Explore online art & design degree options

December 22, 2020 · 9 min read · By ASU Online

Positions related to art and design can play a major role in many organizations, especially in media. In fact, arts organizations, surveyed by the Pew Research Center, note that the meshing of technology with the arts has led to increased engagement, a more diverse audience and broader boundaries as to what constitutes art. With mediums such as print, film, video and digitally created art, ingenuity and inventiveness can help content stand out and be remembered. However, professionals need a unique skill set to accomplish this goal.


ASU online art and design degrees include an array of options that allow you to learn about the past, present and future in areas such as art, media or photography. These programs can grant you functional and theoretical knowledge, as well as the ability to view art from a critical perspective. You can also apply your expertise in other fields. Each degree offering can grow your critical and creative thinking abilities across various media, preparing you to develop, manage and assess visual media.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 median salary in the arts and design profession was approximately $45,200, higher than the national average for all occupations. It’s also projected that almost 34,000 new jobs in this area will become available between 2016 and 2026. This demand stems from the growing need for skilled individuals to work in areas with a demand for eye-catching visuals, such as animation, web design and visual effects for video games, movies, television and more.

The art and design programs can also prepare students for traditional jobs that are being updated for the digital world. The combination of visual and technological literacy allows students to hone abilities related to their preferred area of study alongside those that can transcend their majors, such as computer programming, digital editing or creating art online. These capabilities can help you begin exploring an array of career options and demonstrate you’re prepared for a relevant art and design position.

While there’s no set path for someone pursuing a career connected to art and design, most opportunities do require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. An online degree can provide you with the historical context and modern-day knowledge that’s often necessary for a career in art and design, regardless of industry. Because this field can prepare you for a variety of opportunities, ASU Online offers several bachelor’s and master’s programs in art and design.

A photographer captures a special moment.

Bachelor’s degrees

Art (Digital Photography) (BFA)

The bachelor’s degree in digital photography’s focuses on the technical, aesthetic and conceptual aspects of the field. This program combines studio practice with theory and the history of photography to help students understand how the discipline functions in the information age, as well as their own creative vision. With the creation of images and the ability to critique photos at the heart of most courses, if you study photography online, you can better assess your and other artist’s intent and use of composition.

Concentrating on creative and expressive photography for the 21st century, this online degree can give you an opportunity to create photographs that speak to your ideas and those explored in class. By giving you the chance to build critical competencies and learn the technical skills needed to produce digital photos, the online photography degree can teach you not only how to create images with impact, but also how to work in an environment that promotes critiques through peer and faculty feedback

Courses cover subjects including:

  • The still image in digital culture
  • The photograph in the information age
  • Computer animation
  • Digital media

Careers in the art industry that utilize digital photography can span a variety of industries, encompassing work environments such as laboratories, art galleries and television studios. These roles can include image creation and evaluation, such as positions in publishing that involve determining which images best complement written copy.

Possible careers include:

  • Multimedia artist
  • Art director
  • Industrial designer
  • Commercial and industrial photographer
  • Producer, Director or Editor of TV & Film

Art History (BA)

While art history may, at first glance, feel like a major rooted in the past, the competencies students can develop through this online art history degree are often timeless. Studying art history engages you in the practice of considering sculpture, paintings and more through their contemporary cultural, social and other perspectives. You can develop a critical understanding of aesthetics and production as a reflection of the artist’s environment — skills that are as beneficial today in looking at digital content as they are for looking at pieces of art from throughout history. This bachelor of art history online can also help students enhance their global perspective as they examine art from an array of cultures, time periods and geographies.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Art entrepreneurship and cultural policy
  • Critical theories in the visual arts
  • The study of creative work
  • Art and television
  • Writing art criticism

For those interested in obtaining this art history degree to work directly in the field, this program can provide you with a deeper understanding of the patronage and the appreciation of art. The program can prepare you for a job at museums, which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in high demand. Due to the increasing need to store information in archives to preserve it for later viewing as the public’s interest in science, art and history continues to evolve, growth in museum careers may continue at a rate above the national average for all occupations.

Possible careers include:

  • Curator
  • Museum technician and conservator
  • Archivist
  • Art teacher
  • Consultant

To pursue professional options in museums, galleries or other arts venues, it’s advisable to pursue internship opportunities while seeking your art history degree. Often, the bachelor’s degree can help you begin an art history career, but earning a relevant graduate degree, such as a master’s in arts administration or master’s in museum studies, can prove instrumental in helping you move up the ladder.

