If you’re a video game enthusiast ready to take your hobby from fantasy to reality, consider the various online game design degrees available.
This unique degree path combines art and technology, preparing students for success in a booming, multi-billion-dollar industry.
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If that sounds exciting to you, and you enjoy working with technology and art to create an immersive game experience, researching and considering game design colleges may be the right path for you.
Online Game Design Degrees
You can turn your passion for art and gaming into a career by earning a video game design degree online. This degree teaches you how to develop compelling stories that hook players. Graduates work on a variety of creative projects, including 3D animated films, mobile applications, and video games.
This interdisciplinary degree helps you develop artistic and technical skills. You may study these course topics:
- 3-D modeling
- Audio Production
- Business practices in the games industry
- Digital storytelling
- Game engine development
- Graphic design
- Programming languages like C++ and Java
- Scripting for game design
- Software engineering
- Virtual reality
- Web development
Some game development colleges allow you to pursue a specialization. This option lets you focus on a specific area of game design, such as:
- Artificial intelligence
- Game art
- Game production
- Interactive design
- Mobile game design
- UX design
Hands-on assignments help you sharpen your design and computer programming skills. You can add these projects to your portfolio to showcase your abilities to potential employers. Many game design programs require you to complete a co-op experience or internship as well.
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Graduates can find employment in many industries, including entertainment and gaming. Here are a few popular career paths for game design majors:
- Art director
- Game artist
- Game developer
- Graphic designer
- Software developer
- Video game designer
People who earn an online gaming degree can also use their skills in areas like education, film, and healthcare. A games developer degree can be a strategic choice if you want to develop versatile skills and work in a creative position.
Common Online Game Design Degree Concentrations
What specializations are available in game design? This list shows the common 5 specializations:
- Computer Animation: A bachelor’s degree in computer animation takes the concepts of game art and applies them to the much larger canvas of game worlds and rendered environments. Those who delve into this learning opportunity seek to populate digital settings with interactive models and custom game art, all while ensuring content continuity and quality.
- Computer Science: Planning, designing, and optimizing software is the focus of this degree program. Computer science majors handle a variety of “back-end” tasks while serving as systems architects for the foundation of the video game development process.
- Game Art: If you lean more towards an appreciation of the artistic and aesthetic side of the gaming experience, then a bachelor’s degree in game art might be the best fit. This program of study focuses on production methods that serve as the basis for 3-D model generation, as well as how to apply traditional art and animation principles to a virtual setting.
- Game Design: This area of study offers a broad overview of the creation and production process. You can expect to cover topics such as storytelling, discrete mathematics, level design, play balancing, design tools, and even how to manage game economics and social issues.
- Game Development: This path aims to translate the game development process to the growing world of devices. Specializing in game design for iOS, Android, Windows, and other platforms is the major selling point of this career path.
It is most common to pursue a bachelor’s degree and most bachelor’s programs require around 120 credit hours. In addition to your traditional online game design courses, you may also need to complete a project development portfolio or team-building assignments to demonstrate your abilities.
Game Design Careers & Salaries
An online gaming degree can open career opportunities in a wide range of industries. This broad sector has many positions related to every aspect of game design, so you can pursue a career that fits your career goals and interests.
A graduate who loves art may enjoy working as an animator. A game design major who wants to write code can become a game developer. The transferable skills you develop during your studies can also prepare you for a position in other areas as well.
Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here are a few potential careers associated with game design and their median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||$128,170|
|Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers||$109,020|
|Producers and Directors||$79,000|
|Special Effects Artists and Animators||$78,790|
|Web Developers and Digital Designers||$78,300|
|Writers and Authors||$69,510|
|Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators||$60,360|
The BLS predicts that several positions will have faster-than-average job growth. For example, the number of jobs for software developers will increase by 26% over the next 10 years. Openings for film and video editors will grow by 14%.
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Employment opportunities and pay can vary depending on your company, location, quality of your portfolio, and work experience.
