Studying Graphic Design Courses in the US: Everything You Need to Know

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By Sakina Taher
Published on August 22, 2023

International students, want to be a web designer, UX/UI designer, or product designer? It all starts with courses in graphic design. Here’s how to develop high-demand design skills and explore diverse career pathways with Shorelight universities.

Graphic designers create the visuals in advertisements, brochures, books, magazines, and websites to communicate ideas that inspire people and keep them informed about new brands or products. Graphic design roles combine knowledge of art and technology to create aesthetic visuals for businesses across digital and print media. Potential graphic design careers can focus on UX/UI design, product design, web design, and even usability testing. 

Read on to learn more about what you will need to study to become an expert in graphic design, career prospects for graphic design professionals, courses in graphic design available at Shorelight universities, and more.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a form of visual communication that uses colors, shapes, images, and words to narrate stories for brands and/or organizations. Graphic designers create everything from posters and billboards to packaging, logos, and marketing materials across digital and print media. They may work in roles across many industries, such as advertising, television and video production, corporate branding, manufacturing, and software development.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for web developers and digital designer jobs is projected to grow 23% between 2021 to 2031, which is faster than the industry average. By building the right creative, technical, and professional skill set, pursuing a graphic design career can be both lucrative and stable.

Let’s take a better look at the career pathways you can consider by taking graphic design courses and the specific skills you need to succeed in each role.

Types of Graphic Design Courses

Graphic design can be a good career option if you are naturally creative and have a good eye for compelling visuals. To work as a graphic designer, you may need a high level of skill in color theory, communication, computerized sketching, and computer-aided design (CAD) software to create meaningful and functional visual assets for companies, brands, and products. Taking a variety of graphic design courses can equip you with the skills and experience needed to start your rewarding career.

Here are some popular graphic design courses and what you can expect to learn.

Degree Programs or Concentrations in UX/UI Design

Programs in UX/UI design offer practical and skill-based training across visual communication, user interface, and user experience design. These programs are designed to take you through all stages of the UX/UI development process, from user research to defining project strategy. Some specialized skills you can learn through a UX/UI design program include:

  • Application development

  • Information architecture

  • Prototyping

  • User research

  • Visual design

  • Wireframing

Learning the fundamentals of UX/UI design and applied design concepts can prepare you for a wide variety of careers, such as:

  • Information architect

  • Product designer

  • Product owner

  • UX/UI designer

  • UX researcher

  • UX strategist

Degree Programs or Concentrations in Web Design

A program in web design provides the core skills needed to create a clear, attractive, and easy-to-navigate website. These foundational web design skills allow you to work across a wide range of technologies: taking a site from wireframe to production, implementing security measures, and creating a collaborative multi-user experience (among many other features). A degree or concentration in web design teaches you a variety of skills, such as:

  • Content management and design

  • Design tools

  • HTML & CSS

  • Programming 

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

  • Visual design

  • Web server management

Learning technical skills in web design creates internship and job opportunities that can span from coding to animation. Some popular careers for web designers include:

  • Animator

  • Computer programmer

  • Content editor

  • Graphic designer

  • Multimedia specialist

  • Web designer

  • Webmaster

Degree Programs and Concentrations in Product Design

Product design courses prepare students to oversee the design process of a product from start to finish or determine ways to improve an existing product. Studying product design gives you a fundamental understanding of color, detail, typography, and other design elements needed to create your product, as well as the marketing knowledge to sell it to the right audience. By taking product design courses, you can learn skills such as:

  • Coding

  • UX/UI design

  • User research

  • Visual design

A degree in product design gives you highly transferable skills that can be applied across multiple industries, such as architecture, fashion, and product manufacturing. Here are some popular career options to consider with a degree in product design:

  • CAD technician

  • Clothing technologist

  • Color technologist

  • Exhibition designer

  • Furniture designer

  • Interior and spatial designer

  • Product designer

Degree Programs and Concentrations in Usability Testing

Programs in usability testing equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct research that evaluates a user’s experience when interacting with a website or app. Some key skills in usability testing you can learn include:

  • Competitive analysis

  • Interaction design

  • Product management

  • UX/UI design

  • Usability testing

  • User research

With artificial intelligence (AI) being used more widely to automate the usability testing process for IT systems, new positions are opening for creative individuals with high data analytics and machine learning skills. With a degree or concentration in usability testing, you can prepare for data-oriented design careers such as:

  • Data analyst

  • Human factors consultant

  • Quality assurance analyst

  • Quality assurance tester

  • Usability engineer

  • Usability researcher

Shorelight’s top-ranked university programs offer a specialized hands-on learning curriculum for international students to gain essential skills, knowledge, and experience for a successful career in graphic design. While studying for a degree at a Shorelight university, you can explore your passions and grow at your own pace with academic and career guidance every step of the way.

Study Graphic Design at Top-Ranked Shorelight Universities

Pursuing a graphic design degree or concentration in the US gives you access to unique learning opportunities, including co-ops and internships where you can develop essential workplace skills, and events such as art exhibitions and design symposia that help expand your industry exposure. 

Let’s take a look at Shorelight universities with graphic design degree specializations tailored for international students.