Film and Media Studies (BA)

You don’t have to be an actor to have a career in entertainment. With this online Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies, you can learn to think analytically, as well as speak and write clearly and persuasively, establishing competencies applicable throughout the entertainment industry. Extending beyond film and television, this degree can also prepare you for opportunities in new media, computer gaming and local arts organizations.

Reflecting the trends and rapid transformations often found in this field, film and media education can help you become a critical consumer of media and a scholar of media texts and culture. Although this program does not teach you how to make an actual film, discussion-based and writing-intensive courses can help you utilize sophisticated forms of artistic expression and storytelling.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Film history
  • Television and cultural studies
  • Race and gender in American film
  • New media
  • Screenwriting

Possible careers include:

  • Communication and media officer
  • Producer
  • Talent agent
  • Screenwriter
  • Production assistant

In addition to preparing for a career related to film and media, by earning this bachelor’s degree, students may continue their education by earning a certificate in a relevant area such as arts entrepreneurship or an advanced degree to pursue academic positions.

Graphic Information Technology (BS)

Catering to students interested in exploring how graphics can impact communication, the online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology can prepare you to create visual content for distribution in print, video, online or via photo. This program combines creativity with the more applicable components of theory and practice as you learn graphic design and how the discipline can impact an audience.

Covering the full spectrum of graphic technology, publishing processes and current business practices, this graphic information technology degree can enhance your understanding of the user experience, videography, front-end web design, print and digital publishing, and animation. Required courses give students a background in visual design, along with technical expertise in areas such as HTML and CSS, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and InDesign. Additionally, students select one or two focus areas to specialize their knowledge. These include front-end web development, digital design, print and publishing, and 2-D/3-D animation.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Graphic communications
  • Digital illustration and publishing
  • Web authoring
  • Multimedia design, planning and storyboards

Learning how to create, evaluate, organize and disseminate visual messages to an array of audiences can help you succeed in numerous professional roles in many industries, including commerce, education and government. These positions include responsibilities related to communication and working with technology.

Possible careers include:

  • Web developer
  • Digital media specialist
  • Advertising and promotions manager
  • Film editor
  • Graphic designer

Master’s degrees

Graphic Information Technology (MSTech)

This online Master of Science in Technology in Graphic Information Technology targets graphics professionals and supervisors or managers in a graphics or technology-oriented business. The master’s degree can enhance their existing skills and expertise in administering and managing digital content. This curriculum can prepare students for positions throughout the diverse industries that utilize graphic technology, potentially allowing you to advance into an in-demand role such as user experience designer.

The creativity and technology courses in this master’s program can teach you how to create engaging visual content for multichannel distribution. This coursework can give you more developed proficiency in working with print, web, video, animation or other popular media forms.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • New media and internet technologies
  • Current issues in cross media production
  • Usability and user experience
  • Digital workflow
  • Graphic industry practices

Culminating in an applied project or portfolio, this master’s program can provide students with the chance to demonstrate that they’re able to apply their knowledge to a real, pertinent issue. The applied project requires you to examine a graphics-related problem, showing that you understand the matter and applicable solutions and can explain all related issues. A final portfolio consists of a reflective essay that brings together what you’ve learned with your impressions of the master’s program beyond specific coursework.

This program can prepare you to pursue new career opportunities related to graphic information technology or explore options for promotion within your current role.

Possible careers include:

  • Art director
  • Program director
  • IT project manager
  • Industrial designer

Earning an online art and design degree with ASU

Because there are so many careers in art and design, it’s important to prepare yourself to stand out from other job candidates. Whether your interests lie in graphics, film and media, art or photography, having the right educational background — one that combines theory and functional knowledge to critique and create art — can help you develop the necessary competencies to succeed. ASU helps make this education accessible by offering options that allow you to study art and design online. Whether you’re just beginning to explore possibilities for an undergraduate degree or are an experienced professional looking to go back to school to learn more, the programs available through ASU Online can equip you with the knowledge and capabilities to excel in art and design.

Note: Program details are subject to change. Current information can be found by visiting individual degree pages on the ASU Online website.


Pew Research Center — Section 6: Overall Impact of Technology on the Arts by Kristen Thomson, Kristen Purcell and Lee Raine
Occupational Outlook Handbook for Arts and Design Occupations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Photographers: Career, Salary and Education Information by CollegeGrad
Occupational Outlook Handbook for Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A graphic designer working on a laptop and desktop uses a design tablet.


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