Earning a Master’s Degree from a Graphic Design School

A master’s degree from an accredited graphic design school is a lot of work, but can pay off in big ways following graduation and landing that first job. A master’s degree in graphic design allows graduates to enter their profession at executive and managerial levels, as well as provides entry into educational fields. Graphic design graduates with this level of degree have reached the maximum in education for their field and are well qualified to teach university level graphic design classes, open a graphic design business of their own, or set out to invent the next “big thing” in graphic design.

All throughout their time in graphic design school, students learn how to be creative and develop the skills they need to grow in their industry. That includes research techniques, trending markets and consumer buying trends. It also includes the philosophy of art and graphic design, the theory of conceptualizing design work, and how to execute and present unique ideas to supervisors, clients, and business partners.

Graphic designers are part artist and part communicators, so a lot of emphasis is placed on the way that a design student’s art will come across to an audience. Will it make the audience want to buy a product? Believe in a program enough to make a donation? Choose the client’s services over the services offered by the competition? It is the graphic designer’s job to answer all of those questions within a single artistic creation, so graphic design schools weigh heavily the students ability to convey the message that the client intends to put out to the public.

A master’s degree in graphic design is an “MA” degree, or “Master of Arts”, and can set new designers ahead of the pack right out of college. Getting to graduation day may look like a long road when first entering into a graphic design program, but the rewards are certainly worth it. In order to enroll into an MA in Graphic Design program at a school, students need to have already built a strong portfolio of work and completed all of the prerequisite programs required by the graphic design school.

This means that students who want to enter into the MA program will first have to obtain lesser degrees successfully, while building their overall set of skills and the coveted “full” portfolio exhibiting their success as graphic design students. A master thesis project is the culmination of the graphic design degree and will require all of the student’s knowledge to complete successfully. The end of the program will typically require students to create an entire graphic design campaign that is totally unique and fresh, taking into account the trends of the contemporary market and the skills they will use in the real-world of graphic design as a designer.


Graphic Design Classes: Learning Software

Second to artistic interest and talent, software may be the most important aspect of graphic design school. Classes in graphic design software are among the first classes a student must pursue in a graphic design degree program because the technology will be used throughout the course of the student’s education, as well as their career. There is no shortage of graphic design programs on the market today, but classes typically focus on a few of the industry’s mainstays in the realm of digital technology.

Many of the programs employed in graphic design classes and by graphic design professionals are published by the major graphic design company Adobe through the Adobe Creative Suite. The Adobe Creative Suite is the most prolific set of design programs in the industry and is therefore a core competency in graphic design schools.

In a typical graphic design class, students become well versed in a number of digital tools including programs that allow students to edit and compose images (Photoshop), illustrate and draw intense graphic designs (Illustrator), create dramatic page layouts for all types of uses and with varying levels of functions (InDesign), and programs that help tie all other programs together (Bridge).

A Bridge type of program is commonly taught in the first phases of this graphic design class, simply because it pulls together a student’s project work between all of the other programs in the Suite. In addition to thorough introductions to the interfaces and technologies within each program, classes teach students about all of applicable functions they will need to use within each program. These functions include working with objects, layers, and tools as well as images, typography, and tables. All functions are applied to a graphic design project used throughout the course of the graphic design class.

After completing a graphic design class in software technologies, students are typically able to create multiple page layouts and multiple layer images by being thoroughly skilled at using the Creative Suite to their best advantage. Using object placement, morphing and layering skills, and typography along with artistic critiquing allows students to make appropriate designing decisions about a specific project.

In addition to textbooks that help guide students through the class work for each of the graphic design programs, many graphic design schools require students to purchase recommended programs for their degree and discipline. Software is often sold in Suites and student discounts are often obtained through student book stores or with a partnering company to minimize the students’ expenses on software purchases.

Most graphic design software Suites are costly, but necessary components of successfully completing most of the classes in any degree program. Upgrading to newer versions, even after graduation, is less costly than purchasing new software. For this reason, creative software programs can be considered an education and career investment by students of graphic design classes.


