Discover the Best Online Graphic Design Courses
of 2021

Graphic design is an important occupation in our digital world today. Businesses use it to communicate with their audience and consumers. Graphic designers create social media posts, online ads, sales pages, and newsletters for product releases. If you have a talent for design, the best online graphic design courses can take it to the next level.

There are a lot of online resources for learners of all levels. Some are free and some cost money. However, they all serve the purpose of getting you one step closer to becoming a graphic designer. We have found these learning resources to help streamline your decision-making process.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design involves using visual compositions to communicate ideas and solve problems through typography, color, form, and imagery. There is no single way to do this, and that’s why lots of graphic design specializations exist.

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Oftentimes, the different kinds of graphic design overlap. This is because they require specific design techniques and a unique set of skills. The industry is constantly evolving and changing, so the experts need to be lifelong learners who are ready to adapt. This way, they can add new specializations as the need arises.

Breakdown: The Top 10 Online Graphic Design Courses

At a time when universities are struggling to prepare students for the workforce, it should come as no surprise that some of the best learning resources for graphic design are online. Online courses allow you to learn at your own pace by putting the tools at your disposal. Most graphic design courses offer a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

The table below lists 10 different online graphic design courses, their costs, time to completion, and whether or not they come with a certificate. Prices marked with an asterisk indicate that the cost of the course is subject to change.

Provider and Course Certificate Length Price
Graphic Design Specialization
Yes 6 months $49 with certificate
Graphic Design Masterclass
Yes Self-paced $18.99*
LinkedIn Learning
Become a Graphic Designer
Yes Self-paced One month for free, then $29.99 per month
Become a UX Designer
Yes 3 months 30-day free trial, then $399 per month
Adobe CC Masterclass:
Photoshop, Illustrator, XD & InDesign
Yes Self-paced $16.99*
The Complete Graphic Design
Theory for Beginners Course
Yes Self-paced $16.99*
Digital Design Masterclass
for Graphic Designers
Yes Self-paced $12.99*
Learn the Entire Affinity Suite:
Photo, Designer & Publisher
Yes Self-paced $12.99*
Learn Adobe Photoshop from Scratch
Yes Self-paced $12.99*
Graphic Design Elements
for Non-Designers Specialization
Yes 4 months $49 with certificate

What Can I Learn in a Graphic Design Course?

In a graphic design course, you will learn the five main principles of design. These are contrast, balance, alignment, repetition, and hierarchy. The principles create a stable, cohesive design with a clear and consistent message. You learn these principles to solve conceptual and visual problems that can arise during the design process.

You can also learn typography in a graphic design course. It relates to how copy is arranged and formatted within the layout. It is also an important part of graphic design.

You learn the typefaces, line spacing, point sizes, and kerning. These elements illustrate which fonts pair well when used with one another.

The Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021

The Best Graphic Design Courses of 2021

The best graphic design course should cover the fundamentals to give you a full idea of what to expect in the field. While it is good to have a deadline in most cases, a self-paced program may be ideal for self-learners. You can pause when you hit a roadblock before returning, refreshed. This guide covers both free and paid courses.

Graphic Design Specialization | Coursera

Subjects Covered: Fundamentals of graphic design, typography, image making

This course is offered by the California Institute of the Arts. It is mainly for beginners in graphic design. It covers all the fundamental skills needed to produce complex graphic design. You will be given the conceptual tools and knowledge to thrive in graphic design.

For learners without a formal design education, the specialization helps them to enter the industry. It also gives you the background to continue formal education or further work. It covers motion graphics, interface design, and editorial design.

Key Takeaway: This course is made for beginners joining the graphic design field. It is also for students who want to learn more about visual analysis, culture, and processes.

Graphic Design Masterclass | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, design theory, branding, and logo design

This course is for newbie learners who want to take up a career in graphic design. It is also ideal for people who want to gather the skills and techniques needed to advance their current careers. It has enough detail for intermediate learners and advanced students as well.

The course pairs the basics of graphic design with real-world applications and projects. The curriculum includes color, typography, and layout theory. Students also learn about balance, magazine layouts, photo manipulation, logos, and branding projects.

Key Takeaway: This is the best way to learn the essential tools of Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign.

Become a Graphic Designer | LinkedIn Learning

Subjects Covered: Graphic design fundamentals, graphic design careers, typography

This course is an excellent learning choice. It offers a path that has several modules to help students grasp the foundations of graphic design. You can also get up to scratch with the latest software and tools to build innovative projects.

You will become adept at developing the design process and how best to visualize compelling ideas. It also covers hands-on exercises in the Adobe applications Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. The training includes 22 hours of video tutorials created by an expert. You can receive a shareable certificate at the end to showcase your achievement.

Key Takeaway: You will learn the elements of design including typography, color, and layout.

Become a UX Designer | Udacity

Subjects Covered: UX fundamentals, design research, prototyping, post-launch analysis

This nanodegree program covers user experience (UX) fundamentals. You will learn how to handle design research. At the end of the program, you will understand concepts and prototypes along with high-fidelity UX designs.

