The debate over whether it’s worth going to college is still raging throughout the country and one of the biggest areas of debate revolves around the type of degree. 

Some degrees are still worth more than others and some degrees are a basic requirement for certain careers, or even a requirement for certain companies. 

If you’re considering studying for a degree in graphic design, you may be wondering if it’s worth the money, time and effort before you start. 

This guide will look at what you need to know about studying for a degree in graphic design. 

What Do You Study In Graphic Design?

It’s perhaps best we first outline what you might study if you took up a college class in graphic design.

Graphic design is an umbrella term that covers many types of skills and knowledge. 

You can learn everything from how to create logos, brochures, websites and advertisements through to how to use software packages such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. 

You could also choose to specialize in a particular area of graphic design such as web design, print media, advertising, packaging or illustration. 

The most popular route into graphic design is probably by taking a course in art and then selecting to specialize in graphic design. 

The Benefits Of A Graphic Design Degree 

To analyze if it’s worth taking up a graphic design degree, it’s best we take a look at the benefits and then look later at the downsides. Here are the benefits. 

Companies Might Only Accept Degree Holder Candidates 

A lot of employers require candidates to have a degree when applying for jobs. This means if you don’t have a degree, you won’t get hired. 

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you’ve studied graphic design but haven’t graduated yet, you might still be able to apply for jobs. 

The fact is, in the US, it’s quite common for companies to ask for college degree holders as a minimum requirement to try to sift through the large number of potential candidates.

It also gives them the opportunity to have better staff. 

Possibility Of Career Advancement 

If you are already working in a similar role or simply want to move up the career ladder, you may need a college degree to do this.

A degree in graphic design while you’re in the industry or not will give you a much better chance at getting those higher paying jobs. 

Possibility Of More Money 

There are two facets to this.

If you’re a freelancer, you’re far more likely to be able to successfully charge more money for your services if you have a degree in graphic design, along with a good portfolio. 

Second, if you’re looking at the top paying companies for graphic designers, you may need a graphic design degree to even be able to apply. 

An Established Network 

If you study for a graphic design degree at college, you’ll have had the opportunity to build a network of established graphic designers.

This is a gold mine of opportunities because these colleagues may be your ticket to better roles, new clients or even if you want to start your own graphic design business. 

Many industry leaders made their fortunes from their college network, including influential people like Mark Zuckerberg. 

Can Use It For Other Jobs

Some employers will request a college degree to apply for their available roles and this might not even be in the industry of graphic design.

Therefore, in years to come – if you want a career change, you have that option, and you’re not tied into one avenue. 

Transferable Skills Have Been Learned

One thing that many students overlook is the fact that college can provide you with a whole host of transferable skills in the future, even if you don’t get a job with the industry.

These will include all the creative and technical skills you’ve learned, but also the basics of being independent and self-reliant. 

Not to mention, college can be a lot of fun – and that’s worth it too, right?

Downsides To A Graphic Design Degree

Downsides To A Graphic Design Degree

Of course, nothing is without scrutiny and a degree in graphic design is not 100% worth it. Here are some of the downsides. 

Costs And Potential Debt 

Studying for a college degree isn’t cheap, and you may find yourself with a heap of student debts when you graduate, particularly if you don’t find an internship or other graduate role right away.

Years Of Study 

College takes a few years to complete and in that time, you could have decided to take up an apprenticeship instead and began earning and learning.

By the time you graduate, you could have already been an established contractor with no debt and earning a great salary. 

It’s Not For Everyone 

Not only is college not always for everyone, but you may have got yourself your graphic design degree and down the line, you’ve decided the job is not what you thought it was.

This can be disheartening, and you may feel as though you’ve wasted your time and money. 

You Might Not Need One

While we mentioned that many companies may have a degree as a basic requirement, this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, you may be able to land your perfect graphic design role just by showcasing your skills and portfolio. 


The competition for a position in graphic design is fierce and there will be thousands of candidates with a degree who will want to apply for the same jobs.

Sometimes, a college degree isn’t enough to land you that role. 

Instead, sometimes it might be better simply developing your skills and knowledge yourself and highlighting that to the potential employer, rather than a degree. 

The Bottom Line

Getting a degree in graphic design probably has more benefits than downsides, but it isn’t the right choice for everybody.

In reality, to boost your chances of getting a top paying job in graphic design is by being highly qualified, highly experienced and versatile.