Top Places Online and Offline to Study Graphic Design

Aspiring professionals in any field, especially graphic designers, have access to a vast array of learning resources today. There are in-person and virtual bootcamps, courses and online seminars, YouTube channels, and colleges worldwide that provide education options. In fact there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and to know which courses provide the best graphic design education.

We’re here to help! This guide will explore the best places online and offline to study graphic design. Read on and set yourself on the path to success.

A designer in the process of studying.
Image by Freepik.

Good Old Offline Graphic Design Courses

Indeed, every big city on the globe has a college that offers Graphic Design courses, so we won’t even try to cover them all. But we will cover a few of the top contenders, which happen to be in New York. Here are four undisputable leaders among design courses at universities in 2024.

Fashion Institute of Technology: Graphic Design, BFA

The Graphic Design BFA program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is one of the top programs to hone design skills and creative expression while emphasizing critical thinking, social awareness, and communication across all media types.

The comprehensive curriculum includes editorial and interactive web design, experiential design, kinetic and advanced typography, corporate identity systems, motion graphics, and art history. Admission is competitive and requires a portfolio and completing the Communication Design Foundation AAS course first.

Students take part in industry-sponsored competitions and complete a mandatory internship, culminating in a senior thesis project and a juried design exhibition that displays their work. Graduates leave with a well-rounded understanding of the field and a strong portfolio for prospective employers.

Time required: 4 years, full-time study.

Cost: US$10,846 per semester for out-of-state residents; US$3,585 per semester for in-state residents.

Fashion Institute of Technology building.
Image from Fashion Institute of Technology Facebook.

School of Visual Arts: BFA in Design (Minor in Graphic Design)

The SVA as it’s known, offers a multidisciplinary BFA program that covers concentrations in Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, Interaction Design and 3D Design. This is an in-person only degree program, taught by industry luminaries, including eight Hall of Fame laureates among the faculty. Students here get to exhibit in professional venues, including Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Plaza, Madison Avenue, The Citicorp Building and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

This degree program focuses on solving problems through visual communication, so students leave ready to meet real-world challenges they will likely confront in design careers today.

Time required: 4 years, full-time study.

Cost: US$25,700 per semester.

School of Visual Arts building.
Image from School of Visual Arts Wiki.

Parsons School of Design (The New School): Communication Design, BFA

Parsons School of Design is one of the oldest, most established universities for design in the U.S. It offers a four-year, full-time undergraduate Communication Design BFA degree, that covers basic and advanced design topics. The program also integrates interaction design and coding, to emphasize the links between humans and digital experiences.

This BFA claims to have a particular focus on typography and interaction design, and a strong emphasis on collaborating with students from other disciplines at Parsons, to give design students broad exposure and practical experience in the field.

Time required: 4 years, full-time study.

Cost: US$28,989 per semester.

Parsons School of Design building.
Image from Best Art Colleges.

The Pratt Institute: Communications Design, BFA (Emphasis on Graphic Design)

The Pratt Institute is another reputable university in New York City, offering a solid education in the core principles of graphic design, and covers typography, layout, color theory, and image manipulation. Students have studio courses in media and platforms, visual systems, motion, interactivity, branding, experience design, sustainability and inclusivity. The program claims to encourage critical inquiry, collaborative processes, and experimentation.

There is a range of elective courses, such as branding, coding, digital marketing, UX/UI design, and more, so students can customize their education to align with their personal career goals. Projects include creating brand identities, corporate designs, digital marketing campaigns, and user interfaces.

Time required: 4 years, full-time study.

Cost: Around US$57,000 annually.

The Pratt Institute interior.
Image from THINK architecture studio.

New York Institute of Technology: Graphic Design, B.F.A.

The NYIT program is a full BFA program, and requires four years of full time study. The curriculum spans many fields: advertising, editorial design, information graphics, branding, motion graphics, packaging, typography, and web design.

Students become proficient in the top industry-standard tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, and also learn to use 3-D printers and laser cutters to create projects that showcase their proficiency. The program emphasizes portfolio development through individual and collaborative projects, for real-world preparation.

Time required: 4 years.

Cost: About US$21,000 per term.

New York Institute of Technology building.

Comprehensive Online Courses

These online learning options offer comprehensive courses of study, but don’t require any in-person experience. Students get broad training condensed into a short time frame, and are able to prepare for beginning a career or freelance work in graphic design.