The course has three modules. It teaches UX design concepts, visual design basics, and other interactive designs with Figma. It ends with a capstone project.

Key Takeaway: A great option for aspiring web designers, this course will teach you the main principles of design and how to properly approach a design problem.

Adobe CC Masterclass: Photoshop, Illustrator, XD & InDesign | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, poster design, web design

This beginner course is for people who want to learn how to use Adobe CC products. It includes training in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and XD. The course teaches basic graphic design principles and theory. It also covers common graphic design programs and how to use them to produce complicated designs.

It comprises 13 hours of video tutorials covering beginner and advanced skills. The course also covers Adobe Creative Class Suite. When you are done, you can begin to take on graphic design jobs.

Key Takeaway: You will learn intermediate and advanced concepts covering graphic design, mobile app design, user interfaces, logo design, digital prints, and t-shirt design.

The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Graphic design theory, color theory, typography

This course focuses on the best practices of graphic design and real work applications instead of learning specific software for graphic design. It is ideal for beginners because of the solid foundation in the field that it offers. It also provides hands-on experience through several projects.

Students gain intermediate-level knowledge of graphic design and can use it to apply for jobs. The curriculum includes logo design, photography composition, color theory, and branding. Students also learn to follow copyright and trademark laws. It includes a guide and real-world projects to give you an idea of what professional graphic designers do.

Key Takeaway: Students will acquire intermediate-level knowledge of the principles of graphic design, which they can use to apply to their job, career, hobby, or company.

Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Ebook covers, social media design, digitizing sketches

The course helps students to expand their design skills. For projects, you will work on icon designs, social media designs, and web designs. This means you will be well equipped to offer more services in the workplace. It is ideal for experienced designers as its main focus is on advanced digital design projects.

You will learn about digitizing your sketches into e book cover design, typography, YouTube thumbnail design, and digital display ads. It also covers website design and WordPress.

Key Takeaway: This is the only course on our list with an emphasis on icon design.

Learn the Entire Affinity Suite: Photo, Designer & Publisher | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Basics of the Affinity Photo interface, layers, cropping

This course is ideal for people who want to learn to use the suite of Affinity products. It’s also a great start for beginners who want to learn illustration and graphic design.

The Udemy offering is also ideal for professionals in the creative field who want to add Affinity to their software tools. This course covers these software programs along with basic design principles and has practical projects to make learning easier.

Key Takeaway: Master the Affinity suite with this course.

Learn Adobe Photoshop from Scratch | Udemy

Subjects Covered: Opening and creating new documents, layers, blending

This course is for Adobe Photoshop users who are beginners or at the intermediate level. It helps them understand the software and offers hands-on training.

You will start with an introduction to design, covering manipulation tools, selection tools, workspace tools, and creation tools. The course also covers tips and tricks for Photoshop and professional design principles.

Key Takeaway: You will master a variety of photo correction techniques.

Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers Specialization | Coursera

Subjects Covered: Basic elements of design, graphic design software, color theory, image formats

This course offers hands-on graphic design training. The University of Colorado Boulder hosts the program. It explores the color theory, publication design, basic graphic design elements, and images for creating layouts.

Students learn typography, brainstorming, the creative process, and how to critique and discuss with a design professional. When this course ends, you will be equipped to work independently to design creative projects such as ads, brochures, manuals, business cards, and websites.

Key Takeaway: You will learn to communicate design strategies and principles clearly, and start working on your own designs.

Professionals Graphic Design Certifications

Professional Graphic Design Certifications

After learning from online courses, a certification will help prepare you for the job market and ace your next interview. Oftentimes, certification shows your commitment to industry standards. It can also help boost your professional credibility. There are a lot of certifications for professional graphic designers. They include the following three.

Adobe Certified Professional in Photoshop

This certification verifies your competency in Adobe Photoshop. To gain the certification, you need to pass an exam with two sections. It usually includes a question section and task segment. All candidates must complete both in 50 minutes.

Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)

This certification shows that you have professional-level skills as well as expertise in the graphic design and digital communication products that Adobe offers. It allows you to take on different roles in both web development and graphic design. To earn the certification, you need to pass one or more Adobe certification exams.

Autodesk Certified Associate

Candidates who want to change their career path can take the Autodesk Certified Associate exam. To pass, you need to have skills and knowledge of Autodesk software. Also, you must have clocked 150 hours of relevant experience in the design software.

How Much Can I Earn as a Graphic Design Professional?

According to 2020 figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for graphic designers is $53,380. It has seen a four percent decline in recent years. However, it can still be profitable with other graphic design skills added to the mix.

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Should You Learn Graphic Design in 2021?

If you have the skills and interest in becoming a graphic designer, you should go right ahead. The field is important to both small and large businesses. As it evolves, you can learn more skills to increase your employability. You should become a graphic designer in 2021 if you have a natural flair for design.

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