The 8 Best Online Graphic Design Classes of 2020

Learn the skills and tools you need to thrive in this growing field

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

From branding and web design to print promotions and online advertising, graphic design plays a major role in the marketing of every business. In fact, a 2020 report by global business researcher IBISWorld showed that there are some 16,823 graphic design businesses in the U.S. generating $15 billion in total revenue.  

What’s more, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the graphic design industry will add more than 11,000 jobs by 2026 on top of the 266,300 already employed as of 2016. That means that designers who work to improve their skills and knowledge of industry trends and tools will have a competitive edge in their fields.  

Online graphic design classes can help budding artists learn the skills and tools they need to begin a career in graphic design. We reviewed over two dozen online courses based on popularity, ratings, skills taught, accessibility, price, and more. Here are our top picks. 

The 8 Best Online Graphic Design Classes of 2020

Best Overall: Graphic Design Bootcamp by Udemy

Udemy

Udemy

Growing up in a small Turkish village, Udemy founder Eren Bali had very limited educational opportunities. Inspired by the idea of online learning after his parents bought him a computer, Bali built software for a live virtual classroom in 2007. Today, Udemy offers over 150,000 courses in 65 languages taught by 57,000 instructors. 

Udemy’s Graphic Design Bootcamp was created to help beginners quickly learn the skills to produce high-quality, professional print and web projects in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. As a result, students will need to have access to those programs for this course.

Udemy’s Graphic Design Bootcamp is taught by Derrick Mitchell, a graphic designer with over 15 years of experience who has taught over 100,000 students online in 11 classes. At the time of writing, the course had more than 80,000 students already enrolled and over 12,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6 stars out of five. We chose this class as the best overall because of its impressive number of positive reviews, experienced instructor, and reasonable price.       

The Graphic Design Bootcamp consists of 15.5 hours of on-demand video, one article, and 13 downloadable resources. Students will learn how to create professional print and web projects in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. The course also covers the basics of logo design, including typography and color usage, and how to develop the skills to become a marketable graphic designer.   

Udemy’s Graphic Design Bootcamp is available for a one-time purchase price of $129.99 and can be accessed online, on mobile devices, and through the Udemy app. Students get full lifetime access to the course and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Udemy also offers a 30-day free trial.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Graphic Design Masterclass by Udemy

Udemy

 Udemy

Another top offering from Udemy, the Graphic Design Masterclass will teach students the essential tools and capabilities of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign as well as design theory, branding, and logo creation. We chose it as our runner-up since it has a lower enrollment than Udemy’s Graphic Design Bootcamp with more reviews and a slightly less appealing curriculum.

The Graphic Design Masterclass is taught by Lindsay Marsh, a graphic designer with over 15 years of experience who has taught over 100,000 students online in 18 classes. At the time of writing, the course had more than 50,000 students already enrolled and over 13,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6 stars out of five.       

The Graphic Design Masterclass consists of 18.5 hours of on-demand video, one article, and 21 downloadable resources. Although the class is geared toward beginners, it is also detailed enough for intermediate and advanced students.

In addition to learning the essential tools and capabilities of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of typography, color theory, photos, layout, blocking, and other design skills. The course also instructs students on creating logos and branding packages, how to create magazine layouts in InDesign, logo and ad design principles, and a step-by-step process for becoming a graphic designer.

Udemy’s Graphic Design Masterclass is available for a one-time purchase price of $149.99 and can be accessed online, on mobile devices, and through the Udemy app. Students get full lifetime access to the course and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Udemy also offers a 30-day free trial.

Best for Beginners: The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course by Udemy

Udemy

 Udemy

Unlike Udemy’s previous two courses, the Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course focuses on graphic design theory and best practices with real-world applications rather than on learning specific graphic design software. We chose it as the best for beginners because it provides a solid foundation in graphic design with hands-on practice projects.

The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course is taught by Lindsay Marsh, the instructor of our runner-up pick, the Graphic Design Masterclass, and Jeremy Deighan, an experienced graphic designer who has taught over 200,000 students online in 17 classes. 

The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course consists of 6.5 hours of on-demand video, one article, and eight downloadable resources. At the time of writing, the course had more than 20,000 students already enrolled and over 5,000 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars out of five. Unlike the previous two Udemy classes we reviewed, students do not need to have access to Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.

Instead, students will gain intermediate- to expert-level knowledge of graphic design theory that can be applied to their careers. The course also covers color theory, photography composition, logo design and branding, and how to follow the proper laws of copyright and trademarks. Finally, students are offered a step-by-step process to becoming a graphic designer along with real-world projects they can follow along with and practice. 

