Top Graphic Design Schools in Alaska: Degree & Certificate Programs

Are you searching for top graphic design schools in Alaska? Look no further. This article reviews the best options, including the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks, offering comprehensive degree and certificate programs to kickstart your career in graphic design.

  • The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is the leading institution for graphic design education in Alaska, offering a flexible Bachelor of Arts in Art program that balances studio work with theoretical studies.
  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) provides specialized programs in digital art and Alaska Native Arts, combining traditional and contemporary design education to prepare students for diverse creative careers.
  • Online graphic design certificate programs in Alaska provide flexible learning options, allowing students to balance education with other commitments while gaining necessary skills for careers in graphic design.

Top Graphic Design Schools in Alaska: Degree & Certificate Programs

Alaska is home to several institutions that offer degree and certificate programs in graphic design. Among these, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) stands out as the primary choice for aspiring graphic designers. UAA offers a Bachelor of Arts in Art with a focus on graphic design, providing a comprehensive curriculum that balances studio work with theoretical studies. With multiple degree options available, students can explore various program requirements, courses, and specialization options to tailor their education to their interests.

Despite having multiple options, UAA remains the go-to institution for graphic design in Alaska. The Bachelor of Arts in Art degree at UAA, a bachelor’s degree program, is designed to be less art-intensive compared to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, featuring fewer studio courses and more elective courses. This structure offers more flexibility and allows students to delve into other academic interests while pursuing their passion for graphic design.

The program also includes a third-year application process, thesis writing, and an exhibition, ensuring that undergraduate students are well-prepared for their future careers.


The increasing demand for skilled designers across various industries emphasizes the importance of graphic design education in Alaska. This guide aims to provide detailed insights into the top graphic design schools in Alaska, focusing on degree and certificate programs available for aspiring designers.

Whether you’re interested in traditional art forms or modern digital design, Alaska’s educational institutions offer a diverse range of programs to help you develop the skills needed to succeed in this creative field. From comprehensive bachelor’s degree programs to flexible online certificates, there’s something for every aspiring graphic designer.

University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)

With a robust selection of degrees in art and design, including both Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) caters to a wide range of students. Graphic design is a key focus at UAA, making it the primary choice for studying graphic design in the state. The BA program, in particular, provides a less intensive yet comprehensive approach to art education, allowing students to balance their coursework with other academic interests. This flexibility is ideal for students who wish to explore various areas of art and design.

The BA program at UAA requires a total of 120 credits, with 42 credits coming from upper-division courses. Students must complete a third-year application process, thesis writing, and an exhibition, which helps them gain valuable experience in preparing their work for professional presentation. The curriculum includes a diverse range of courses that cover principles and techniques in graphic design, typography, photographic imaging, computer graphics, website design, and advertising design. This comprehensive approach ensures that students are well-equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the graphic design industry.

Program Details

The Bachelor of Arts in Art program at UAA offers a diverse curriculum that combines liberal arts education with studio and history courses. Students can choose two areas of specialization, allowing them to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals. The program covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Graphic design principles
  • Typography
  • Photographic imaging
  • Computer graphics
  • Website design
  • Advertising design

Students in this program are required to complete advanced-level projects in areas such as logo design, publication design, corporate identity systems, and poster design. These projects are essential components of design degree programs, ensuring that students gain the necessary skills and experience for a successful career in the industry.

Compared to the BFA, the program’s structure, featuring fewer required studio courses and more elective options, facilitates exploration of various academic areas and development of artistic expression through multiple studio approaches. Internship opportunities with organizations like the Anchorage Museum and the municipality of Anchorage’s 1% for Art program provide valuable real-world experience.

Faculty and Resources

Active and globally recognized accomplished artists serve as faculty supporting UAA’s art program. These instructors have exhibited their work internationally, including at prestigious venues like the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and Schaller Gallery in St. Joseph, Michigan. The program faculty have also completed artistic residencies in places like Cleveland, Ohio, and Jingdezhen, China, bringing a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to their teaching.

The UAA Fine Arts Building offers nine specialty art studios, including computer art facilities such as:

  • iMac computers
  • 3-D printers
  • CNC router
  • Digital printmaking software

These studios are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, providing students with a high-quality learning environment and the tools and support needed to excel in their studies.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from UAA’s art program have a wide range of career opportunities available to them. Potential career paths for graphic design graduates include positions such as illustrator, web designer, art director, layout artist, and logo designer. Additionally, art majors can pursue roles as arts administrators, art educators, and graphic designers in various industries, including publishing, government, IT, and marketing. The growing demand for graphic designers in Alaska’s construction, mining, and oil industries also provides ample job opportunities.

