Over the last decade or so, Web design has become one of the most interesting and varied careers in the IT industry. Whether you're hoping to be a digital artist, a code whiz or a mix of both, the top Web design degree programs in the U.S. can help you put together the skillset you need to thrive.
The level of education that it takes to land a Web design job varies from position to position. Web design degree programs tend to come in three main forms: associate degree programs, which typically take about two years of full-time study to complete; four-year bachelor's degree programs; and non-degree certificate plans that typically take a year or less.
Many colleges and universities also offer online degree programs for Web design students, in case you're too busy with work or family to commit to a traditional, campus-based schedule. Online Web design degrees can give you the same thorough education as on-campus plans and sometimes come with discounts on books and tuition.
Best Colleges for Web Design Degree Programs
We looked at over 150 colleges and universities in search of the best schools for Web design, pulling loads of data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and analyzing it with our custom-built methodology. Click the button to find out how we went about calculating the scores, and read on for our list of the ten best colleges for Web design degree programs.
This institution in Louisville, Kentucky, was the smallest school to make our top ten, awarding fewer than 125 degrees in 2015, but the numbers suggest that there's more to that small student body than meets the eye. For example, the student-faculty ratio was just 5:1 that year, meaning that one-on-one time with professors is likely to be available for students who need it.
Web design students at Sullivan University, formerly Sullivan College of Technology and Design, have two program approaches to choose from, each designed to prepare them in a different way for a career in creative IT. Artistically focused Web designers can earn either a B.A. or an A.A.S. in computer graphic design, while those inclined more toward the coding and programming side of the field can pursue an A.A.S. in dynamic Web development.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) study plans in graphic design and animation. The graphic design curriculum offers a broader base of training for Web designers, teaching fundamentals of user interface design and tips and tricks for popular graphical software programs. Both are available fully online.
RMCAD is one of the top online schools for Web design in the country, reporting that 100 percent of its 2015 student body took at least some of their coursework via distance education. On top of that, just two other schools in our top ten featured a lower average cost of tuition and fees for in 2015 than this Lakewood, Colorado, school, which also has an open admissions policy.
The largest school on our list comes in at No. 3, and Web design students can find a comparably large range of degree options to suit their individual goals. For example, the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Stout features concentrations in game design and mobile application development, each of which have skills in common with Web design.
UW-Stout's B.F.A. in graphic design and interactive media, however, might be the best choice for aspiring Web designers. That degree's concentration in interaction design focuses specifically on design solutions for websites, digital interfaces and Web-based software applications. UW-Stout also ranked No. 2 in affordability among our top ten schools, charging students an average of $9,203 for tuition and fees in 2015.
Our No. 4 school ran away with the top ranking in our affordability category, reporting an average tuition and fees cost that came in under $8,000 for the year in 2015. Dakota State University also set aside our list's largest percentage of its annual operating budget to spend on instructional expenses like course development and classroom technology.
Web design students have a few study tracks to choose from at DSU. The computer graphics concentration of the South Dakota institution's B.S. in digital arts and design program aims to prepare students to create and publish interactive pages with Web-ready graphics, while the B.S. in computer science can give you a solid foundation of programming skills and other technical necessities.
One of the six degree plans available at this for-profit school in Raleigh, North Carolina, aims to provide a suite of skills that would serve you well in the graphic design field. Although packaged as a degree for advertising students, the interactive media arts degree at Living Arts works to train you in typography, layout, digital illustration and website development — all vital Web design skills.
What's more, the numbers suggest that the investments made toward student success at Living Arts are paying dividends. Just one other school rolled a larger portion of its budget back into academic support expenses like advising and career counseling for the 2015 school year, and the graduation rate here ranked No. 2 among schools on our list.
If you've already got some basic experience with the tools and techniques of Web design and want to add some next-level elements to your work, our No. 6 school might have the program you're looking for. The Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in animation and visual effects at the San Francisco Bay Area's SAE Expression College includes courses in motion studies, live action compositing and other advanced motion graphics concepts that can add rare value to your Web portfolio.
Students looking for online degrees that can impart top-level skills are in luck at SAE, as well. According to the NCES, 100 percent of the students enrolled at the for-profit school in 2015 took at least some of their courses online.
Web Design Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Some entry-level careers in Web design and development may be available with just an associate degree, but many employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. Check out these quick details on four-year Web design programs and the careers they can prepare you for.
Career Outlook for Web Design Majors
Many careers available to professionals with campus-based and online Web design degrees are growing faster than average, and knowing where the most job growth is expected to take place can help you better plan your education to fit the career market. Check out these employment projections from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Librarians and Media Collections Specialists||$61,920||135,690||6.3%|
|Special Effects Artists and Animators||$84,780||29,340||4.2%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Web Design
Some Web design scholarships are open to any applicant nationwide, while some others — like the $2,000 Digital Signage Federation Geri Wolff Scholarship for women in digital design — are restricted to specific demographic groups or fields of study. Here's a short list of some financial aid programs you might not have known about.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015