Udemy’s Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course is available for a one-time purchase price of $124.99 and can be accessed online, on mobile devices, and through the Udemy app. Students get full lifetime access to the course and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Udemy also offers a 30-day free trial.

Best Value: Skillshare Graphic Design Courses

Skillshare

 Skillshare

Skillshare was created in 2012 as an online learning platform where anyone could create classes based on their individual expertise. It launched with just 25 courses at the time and currently has a catalog of over 27,000 classes in design, business, tech, and more. We chose it as the best value since it offers a variety of graphic design courses for free for the first two months and affordable, subscription-based pricing after that.

Skillshare offers hundreds of graphic design courses in the theory and core principles of graphic design as well as specific platforms, including logo design, 3D illustration, brand identity design, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Affinity Designer, and more. Courses can be sorted by popularity, time length, or topic and are for free for two months after signup.

Every Skillshare course provides students with a project with feedback, allowing them to put their skills into practice. They can also share and collaborate with a community of over seven million creators. Skillshare courses can be accessed online anytime with the Skillshare app.

All Skillshare courses can be accessed for free for the first two months after enrollment. After that, students can purchase a Premium membership for $8.25 per month billed annually or $19 per month billed monthly. In addition to extending course access, a Premium membership also allows students to view each course offline.

Best for Intermediate Designers: Graphic Design Masterclass: The NEXT Level by Udemy

Udemy

 Udemy

A follow-up to Udemy’s Graphic Design Masterclass, the Graphic Design Masterclass: The NEXT Level is ideal for intermediate-level students who want to learn more about digital design and building a portfolio. We chose it as the best for intermediate designers because of its focus on advanced graphic design skills and career building.

The NEXT Level is taught by Lindsay Marsh, the instructor of the beginner-focused Graphic Design Masterclass. At the time of writing, the course had more than 13,000 students already enrolled and over 1,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of five.       

The NEXT Level consists of 14 hours of on-demand video and 24 downloadable resources. Students who enroll should have a basic working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign and access to Adobe Creative Cloud version 5.5 or newer.

In addition to diving deeper into logo, ad, digital, and social media ad design, students of the course will also learn how to use more intermediate tools in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and the mechanics of Photoshop editing and manipulation.

In terms of professional development, the course also lets students work through an entire logo design process, including how to export files and present work to clients. It showcases different options for making money by selling creative content and resources, how to create and build a strong graphic design portfolio, and what makes compelling advertising.

Udemy’s Graphic Design Masterclass: The NEXT Level course is available for a one-time purchase price of $109.99 and can be accessed online, on mobile devices, and through the Udemy app. Students get full lifetime access to the course and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Udemy also offers a 30-day free trial.

Best for Experienced Designers: Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers by Udemy

Udemy

 Udemy

Udemy’s Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers is designed to help graphic designers expand their skill-set and offer more services by mastering digital design projects including social media, icon design, web design, and more. We chose it as the best for experienced designers because of its focus on advanced digital design projects.

The Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers is taught by Lindsay Marsh, the instructor of the Graphic Design Masterclass and the Graphic Design Masterclass: The NEXT Level. At the time of writing, the course had more than 2,000 students already enrolled and over 250 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of five.       

The Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers consists of 9.5 hours of on-demand video and three downloadable resources. Students who enroll should have a basic working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Students of the course will learn a wide variety of digital design projects like icon design, website layout, digitizing sketches and typography, e-book cover design, social media campaign design, digital display ads, YouTube thumbnail design, and more. The course also covers the basics of WordPress and website design, creating animated gifs and animated display ads, and creating Apple App Store icons and entire icon sets from start to finish.  

Udemy’s Digital Design Masterclass for Graphic Designers is available for a one-time purchase price of $94.99 and can be accessed online, on mobile devices, and through the Udemy app. Students get full lifetime access to the course and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Udemy also offers a 30-day free trial.

Best University-Backed Course: Graphic Design Specialization by Coursera

Coursera

 Coursera

Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford University computer science professors who were inspired by their experiences in offering their courses online. Today it serves more than 66 million learners through over 4,500 courses offered worldwide by more than 200 top universities and industry educators. We chose it as the best university-backed course because it gives beginners access to one of the premier programs for studying graphic and print arts in the U.S.

Coursera’s Graphic Design Specialization is taught by five professors of CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), famous worldwide for its offering of over 70 degree programs in the visual, performing, media, and literary arts. 

This five-course series covers the entirety of graphic design, including fundamentals, typography, image-making, the history of design, and branding. This self-paced course consists of videos and readings, practice quizzes, graded assignments with peer feedback, graded quizzes with feedback, and graded programming assignments. Students are also required to complete a capstone project showcasing the skills that they can use for their portfolio.

