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24 Best Graphic Design Associate Degrees 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

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.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 New York (NY) New York (NY) $49,064 $14,750 $40,400
#2 #2 Littleton (CO) (and 2 others) Littleton (CO) (and 2 others) $15,006 $12,890 $32,500
#3 #3 Raleigh (NC) (and 1 other) Raleigh (NC) (and 1 other) $8,912 $16,625 $31,900
#4 #4 Rosemount (MN) Rosemount (MN) $5,713 $17,538 $31,300
#5 #5 Alexandria (MN) Alexandria (MN) $5,416 $12,000 $31,200
#6 #6 White Bear Lake (MN) White Bear Lake (MN) $5,435 $20,000 $31,200
#7 #7 Kettering (OH) Kettering (OH) $28,278 $12,000 $29,600
#8 #8 Nationwide Nationwide $17,316 - $18,648 $22,814 $29,600
#9 #9 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $22,308 $39,211 $29,300
#10 #10 Salt Lake City (UT) Salt Lake City (UT) $12,206 $12,500 $29,000
#11 #11 Pewaukee (WI) Pewaukee (WI) $6,271 $14,250 $28,700
#12 #12 Portland (OR) Portland (OR) $9,200 $24,961 $28,600
#13 #13 Tempe (AZ) Tempe (AZ) $8,700 Not Reported $28,400
#14 #14 Overland Park (KS) Overland Park (KS) $6,600 $11,500 $27,100
#15 #15 Austin (TX) (and 2 others) Austin (TX) (and 2 others) $13,020 $12,500 $27,000
#16 #16 East Greenwich (RI) East Greenwich (RI) $29,856 $14,501 $25,900
#17 #17 New York (NY) New York (NY) $15,520 $12,000 $25,600
#18 #18 San Antonio (TX) San Antonio (TX) $13,830 Not Reported $25,300
#19 #19 La Crosse (WI) (and 1 other) La Crosse (WI) (and 1 other) $6,377 $11,066 $25,100
#20 #20 Los Angeles (CA) (and 3 others) Los Angeles (CA) (and 3 others) $32,293 $12,000 $24,900
#21 #21 Scottsdale (AZ) Scottsdale (AZ) $7,854 Not Reported $24,700
#22 #22 Rochester (NY) Rochester (NY) $9,716 $10,359 $24,600
#23 #23 Lakewood (OH) Lakewood (OH) $20,439 $30,000 $24,100
#24 #24 Las Vegas (NV) Las Vegas (NV) $10,371 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.

#1
New York (NY)
Median Salary $40,400
Median Debt $14,750
Annual Tuition $49,064
Graduation Rate 72%

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.

Visit The New School's website.

#2
Littleton (CO) (and 2 others)
Median Salary $32,500
Median Debt $12,890
Annual Tuition $15,006
Graduation Rate 26%

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.

Visit Arapahoe Community College's website.

#3
Raleigh (NC) (and 1 other)
Median Salary $31,900
Median Debt $16,625
Annual Tuition $8,912
Graduation Rate 16%

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.

Visit Wake Technical Community College's website.

#4
Median Salary $31,300
Median Debt $17,538
Annual Tuition $5,713
Graduation Rate 36%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

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.

Visit Dakota County Technical College's website.

Median Salary $31,200
Median Debt $12,000
Annual Tuition $5,416
Graduation Rate 57%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

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.

Visit Alexandria Technical & Community College's website.