Best Online Master’s in Creative and Design Degrees

There are more than 600 million websites active on the Internet.

Best Online Masters in CreativeDesign

With the diversity and complexity of many of these sites, it makes sense to wonder who helps to create more than half a billion of these things. Much of that work is thanks to folks with master’s in creative & design degrees!

What is a Creativity & Design Degree?

Creativity & Design covers a broad range of visual and artistic pursuits, but most typically concern the creation of visual elements for mediums such as websites and marketing materials. Individuals can specialize in particular fields and visual elements, or choose to pursue a wide range of skills that allow them to function in multiple settings and serve many roles.

How Much Money Can I Earn Working in Creativity & Design?

The creative elements of these degrees give students a lot of flexibility in their post-grad job search. The combination of visual and technical skills allows individuals to pursue a wide range of careers, from graphic design to multimedia art and animation.

Each of these jobs has their own advantages. The field of graphic design can often lead to non-traditional work environments, like freelancing or working from home. Multimedia art and animation has a median salary of more than $70,000 a year, and is expected to see more than 6,000 new job openings in the next ten years.

Why Choose An Online Master’s Degree in Creativity & Design?

Master’s students get in-depth experience and knowledge of the programs and techniques that employers want to see. These programs give students a chance to create a worthwhile portfolio that will impress potential workplaces.

The online element also saves students money and gives them far more flexibility. It can also be a good career preview for freelancing or work-from-home type job situations. If you want to see the Best Online Colleges regardless of degree, check out College Choice’s Best Online Colleges for a Master’s Degree.

What Are the 5 Best Online Master’s in Creativity & Design?

College Choice considers several factors including institutional merit, student fulfillment, and return on investment to develop rankings.

Institutional merit combines metrics such as student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates and endowment to measure each school’s ability to provide excellent and cost-effective education for each student. Student fulfillment measures how fulfilled current and former students felt with the services and programs offered at each school. And finally return on investment looks at the fiscal benefits students are likely to receive from each school’s education, weighted against the costs of attendance, namely tuition and student loans.

In the end, we believe these truly are the 5 Best Online Master’s in Creative & Design Degrees.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.


Syracuse University

College Choice Score: 100

Average Net Price: $31,823

School Website


Syracuse University is a private, research university located in Syracuse, New York. The school maintains a relationship with the United Methodist Church, but has identified itself as nonsectarian since 1920. Syracuse has around 1,500 academic staff members and 22,000 total students. Syracuse is organized into 13 schools and colleges, and has an endowment of $1.25 billion.

Program Features

Syracuse offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Illustration. It is a three-year program that involves the completion of 60 credits. The program also offers an MFA in Studio Arts, which may be completed in two or three years of study. Credits from these programs include requirements in:

  • Studio intensives or Major Studio
  • Free Electives
  • Seminar Classes on theory or professional practices
  • Graduate Critique Classes

Students finish the programs through either the completion and exhibition of a formal thesis, for the studio art option. For the Illustration MFA students complete a final presentation.


The Studio Arts program has specific emphases available in Ceramics, Drawing, Jewelry & Metalsmithing, Painting, Print Media & Graphic Art, and Sculpture. Syracuse offers a semester residency program that focuses on career development through work with notable art centers in locations such as Los Angeles, London, or Florence. Applicants must submit a portfolio of their work and an artist’s statement.


Liberty University

College Choice Score: 95.43

Average Net Price: $24,794

School Website


Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian research university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty is considered the largest Christian university in the world, with more than 15,000 students at its Lynchburg campus, as well as over 110,000 online students. Liberty has 17 colleges, and offers more than 290 bachelors degrees, 315 masters degrees, and 32 doctoral programs.

Program Features

Liberty University offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. It is a 100 percent online degree, which requires students to complete 60 credits in an average of 2.5 years. Courses are offered in eight-week long formats, and include options such as:

  • Sequential Art
  • Web & New Media
  • Publication Design
  • 3D Graphics

Students are also required to complete practicum or internship experience credits, or to take a Teaching Arts in Higher Education course. The program ends with the completion of a thesis/portfolio project.


Students are allowed to transfer in up to half of the required credits. Liberty offers benefits to military members and dependents, including tuition discounts (there are also discounts available for emergency responders). Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. They must also provide a portfolio and artist’s statement.


Quinnipiac University

College Choice Score: 95.37

Average Net Price: $37,439

School Website


Quinnipiac University is a private, nonsectarian university located in Hamden, Connecticut. The school is home to the famed Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, and is located directly adjacent to Sleeping Giant State Park. It’s endowment is $530 million and they have 9,000 total students, including 6,000 undergraduates.

Program Features

Quinnipiac offers a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media and Communications. It is a 30-credit program that includes nine credits of core requirements and 21 credits of electives. Core courses include Foundations in Graduate Studies and Writing for Interactive Media. Sample elective courses are as follows:

  • Audio and Video Design
  • Understanding Your Audience
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Motion Across Media

Students complete their studies with a Master’s capstone course, in which students put together a digital portfolio that will eventually be used for seeking employment after graduation.


Qualified applicants for admission will have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Students with backgrounds outside of communications are welcome to apply, as well as students who are looking to shift of enhance their current careers. Students submit an online portfolio through a web address link as part of their application.


Savannah College of Art and Design

College Choice Score: 94.22

Average Net Price: $40,856

School Website


The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private university located in Savannah, Georgia. SCAD was founded in 1978, and now operates additional campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The main campus is home to approximately 13,000 total students, who are served by around 720 academic staff members.

Program Features

SCAD offers a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design and visual experience. It is a 90-credit program (though students can add courses up to 105 hours), which may be completed fully online. Students may take courses such as:

  • Ideation of Models and Process
  • Curated Narrative for Dynamic Content
  • Visual Design for Interactive Contexts
  • Methods of Contextual Research
  • Typographic Voice and Visual Narrative

The program finishes with a three-part Graphic Design and Visual Experience thesis, consisting of research and discovery, synthesis and insight, and validation and execution.


SCAD offers graduate intensive courses in Typographic Communication, Integrated Media Design, and Design History and Context of Media. These courses may be assigned upon admission, if students lack a sufficient academic background/professional experience to immediately begin graduate study. Students may complete a professional internship as a part of their credit requirement.


Ball State University

College Choice Score: 90.98

Average Net Price: $13,369

School Website


Ball State University is a public university located in Muncie, Indiana. The school is often referred to simply as Ball State, and it has additional campuses in Fishers and Indianapolis. Ball State originally began as a normal school, educating teachers starting in 1918. It now has 1,200 academic staff members and 22,500 total students.

Program Features

Ball State offers a Master of Arts in Emerging Media Design & Development. This program has a low-residency option, which allows students to complete the degree online. Students complete 36 credits of foundational courses and lab experiences, including classes such as:

  • Usability and Evaluation Research Methods
  • Transmedia Storytelling and Publishing
  • Applied Research Lab
  • Creative Project Lab

Students may then choose to complete their course of study with either an original thesis or a culminating project. The thesis option ties into the student’s lab work and focuses on important topics related to the problem space.


In addition to the low-residency option, Ball State also offers an on-campus version of the program. Applicants must submit a creative/design portfolio, an academic or professional writing sample, and a statement of purpose. Applicants are only admitted during the Fall semester, and all materials must be submitted no later than four weeks before the start of the semester.