Our online Graphic Design Certificate programs are designed to get you started in this fun and fast-paced design industry. Stay on the cutting edge with a Graphic Design Certificate that will enable you to build a body of creative projects that showcase your talents. The online Professional Certificate program builds a foundation in design theory and software that challenges you to create logo designs, poster designs, and work in other key areas of the field. With online graphic design courses that focus on creativity and technique, beginning and advanced students alike can sharpen their skills.
Course topics in the online Professional Certificate program include digital design, fundamentals of typography and the letterform, logo design, page layout and magazine layout, and poster design. Advanced Certificate students build on the Professional foundation with additional graphic design courses in print design, brand identity, or other concentration areas with classes in print production, advanced typography, packaging design, and more.
The goal of the Graphic Design Certificate program is to prepare you for a professional career as a graphic designer. In the program, you will develop the technical, creative/visual, and communications skills for entry-level professional work. You will also begin to develop a portfolio of individual creative work you can present to potential employers.
Graphic Design Professional Certificate students learn the software programs that every pro needs to know: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You will learn how to produce digital images, illustrations, and layouts, addressing foundational design theory topics such as color, typography, and composition. Class assignments involve hands-on photo editing, logo design, poster design, magazine covers and layouts, and many other important practices.
Listed below are the Graphic Design Certificate standards you are expected to meet as a student in the program.
- Digital Imaging
- Your work will demonstrate entry-level professional Photoshop skills and effective decisions in selecting and editing images. You will be able to improve images for professional publication by retouching and correction, and create realistic or imaginative images by compositing or collage.
- You will develop distinctive color palettes based on the principles of color harmony. Your work will exhibit a sophisticated use of color and contrast, the ability to research colors and make choices that are appropriate for each client and project.
- Vector Art
- You will develop entry-level professional skills in creating vector art illustrations in Illustrator, using shape drawing and freehand drawing tools, Pen tool, type tools, and basic effects. You will be able to create simple, stylized logos, icons, and illustrations for effective visual communication.
- You will be able to research and select appropriate typefaces and design typography to support the branding or communication goal of a particular client or project. You will demonstrate the ability to organize text into a clear, readable information hierarchy in page layouts while using display type for impact and expression.
- You will be able to create engaging and readable layout designs that blend text and imagery using fundamental design and composition techniques. You can create a professional-quality poster, print ad, or cover design that attracts the eye and guides the viewer through your layout.
- Page Layout
- You will be able to create consistent, engaging, and readable layouts in InDesign for multi-page documents using master pages to control the style and positioning of text and graphics. Your page layout work will demonstrate proficiency in designing information for print publications such as newsletters and brochures.
- Design History
- You will have a basic ability to identify and discuss important eras, designers, genres, and techniques in 20th and 21st century graphic design. You will be able to apply the concepts of important designers and design movements in your own work and develop an effective workflow of research, conceptualization, and design.
- Graphic Design
- Your work will exhibit professional competence in various print design genres including poster design, logo/branding design, magazine layouts, cover design, and packaging. Your design work will show evidence of in-depth research in order to produce a striking, memorable, and creative solution.
- Photoshop Basics
- Color Theory
- Illustrator Basics
- Fundamentals of Typography
- Design and Composition
- Indesign Basics
- The Study of Graphic Design (or 4211 fundamentals of logo design)
- Graphic Design I
This program consists of eight required modules. Module descriptions are as follows:
- Adobe Photoshop is the premiere image manipulation tool for print design, Web design, and photography. It’s a must-know if you’re planning to work with photos or design projects at any level.
- This six-lesson course starts you off with the basics of the Photoshop interface and quickly gets you working on hands-on projects based on real-world design scenarios. You’ll learn to choose and use the best techniques for common Photoshop jobs including selecting and isolating objects, creating image composites, masking and vignetting images, setting typography, and improving images with retouching and effects.
- You can learn to tame this creative powerhouse of a program. Working with course developer Andrew Shalat’s stunning images and your own photos, you’ll discover how to create sophisticated graphics with surprisingly simple techniques and an efficient imaging workflow. Master the technical fundamentals to unleash your creativity as an artist or designer.
- Color is probably the most relative medium in art. Each color has a specific property, whether it’s the particular wavelength in optical perception, the molecular construction of pigments or an RGB value for a monitor. Though each of those properties may be fixed, the expression and perception of a color may change within different contexts.
- Understanding color requires that you understand its systems, interaction—even a bit of physics and psychology! This course deals with the abstract language of color. We’ll discuss basic color principles, terminology, and applications, with an emphasis on manipulating color. This course also deals with practical application of color, from applying color legibly to typography to using color effectively on-screen.
