7 of the best graphic design short courses you can study online

Want to wow people with your logo art, magazine layouts or website designs? These short online courses cover everything a graphic designer needs to know, from Adobe Creative Cloud to user-centred design. 

Graphic design short courses

Is a short graphic design course worth it? 

If you need to fast-track your graphic design skills for work or for fun, a short graphic design course can absolutely be worth your time. The online courses we’re about to recommend will help you design things for your own use, take on graphic design tasks at work, or even kick-off a freelance career. 

These courses are offered by universities from across Australia, so you’ll learn creative techniques from the industry’s best. You can even have your course fee covered by HELP funding! Let’s see what you could learn.  

Short courses to explore in graphic design

Art and Design Fundamentals

Curtin University
Duration: 13 weeks
Cost: $1,037 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: The elements of design

The best graphic designers aren’t just talented with design software—they also understand the basics of art. This course is worth taking if you'd like to improve this skillset. You'll explore things like line, shape, texture and colour, and learn how to solve design challenges when your work isn’t coming together the way you want it to. Check out student work here on Instagram to see what you could accomplish.  

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Design Thinking

University of Tasmania
Duration: 14 weeks
Cost: $2,567 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: How to conceptualise and prototype your designs

Your first step as a graphic designer is to come up with an idea you’re proud enough to share with a client. But where do you even start? This short course will teach you how to brainstorm like a designer, prototype your idea and then refine it based on feedback. 

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Curtin University
Duration: 13 weeks
Cost: $1,037 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: Illustration skills

You don’t need to be able to hand draw to work as a graphic designer—but it can give you an edge in the industry. Look at Aries Moross, who is one of the UK’s most sought-after graphic designers. They’re famous for incorporating bold illustrations and typography into their work, which has led to collaborations with everyone from Disney to Harry Styles. This course will teach you how to convey your ideas through sketches, and you’ll walk away with a portfolio of work you can share with clients.   

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Digital Graphics and Imaging

University of South Australia
Duration: 10 weeks
Cost: $2,100 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: How to use Adobe Creative Cloud

This introductory course is a must if you’re keen to learn the three main graphic design programs—Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. All students get to download the latest versions of this software for free. Expect to gain technical skills in image making and editing, and commercial skills that will help you captivate an audience and sell in your work. Many people take this course to upskill for a graphic design role or to start their own freelance business. 

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UX Design

Curtin University
Duration: 13 weeks
Cost: $1,037 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: User-centred design

We’ve all seen graphic design fails in the wild. Magazine covers with poorly positioned headlines, billboards that don’t make sense, cursive you can’t even read… These things happen when graphic designers don’t put themselves in their audience’s shoes. Avoid repeating these mistakes by taking a short course in user experience (UX) design. You’ll learn how to make user-centred design decisions, while considering things like readability, accessibility, symmetry, and other universal design principles. 

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Advertising in the Digital Age

La Trobe University
Duration: 12 weeks
Cost: $1,892 (covered by HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP)
What you learn: How commercial campaigns work

Though this isn’t a design-specific course, it is worth considering if you’d like to work in the advertising space. You’ll learn about traditional and digital marketing channels, and how advertising needs to be adapted to suit different mediums. Importantly, you’ll delve into how advertising campaigns are developed, and where design fits in.  

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Design for Digital Technologies

University of South Australia
Duration: 10 weeks
Cost: $2,100 (covered by FEE-HELP)
What you learn: Print and digital design techniques

This course is ideal if you want skills in both print and digital design, because you devote equal time to both. In the print part of the course, you'll explore how to produce magazine layouts in InDesign and Photoshop. In the digital part of the course, you'll learn Adobe XD, a vector design tool used to create prototypes for websites and mobile apps. After 10 weeks, you’ll finish with a versatile skillset that could help you step into a professional role.  

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Is it possible to be a graphic designer without a degree?

Like writing and social media, graphic design is one of those creative jobs you can get into without a degree—especially if you go into business on your own as a freelancer. Look at self-taught graphic designer Elliot Ulm, who has built an Instagram following around his loud designs. He proves it’s possible to make it in the industry without a degree if you’re talented, and you have a solid portfolio of work to share with clients. 

That said, if you want to work in the corporate world, for a publisher, or in a creative agency, then you may require a degree to get your foot in the door. You can use the above short courses as a starting point because they all feed into qualifications. Or you can enrol directly in an online graphic design degree through Open Universities Australia. 

Check out what’s available on our website or get in touch with us if you’d like advice about your study options. We can offer guidance around the different courses and universities, so you can start your creative career the way you want to. We can even help you get into your uni course without entry requirements

Browse online graphic design courses offered by leading universities now. 


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