Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021: Learn Graphic Design Online (2023)

Graphic design is a fast growing industry and is currently one of the most in-demand career fields. Many people believe they need to be expert artists with years of practice to learn graphic design, but that isn’t the case.

Through graphic design courses, it’s possible to learn this valuable skill and start working in the industry in less than a year. Below is a list of the best graphic design courses for those interested in making a career change.

Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021: Learn Graphic Design Online (1)

Find Your Bootcamp Match

  • Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
  • Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and you consent to receive offers and opportunities from Career Karma by telephone, text message, and email.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the communication of ideas to a target audience through visual compositions. Great graphic design must exhibit a sophisticated interplay of color, line, and typography. It must also convey a story, promote an idea, or inspire its audience. This is what makes graphic design essential in any business.

How to Become a Graphic Designer?

There is a lot that goes into learning graphic design, from studying graphic design theory to learning the principles of design. Some people learn graphic design on their own while others take part in extensive degree programs or targeted bootcamps. Whatever your course of action may be, this is a short guide on how to get into the graphic design industry and start your career.

Study Graphic Design Theory

To become a graphic designer, you need to study the theory behind it. Graphic design theory covers every step of the creative process. Learning the basic principles of graphic design and developing your fundamental skills is vital for any graphic design student.

Develop Your Basic Drawing Skills

To work as a graphic designer, you’ll need to develop your drawing skills. Many graphic designers even invest in a drawing tablet to work on digital design projects. Several of the courses below are designed to help you develop your drawing skills and learn the basic elements of design.

Learn to Use Graphic Design Software

Adobe Photoshop is one of the many essential tools professional designers need to do their work. In most of the courses listed below, there are guides on how to use certain software. Features like using blending modes and the pen tool are vital to a graphic designer. You can also develop your skills through graphic design tutorials on how to use certain creation tools. These tutorials usually go more in-depth.

Start Working on Your Portfolio

A strong professional portfolio is an important step in finding a job as a graphic designer. Portfolios show that you understand various aspects of the design, how to use certain tools, and even how to follow design trends. Even if you don’t have a degree, a portfolio can still help you get a job by showing off your creative skills.

The Best Online Graphic Design Courses

Below are our top picks for free graphic design online courses. These online courses are great for beginners. If you still aren’t sure if graphic design is right for you, consider taking part in any of these courses. They’ll help you determine if this is the career path for you.

Udemy: Art Fundamentals (Building Blocks of Digital Painting)

Online learning platform Udemy offers a wide range of free courses in graphic design. If you’re a beginner, then Art Fundamentals is a great place to start. As the name suggests, this free graphic design course lets you in on the process of creating digital art by teaching you the fundamental software techniques used by designers.

The course entails an hour of on-demand video divided into five sections. Each of these present bite-sized lessons, including the basics of sketching, design principles, and still life painting.

To supplement your learning, you should also check out Udemy’s Photoshop Fundamentals. This course walks you through the core functions and tools of Adobe Photoshop. It’s important to learn Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe Creative Suite programs to become a graphic designer.

There are countless other free graphic design courses on Udemy. What’s great about Udemy is how it displays user ratings for each course. This gives you an insight into the quality of the courses so you don’t get lost in the search.

(Video) BEST FREE Graphic Design Courses! | Learn Graphic Design For FREE!

» MORE: Web Design Classes in Los Angeles: Where to Find the Best Courses to Brush Up Your Skills

MIT OpenCourseWare: User Interface Design and Implementation

OpenCourseWare is perhaps one of the most sophisticated online learning platforms, known for the high-quality content it offers. This is because OpenCourseWare is the digital embodiment of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s course content.

While it doesn’t offer a course solely focusing on graphic design, OpenCourseware has a graphic design class that falls under the User Interface Design and Implementation course.

The class lets you learn graphic design in practice by redirecting you to sample websites where you can pick out parts of the web page design that make it stand out. Of course, you also have to pinpoint areas that need improvement.

Canva Design School: Graphic Design Basics

Canva is a reliable tool that has helped students and teachers create visually pleasing digital content, such as posters, presentation slides, storyboards, and so on. With its Canva Design School, users now have unlimited access to Canva’s free course content, advancing the idea that creativity can be learned.

If you need an introduction to graphic design, Canva’s Graphic Design Basics course is made up of 12 lessons that teach you the basic design know-how. These include hours of video that show you how to use font styles to match your message, how to pick color palettes to fit your theme, and valuable lessons such as icon design, business card design, and how to use conceptual tools.