- Adobe Illustrator is a powerful and versatile tool for creating illustrations, logos, and graphics for print and the Web. By tapping the power of vector software, you can produce detailed and scalable art for almost any application.
- In this 6-lesson course, you’ll build a solid foundation in Adobe Illustrator, learning from a master teacher. You’ll start with a tour of important menus, tools, and panels, then explore selection tools, drawing tools, layers, the Pen tool (a lesson unto itself) as well as transformations/distortions, type tools, and modifying paths and shapes.
- Hands-on class projects will include a robot, a CD cover, photo tracing, a postcard, a bus ad, and a visual identity. You’ll be surprised how quickly you begin to master this challenging but rewarding software application.
Fundamentals of Typography
- Typography is what sets designers apart from other artists. In visual communication, typography must be integrated (every last loop, bowl, and descender) into a total design.
- In this 3-lesson course, you’ll explore the anatomy of the letterform. Through interactive lectures and hands-on exercises, you’ll learn how to classify typefaces and use them creatively.
- Understanding the fundamentals of typography will give your work power, eloquence, and beauty.
Design and Composition
- What makes any image work, in graphic design or digital photography? The answer is composition. Composition, literally the assembly or construction of elements, is the artful arrangement that guides the viewer’s eye and unifies your work.
- In this 3-lesson hands-on course, you’ll develop your compositional skills by analyzing everything from Grand Masters to Madison Avenue ads to tubes of toothpaste.
- Through a series of artistic workouts, you’ll learn the principles of effective composition, building to a final project where you bring Mozart to the masses. Your designs may never be the same!
- In today’s fluid design landscape, layout designers need the skills to move seamlessly between print and digital projects. Luckily, Adobe InDesign can handle it all. In this course, you will build a working knowledge of how to structure and lay out both print and digital documents.
- Over 6 lessons, you’ll explore a host of essential Adobe InDesign techniques and focus on developing efficient workflows. The course will impart a working knowledge of InDesign’s main capabilities, everything from basic features to using master pages, importing and manipulating objects, controlling text flow and style, and organizing content with tables, layers, links, and conveyor tools. As the course progresses, valuable methods for cutting-edge digital publishing techniques are explored: alternate and liquid layouts, interactivity, and the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Print is not forgotten, however, with plenty of attention paid to InDesign’s robust tools for books and other longform publications.
- Projects give you training in a range of real world print/digital publishing projects, from brochures to catalogs, magazines to ePubs, and even an interactive folio for the iPad. This experience will leave you with an understanding of the software and a slew of great portfolio pieces. The course was developed by Adobe certified Design Master and certified expert in InDesign José Ramos.
The study of graphic design (or 4211 fundamentals of logo design)
- Great designers learn from each other and from the art and design movements that shaped the industry as we know it. In this 3-lesson course, you’ll explore print design from its early 20th century beginnings to its key 21st century players. From Art Nouveau to postmodernism, book design to information design, you’ll gain a foundation in the movements and fields that can influence your signature style.
- As you work through hands-on design projects, you’ll gain experience in research, idea-building, and production of creative concepts. You’ll learn how to consider international culture in your work and you’ll explore interviews with top designers, learning how they use history as a springboard for modern projects.
- Open-ended projects will help you develop portfolio-quality illustrations. You’ll develop your own style and artistic flair, making your work more powerful and distinctive.
Graphic Design I
- Tap into your creativity and discover the world of graphic design.
- Graphic designers today must be ready to tackle a wide range of projects from identity design to editorial design to product and packaging design.
- In this 6-lesson course, you’ll establish a firm foundation for taking on professional design work. You’ll gain insights from industry veterans and explore the challenges of designing posters, logos, magazine covers, book layouts, 3D designs, and brand identities.
- Looking to establish a career as a freelance designer? The course also provides you opportunities to hone your design process, as you research each project, develop concepts, work with iterative feedback, and begin to develop quality pieces for your portfolio.
- A Windows-based or Macintosh computer that meets manufacturers’ requirements for required software in the program.
- Access to the Internet
- Adobe Photoshop CS6 or CC*
- Adobe Illustrator CS6 or CC*
- Adobe InDesign CS6 or CC*
- Program Concentrations may involve additional requirements.
* SOFTWARE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE COST OF THE PROGRAM. With Adobe, you will be eligible for the student discount on software. You can sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud Student Membership, which is only $19.99/month. This membership will give you access to all the Adobe CC programs as desktop applications. In addition, you will be able to have access to new features and updates as soon as they are available, mobile apps, and even a portfolio website! If you are not ready to start your membership just yet, you can also sign up for a free 30-day trial version.
*Upon registering, you’re given an initial 24 weeks to complete this program. Should you need more time beyond the 24 weeks, extensions of $25 per month are available.