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Associate Degree of Design (Graphic Design)


The path to your dream job is laid out right here.

Our associate degree has been built in a way that gives you plenty of face-to-face time with expert lecturers and many hours on the latest tools and software.

Understand the fundamentals to design and layout, drawing, typography, visual communication and an introduction to designing for the web.

You will engage in collaborative studio-based learning, producing work in response to a client brief. In preparation for an industry that commands agility and adaptability, you’ll cut your creative teeth on projects in partnership with your course peers. You’ll explore the studio environment including the different roles, the role of the client, daily workflow, collaborative creativity, establishing deliverables and project lifecycle.

Your growth and development will be assessed through the completion of industry-based projects, not theoretical based essays.

To complement your technical skills, you will graduate with employability skills, introductory project management skills and scholarly techniques for higher education.

Upon completion you will be eligible for up to 80 credit points towards the Bachelor of Design (Graphic Design).

Find out more about Studying Design at SAE

Enquire Now


Graduate Roles may include

  • Graphic Designer
  • Pre Press operator
  • Motion graphic designer
  • Finished artist
  • Content development


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Design Industry

Industry in Focus
Over the five years to November 2019, the number of job openings for Graphic and Web Designers, and Illustrators is expected to be above average (between 25,000-50,000).*

ISBA Environment Scan 2015

Industry Associations & Partners

ArtsHub logoAustralian Experimental Art FoundationAdobe

DX6l3 - Associate Degree of Design

  • Brisbane
  • Byron Bay
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Perth


Your learning experience

  • Start design studio work in trimester 1.
  • Work with a range of talented students and staff, build professional networks, and collaborate on real-world projects.
  • Experience a course designed in collaboration with industry partners, develop the skills the creative industries want.
  • Develop advanced skills in industry-standard software packages, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver and Acrobat.
  • Build high-level visual thinking and design knowledge – learn the skills the creative industries demand.
  • Learn how to produce advanced designs for web, digital publishing and print.
  • Learn marketing skills relevant to the current industry such as search engine optimisation and development of social media campaigns.
  • Become part of an exceptional creative, multi-disciplinary team: be encouraged to take creative risks, work collaboratively, and develop artistic independence.

Associate Degree of Design (Graphic Design)

The Graphic Design Associate Degree program is broken up into discrete stages, each designed to promote different skills.

Stages of Design Degree

Stage I – Foundational Skills Development
In Stage I, students will undertake a number of foundational design units which will give students the essential technical skills and knowledge not only relevant to the chosen discipline area, but also give students the skills required to collaborate with other creative media students and professionals in later stages of the Design course.

  • Fundamentals of drawing
  • Principles of design
  • Design and layout
  • Interaction design
  • Web design
  • Project Management and Professional Etiquette
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Contemporary industry overview


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Stage II – Interdisciplinary Projects, Media and Cultural Studies
In Stage II we show students how their Graphic Design work contributes to and interacts with broader culture and media practice. This knowledge will enable students to work with a variety of other disciplines and artists and expand their potential on the global stage.

Students will complete a number of real-world projects with students not only in their own discipline, but also in all other SAE disciplines.

In the Graphic Design specialisation, students will hone the skills learnt in Stage I. Students will further explore typography, design for print and media and pre-press to create professional projects relevant to their industry and further develop strong project techniques. Students will discover additional facets of the design industry including photography and working with other professional tools to develop a full sense of the design industry in its entirety.

Stage III
Only students who progress to the Bachelor of Design will be eligible to undertake Stage III. In Stage III, students undertake a project of their own design. Students also undertake work placement to finalize the development of their professional skills in a real work placement setting.

Stage III is NOT included in the Associate Degree.

SAE Institute Australia Fees and Financing



Graduate Destinations (Associate Degree):

  • Graphic designer 

  • Motion graphics designer 

  • Content development 

  • Pre Press operator 

  • Finished artist 


Associate Degree of Design (Graphic Design)
Trimester 1 (1st Year)
Employability Skills in the Creative IndustriesScholarly Perspectives on DesignPrinciples of DesignFundamentals of Image Making
Design Processes and Production   
Trimester 2
Employability Skills in the Creative IndustriesUser Centred DesignDesign Production
Contemporary Industrial Practices   
Trimester 3
Media StudiesDesign Studio 1 (Graphic Design)
Trimester 4 (2nd Year)
Cultural PerspectivesDesign Studio 2 (Graphic Design)
  • Creative Industry Unit
  • Discipline Specialisation Unit
  • Multi Discipline Unit


  • Practical design skills
  • Visual thinking
  • Design for web
  • Digital publishing
  • Design for print
  • Social media campaigns
  • Creative advertising
  • Industry knowledge
Trimester 1
Employability Skills in the Creative Industries
Scholarly Perspectives on Design
Principles of Design
Fundamentals of Image Making
Design Processes and Production
Trimester 2
Employability Skills in the Creative Industries
User Centred Design
Design Production
Contemporary Industrial Practices
Trimester 3
Media Studies
Design Studio 1 (Graphic Design)
Trimester 4
Cultural Perspectives
Design Studio 2 (Graphic Design)
  • Creative Industry Unit
  • Discipline Specialisation Unit
  • Multi Discipline Unit


  • Practical design skills
  • Visual thinking
  • Design for web
  • Digital publishing
  • Design for print
  • Social media campaigns
  • Creative advertising
  • Industry knowledge

Key Info


    4 Trimesters


    May 2020

    Sep 2020

    Feb 2021


    Enrol By: 11 Jun 2020

    Trimester Start: 25 May 2020

    Trimester End: 21 Aug 2020



Entry requirements

Applicants for degree courses must satisfy one of the following minimum entry criteria:

  1. Completion of an Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) or equivalent, OR
  2. Completion of a diploma level qualification issued under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), OR
  3. Experience Based Entry for applicants who do not meet the requirements above. 'Enquire Now' or call 1800 723 338 directly for more information.

Fees and Payments

Fees: view our current Fee Schedule for information on SAE course fees.

Payment options: Fee-Help, or upfront trimester instalments.