Coursera’s Graphic Design Specialization course is available for a subscription-based price of $49 per month. Students get a shareable certificate at the completion of the course and capstone project and can try the course free for seven days.

Best Graphic Design Series: Become a Graphic Designer by LinkedIn

LinkedIn

 LinkedIn

In 1995, former Hollywood digital animator and special-effects designer Lynda Weinman created a website to teach web design to her Art Center College students. Following a successful public launch in 2002 as Lynda.com and its subsequent rapid growth, the company was purchased by LinkedIn in 2015 and rebranded as LinkedIn Learning. We chose it as the best graphic design series because it offers a comprehensive learning path that helps students quickly grasp the foundations of graphic design and learn the tools and software used to build design projects.

LinkedIn Learning’s Become a Graphic Designer learning path features 11 courses with over 22 hours of video tutorials from nine separate professional designers and instructors. The series helps students build a solid foundation in the elements of design, including typography, color, and layout; explore the design process; and learn the skills needed to build or advance a career as a graphic designer.

Students will complete hands-on exercises in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign and earn a shareable certificate to showcase their achievement. The platform also allows course videos to be downloaded to the LinkedIn Learning mobile app to be viewed anytime.

LinkedIn Learning offers access to all course content in the Become a Graphic Designer learning path for free for 30 days after signing up. After that, the cost is $19.99 per month paid annually or $29.99 per month paid monthly.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a set of skills that covers everything from creating logos and social media images to editing photos and designing entire websites. While talent can give designers a good head start, it’s also valuable for them to learn the essentials of color theory, typography, and other “soft” design skills as well as how to use major industry graphic design software to start a career as a graphic designer

Most online graphic design courses teach a mix of theory and software instruction as well as industry trends and best practices, tips for building a portfolio, and instructions for marketing oneself as a freelance or in-house graphic designer.  

What Do Graphic Design Classes Include?

Online graphic design classes typically include a dozen or more hours of video instruction from skilled graphic designers. These courses teach the foundations of good design as well as the specific software used to create the marketing materials we see around us every day.

There are many courses geared toward beginners that require no previous skill or experience. Some require students to have access to the specific software they teach, while others allow students to follow the process of designing specific graphic materials without needing any software of their own.    

What Do Graphic Design Classes Cost?

Most of the online graphic design courses we reviewed were available for a one-time purchase between $95 and $150 and include lifetime access to all course materials. A few that we reviewed used subscription-based pricing ranging from $8.50 to $50 per month with course access only available while the subscription is active. 

How Much Do Graphic Designers Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers is around $52,000. The report shows that the lowest 10% earn less than $30,810, and the highest 10% earn more than $89,210.

The highest-earning industries for graphic designers include advertising, public relations, and related services. Next are specialized design services followed by newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. At the bottom, are printing and related support activities. 

Is Taking an Online Graphic Design Class Worth It?

Anyone wanting to start a career as a professional graphic designer can benefit from taking an online course. Watching an experienced designer cover the concepts of good design, typography, and taking a project from start to finish can be like having a personal mentor.

Similarly, graphic design courses that teach the fundamentals and advanced functions of design software can significantly lower the learning curve and improve a graphic designer’s skill quickly. Finally, a course that offers tips on building a portfolio and marketing oneself can help propel a graphic designer into a lucrative career faster.

How We Chose the Best Online Graphic Design Classes

We looked at nearly two dozen online graphic design classes for this review. At the top of our list were courses offered by well-established online learning providers with high ratings. Next, we looked for courses that were geared toward beginners and covered design principles, specific skills, and career-building.

It was also important to find platforms that were easily accessible and could be watched on multiple devices. Finally, because the cornerstone graphic design software offered by Adobe can be an expensive investment for beginning graphic designers, we wanted to find courses that were reasonably priced to jumpstart careers or open new opportunities at a reasonable budget.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. IBISWorld. "Graphic Designers in the US - Industry Data, Trends, Stats." Accessed July 17, 2020. 

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Graphic Designers: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics." Accessed July 17, 2020.

  3. IMHO Reviews. "Skillshare Review: Is It Worth It In 2020? Free Trial." Accessed July 17, 2020. 

  4. IEEE. "Teaching the World: Daphne Koller and Coursera." Accessed July 17, 2020. 

  5. ReadWrite. "Lynda.com Founder: I Was Educating Online Before Online Education Was Cool." Accessed July 17, 2020. 

  6. Forbes. "LinkedIn's Blockbuster Deal With Lynda.com: What It Means To The Online Learning Industry." Accessed July 17, 2020.