Best Online Graphic Design Courses for 2024

Looking for the best online graphic design courses? This guide covers top-rated courses for every skill level and goal. Whether you’re starting out or looking to specialize, find courses offering flexibility, affordability, and up-to-date skills.

  • Learning graphic design online provides flexibility, personalized experiences, and cost-efficiency, allowing students to learn at their own pace and interact with a global network of learners.
  • The CalArts Graphic Design Specialization on Coursera is highly regarded for beginners, offering comprehensive courses covering visual communication, interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design, culminating in a professional portfolio project.
  • DesignLab’s UX Academy stands out for aspiring UX designers, offering a flexible bootcamp with a robust curriculum and 1-on-1 mentorship, supported by financial options to make high-quality education accessible.

Why Learn Graphic Design Online?

The unparalleled flexibility of online graphic design courses, including online graphic design classes, makes them an ideal option for those juggling work or other commitments. Students can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule while pursuing an online graphic design degree. The accessibility of online courses also removes geographical barriers, enabling anyone with an internet connection to gain valuable design skills from anywhere in the world through an online graphic design program, including web design.

Additionally, online graphic design courses offer the following benefits:

  • They cater to various learning styles and speeds
  • They allow you to progress at your own pace
  • They provide a personalized learning experience
  • They ensure a thorough grasp of each concept before moving on to the next

These benefits enhance the learning journey and help you become a proficient senior graphic designer, surrounded by skilled graphic designers.

Furthermore, online graphic design courses foster a global network of learners, providing opportunities for cultural exchange and collaboration. This global community can be incredibly valuable, offering diverse perspectives and feedback on your work.

Online study of graphic design, an increasingly popular form of online education, can prove more cost-efficient by saving on transportation, accommodation, and other costs usually associated with conventional in-person education.

Best Overall Online Graphic Design Course (CalArts)

The CalArts Graphic Design Specialization on Coursera is widely regarded as the best overall online graphic design course. This comprehensive five-course series is designed for beginners and requires no prior experience, making it an excellent starting point for aspiring graphic designers. The specialization covers a wide range of fundamental skills, including:

  • Visual communication
  • Interface design
  • Motion graphics
  • Editorial design

One of the standout features of this course is the capstone project, which allows students to:

  • Create a professional portfolio piece that showcases their skills and creativity
  • Learn to make informed design choices
  • Synthesize typography, image-making, and composition skills

This hands-on approach ensures that graphic design students not only understand the theory behind graphic design but also how to apply it in real-world scenarios.

Upon completion of the specialization, students will possess a solid foundation in graphic design and a polished portfolio to showcase to potential employers or clients. The CalArts Graphic Design Specialization is an excellent choice for anyone looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of graphic design and build a strong foundation for their career.

Top Course for Beginners (LinkedIn Learning)

For those just starting their graphic design journey, LinkedIn Learning’s ‘Become a Graphic Designer’ collection is the perfect entry point. This series of nine short courses is specifically aimed at beginners, providing a solid foundation in graphic design principles and practices. The collection includes individual courses such as ‘What is Graphic Design?’ and ‘Graphic Design Careers: First Steps’, which introduce the basics and potential career paths in graphic design.

One of the key strengths of this collection is its focus on hands-on exercises using popular design software like InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. These practical exercises help students apply what they’ve learned and develop their graphic design skills in a real-world context. Courses like ‘Introduction to Graphic Design: Concepts’ cover essential topics such as color, typography, and layout, ensuring that students have a strong grasp of the fundamental principles of graphic design.

Upon completing the ‘Become a Graphic Designer’ collection, students will have a comprehensive understanding of graphic design and be confident enough to start creating their own designs. This collection is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to learn graphic design from scratch and build a solid foundation for their future studies or career.

Highly Rated Theory Course (Udemy)

If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of graphic design theory, Udemy’s ‘Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners’ is an excellent choice. This course includes over 4.5 hours of video content and practical projects that cover essential design theory elements such as:

  • color
  • typography
  • layout
  • composition
  • branding
  • user experience

The comprehensive nature of this course ensures that students develop a solid understanding of the foundational principles of graphic design.