Holy Cross College at Notre Dame

Holy Cross College at Notre Dame in Indiana, ranked #156–206 among National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, offers a specialized liberal arts education in a close-knit student-faculty community. The small class sizes and personalized instruction provide an effective learning environment for students to learn valuable technical and conceptual skills for a career in design.

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design — The BA in Graphic Design provides foundational and specialized skills in art and design across art history, digital illustration, graphic design, and studio management. Students can access internship opportunities and showcase their artistic growth at industry events, such as the annual art exhibition at the St. Joseph Gallery Lounge in Driscoll.

Lycoming College

Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is one of the 50 oldest private liberal arts colleges in the US, providing a cutting-edge arts program in digital design. The well-networked art community at Lycoming College gives students a unique chance to create alongside nationally and internationally recognized artists and scholars. Students can also present their work at industry events such as the Intercollegiate Art History Symposium and the International Digital Scholarship Conference.

  • Bachelor in Studio Art — The BA in Studio Art is an engaging liberal arts program that teaches students essential design principles that can be applied across a wide number of art careers. You can also take your career growth to new heights through paid work-study opportunities at design galleries in the US and around the world.

Rutgers University – Camden

Ranked #61 among Top US Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, Rutgers University – Camden in New Jersey is a public research institution known for its unique experiential approach towards learning. The art program at Rutgers – Camden provides an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to art education, preparing students for work as professional artists and designers. 

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design — The BA in Graphic Design program drives professional growth through a constantly evolving, experimental curriculum that teaches students to think beyond traditional graphic design roles. The interdisciplinary approach backed by new research and personalized instruction from expert faculty gives students a chance to exhibit at popular applied arts organizations such as AIGA, CMYK, Graphis, and UCDA.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design — The BFA in Graphic Design guides students through the fundamentals of design, offering practical studies in multimedia courses such as interactive media, conceptual art, and filmmaking. Students can also take their professional practice in graphic design to the next level through internships, independent study, and integrative projects as part of their coursework.

  • Combined Five-Year Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Graphic Design — The combined Five-Year Art Education Program is designed for students pursuing active careers as practicing visual artists and educators. By joining Rutgers’ extensive industry network, you can also participate in national and international exhibitions and apply for roles at leading media corporations, such as Disney, IBM, and NBC.

Trinity Christian College

Trinity Christian College is ranked #14 among the best Regional Colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. The campus is located 25 miles from downtown Chicago, which is famous for its world-class galleries, museums, and art studios, including the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world.

  • Bachelor in Graphic Design — The program’s curriculum offers a deep dive into art, art history, computer science, and communication. Students have opportunities to interact with industry professionals and showcase their work in popular art spaces like Trinity’s renowned Seerveld Gallery.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design — The BFA in Graphic Design explores the fundamentals of design through a critical global perspective. Through Trinity’s hands-on classroom experience and recognized internship programs, you can gain the necessary skills to kickstart your graphic design career.

  • Bachelor in Digital Design — The BA in Digital Design combines art, art history, computer science, communication, and business in an all-inclusive learning program. With guidance from a professional network of artists, designers, and educators, students can learn from real-world projects and explore their passion for design.

Utah Tech University

Ranked #7 in Top Public Schools in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Utah Tech University stands out for its comprehensive curriculum and dedication to emerging technologies. The innovative coursework at Utah Tech’s design department gives students the chance to put their abilities to the test in real-world applications and grow their professional network through project showcases.

  • Bachelor of Arts/Science (BA/BS) in Design – Graphic Design Emphasis — This program takes a holistic approach toward graphic design, combining theory with practical application to teach students design concepts in print and digital mediums. With state-of-the-art classrooms and design labs, you can enhance your design concepts by integrating cutting-edge technology.

  • Bachelor of Arts/Science (BA/BS) in Design – Interaction Design Emphasis — The BA/BS in Design with a focus on interactive design provides a structured learning pathway with courses in user research, prototyping, user interface design, and more. Driven by an innovative curriculum, students can build new projects from the ground up using the latest software and tools.

  • Bachelor of Arts/Science (BA/BS) in Design – Digital Design Emphasis — The BA/BS in Design with a concentration in digital design offers high-demand skill development through courses in motion design, information graphics, and digital illustration. Through internships and industry placement opportunities, you can work on real-world design projects and polish your creative portfolio.

Salary Potential for Careers in Graphic Design

With many companies around the world using both digital technology and print media to get their brand message across to customers, the demand for skilled graphic designers is constantly growing. According to market research by IBISWorld, the global graphic design market size is expected to grow by 3.8% to a valuation of $45 billion in 2023, which can lead to more job and career development opportunities for aspiring designers.

Here is the salary potential of graphic design careers in key markets like the US, Brazil, China, and India.

UX Designer

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Web Designer

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Product Designer

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Quality Assurance Analyst

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Source: Payscale

A degree in graphic design equips students with highly transferable creative skills, including UX/UI design, design principles, idea generation, branding, and design tools that can be applied to multiple career pathways. Explore diverse career roles in the US as you grow your professional network and build your portfolio while working toward your degree.

With a degree from a Shorelight university, you can achieve your goal of becoming a successful graphic designer with support every step of the way! Our student support services are dedicated to helping you find degree programs, schools, and internship opportunities that best match your interests and professional goals so that you can start your career on the right path.

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