drawing, painting and writing.
Classes in art history, digital design, visual communications, computer science and information technology are recommended. Most programs require applicants to submit a resume that includes a list of their awards, exhibitions and publications. Program applicants should include a portfolio of their best visual work and a project list that provides brief description of accomplishments. All of these will help the admissions staff to understand and contextualize the applicant’s works. Some online graduate degree programs will require a letter of recommendation and a statement of purpose regarding career and academic goals.
Some online master’s degree in graphic design programs may offer students two- and three-year programs. For example, a two-year program would be designed for students with strong graphic design backgrounds, or bachelor’s degrees in the field of technology. These accelerated two-year degree programs focus on enhancing existing artistic skills, technical acumen and visual communication strategies. A three-year program will be for students who have an accredited bachelor’s degree in any field.
The first year of these programs will provide students with an overview of basic topics like authorship, typography, design history and image making. The following years will offer advanced classes in a variety of fields. Some online programs are hybrids, which means that they offer on-campus lectures, workshops and graphic design exhibitions. These may include group critiques, field trips to artist events or one-on-one discussions with faculty. Programs that offer a temporary residency allow students to learn more about creative collaboration, project management and hands-on design practices.
An two-year, online master’s degree in graphic design is an excellent academic choice for tech savvy students who want to refine their artistic abilities. A three-year, non-accelerated program is a good choice for students who want a career change, but do not have any background in graphic design.