Online Master's Programs in Web Design

While a bachelor's degree can lead to many entry-level career opportunities, individuals with a master's in web design enjoy a wider variety of lucrative and challenging employment options. Master's programs can enhance candidates' technical and aesthetic knowledge, presenting advanced theoretical concepts alongside key problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. These can help individuals stand out among applicants and prepare learners for advanced field careers.

Lifetime earnings for individuals with a master's in web design also exceed those of bachelor's degree-holders. On average, master's-holders employed in the visual arts field earn $2.2 million during their lifetimes, while those with a bachelor's average $2 million.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Web Design Program?

Students pursuing a master's in web design job must build strong technical skills, mastering industry standard design creation and management software like Adobe Illustrator. In this aspect, candidates who earn a master's online enjoy an advantage over their on-campus counterparts, as degree-seekers must complete all of their assignments in a virtual environment. Programs may also prepare graduate students for technically-centered careers with required courses in web technology and optimization. Many curricula introduce learners to concepts in JavaScript, search engine optimization, and mobile app technology.

Web designers must also understand core aesthetic principles, such as color theory, patterns, and common user reactions to certain hues. Courses in user experience and design layout teach candidates to make aesthetic choices that positively impact audiences.

In addition, master's programs help candidates build the strategic and technical communication skills needed to build positive professional relationships and create web content according to client specifications.

What Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Web Design Program?

All web design master's programs feature slightly different curricula and concentrations. However, most emphasize the aesthetic and technical aspects of visual product development. Many programs include one or more of the following core classes.

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    Interface Design Principles: This course presents core steps in the creative process, including prototyping and revision. Lectures emphasize concepts like user experiences and aesthetic elements like typography and color theory. Candidates build assessment and problem-solving skills for careers as graphic designers and web developers.
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    Business and Web Design: Candidates learn to build functional websites for businesses as they explore research principles, risk assessment, and entrepreneurial problem-solving strategies. Students also examine e-commerce techniques, including economic trend forecasting and assessment. This course is ideal for prospective business owners or individuals who wish to create user-friendly websites.
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    User Experience: In this class, candidates explore factors that influence user perceptions and product experiences. Lessons address aesthetic concepts, such as typography, color scheme, and layout, along with functional details like search options and page navigation. Coursework may also cover research practices used to determine consumer expectations and needs.
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    Technical Communication: Lectures present strategies for effectively delivering technical concepts through reports, manuals, and lectures. Students learn to tailor information to reach diverse audiences as they explore visual aid options for publications. Coursework builds communication, observational, and technological skills for prospective technical writers and designers.
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    Mobile Application Development: In this course, degree-seekers learn to create mobile apps for various platforms, determine consumer or company needs, and make distributing decisions. Classes address programming languages, information security, and software and hardware needs related to app development and usage. Candidates develop creative thinking strategies, problem-solving skills, and technical abilities required for careers in mobile application design and development.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

A master's in visual communications or web design typically consists of 30-40 credits, including a capstone component. Capstone assignments may take the form of full research projects or proposals that explore field issues or trends, or artistic projects like campaigns or media products that use visual elements like branding, logos, and layouts to fulfill client objectives.

Candidates may also spend a defined number of hours completing an internship at a relevant organization. They may be expected to keep a detailed log or compose a written report describing the internship.

How Much Can I Make With a Career in Web Design

Salaries for professionals with a master's in web design vary considerably according to factors like industry, location, and experience. For example, multimedia artists and animators in software publishing earn a median annual salary of more than $82,000, while the median annual salary for those who work in advertising, public relations, and related services falls just under $70,000. The following section provides some general salary information for three web design careers.

Web Developers

Web developers create websites according to their clients' functional and aesthetic expectations. They offer insight into what information should be displayed and select appropriate graphic elements. Some employers prefer to hire developers with a master of web design.

Median Annual Salary: $69,430

Job Growth 2018-2028: 13%

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual art, such as advertisements, logos, and magazines for their clients, taking into consideration the specified format, color scheme, spacing, and typefaces. They must use these elements to reflect client objectives in a manner that is organized and aesthetically pleasing. Most hold a bachelor's degree, although a master's lead to additional opportunities.

Median Annual Salary: $50,370

Job Growth 2018-2028: 3%

Art Directors

Art directors compose layouts for magazines, film, and packages. They often guide other designers through the product development process. They may also develop project budgets, discuss company goals with clients, and set deadlines. Individuals without adequate field experience may be expected to hold an MS/MA in web design.

Median Annual Salary: $92,780

Job Growth 2018-2028: 1%

Online Master's in Web Design Program Accreditation

Accreditation is a process used to assess and identify high-quality colleges and universities. Regionally and nationally accredited institutions are eligible to receive federal funding, and students must attend an accredited school to receive federal financial aid. Regionally accredited schools are generally considered more prestigious than institutions with national accreditation. Individual web design master's programs may also hold specialized accreditation through professional organizations like the National Association of Schools of Art & Design.

How to Pay for a Master's in Web Design Degree

  • Federal Financial Aid: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows students to apply for need-based federal financial assistance, such as grants, loans, and work-study arrangements. Repayment conditions vary according to aid type, while funding amounts are determined by the applicant's income level.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Some corporations and businesses partially or completely cover their employees' tuition costs. Participating students may be required to maintain certain academic standards or pursue work-related majors and degrees.
  • Private Loans: Many individuals who do not qualify for federal funding seek private loans. However, private lenders often charge higher interest rates than the federal government, and some expect borrowers to begin making repayments before graduation.

Scholarships for Master's in Web Design Students

DesignCrowd Web, Graphic & Logo Design Scholarship for Innovation in Digital Art

Who Can Apply: This award funds individuals studying graphic design or related subjects. Eligible applicants must study full time, receive faculty approval, and hold some field experience.

Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

Beck Digital Web Design Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Web design students must submit a resume and answer questions related to their educational goals and interests.

Amount: $500

Apply for Scholarship

Joel Cartun Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Qualifying applicants must be full-time candidates majoring in media communications, computer engineering, marketing, or a related field. Students must hold a GPA of at least 3.0 and provide recommendation letters and essays.

Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

Web Design and Company's Scholarship Essay Content

Who Can Apply: This contest is open to any individuals enrolled in web design programs. Essays should include 800-2,500 words and address the field's past and future.

Amount: $1,100

Apply for Scholarship

Lounge Lizard Web Design Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award funds full-time undergraduate, graduate, and vocational students attending accredited institutions. Applicants must provide a sample of their work.

Amount: $1,000 twice a year

Apply for Scholarship

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations offer a wealth of benefits and resources for students and recent graduates alike. Along with exclusive publications and industry news, members gain access to training opportunities, discounts, and networking events like conferences and seminars. In addition, many professional organizations sponsor scholarships, fellowships, and mentoring programs for students.

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts: AIGA hosts conferences, workshops, lectures, and exclusive networking events. Members can access the AIGA job board and apply for graphic design, illustration, and photography scholarships.
  • Bonfring: Bonfring hosts workshops on web and game development and publishes several journals, including the Bonfring International Journal of Advances in Image Processing. The group also accepts publication proposals.
  • International Web Association: Founded in 1996, IWA offers certificates for design specialists, e-commerce specialists, application developers, and a variety of other professionals. The association's asynchronous virtual courses may count as continuing education units for credential renewal.
  • Visual Communications: This group sponsors the Armed with Camera fellowship for emerging media artists, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the C3: Conference for Creative Content.
  • Web Professionals: Home to the Web Professional Academy Program, this community offers training courses, sponsors the web professional international certification, and connects members with available field positions. Members can also participate in the organization's annual web contest.