UAA supports its students in preparing for their careers through a Portfolio Production Seminar, which helps students create professional presentations of their work, including mock interviews and portfolio reviews. Graduates from the UAA art program have been accepted into prestigious graduate programs at institutions such as Alfred School of Art and Design, Arizona State University, and New York University, demonstrating the program’s success in preparing students for advanced studies and professional careers.

University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)

Offering both Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in art, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) uniquely focuses on digital art and Alaska Native Arts. These specialized programs provide students with a blend of technical skills and cultural enrichment, making UAF a significant option for graphic design education in Alaska. The programs at UAF include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Art
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art
  • Emphasis on Alaska Native Arts in the BFA program, reflecting the university’s commitment to preserving and promoting indigenous culture.

UAF’s curriculum includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and a minor in Digital Art, offering students the opportunity to delve into contemporary design practices. This combination of traditional and digital art education ensures that students are well-prepared for a variety of creative careers. The curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive education, covering foundational courses in drawing, design, and art history, as well as specialized courses in digital imaging, web design, and 3D modeling.

Curriculum Structure

At UAF, the curriculum aims to provide a thorough education in art and design. The Bachelor of Fine Arts program focuses on intensive art and design studies, emphasizing independent, original, critical, and creative thinking. Students are required to complete foundational courses in drawing, design, and art history, which provide a solid base for their artistic development.

The program also includes specialized courses in:

  • digital imaging
  • digital video
  • web design
  • 3D modeling

This ensures that students are well-versed in contemporary design practices. Additionally, the curriculum includes courses focused on user interface prototyping for apps and web, emphasizing user experience design. This practical training prepares students for real-world challenges and opportunities in the graphic design industry.

Facilities and Technology

Students at UAF have access to multiple studios and digital labs within the Fine Arts Complex, facilitating a comprehensive learning experience. These facilities are equipped with the latest software and specialized equipment, such as 3D printers and laser cutters, which support students in their creative endeavors.

The availability of such resources ensures that students can develop their technical skills and produce high-quality work.

Internship and Networking

Internship opportunities and networking events at UAF help students gain real-world experience and connect with industry professionals. The university offers internships with local businesses and organizations, providing valuable hands-on experience in graphic design.

Additionally, UAF hosts networking events and career fairs in collaboration with the National Association, allowing students to build connections and explore career opportunities in the field.

Ilisagvik College

Ilisagvik College presents a distinctive approach to graphic design education, merging traditional Inupiaq values with contemporary design principles. The college offers an associate’s degree in Inupiaq Eskimo culture and art, emphasizing the importance of language and cultural understanding on the North Slope. This program is designed to preserve and promote the endangered Inupiaq language while providing students with modern graphic design skills.

The art and design program at Ilisagvik College includes:

  • The study of traditional Inupiaq crafts
  • Making objects in the Inupiaq style
  • Learning to speak Inupiaq
  • Understanding the culture’s relationship with nature

This blend of traditional and contemporary education ensures that students are well-prepared to contribute to their communities and pursue creative careers.

Program Highlights

Ilisagvik College’s graphic design program covers both traditional Inupiaq crafts and modern graphic design technologies. Courses include studies in traditional Inupiaq crafts and contemporary design principles, providing students with a well-rounded education that respects cultural heritage while embracing modernity.

This approach ensures that students develop a deep understanding of their cultural roots while acquiring the skills needed for contemporary graphic design careers.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is a key aspect of Ilisagvik College’s art program. The college partners with the local Inupiaq-speaking community to create educational resources and develop language materials. Students are actively involved in community projects, such as designing culturally significant items like blankets, and participating in traditional activities like dance and drumming.

These initiatives help students connect with their cultural heritage and contribute to their communities.

Online Graphic Design Certificate Programs

For students in Alaska, online graphic design certificate programs present a flexible and accessible learning option. These programs are designed to accommodate different schedules and commitments, making it easier for students to pursue their education from any location. Accredited online programs ensure a high standard of quality in education, covering foundational skills and advanced topics such as user interface prototyping and portfolio production. Students can attend individual courses and later apply the full tuition towards the certificate program, providing a cost-effective way to gain comprehensive training.

The courses are designed to prepare students for roles as graphic designers or in marketing communications, creating visual communications for print or online use. With access to the latest learning tools and educational resources, students can develop their skills and achieve their creative goals. Additionally, online learning offers the advantage of reduced travel costs and the ability to study at any time and place, providing a flexible and convenient option for aspiring graphic designers.

