24 Best Graphic Design Associate Degrees 2020
These 24 schools are the offer the highest earning potential for graphic design students earning associate degrees. The median starting salary for students at The New School, ranked #1, is $40,400. Many of the schools on this list have low median debts for graphic design alumni, including Johnson County Community College, Western Technical College, and Monroe Community College. Students at these three schools graduated with a median debt of under $12,000.
Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Median Debt||Median Salary|
|#1||The New School New York (NY)||New York (NY)||$50,994||$14,750||$40,400|
|#2||Arapahoe Community College Littleton (CO) (and 2 others)||Littleton (CO) (and 2 others)||$15,009||$12,890||$32,500|
|#3||Wake Technical Community College Raleigh (NC) (and 1 other)||Raleigh (NC) (and 1 other)||$8,912||$16,625||$31,900|
|#4||Dakota County Technical College Rosemount (MN)||Rosemount (MN)||$5,864||$17,538||$31,300|
|#5||Alexandria Technical and Community College Alexandria (MN)||Alexandria (MN)||$5,565||$12,000||$31,200|
|#6||Century College White Bear Lake (MN)||White Bear Lake (MN)||$5,578||$20,000||$31,200|
|#7||The Modern College of Design Kettering (OH)||Kettering (OH)||$29,507||$12,000||$29,600|
|#8||The Art Institutes Nationwide||Nationwide||$17,410 - $19,354||$22,814||$29,600|
|#9||Academy of Art University San Francisco (CA)||San Francisco (CA)||$23,412||$39,211||$29,300|
|#10||Salt Lake Community College Salt Lake City (UT)||Salt Lake City (UT)||$12,460||$12,500||$29,000|
|#11||Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee (WI)||Pewaukee (WI)||$6,610||$14,250||$28,700|
|#12||Portland Community College Portland (OR)||Portland (OR)||$9,418||$24,961||$28,600|
|#13||Sessions College for Professional Design Tempe (AZ)||Tempe (AZ)||$9,060||Not Reported||$28,400|
|#14||Johnson County Community College Overland Park (KS)||Overland Park (KS)||$6,690||$11,500||$27,100|
|#15||Austin Community College District Austin (TX) (and 2 others)||Austin (TX) (and 2 others)||$13,020||$12,500||$27,000|
|#16||New England Institute of Technology East Greenwich (RI)||East Greenwich (RI)||$30,840||$14,501||$25,900|
|#17||Fashion Institute of Technology New York (NY)||New York (NY)||$16,490||$12,000||$25,600|
|#18||San Antonio College San Antonio (TX)||San Antonio (TX)||$14,220||Not Reported||$25,300|
|#19||Western Technical College - WI La Crosse (WI) (and 1 other)||La Crosse (WI) (and 1 other)||$6,488||$11,066||$25,100|
|#20||FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Los Angeles (CA) (and 3 others)||Los Angeles (CA) (and 3 others)||$32,732||$12,000||$24,900|
|#21||Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale (AZ)||Scottsdale (AZ)||$7,854||Not Reported||$24,700|
|#22||Monroe Community College Rochester (NY)||Rochester (NY)||$9,716||$10,359||$24,600|
|#23||The North Coast College Lakewood (OH)||Lakewood (OH)||$20,700||$30,000||$24,100|
|#24||College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas (NV)||Las Vegas (NV)||$10,842||Not Reported||$23,900|
2020 Best Colleges Highlights
Learn more about the top colleges for an Associate in Graphic Design degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.
Established in 1919, The New School is a private research university located in the heart of New York City. The institution’s Parsons School of Design offers an Associate of Applied Science in communication design (formerly called AAS graphic design), which prepares students to enter the workforce in the visual design, graphic design, or interaction design industries.
The four-semester, two-year degree program requires a total of 60 credits to complete, and students may transfer credits from previous undergraduate coursework. The program can be completed full time or part time. Students study design history and practice, typography, critical reading and writing, and more. Electives are chosen every semester. The AAS program is designed for those who have some college education in an unrelated field and would like to start a new career in the graphic design field. Throughout the program, students build a portfolio to show prospective employers. Applicants must have graduated from high school at least two years prior to be considered.
Arapahoe Community College is a public community college located in Littleton, Colorado. The college offers an Associate of Applied Science in multimedia, graphic design and illustration. The program is designed to prepare students for entry-level work in the field of design, and the emphasis is placed on either illustration or web design.
Throughout the program, both lectures and labs provide training and education in design theory, typography, production, advertising, and portfolio development. Students also learn how to use the latest design software. The program includes general education courses in subjects such as art history, business, technical writing, psychology, and sociology. Major courses include drawing, web design, illustration, typography, layout, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. A three-credit capstone is required, and a total of 60 credits must be earned to complete the degree. Applicants must pass an exam that demonstrates proficiency in Mac operations, and they should also have typing and basic math skills.
Part of the North Carolina Community College System, Wake Technical Community College is a public community college located in the state capital of Raleigh. The institution offers an Associate in Applied Science in advertising and graphic design. The 71-credit program is available online, in hybrid format, and onsite at the Southern Wake Campus in Raleigh. Students of the program are trained and educated in the development and design of such promotional materials as letterheads, logos, brochures, booklets, newspaper advertisements, posters, folders, and more. They become proficient in typography and in using photographs in design work; students will also learn how to translate their skills to electronic media.
The program can be completed in four semesters and one summer session (day study), or in six semesters and three summer sessions (evening and online study). Courses include drawing fundamentals, computer design basics, photographic imaging, web development tools, social media, technical illustration, portfolio design, and more. Students can transfer credit from previous coursework taken no earlier than five years before the date of application.
Established in 1970, Dakota County Technical College is a two-year institution located in Rosemount, Minnesota. It became part of the Minnesota State system in 1995 and now offers more than 90 certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs. The school offers an Associate of Applied Science in graphic design technology, a 70-credit program that can be spread across four semesters and two summer sessions for full-time students.
Students study typography and layout, graphic design fundamentals, Abode Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, web content, web page construction, photography, multimedia, interpersonal communication, and more. The degree is designed to help graduates plan, design, and produce distinctive visual material to communicate effectively in print, on the web, and in interactive media. If they wish, students can participate in the Bounce Back Program, where they are paired with an advisor and are involved in workshops throughout the semester.
Alexandria Technical & Community College is a public institution located in the city of Alexandria, Minnesota. Founded in 1961, it is part of the Minnesota State system and has an enrollment of approximately 4,000 students.
The Associate of Applied Science in communication art and design, available only at the school’s campus, is a robust program that covers a wide range of design areas, including posters, websites, packages, advertisements, and animation. Students study graphic design, drawing, computer programs and applications, editorial and advertising art, web design, interactive design, design technology, digital photography, illustration techniques, Western art and culture, portfolio building, and more. A total of 72 credits are required to complete the degree, and the four-semester program can be completed in two years. As one of the learning outcomes, each student must build a personal portfolio containing between 10 and 12 pieces. It will be assessed by the course instructors on the basis of design, aesthetic appeal, quality, craftsmanship, overall presentation, and professional appearance.