Shillington: Online Graphic Design Course

Shillington offers 3-month or 9-month Graphic Design bootcamps designed to equip students with the essential skills in a short period of time. The program covers design thinking, theory, graphic design principles, and proficiency in essential design tools. Students also take part in training on effective remote work practices, which gets you ready for a real-world job.

This is a very hands-on program where students complete 25 projects, across all sorts of design challenges. There are guest lectures from notable industry professionals, and there are quizzes on what you learn, to make sure students stay on track.

Time required: 3 months full-time, or 9 months part-time.

Cost: about US$13,000.

A MacBook with an Online Graphic Design Course by Shillington.

New York Institute of Art and Design: Graphic Design Course

The New York Institute of Art and Design (NYIAD) is a notable program offering online graphic design education for those who want to work in the field. Students come out having mastered Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and ready to take the Adobe Certified Expert exam. This is a huge benefit since any working graphic designer needs to know this software.

The Certificate course covers production-level design tasks, Adobe software proficiency, color theory, typography, layout principles, and asset development for both print and web. Grads also are assured to complete a strong graphic design portfolio.

This flexible, self-paced program allows students to learn at their own pace. Tuition is relatively affordable, and you get one-on-one feedback from industry experts, making this a great program for those completely new to the field.

Time required: 1 year.

Cost: US$1,400.

A MacBook with a Graphic Design Course by New York Institute of Art and Design.

General Assembly: Visual Design Short Course

General Assembly is known for its wide array of options in online education for everything from graphic design to UX and UI as well as coding and engineering. Because of this, there are plenty of bootcamp options for those wanting just an intro, or wanting to dive into a full certificate program.

The Visual Design Short Course is a good way to test out whether a longer course of study may be for you, or to find out if a design career path is a match. There is an 8-week evening course or a 1-week accelerated program, available on-campus in several US Cities, and remotely. The course covers essential visual communication design tools, including typography, color, and layout.

Students participate in hands-on projects that balance theoretical principles with practical application. These projects give opportunity for feedback from real professionals, and help shape your skills to be suited to what employers actually need. It especially works well for professionals with busy schedules, or those who are short on time and but want a solid foundation.

Time required: 8 weeks part-time, two evenings per week; or 1 week full-time.

Cost: US$3,500.

A MacBook with a Visual Design Short Course by General Assembly.

General Online Courses or Where to Start: Coursera, Skillshare, etc.

Admittedly earning a top degree from a pedigreed university is cool as hell, but realistically not everyone can or should shell out thousands of dollars and spend years on a design degree. Certainly not everyone who sets out to study graphic design will end up loving it enough to pursue a career, and so for these folks, and others who want to explore the profession or build skills, there are online courses.

Online courses offer impressive content from entry level to semi-professional. The most popular platforms for these courses are Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy, Masterclass and Domestika. On each of these platforms you can search simply for “graphic design” or a more specific topic, like “graphic design basics”, “motion and 3D design” or “User Interface design”.

A MacBook with a course from Domestika.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is a platform on the popular career-focused site, that dedicates its offerings to top skills in demand in the current job market. There are over 5000 courses available, and once you’ve completed a course, you can add it to your LinkedIn profile, to let employers know you’ve gained relevant skills.

There are courses on design history, typography, UX design, software tools, learning layouts, advancing your Graphic Design career, and anything else one may need to know. Courses vary in quality, but reading the thousands of student reviews can help you decide if a course is worth taking.

LinkedIn Learning is affordable at US$39.99 a month, or US$19.99 a month if you subscribe annually.

A MacBook with a Graphic Design Course by New York Institute of Art and Design.

YouTube Courses and Design Professionals

We are lucky to live in a time when designers and creators are happy to share their knowledge and you can find whatever you wish literally for free—or at least some part of the course/workshop for free. Check out our recommendations on what to watch here:

There’s also a variety of channels directly by Adobe, where you can learn more about the designated product or Creative Cloud as a whole. Check them out by searching “Adobe channel” in the YouTube search field.

Will Paterson channel on YouTube.


As an aspiring graphic designer, you can learn skills and become great at design no matter how you choose to study—in person or online. The way you learn, and the courses you take, and even the name of the institution, don’t determine your success and your future. True success is only guaranteed by consistent effort and perseverance. With determination and practice, anyone at any level with any budget can take advantage of learning opportunities to become a great graphic designer.

The design of the article was created by Olha Voronova.
Published in July 2024

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