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How to Choose the Best Online Graphics Design School

written by: Tara M. Walsh•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 5/3/2009

Whether you are a graphic design pro looking to take some online classes to stay current on what's hip, or you have decided to pursue a career in graphic design and are looking for an online school, it pays to do a little homework. Here are five tips to help you choose the best school for you.

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    What Aspiring GDs Need to Know

    You've always had an artistic bent and you want to get paid for your talent. If becoming a graphic design professional is where your art is moving you, there is an abundance of online graphic design schools that can mold your talent into a job that pays very well and that you are sure to enjoy. But before you sign up for a class at the first online art academy you found via Google, there are some very real issues for you to consider before you fork over any money. Read these five tips to help you pick the right online school for you. It may be the best money you never spent.

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    1. It Pays to Do Some Research

    Research your school of first choice and ask these important questions of its admissions personnel:

    • Does the school foster relationships with area companies that offer internships and/or employ its graduates?
    • Does the school offer job placement assistance?
    • Does the school track its success, such as its percentage of students who land positions in their field upon graduation?

    The best schools will be able to answer Yes to all of these questions, and well they should, given what you will be investing in the form of classes, books, fees, and so on.

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    2. It's a Matter of Degrees

    Look at the levels of degrees your school of choice offers its students. It could very well be that the more the merrier applies here. The better schools will offer at least four degree possibilities: Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, and MA (and beyond). A graduated scale gives you the option to work towards the degree that meets your career and financial goals. The graduated scale of degrees will also be important for professionals already working in graphic design--you certainly don't want an online school that can not offer higher-degree level courses that challenge your already extensive working knowledge and experience.

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    3. It's Important to be Hands-on

    As much as it would be nice to get your online degree from a school in Minnesota, while you sit in your living room in sunny California, if you want to study graphic design, eventually you will have to look at local options. Graphic design courses teach theory, computer arts, and so on, but you will also need some studio time. Find out if your school of choice offers classes that foster a hands-on experience.

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    4. Its Accreditation Counts

    Be sure that the graphic design school you choose is an accredited institution. Approval over accreditation of schools with graphic design programs comes from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

    Editor's note: For more on accreditation, check out "The FAQ's on Accreditation of Online Universities" -- from Bright Hub's Online Learning channel.

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    5. It's Online, So Get Online

    If you've decided that attending an online graphic design school is the way to go, well, spend some time online, where you'll find no shortage of resources to help you choose the school that fits your particular requirements or interests. Here are a few links that should get you started:

    Online Directory of Schools

    Online-Education.net

    Online Graphic Design Programs

    That's it. Good luck in your next educational adventure!