One of the unique features of this course is:

  • Direct communication with instructors through messages, discussions, and a dedicated Facebook group for feedback and design challenges
  • This level of interaction and support helps students stay motivated and engaged throughout the course
  • The course emphasizes the importance of using a design vocabulary and finding inspiration from various sources like art history and current media.

Students are also taught to apply key design principles such as:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Sublimation
  • Tension

By mastering these principles, students can create more compelling and visually appealing designs. The ‘Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners’ course on Udemy is a highly rated option for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of design theory and improve their design skills.

Best UX Design Bootcamp (DesignLab)

DesignLab’s UX Academy is the go-to choice for those looking to specialize in user experience (UX) design. This immersive online bootcamp combines a rigorous curriculum with 1-on-1 mentorship to help students build the skills needed to launch a successful career in UX design. The program is designed to be flexible, allowing students to participate in asynchronous lessons and regular mentorship sessions that fit their schedule.

To make the bootcamp more accessible, DesignLab offers interest-free payment plans and long-term financing options. This financial flexibility ensures that more students can take advantage of the high-quality education and mentorship provided by UX Academy.

With its comprehensive curriculum and personalized support, DesignLab’s UX Academy is the best choice for anyone looking to break into the field of UX design.

Best Presentation Design Class (University of Colorado Boulder)

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Coursera course on presentation design is a top choice for those looking to enhance their presentation skills. This course teaches the theory and basics of graphic design, encouraging students to apply these concepts in any presentation software. The course includes four modules that cover:

  1. Recognizing good design
  2. Working with grids and margins
  3. Composition strategies
  4. Handling critique

One of the key aspects of this course is its focus on the practical application of graphic design concepts in presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote. Students will learn how to manage negative space effectively and use type, color, images, and graphic elements to create visually appealing presentations. This practical approach ensures that students can immediately apply what they’ve learned to improve their presentation design skills.

Upon completion of the course, students will possess a solid understanding of presentation design principles and the ability to create engaging and professional presentations. The University of Colorado Boulder’s course is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enhance their presentation skills and make a lasting impression with their designs.

Comprehensive Practical Course (Udemy)

Udemy’s ‘Graphic Design Masterclass – Learn GREAT Design’ is a comprehensive course that covers a broad range of topics, including:

  • design theory
  • branding
  • logo design
  • practical lessons on Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign

This course is designed to provide students with real-world experience and practice tests to enhance their technical skills and knowledge.

The course includes detailed lessons on:

  • Adobe Photoshop, such as photo editing and manipulation techniques, and creating custom brand presentation mockups
  • Adobe Illustrator, focusing on mastering the pen tool and creating complex vector illustrations
  • Adobe InDesign, teaching magazine layout design and the use of master pages

The course is frequently updated with new lessons, projects, and resources, ensuring that students stay current with the latest design trends and tools.

One of the unique features of this masterclass is the inclusion of a mini-course on discovering your design niche and a new lesson on Artificial Intelligence in Design,. At the conclusion of this course, students will possess a comprehensive understanding of graphic design and the practical skills necessary for success in the industry.

The ‘Graphic Design Masterclass – Learn GREAT Design’ on Udemy is an excellent choice for anyone looking to gain a well-rounded education in graphic design.

Free YouTube Course for Beginners (Gareth David Studio)

Gareth David’s YouTube series offers a beginner-friendly guide to graphic design, making it an excellent resource for those just starting their design journey. With over 15 years of experience in the design industry, Gareth David has been sharing his expertise on YouTube for over a decade, providing valuable insights and practical tips for aspiring designers.

The YouTube series includes software courses and design series aimed at beginners, all of which are free to watch and unfunded. This accessibility makes it an ideal starting point for anyone looking to learn graphic design without any financial commitment.

Gareth David’s YouTube series is a fantastic resource for beginners looking to gain a solid foundation in graphic design.