Game Design Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
Game development colleges have unique curricula, but you may have the opportunity to take courses similar to these:
- 3-D Modeling: This course covers approaches and tools for building simple 3-D environments, such as hard surface modeling and reference gathering.
- Applied Ludology: You’ll analyze critical concepts of modern ludic theory and learn how to implement these ideas to create innovative games and systems.
- Business of Games: You’ll develop a deeper understanding of the gaming business and investigate topics like gaming finance, law, and marketing.
- Game History: You’ll explore the evolution of gaming over time and study games from a variety of periods.
- Game Technology: You’ll use traditional scripting and visual tools to create game environments and mechanics.
- Interactive Narrative: You’ll learn about techniques used by designers to immerse players in interactive and nonlinear video games.
- Introduction to Game Design: This course introduces foundational concepts in game design, including gameplay styles, genres, and terminology.
- Principles of Game Design: You’ll learn about the processes used to produce games, including documentation, team management, and market research.
- Quality Assurance: This class teaches you how to find game defects, measure quality, create documentation, and reduce risks in game designs.
- Video Game Practical: You’ll study existing video games from a designer’s perspective and expand your knowledge of industry norms and game mechanics.
Many programs also require students to take general education courses in English, mathematics, psychology, and other subjects.
Online Game Design Schools Admissions Requirements
The admissions process can vary among game development colleges, but here are a few typical requirements:
- Resume or CV
- Standardized exam scores (if required)
You’ll likely need to submit an online application and pay an application fee as well.
Online Gaming Degrees Accreditation
Some game development colleges have earned regional accreditation. This credential is awarded to colleges that meet specific educational quality standards.
Accreditation can affect your academic and career opportunities. Many graduate programs only recognize credits from accredited institutions. Enrolling in an accredited game design program gives you more options for future studies. Employers often favor graduates from accredited programs.
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Additionally, you must attend an accredited college to qualify for many types of financial aid, like federal grants. You can visit the Department of Education’s website to learn more about accreditation.
Game Design Majors Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many scholarships for game design bachelor’s degree programs available.
Here are some examples:
- Microsoft Imagine Cup Global Competition: Students from across the globe build teams to bring their biggest, boldest ideas to life. Awards vary.
- Support Creativity Scholarship: For college students in the New York area (CT, NJ, NY, or PA) majoring in any creative field. Design something creative via any medium that shows your passion for the field. Multiple awards of $1000.
- The NYU Game Center EVO Scholarship: The NYU Game Center has partnered with the Evo tournament to creating an annual scholarship to study game design at New York University. Amount varies.
- Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship: For underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students who are studying photography, illustration, and design disciplines. Multiple awards up to $5000.
You can also apply for financial aid. Government aid can come from state and federal programs. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility.
Game Design Professional Organizations
Joining a professional organization helps you network and learn about job opportunities in the gaming industry. Here are three popular professional organizations for game designers:
- Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA): This international organization promotes academic research on digital games and hosts an annual conference.
- Entertainment Software Association (ESA): This association advocates for the video game industry and helps members understand laws and regulations.
- International Game Developers Association (IGDA): This global organization supports the professional development of game industry workers.
Many professional organizations offer member perks, like discounts for educational and technology products.
What Degree Do You Need for Video Game Design?
If you’re not ready to commit to a full degree program, a certificate in game design or associate degree is a good entry point.
A bachelor’s in game design is the most common, preferred degree choice in this field. It takes around 4 years to complete and covers programming languages, design theory, and concept development. You will also have the opportunity to choose an area of specialization, allowing you to cultivate your artistic or technical skills.
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This degree will qualify you to work in almost any position within this competitive field. After earning your bachelor’s degree, you will be eligible for various jobs like video game developer, gaming programmer, software developer, and more.
To push your career forward even more, you can opt to continue your education and earn a master’s in game design.
What is a Game Design Online Degree?
