We pose this question, not with the assumption that there is an advantage to earning a graduate degree. Perhaps, there is no benefit to advance your education by the customary two years. In addition to the extra expense and time commitment required. If a bachelor’s degree is adequate to start your career in graphic design, then you can apply the savings elsewhere.
You could even start with an Associate of Applied Science, Science, Fine Arts, or Arts degree in graphic design. An Applied Science program has courses in typography, color theory, digital layout, drawing, and graphic design. A Science degree may cover photo image editing (using Adobe Photoshop), web design, multimedia development, and animation using the Adobe Creative Cloud software.
The Arts program should have classes in 3-D design, digital imaging, typography, and computer illustration. A Fine Arts program typically places a greater emphasis on art. This means courses in drawing, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, art history and appreciation, and possibly a painting studio elective.
At the undergraduate level, you also have choices. You can choose a Bachelor of Science, Arts, of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. One of these may afford as many career benefits as a master’s degree.
Graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree will have the skills to seek employment in design. This can include interface design (design for how products are used), advertising firms, and print publishing companies.
A Bachelor of Arts offers training in graphic art and design, computer graphics, communication, business-oriented writing, and publication. You’ll become well-versed in the language of design and adept at the Adobe Suite of software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects, and Flash.
Another choice is a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) explores 2-D and 3-D design, publication design, digital photography, and many other areas of graphic design. You may also study page layout principles, the design process, page layout, image manipulation software, and visual hierarchy.
Considering the aforementioned degrees, is it worth the cost, time, and effort to pursue a master’s in this major? There are career advisors who opine that a graduate degree is not necessary. Graphic design is not an exact science like medicine or astrophysics. It entails creativity, knowledge of different software, and the ability to use technology in the design process. The designer must be able to develop the image into one cohesive package to convey a particular message.
A bachelor’s degree program in graphic design should provide sufficient education to handle various projects. You will have the skills to form an impressive portfolio, which you can present to potential employers. This degree and a commitment to continued education in graphic design may negate the need for a master’s degree.
The master’s degree may be beneficial if you see yourself in management. Graphic design graduates should have the technical expertise to qualify for Senior-level positions in the business need the technical expertise that a graduate program can offer. Additionally, master’s holders may qualify for teaching positions at colleges and universities.
In addition, the master’s program takes you beyond the ability to master design software and 3-D graphics. At this level, you will study the practices, histories, and theories of design and other related disciplines that inform contemporary design practices. The emphasis is on design fundamentals, process, visual research, and working across media. Other topics may include creative strategy, design leadership, digital and traditional marketing communications, social media, management, and branding. You will graduate with a grasp of subjects not covered during the typical bachelor’s program. This will certainly embellish your resume and ensure more job opportunities.
We have touched on job opportunities in this article. However, what do job postings reveal about degree requirements? Job postings on Career Builder state the requirements of a graphic designer in these examples:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, Fine Arts, Visual Communications
- Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Design, Graphic Design, Communications or related field
- Bachelors Degree in Web Design, Graphic Design, Marketing or a related field or equivalent work experience
- Associate’s degree or BFA degree in Graphic Design
This sampling is not indicative of all job postings. However, it seems that a bachelor’s degree is adequate for employment. Instead of spending two years on a master’s, it may be more beneficial to hone your skills by taking online courses. The application of what you have learned could be more important than the theoretical aspect of graphic design.