Web design and web development are two different elements of the creation of websites, web apps, and mobile apps. However, study of these subjects often goes hand in hand. Some of the degrees you will find in this ranking of the most affordable web design and development degrees will focus almost entirely on design. Others will focus almost entirely on development. And some will incorporate elements of both. So if you are interested in either design and development, or both design and development, you will find an affordable program within this ranking that meets your needs. For those who aren’t sure about the differences between web design and development I will go into more detail about the differences about them, and the elements of each, in the FAQ at the end of the article. The FAQ will also cover the differences in earnings between the two, and the benefits of specializing in one of the two vs. the benefits of pursuing both.
Reviewing the Cheapest Web Design Degree Programs
#1. Brigham Young University-Idaho
BYU-Idaho offers both an AAS and BS degree in web design and development. The program offers modules with areas of specialization in either web design or development. Students will take courses like database design and development, programming with classes, typography, graphic design interaction design, and web backend development 1,2, and 3. Twenty electives are available including courses in .NET software development, web full-stack development, digital media analytics and strategy, and web business creation.
- Tuition: $4,208
#2. Bellevue University
- Tuition: $7,851
#3. Franklin University
- Tuition: $9,577
#4. Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU offers a graphic design degree with a concentration in web design. It’s perfect for students who want to focus on design rather than development. Courses include basic design and color theory, digital graphic design for the web, advanced digital graphic design for the web, digital publishing, interactive animation for the web, advanced multiplatform design, and user interface and experience.
- Tuition: $9,600
#5. Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University offers a computer science degree with a web design minor. The minor is 19 credits and builds on the computer science degree with courses like multimedia technology, multimedia authoring, client-side scripting, computer technology for digital image processing and survey of computer science and information systems.
- Tuition: $9,639
#6. Baker College
Baker College offers an exclusively online web development concentration within their information systems degree. Students will take courses like computer operating systems and maintenance, database management and design, information systems strategy, management, and acquisition, database programming, web development, web scripting, world wide web design, and interactive web design.
- Tuition: $9,920
#7. Wilmington University
Wilmington University offers a bachelor’s degree in web design with the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in management information systems or technology project management. Using five of your elective courses to earn the graduate certificate means you will also have 15 credits toward a master’s degree in information systems technology. You will take courses like PHP application development, user-centered design, basic InDesign, basic Photoshop, vector drawing, and concept development.
- Tuition: $11,480
#8. Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest Missouri State University offers a bachelor’s in digital media: computer science programming. The major is focused on design, computer graphics, web publishing, and web development. Graduates from the program have worked for Amazon, Apple, Cerner, Garmin, Target, and Giant Media. Students can gain real-world experience through the unique program called Knacktive where they will work with a team of other students for one semester to conduct market research, analyze data, and write and present creative strategies to a potential client.
- Tuition: $14,020
#9. New York City College of Technology
City Tech offers a bachelor of fine arts degree in communication design, which allows students to choose a concentration in web design. Students can essentially use electives to build their own web design degree, choosing from courses like topics in graphic design, web design I, II & III, photography, 3d design, advanced typography, publication design, and design for mobile devices.
- Tuition: $15,270
#10. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred
SUNY College at Alfred offers their web design degree as part of their information technology program. Students will take courses like microcomputer systems, computer programming, database application and programming, intro to web development, discrete mathematics, essentials of information security, web programming, database concepts, and web applications.
- Tuition: $15,477
#11. Weber State University
Weber State University offers a bachelor’s degree in web and user experience (UX). Students will take courses like dynamic languages for web development, LAMP stack web development, MEAN stack web development, user interface prototyping and design, small business management, professional and technical writing, advanced database programming, and server-side web architecture.
- Tuition: $15,969
#12. Utah Valley University
Utah Valley’s web design and development degree program has an emphasis in interaction and design, and an emphasis in web and app development. The design emphasis includes courses like digital design essentials, communicating digital design, web essentials, interaction design, and digital media for intercultural communication. The development emphasis features courses like web languages, web tools and frameworks, rich internet application development, and computer programming.
- Tuition: $16,570
#13. Northern Michigan University
Northern Michigan University offers an undergraduate degree in mobile and web app development. The program places a greater emphasis on programming and includes courses like programming in C++, data structures, object-oriented design, network programming, iOS programming, Android programming, client-side web programming, and server-side web programming.
- Tuition: $16,751
#14. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Students graduating from the web development program at UW-Stevens Point can expect to work in areas like UX design and research, interface design, interaction design, mobile design and development, and website design, development, and administration. Students will take courses like digital image development, web design/development, multimedia authoring, principles of management, introduction to digital media creation.