Accredited Programs

Students can expect a structured and high-quality education from accredited online graphic design certificate programs. The coursework often covers topics such as:

  • Aesthetics and critical studies of graphic design
  • Fundamentals of typography
  • Photographic imaging
  • User interface prototyping for apps and web
  • Advanced website design
  • Portfolio production seminars

These programs typically require basic computer proficiency and prior introductory courses in graphic design as prerequisites. Upon completion, students receive a certificate, although these may not always translate to college credit or professional certification.

Online graphic design courses cater to both beginners and established professionals looking to enhance their skillset.

Benefits of Online Learning

The numerous benefits of online learning make it an appealing choice for many students. It provides the flexibility to study at any time and place, accommodating various schedules and commitments. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who may have work or family obligations.

Online programs also create virtual communities where students can interact through chats and discussion forums, fostering a sense of connection and collaboration. Access to the latest learning tools and educational resources ensures that students receive a comprehensive education, equivalent to what they would receive in a traditional classroom setting.

GI Bill Benefits

Veterans aiming for a career in graphic design can utilize GI Bill benefits to enroll in online graphic design certificate programs. These benefits can cover the cost of tuition, making higher education more accessible for those who have served in the military.

Eligible participants can utilize their Veterans Affairs (VA) funds to enroll in these programs, ensuring they have the financial support needed to develop new skills and transition into civilian careers.

Choosing the Right Program

Selecting the appropriate graphic design program requires thoughtful consideration of several factors, ensuring it matches your career objectives and personal interests. Begin by identifying your long-term goals in graphic design to determine which program will best support your aspirations. For instance, if you aim to work in a specific industry or specialize in a particular area of design, look for programs that offer relevant courses and specializations.

When selecting a program, consider factors such as:

  • Accreditation: ensures that the program meets certain standards of quality, providing you with a credible education.
  • Faculty expertise: experienced instructors can significantly enhance your learning experience.
  • Available resources: assess the resources available, such as technology, software, and studio facilities, which are essential for a comprehensive education.
  • Curriculum coverage: evaluate the curriculum to ensure it covers a wide range of design skills and concepts, preparing you for various career opportunities.

Factors to Consider

Several key factors warrant consideration when selecting a graphic design program. Accreditation is a primary consideration, as it ensures the program meets established standards of quality. Faculty expertise plays a significant role in the quality of education, with experienced instructors providing valuable insights and mentorship.

Additionally, the availability of resources, such as up-to-date technology and software, is essential for a well-rounded learning experience. Finally, evaluate the curriculum to ensure it comprehensively covers the necessary design skills and concepts, preparing you for a successful career in graphic design.

Comparing Programs

To determine which graphic design program best fits your needs, evaluation of various aspects is required. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Curriculum: Look at the curriculum to ensure it covers the skills you need for your career.
  2. Success rate: Consider the success rate of program graduates in securing relevant jobs, as this can indicate the program’s effectiveness.
  3. Cost: Compare the cost of programs, including any additional fees for software and materials, to assess affordability.

Evaluate the student-to-faculty ratio, as smaller class sizes can lead to more personalized instruction. Lastly, consider the ease of use of the program, ensuring it aligns with your current skill level and supports future growth.

Career Outlook for Graphic Designers in Alaska

With a growing demand for skilled professionals across various industries, the career outlook for graphic designers in Alaska is promising. From 2020 to 2030, the employment of graphic designers in Alaska is expected to grow by 11.86%, indicating a healthy job market for aspiring designers. There are projected to be 12 annual openings for graphic designers in the state, providing ample opportunities for new graduates. The demand for graphic designers is driven by the need for professionals who can create infographics, presentations, and other visual content for industries such as publishing, government, IT, and marketing.

Graphic designers in Alaska can pursue careers in the following industries:

  • Creative service firms
  • Digital agencies
  • In-house marketing departments
  • User experience (UX) design
  • User interface (UI) design
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

The diverse range of industries that require graphic design skills ensures that graduates have a variety of creative career paths to choose from. With the right education and skills, graphic designers can look forward to a rewarding and dynamic career in Alaska’s growing creative industry.

Salary Expectations

Graphic designers in Alaska can expect higher-than-average salaries compared to the national average. Here are the average salaries for graphic designers in different regions of Alaska:

  • Alaska (statewide): $59,990
  • Anchorage: $68,000
  • Bethel: $55,469
  • Kodiak: $54,537

These salaries reflect the demand for skilled professionals in these regions.

These figures highlight the financial benefits of pursuing a graphic design career in Alaska.

Job Growth and Demand

With a continuous demand for skilled professionals, the employment outlook for graphic designers in Alaska is optimistic. The total employment for graphic designers in Alaska was 118 in 2020, and it is projected to increase to 132 by 2030, reflecting an annual growth rate of around 5%. This steady growth indicates a healthy job market for graphic designers, providing ample opportunities for new graduates to enter the field and build successful careers.