Kadenze: Introduction to Graphic Design History

To understand a field, it isn’t enough to know about current trends and techniques. You must also know the history and culture embedded in it. This course is part of the Graphic Design History and Methods Program and was created by faculty staff from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

As the name suggests, it provides an introduction and teaches you the history of design, specifically how it grew and changed over time. From the origins of text and graphic design to the universal forms and expressions of design, this course will give you a deeper understanding of the field.In addition, students take part in practical projects where they create a brand development guide for a company.

The Best Paid Graphic Design Classes

If you want to develop your skills further, consider taking things to the next level through paid graphic design classes. Paid classes are oftentimes more involved, come with more features, and cover topics more thoroughly. For those serious about pursuing a career in graphic design, it’s important to look into paid graphic design classes. Below is our top pick of the best paid graphic design classes of 2021.

Udemy: Graphic Design Masterclass

Cost: $129.99

Certificate of Completion: Available

This course is composed of 19.5 hours of on-demand video in addition to downloadable resource materials and a certificate of completion. Its curriculum covers an in-depth discussion on typography, color theory, and ad design principles, among others.

Students are also trained to use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, all of which are essential for graphic design. One of its newest features is a section on word mapping and brainstorming techniques to enhance creativity in branding design projects.

The Adobe CC Masterclass is another useful course from Udemy priced at the same level. It offers 13 hours of on-demand video and projects that teach you how to navigate the full suite of Adobe Creative Cloud products. These include Adobe Photoshop, XD, Illustrator, and InDesign. It’s a great way to learn about the graphic design process in full through industry-standard tools.

Udemy: Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers

Cost: $119.99

Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021: Learn Graphic Design Online (2)

"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"

(Video) Graphic Design Tutorial For Beginners | Graphic Design (Full Course)

Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot

Certification of Completion: Available

This course is for experienced graphic designers who want to improve their skills further. It’s a comprehensive program that covers Adobe XD from scratch, teaches you how to design a social media campaign, the basics of WordPress, digital display ad creation, and more. You’ll also be part of an online community of other 4,000 students.

» MORE: The Best Fun Robotics Courses for Kids

If you’re at a stage in your graphic design journey where you need to take your skills further and do more advanced study, then this course may be right for you.

LinkedIn Learning-Lynda: Become a Graphic Designer

Cost: $29.99/month with Premium Membership after a 30-day free trial

Certificate of Completion: Available

LinkedIn Learning is another avenue to learn graphic design. Completing the course promises a solid foundation in the elements of graphic design, which are color, typography, and layout. It also includes essential training on the use of the latest Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator software.

The course is composed of 11 sessions for a total of 29 hours of coursework. Each session is taught by different instructors. Upon subscription, you’ll gain the option of downloading the videos on your phone. This way, you can learn essential graphic design skills anytime and anywhere.

Coursera: Graphic Design Specialization by the California Institute of Arts

Cost: $49/month to continue learning after the seven-day free trial ends

Certificate of Completion: Available

Free Option: Coursera’s graphic design specialization can be audited for free. When auditing a course, the course materials will be accessible to you. However, you will have no access to graded assignments nor earn a certificate of completion.

This is not a course but a bundle of courses offered by CalArts. To boot, the program has five free courses that expose you to the full breadth of the graphic design field. Courses include the following:

  • Fundamentals of Graphic Design: This course teaches students the basic building blocks of graphic design and is great for beginners.
  • Introduction to Typography: Typography is an important aspect of design for beginners. You’ll learn about the rules and conventions of typography to improve your foundational skills.
  • Introduction to Imagemaking: This course is for graphic design students that want to seriously delve into imagemaking. Students participate in creative projects where they share ideas and receive constructive feedback
  • Ideas from the History of Graphic Design: This course explores four historic periods of design. It explains why things have a certain look to them and the ways an experienced designer tackles projects.
  • Brand New Brand: This one focuses on all the things you learned in the courses listed above. Students take part in practical projects where they create a brand development guide for a company.

Students are encouraged to spend three hours per week in the courses. This means that you would need approximately six months to complete the program. The specialization includes a hands-on project which you’d have to complete to earn a certificate.

Coursera: Graphic Design by the University of Colorado

Cost: $49/month to continue learning after the seven-day free trial ends

Certificate of Completion: Available

Free option: The specialization can be audited for free. When auditing a course, the course materials will be accessible to you. However, you will have no access to graded assignments nor earn a certificate of completion.

This course is one of the four courses covered by the University of Colorado’s Effective Communication Specialization. As it’s also accessible through Coursera, students have unlimited access to its lessons and exercises.

The course is designed for beginner students and requires approximately 27 hours to complete. Included in the syllabus is a module which tackles the tricks of the trade. That is, teaching you the full development process of composition and how to prioritize both visual content and the message the design seeks to convey.