- Tuition: $16,980
#15. Lindenwood University
Lindenwood University offers a bachelor of fine arts in art and design with a web and user experience emphasis. Students will have the opportunity to become Adobe certified in one of each of Adobe’s relevant programs each semester. Students can also take a class in the university’s digital web design firm, DWD, where students can gain real world experience and build their portfolio while working with local clients.
- Tuition: $18,100
#16. SUNY Morrisville
SUNY Morrisville offers a bachelor of technology in information technology (web development). The program includes a semester-long internship at a business site during senior year that counts for 12 credits. The program covers area like database design and management, web security, interface design and courses in several programming languages relevant to web development.
- Tuition: $18,780
#17. Husson University
Husson offers a bachelor’s degree in integrated technology with a concentration in web design and development. Husson designs its curriculum to constantly update to incorporate emerging technologies. Students will study subjects like visual and experience design, technical development, marketing, and project management and covers these topics across a variety of platforms including desktop, mobile, and internet technologies.
- Tuition: $18,940
#18. Davenport University
Davenport University offers a web and mobile development specialty within their online computer information systems degree. Students will take courses like web development, mobile application development, systems analysis and design, advanced object-oriented programming, discrete structures, and data structures and algorithms. There’s also a three-credit internship/field experience done toward the end of the program.
- Tuition: $19,338
#19. Lewis-Clark State College
Lewis-Clark offers both an associate level and bachelor level web design and development degree. Students will take courses like web authoring systems, internship in computer information technology (2 sequential semester), interactive web script, portfolio design, fundamentals of computer programming, web development basics, web development fundamentals, and introduction to web design and development.
- Tuition: $19,978
#20. Harding University
Harding offers a web design minor that can pair with any degree in the department of communications. Options include communication studies, film, integrated marketing communication, media production, multimedia journalism, and public relations. The web design minor includes courses in design foundations, design software and production, project development in digital media, web concepts, graphic design, internet communication, web media, and programming.
- Tuition: $20,735
#21. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
University of Arkansas offers a bachelor’s degree in web design and development. Career opportunities for graduates include web designer, UX/UI designer, applications developer, and web content manager. Students will take courses like two-dimensional design, computer applications in art, graphic design, web design, advanced web design, and typography. Elective courses in database concepts, electronic commerce, web client applications, social computing, vector graphics for illustrators and designers, and non-linear video editing are also available.
- Tuition: $21,754
#22. Liberty University
Liberty University offers an online degree in information technology web and mobile programming. Students will take courses covering subjects like database management, human-computer interaction, information and computing sciences, information security, mobile programming languages, and web architecture. Courses include client-side programming, server-side programming, and web and mobile programming.
- Tuition: $22,747
#23. Central Connecticut State University
The graphic and information design degree at CCSU is broadly focused on all elements of web, graphic, multimedia design and 3d animation. Courses include graphic/information design, history and design of typography, digital imaging/motion graphics, history of design, computer applications for graphic/information design, drawing, illustration, fundamentals of marketing, and art history.
- Tuition: $24,028
#24. Eastern Washington University
Eastern Washington University offers a bachelor in visual communication design that covers the essential knowledge and skills related to both print and web design. Students will take courses in visual communication design (I, II, & III), digital photography, web design, history of design, user experience design, typography, and visual thinking. Students will have two courses devoted to building their portfolio.
- Tuition: $25,057
#25. Trevecca Nazarene University
Students can choose to pursue web design and through Trevecca’s information technology, graphic design, or computer science degrees. It’s available as a track in all three of those majors. The computer science web design track will have a more programming, app development focus. The information technology angle will deal more with the backend operations of web development and security. The graphic design web design track will focus more on user experience, front end web development, and design.
- Tuition: $26,098
#26. Indiana Institute of Technology
Graduates of the web development degree program at IIT have worked in a variety of professions including advertising, publishing, finance/commerce, health care, and entertainment. Students will take courses like principles of information systems, database systems, digital imaging, programming, visual communication, web development, cybersecurity, two full portfolio courses, and a 1-6 credit internship.
- Tuition: $27,440
#27. Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College-Chicago offers a major in interaction design with concentrations in web and mobile development, graphic design, smart interfaces, and UX. Plus, they offer a full minor in web development. The web development minor pairs especially well with the interaction design degree because interaction design emphasizes front end design and the minor emphasizes back end development. The program takes an art-driven approach to electronic design.