Advanced Fundamentals Course (Envato Tuts+)

Envato Tuts+ offers an excellent course titled “Fundamentals of Graphic Design,” taught by Lara Keung. This course is designed to provide a foundational knowledge of graphic design principles, elements, and composition rules. It’s perfect for those who are just beginning their graphic design journey or for those looking to enhance their existing skills.

The course covers a broad range of topics, including:

  • Design styles across decades
  • Color theory
  • Design terminology
  • Typography
  • The psychology of fonts
  • Visual hierarchy
  • Magazine cover design as practical examples

The teaching method includes video lessons and practical examples, ensuring that students can see the principles in action and apply them to their own work.

At the course’s conclusion, students will firmly grasp the basic elements and principles of design, empowering them to create more cohesive and visually appealing work. Envato Tuts+’ Fundamentals of Graphic Design course is a top choice for anyone looking to build a solid foundation in graphic design.

Expert-Led Design Theory Course (Yes I’m a Designer)

Yes I’m a Designer’s Graphic Design Theory Series is an in-depth course that covers over 500 design principles, rules, and terms. This course is led by industry professionals and is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of graphic design theory. Topics covered include:

  • color & contrast
  • typography
  • the psychology of design
  • unity & harmony
  • space
  • composition & layout
  • and much more.

The course includes:

  • About 100 creative exercises
  • More than 80 inspiration boards
  • Analysis worksheets
  • Term glossaries
  • Quizzes

These resources help students apply what they’ve learned and find inspiration for their own work. This thorough approach ensures that students not only learn the principles of graphic design but also how to apply them effectively in their work.

Yes I’m a Designer’s Graphic Design Theory Series is a must for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of graphic design theory and improve their skills.

Importance of Choosing an Accredited Course

Enrolling in an accredited course guarantees that you are receiving education that meets a set standard of quality and is recognized across the professional world. This is particularly important in graphic design, where the technical skills and theoretical knowledge must be up-to-date with industry standards.

Top Accredited Online Graphic Design Courses

Comprehensive Programs

1. Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education (RISD CE) Online Courses

  • Curriculum: Covers everything from foundational drawing and design concepts to advanced digital media.
  • Duration: Varies from a few weeks to several months.
  • Cost: Starts at $450 per course.
  • Accreditation: RISD is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
  • Unique Features: Offers specialization tracks in web design, interactive media, and more.

2. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Graphic Design Specialization

  • Overview: A series of courses that culminates in a capstone project where students create a professional-quality design portfolio.
  • Unique Selling Points: Taught by leading industry professionals and recognized artists.
  • Accreditation Details: CalArts is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Specialized Courses

Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Certification Prep Courses

  • Focused Area: Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign).
  • Duration: Self-paced; typically 3-6 months.
  • Key Learning Outcomes: Prepare for the Adobe Certified Associate exams, which are industry-recognized certifications.
  • Accreditation: Certifications are industry-recognized and endorsed.

Free Online Graphic Design Courses with Certificates

Why Choose Graphic Design Courses Online Free with Certificate?

These courses are an excellent way to dive into graphic design without financial commitment. They are ideal for beginners testing the waters or experienced designers looking to brush up on new tools and trends.

Best Free Courses Offering Certificates

Introductory Courses

Coursera: Graphic Design Specialization by California Institute of the Arts

  • Provider: Coursera, taught by CalArts faculty.
  • What It Covers: Basic principles of design like typography and image-making.
  • Duration: Approximately six months to complete.
  • Certificate Details: Shareable certificate upon completion.

Canva Design School

  • Basic Information: Focuses on using Canva for design projects.
  • Unique Aspects: Offers practical, project-based learning modules.
  • Certificate Authenticity: Provides a completion certificate that showcases practical skills in Canva.

Advanced Courses

Advanced Graphic Design with Adobe Creative Cloud on LinkedIn Learning

  • Curriculum: In-depth tutorials on advanced techniques in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
  • Duration: Varies; typically 10-20 hours of content.
  • Certificate: Issued by LinkedIn upon completion, recognized in the industry.