10 diverse graphic design courses

Graphic design is a form of visual communication. Graphic designers use a variety of design elements, such as images, photos, animations and text, to create striking visual concepts that convey information, solve problems, represent brands and entertain consumers. If you’re a creative, imaginative person who’s fascinated by words and pictures, graphic design could be an excellent career choice. In this article, we list 10 graphic design courses that are available at institutions around the country, describe the skills that can help you thrive in the design industry and explore some of the employment options open to graphic designers.

There are numerous graphic design courses available, from short courses that run for a few months through to degree and master’s programmes. These courses combine art and technology and train you to work in the competitive field of graphic design. Graphic designers have a broad range of duties. They design product packaging, advertisements, brochures, billboards, reports, logos, icons and graphics and develop the layout for magazines and web pages. They choose the colours, fonts and shapes that best meet design briefs and use different software tools and applications to create visually striking designs and images.

If you’d like to develop a career as a graphic designer, it’s beneficial to undertake formal training in this area. There are full-time, part-time and online options available. Here are 10 courses that offer hands-on training and recognised qualifications in this challenging field:

1. Associate Certificate in Graphic Design (Dublin Institute of Design)

This part-time course runs over 10 weeks. You can avail of in-class or online delivery options. The programme introduces students to key areas of graphic design, including illustration, idea development, typography, poster design, logo design and branding. You also learn how to use industry-standard design software.

Related: What does a graphic designer do? (Role and responsibilities)

2. Certificate in Graphic Design and Illustration (St. John’s Central College)

In this one-year, full-time course, students cover topics such as desktop publishing, typography and computer-illustrated graphics and produce a portfolio of design work. As part of the programme, you undertake a 10-day work placement, where you can use your newly acquired design skills in real-world situations. On successful completion of the course, students can progress into a range of higher education institutions if they wish to continue their studies.

3. Professional Diploma in Graphic Design (UCD Professional Academy)

In this 12-week, business-focused course, lectures take place online one evening per week. You get an opportunity to work on designs for a wide range of practical purposes. For example, you learn how to create magazine covers, brand guidelines, logos and icons, source and edit multi-use infographics, retouch photographs and layout complex documents.

4. Higher National Diploma in Graphic Design (Visual Communications) (Coláiste Dhúlaigh)

This three-year course provides students with extensive training in all aspects of graphic design. You study topics like visual communication, design thinking, design principles, design history, motion graphics, packaging, user interface (UI) design and web design. Participants attend workshops on topics like printmaking, book binding and professional development and also visit design conferences and museums. In the second and third years of the programme, students work on live projects and can avail of work placements.

Related: What does a web developer do? (Plus how to become one)

5. BA in Graphic Design (National College of Art and Design)

This course can go three or four years, but the third year is optional and offers students the opportunity to avail of internships or to work and study abroad. In the programme, students explore how to combine drawing, printing, photography and other graphic processes with new digital media, such as video, sound and animation. They undertake commercial projects and at the end of the course may get a chance to display their designs at degree shows, exhibitions and events.

Related: What does an animator do? (With requirements and salary)

6. BA in Graphic Design (formerly Visual Communication Design) (Institute of Art, Design and Technology)

This is a four-year, full-time course that teaches the principles and core disciplines of contemporary graphic design. It explores traditional design practices and also emerging ones, such as the design of augmented and virtual experiences and wearable technologies. Students can study abroad for one semester in either the second or third year.

7. BA in Graphic Design Communication (Technological University of the Shannon)

This course runs for three years and is open to students who first complete the university’s one-year common entry programme in art and design. During the course, students get hands-on experience in areas like packaging, motion design and advertising by undertaking projects and work placements. The final year ends with a major exhibition of students’ work.

Related: 6 important copywriting traits (plus types of copywriters)

8. BA in Graphic Communication Design (Griffith College)

This three-year course is available on a full-time basis. Students undertake a broad range of subjects, including business, marketing and advanced web design, that prepare them to work in all aspects of the design industry. They have the opportunity to combine established techniques with new tools and approaches with input from practising industry experts. Instructors assess participants continually throughout the programme, so students don’t take any written exams.

9. BSc in Multimedia Applications Development (Waterford Institute of Technology)

If you have an interest in computing and creative media and are looking for a course that combines both, this three-year programme is worth considering. On the course, you study creative subjects such as user experience (UX) design, graphic design, animation and media production and also technical subjects like web and mobile development, networks and databases. When you complete the course, you can work as a graphic designer and also in areas like web and mobile app development, UX design or software support.

Related: What does a UX designer do? (Role and responsibilities)

10. MA in Graphic Design Practice (Technological University Dublin)

This one-year postgraduate course is open to applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, such as fine art or graphic design. It’s necessary to include a portfolio of design work with your application. The programme combines research and practical studio work, helps students develop relevant technology and entrepreneurial skills and helps them understand how creative design practice integrates with commercial production and business strategy.

Related: A guide to entrepreneurship skills (definition and examples)

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