(Video) Learn Graphic Design By Yourself

The course serves an excellent design challenge that prepares you for a career as a creative professional.

Top Online Graphic Design Degree Programs

Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021: Learn Graphic Design Online (3)

Graphic design degree programs can be useful ways to get your foot in the door and start your career in design. A graphic design major can take several years to complete part-time and full-time, but you will take part in various graphic design projects and potentially develop your portfolio.

However, consider any of the graphic design degree programs below if you have the time and resources available. These programs are available online, which means you can earn your degree from the comfort of your own home.

» MORE: Intro to C++: Best C++ Courses for Beginners

Southern New Hampshire University

Program: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts

Cost: $320/credit hour

Credit Hours: 120

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

SNHU’s online graphic design program focuses on the three pillars of the field: art, storytelling, and commerce. Key graphic design skills are honed throughout the program. These are design thinking, digital media, branding identity, and professional practice.

The program also leaps beyond the traditional practices of design by offering two concentrations: web design and 3D modeling and animation.

What makes the program stand out is its low barrier to entry and flexible structure. Applicants for the program do not need to pay for the application process nor present SAT or ACT scores. In terms of accessibility, course materials are open for viewing 24/7.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Cost: $782/credit hour

Credit Hours: 180

Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

As a student of this SCAD degree program, you’ll learn the core principles of graphic design, including the fundamental components of design theory and typography. Aside from the creative aspect of graphic design, this program also emphasizes entrepreneurship.

Students are taught how to make the most of their communication tools to streamline their business models, from pitching their ideas to marketing and manufacturing. Students also learn the art of branding from industry leaders.

Alums of this online graphic design degree program are currently employed in top companies worldwide. These include Apple, IBM, Ralph Lauren, Amazon, and more.

University of Maryland Global Campus

Program: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Communication

(Video) Best Websites for Graphic Designers to Make Money (BONUS - Free Graphic Design Online Courses)

Cost: $499/credit hour

Credit Hours: 120

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

This is a portfolio-intensive program that seeks to produce career-ready graduates. The curriculum takes students through the fundamentals of drawing, typography and layout, digital media, and motion graphics. The content is the result of consolidated input from industry experts, employers, and scholars.

Completion of the program sets students up for two career options: graphic design and communication management; hence the name of the degree.

Conclusion: Are Graphic Design Courses Worth It?

Graphic design can be a lucrative career. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average graphic designer salary is $52,110. Through taking part in graphic design courses, you’re able to learn the fundamentals and even develop your graphic design portfolio.

Graphic designers are crucial in any business. They’re often responsible for creating custom images, product packaging, animations, and other unique graphic design elements for a company. The work involved is not only demanding, but it allows you to be unique and creative as well.

If you’re interested in the high-demand field of design, then it’s worth giving it a try. Take part in any of the free graphic design courses online that are available and then take your graphic design journey forward from there.

Graphic Design Courses FAQ

Do I need a graphic design degree?

No, there are several ways to start a career in graphic design without a degree. By taking part in and completing courses or other programs, you can build a portfolio to increase your chances of working with potential employers.

What is the average graphic designer salary?

The average graphic designer salary is approximately $52,110 per year. Graphic designers with particularly high salaries typically work in certain fields, such as advertising.

How long does it take to become a graphic designer?

It can take six months to a few years to learn graphic design. Several factors determine how long you can learn graphic design, such as past experience and the courses you take.

Can I learn graphic design on my own?

You can learn graphic design on your own. However, taking part in graphic design classes and other programs may speed up the process and increase your chances of getting hired.

(Video) 10 Best Design Education Resources: How to Learn Graphic Design Online


1. 10+ Best FREE Graphic Design Courses Online
(JUST Creative)
2. 10 Best Graphic Design Courses | Top Graphic Design Courses for beginners | UI/UX Design Courses
(Logo Design Ideas)
3. (Updated) What Graphic Design Course Should I Take? Learning Graphic Design Online
(Lindsay Marsh)
4. Which Online Graphic Design Course is Right For Me?
(Lindsay Marsh)
5. Graphic Design - Free Online Course with Certificate
(Alison - Free Online Courses With Certificates)
6. 5 Best Graphic Design Courses Udemy
(Best Online Courses)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jonah Leffler

Last Updated: 03/14/2023

Views: 6244

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jonah Leffler

Birthday: 1997-10-27

Address: 8987 Kieth Ports, Luettgenland, CT 54657-9808

Phone: +2611128251586

Job: Mining Supervisor

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Electronics, Amateur radio, Skiing, Cycling, Jogging, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Jonah Leffler, I am a determined, faithful, outstanding, inexpensive, cheerful, determined, smiling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.