An online game design degree is a degree program that prepares you for both the artistic and technical aspects of a career in video game design but with a flexible schedule as courses are taken online.
Most online video game design degree programs will give you a thorough understanding of the entire process, from concept development to initial storyboard creation, to animation and design, to technical programming.
With a degree in this field, you could work for a multinational gaming company, a small independent company or even start your own design firm.
Is Game Design Hard?
You may consider game design easy or challenging, depending on your interests and skills. As a game design major, you can expect to take classes on technical subjects, such as:
- 3-D modeling
- Game design
- Software engineering
- UX design
- Web development
You may also need to develop proficiency in several programming languages used to create video games. Game design majors often study C++, Java, and Python.
Game design programs also focus on artistic skills like animation, graphic design, and scriptwriting. The interdisciplinary nature of this degree can make it challenging for some students, but the difficulty level for all majors is subjective.
What Skills Do You Learn in a Game Design Bachelor’s Degree?
Online game development degree classes will cover both the technical and creative aspects of this field. Some of the skills you will gain include:
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Presentation skills
- Programming skills
- Storytelling skills
- Visual design skills
You will learn how to create visually appealing animations and engaging stories, program on a variety of platforms, understand relevant laws and regulations, work within budgetary constraints and present to a team, among many other things.
What Can You Do With a Game Design Degree?
With online degrees, you could be quite successful in the world of video game development, whether you want to work in artistic or technical creation or both, but your options don’t end there.
Your degree could also help you land a career in art According to the BLS, animators can enjoy a median salary of up to $78,790. If you’re more interested in the technological side of game design, you could consider becoming a software developer, with an annual median salary of $109,020.
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A game programming degree spans the art, technology, and computer industries opening up a wide variety of opportunities. You can also consider gaming degrees online, which offer flexibility to those who need it.
Are Game Designers in High Demand?
Though the BLS does not track data directly related to video game design, it does offer some relevant data for closely related careers. For example, software developers are expected to see a 25% job growth rate over the next decade. Art directors will see a 4% increase over the same time period.
For those looking to work with online games, web developers and digital designers are projected to grow 23% over the next 10 years. Game design is a lucrative field that is in demand and expected to see continued growth.
How Much Money Can You Make with a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design?
In this field, salaries are largely based on your experience, job responsibilities, the size of your employer and your location.
According to the BLS, the average salary for an animator is $78,790 while web developers and designers can expect to earn an annual median of $78,300. For those more interested in programming, computer programmers can earn up to $93,000 while software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers can earn an average of $109,020.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Degree in Game Design?
The amount of time it takes to earn a video game design degree online varies. If you attend full-time and follow a traditional, 16-week semester, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in four years.
Some programs offer accelerated options. For example, you could take courses year-round and finish your bachelor’s degree in three years. Other schools combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a five-year program.
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Enrolling part-time can extend your bachelor’s studies to five or six years. Many students enjoy this option’s flexibility.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor Degree in Game Design vs. Game Development?
You can prepare for a gaming industry career with a bachelor degree in game design or game development. Here are a few key differences between these degrees.
|Bachelors Degree in Game Design||Bachelors Degree in Game Development|
If you’re interested in the creative side of video game creation, a bachelor degree in game design could be a good fit.
Is a Bachelor of Game Design Degree Worth it?
Yes, a Bachelor of Game Design degree is worth it for many students. This major allows you to immerse yourself in the study and creation of video games.
You can learn about every step in the video game production pipeline, including creating environments, developing gameplay mechanisms, and marketing the game. For many avid game players, studying these topics is fascinating and fun.
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A games developer degree can unlock many job opportunities in the gaming industry and beyond. For example, you could work as a software developer. The BLS projects that job openings in this field will increase by 26% over the next decade.