- Tuition: $27,756
#28. Dakota Wesleyan University
Dakota Wesleyan University offers a bachelor’s degree in digital media and design with a web design concentration. Students considering a career in front end design, user experience design, and user interface design may find this degree meets all their needs. Students will take courses like web page design, digital imaging, digital media/design portfolio, color theory design, typography, and communication, media, and society.
- Tuition: $28,750
#29. Lesley University
Graduates from Lesley University’s interactive design program work in mobile app design, digital product design, user experience design, user interface design, and web design. Some strong choices for a minor include web design, user experience, graphic design. The web design minor includes courses like user experience, sketching for interactive design, advanced web projects, digital culture, and information architecture.
- Tuition: $28,875
#30. Graceland University-Lamoni
Graceland University’s web design major does incorporate some basic elements of web development into the degree. Students will take courses like systems in design, computer graphics for art and design, systems analysis and design, database concepts and SQL, and intermediate programming. Students will also participate in either a graphic design internship or an internship in computer science and information technology.
- Tuition: $30,420
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between web design and web development?
Web design focuses on the artistic and human interaction side of the website. Website designers focus on color theory, graphic design, layout, user experience, and other elements of the user-facing side of a website. Web designers work a lot in programs like Illustrator and Photoshop, which they use to depict the overall intended look and feel of the website and create the custom graphics that will be used. Not all graphic designers are web designers. But most web designers are graphic designers, who have also studied design subjects specific to websites like user experience, human interaction design, and information design.
Web developers build the website. They execute the vision of the designer. Web developers take the concepts laid out by the designers, and create the website. If designers are the architects, developers are the builders. Developers create databases and write the code, html, and css that bring the website to life. They are also instrumental in maintaining and updating websites and their servers and databases.
How much do web designers and developers earn?
The BLS indicates that web developers earn a median salary of $69,430 per year. Job growth is estimated to be 13%, which is much faster than average, and amounts to an additional 20,900 jobs in the market between 2018 and 2028.
The BLS doesn’t have separate numbers for web designers specifically. But it does have information for graphic designers. Median pay for graphic designers in 2018 was $50,370 per year. Job growth rate is estimated at 3% which is slower than average, and amounts to an additional 8,800 jobs added between 2018 and 2028.
I’ve heard the term “full-stack web developer” a lot lately. What does it mean?
Some developers specialize in server side development (the part the user never sees), while others specialize in client-side development (the part of the website the user interacts with). Full-stack developers know the coding languages, software, and technologies to develop both the server and client sides of websites.
On large projects with a development team, you will often have server side developers and client side developers working on the project. Full stack developers are often responsible for ensuring project cohesion, and solving potential problems faced by both teams of developers.
Becoming a full-stack developer is definitely the most difficult road, as they are required to be proficient with twice as many technologies, programming languages, scripting languages, and both client and server side software and tools. But if you can do it, you will have more career opportunities too.
Which degree should I choose? Web design or development?
This all comes down to what you want personally. If you’re more interested in graphic design, and designing the layout and general functionality of websites, then design is a great choice. If you’re more interested in coding and building websites, then development is a great choice. But no matter which you choose, you will probably benefit from using your electives, or a minor option, to pick up important skills from the other discipline.
For designers, knowing the power and limits of development technologies can help you design better websites. For developers, adding graphic design and other website design skill sets to your toolkit will help you be even more versatile and grant you even more opportunities.
Why not go to a coding bootcamp and get all this training much faster than earning a degree?
Coding bootcamps can be a great option. But they’re also more limited than a bachelor’s degree. Coding bootcamps make you highly specialized, and if all you want are the skills required to work in web development, they might serve your needs better than a degree program. However, most coding bootcamps aren’t accredited, and nothing you study there will count as college credits. Which means if you want to go to college at some point, say to earn a master’s degree, you would still have to earn a bachelor’s first in most cases.
Coding bootcamps, even those attached to a regionally accredited college or university, aren’t eligible for the same kinds of federal financial aid, and they tend to be quite expensive – as expensive or even more expensive in some cases than a year or two in college.
There is also, currently, not a system for accrediting coding bootcamps. So it’s difficult to tell the difference between the legitimate bootcamps and the ones that just want to take your money.
Coding bootcamps can be a great thing for people whose specific needs they meet. Maybe you already have a degree and you want to retrain. Maybe you already have a job and acquiring this skillset quickly will help you advance or transition into another, better job. Maybe you want to acquire a useful skill set without taking four years out of your life to earn a degree. Coding bootcamps definitely have advantages. And so does a college degree in website design or development. Weigh your options and your needs carefully. Think about your future, and make the best choice you can!
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