Earning a Graphic Design School Degree Online

Online degree programs are becoming more popular with every graduating class and industries like graphic design are the ideal fields of study when it comes to earning an online degree. Graphic design schools offer loads of training about technology, concepts, artistic styles, marketing, and more. It is one of the few schools of art in which nearly 100% of the occupation requires digital rendering and web-based or computer-based technology to execute.

For students who wish to attend graphic design school, the advent and acceptance of online degree programs is great news. The almost all-digital nature of graphic design makes it a completely relevant study in the online education genre. Furthermore, graphic design schools taught primarily through online courses force learners to become even more familiar with the technology they will inevitably use in the future: computer applications and internet-based marketing.

While not all graphic designers are entering the field of online marketing, the lion’s share of them do work in digital desktop publishing. There are far fewer limitations on the types of degrees that can be earned online from a graphic design school than most other occupations out there. Add to this the flexibility of online class schedules and the lowered cost of an online degree, and the perfect picture begins to develop.

So what kind of degrees can you earn online from a graphic design school? Associate of Arts (A.A), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) makeup the majority of degree programs that can be completed through a primarily online curriculum. Degree levels allow students to choose exactly how detailed they will get in their education and the level of graphic design jobs for which they will be qualified to apply upon graduation.

With an online A.A. degree from a graphic design school, students are recognized to have an understanding of print and online technologies, concept development, brand management, typography, and packaging designs. New A.A. degree holders can apply for entry level positions in graphic design and work their way up to other positions or can work on their next level of degree.

With an online B.F.A. from a graphic design school, employers accept that the student knows everything that an A.A. student knows and that they are especially aware of the problem in various industries of marketing and design. They also learn about problem solving, learn how to be innovative with their designs, and are trained in the social causes for marketing strategies.

Online degree holders with an M.F.A. from an accredited graphic design school are believed to be the most well-trained college graduates once they’ve earned their master’s degree. In addition to all of the subordinate degree learning, these graphic designers are trained in public speaking to narrate graphic design concepts and have become strategy experts. Students with this type of degree from an online graphic design school are widely-accepted at most graphic design jobs after graduation and are the highest earners in the group.

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Graphic Design Careers

Graphic design is technology driven, thus it is a fast-evolving industry.  Because of this, people with graphic design careers must always keep their skills and technical knowledge updated.  However, while the tools used by graphic artists may evolve the kind of work being done remains basically the same.  Graduates of graphic design can explore any of the following challenging careers:

Graphic Designers

Graphic artists who actually work on designing are hands-on designers.  A large corporation or graphic design agency may have junior and senior artists working together to create graphic designs for their clients and may have several ongoing projects at any one time.  Graphic designers are responsible for selecting the different elements of the design including color, size, sounds, artwork, typeface, animation and visuals.  The completed design is presented to the art director for final approval.

Some graphic designers choose a career outside of the corporate world as freelance designers working under their own name.  They usually work from home.  Being a freelance designer has its advantages and disadvantages.  As a freelancer, you can work from home and set your own hours.  You are also free to choose only those projects that interest you.  On the other hand, it can be difficult finding new clients especially if you are just starting out.  Working long hours and even on weekends to meet deadlines can also be tough.  However, there are many graphic designers who choose this career path because they like being independent and free from corporate structures.

Web Designers

A web designer is not simply a programmer who knows HTML or JavaScript.  Web designers design, build and maintain websites.  They also write, design and edit web page content.  Web designers must stay updated on the latest web technologies, programming practices and graphic design software to be able to provide the best possible service to clients.

Videogame Designer

This is one of the most fun and exciting graphic design careers.  Videogames rely heavily on graphics designs, new technical applications and animations to give players the best graphics.  The videogame design industry has plenty of opportunities for the right person.

Art Director

Art directors or creative directors are responsible for the overall design projects.  It is the job of the art director to review and approve the work done by graphic designers in the creative team.  They confer with clients, the creative department and production team to make sure that the clients’ needs are met.  Art directors work closely with clients and are responsible for their own accounts and budget.  They are often in charge of presenting the final product to the client once the project is completed.

