How do I get an Associate's Degree in Design?

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  • Written By: Deborah Walker
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Graphic design, fashion design, computer-aided drafting and design, and interactive media design are a few design specialties. No matter which field of design you want to study, the path to earning an associate's degree in design is essentially the same. It involves earning a high school diploma, researching available design programs, visiting some of the campuses, applying to the school, and going to classes.

Most technical schools or community colleges require incoming students to have a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). A grade point average of at least 2.0, or C average, in high school may be another requirement you must meet to gain admission to the school. In high school, include plenty of classes in the design specialty you want to pursue after graduation. For example, if you want to work in computer-aided drafting and design, you should take classes in math, mechanics, drafting, and technology if they are offered.

If you have already decided to work towards an associate's degree in design after you graduate, begin researching options during your junior year. Guidance counselors are a good resource for trade schools, as is the Internet. Any technical school should be certified by a recognized accreditation agency and have an up-to-date license to operate.


Schools offering an associate's degree in design may offer online programs or campus-based programs. If you have other responsibilities, online programs provide more flexibility. Some schools offer a combination of online and on-campus programs.

As you narrow your search to a handful of technical schools you may want to attend, the next step in earning an associate's degree in design is to visit the school. Take a tour of the facility and ask questions of the tour guide. Walk around the school on your own, sit in on a class if at all possible, and eat in the cafeteria. Talk to current students and see what they have to say about the school.

It is a good idea to meet with an admissions official and talk about the school's design programs. Ask about financial aid, tuition and fees, housing and dining hall arrangements if applicable. Find out the graduation rate, if the school has job placement assistance, and what real-world experiences students are offered.

Once you have found at least two schools you would like to attend, it is time to complete the application process. Some schools allow prospective students to apply online; others still use paper. You may be expected to pay a fee when applying to a school.

To earn an associate's degree in design, graphic design students may take classes in business, illustration, art history, textile design, and technology. Students in fashion design programs often study sewing, clothing construction, pattern making, illustration and marketing. A portfolio may be required.

If you plan to earn an associate's degree in computer-aided design, you may attend classes in computer-aided drafting, applied mechanics, surveying, structural design, and electrical systems. Interactive media design students may attend classes to learn about color theory for the web, digital video and imaging, digital audio, and information design. Students may participate in internships.

The most successful students pursuing an associate's degree in design attend classes and do their best on assignments. They take advantage of opportunities to practice their developing design skills whenever they have a chance. During internships, successful students demonstrate what they know, ask questions, and learn everything they can so that after graduating with an associate's degree in design they will be prepared to enter the job market.



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