Individuals with artistic skills and creative talents can have a rewarding career in graphic design.  It offers job opportunities for those who like to work on their own in front of the computer as well as for those who like to deal with clients and oversee the work in design projects.

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Graphic Design Training

A graphic designer’s job is to create images, materials and designs that help clients communicate visually with the public.  Graphic designers must be creative and artistic but they also need graphic design training to provide them with the technical and theoretical knowledge required to have a successful career in design.

Everywhere you look, you will see the work of graphic designers.  Magazines, book covers, corporate logos, signage systems and websites are all examples of a designer’s work.  The images they create play an important role in advertising and marketing.  Designers must determine their client’s needs and understand the message they want to communicate.  The designs they make must send the right message across.

To be able to address their client’s needs, graphic designers need more than artistic talent.  They have to understand the principles of communication, design and marketing to work successfully with clients.  They also need technical skills to be able to use computer software to create their designs.  Graphic design training can prepare an individual for the challenges of graphic design.

Degrees and Coursework

There are approximately 300 graphic art and design schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design that offer programs in graphic design.  A graphic design training program can lead to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Associate’s Degree

You can earn an associate’s degree in graphic design in two to three years. This level of education can qualify you for a technical or assistant graphic design position.  This program is ideal for someone who already has a bachelor’s degree in another field.  It can give you the skills needed to work in graphic design.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree program takes four years to complete.  Most graphic design positions require a bachelor’s degree in design.  Colleges, universities, professional schools and art institutes provide graphic design training where you will be exposed to the principles and technical skills required in visual communication.

A bachelor’s degree program includes the following subjects: studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, web site design, printing techniques, psychology, writing, art history, marketing, business and more.

Prerequisites for Graphic Design Training

Most graphic design schools require applicants to be a high school graduate or its equivalent and complete one year of basic art and design.  Most art schools also require applicants to submit a portfolio, sketches or other materials to demonstrate their artistic ability.

Graphic designers must be willing to learn new techniques and technologies, listen to clients’ requests and work with others.  The right graphic design training can provide designers with the theoretical and practical skills they need to build a successful creative career.

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Graphic Design Schools: Are They Necessary?

To be a graphic designer, you have to be gifted with creative and artistic talents.  But your talents have to be honed and perfected, otherwise you will never realize your full potential.  You need a good graphic design school to hone your talent.  It will not be difficult to find and choose the right graphic design school if you have a well thought-out game plan.

A good starting point is location.  Find a graphic arts school in your state or locality.  Also, ask yourself what you would like to do after graduation.  You may want to work in the field of graphic design, multimedia, illustration, animation or any other field of choice.  Once you have decided on what you would like to do, you can begin looking for a school that offers the courses you will need for the kind of job you want.

Graphic design schools offer training on the visual arts which include graphical arts, advertising design, illustration, photography, painting, etc.  Lately, designing game graphics has become institutionalized.

Many graphic design schools offer vocational, undergraduate and graduate courses.  Some schools even offer post-graduate courses.  Find an accredited college that will grant you a bachelor’s degree.  Choosing the right graphic design school will help you hone your talents and lead to a successful future in your chosen field of work.  Different schools offer courses on different fields of specialization.  Choose a school that will maximize your skills and expose you to techniques that will make you a better artist.

There are other things that you must consider in choosing the right graphic design school.  Aside from a curriculum that can educate you for a graphic design career, you must also make sure that classroom facilities are up to date.  Class size and student-to-faculty ratio should be conducive to learning.  In addition, the school should have a good reputation in the graphic design community, with a faculty that can help you find a good graphic design job after graduation.

The school should have good contacts to help you with externship and job placement opportunities.  On the practical side, you will also want to consider cost and scholarship opportunities.

The graphic design field is extremely competitive.  You will find it very difficult to find an entry level position without formal training, much less carve out a successful career on raw talent alone.  Companies want graphic design professionals who can adhere to industry standards.  A degree in graphic design can give you a competitive edge.  Attending a graphic design school allows you to learn from professionals and experts who can teach you what the industry expects of their artists.  A formal education from the right graphic design school will prepare you for these professional companies.