Universities Offering Online Bachelor in Game Design Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Online Schools Report named the Academy of Art University as having one of the best online bachelor’s degree programs for game design. Students can earn a degree in game development or game programming fully online. Courses are offered in 7.5 and 15 week formats. The school uses a custom learning management system that allows students to upload different media.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
U.S. News & World Report named Arizona State University one of the top ten schools in the country for online bachelor’s degrees. ASU offers a fully online program for a BA in Digital Culture. The curriculum covers a variety of digital topics, including programming and game development. Most courses are offered in an asynchronous format and are 6 to 7 weeks long.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Arkansas State University offers a BS in Digital Technology and Design with a concentration in Game Design. The program is fully online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, and up to 90 qualifying credits may be transferred in. Courses are conducted in a 7 week, accelerated format, and there are six start dates offered each year.
Arkansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Baker College offers a BS in Game Software Development. The program is mostly online but does require the completion of a 150 hour work experience course. It requires the completion of 120 credit hours, 90 of which must be in the major. The program can typically be completed in 4 years.
Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Berkeley College offers a BFA in Graphic Design. Students who want to specialize in Game Design may earn an additional certificate. The programs are fully online, but some courses may be taken on campus. Some courses have synchronous and collaborative elements and are offered only in the fall and spring.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Davenport University offers a BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Gaming and Simulation. The program is offered fully online through Davenport’s Global Campus. Students may also opt to take some classes on campus. The program requires the completion of 120 credits. Some courses are synchronous, while others are asynchronous. Courses are 7 to 15 weeks long, and there are several start dates offered each year.
Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
DeVry University offers a Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems with a specialization in Web Game Programming. The program is fully online. The degree can potentially be completed in 2 years and 8 months with year-round, full-time enrollment. Courses start every 8 weeks. The program offers students a complimentary laptop.
DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Franklin University offers a BS in Interactive Media Design that can be completed online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, and up to 75% of the credits may be transferred in. Those with qualifying transfer credits and attending full-time can potentially finish the degree requirements in just 20 months. Classes are offered in 6 and 12 week formats with several start dates a year.
Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
George Mason University offers a Computer Game Design BFA that can be earned fully online. College Choice ranked this program as one of the best game design bachelor’s degree programs. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, 53 to 54 of which are from the major core. Some courses are synchronous, while others are asynchronous.
George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Kennesaw State University offers a BS in Computer Game Design and Development that can be earned fully online. It requires the completion of 120 credit hours and a capstone project or internship. The program offers several major elective tracks, such as Simulations Informatics, Computer Science, and Creative Content.
Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lamar University offers a BS in Computer Game Development. The program is available fully online, but courses may be taken on campus as well. It requires the completion of 121 credits, and up to 90 qualifying credits may be transferred in. Courses are conducted in an 8 week, accelerated format, and there are six start dates offered each year.
Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University offers a BS in Information Technology with a concentration in Gaming Design that can be earned fully online. BestColleges named this program one of the best online bachelor’s degree programs in video game design. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, and up to 75% of the credits may be transferred in. Courses are conducted in an 8 week format.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lindenwood University offers a BA in Game Design. Best Value Schools ranked this program among the best bachelor’s degree programs in the country for video game design. The major requires the completion of 36 credit hours. Courses are offered twice in the fall, spring, and summer. The program offers an optional emphasis in Game Art that requires the completion of 54 credit hours.
Lindenwood University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Maryville University offers a Bachelor’s in Digital Media Design that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 128 credits and a portfolio, and students may earn 12 credits toward their master’s during the undergrad program. Courses are conducted in an 8 week, asynchronous format with set deadlines.
Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Miami International University of Art & Design offers a BFA in Game Art and Design that can be completed fully online. The program requires the completion of 180 quarter credit hours and can typically be finished in 12 quarters. There are eight start dates offered each year. Potential courses include Animation and Game Prototyping.
Miami International University of Art & Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Middle Georgia State University offers a BS in Information Technology with a concentration in Integrated Digital Media and Gaming Design that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Students may be able to transfer in up to 40 qualifying credit hours or earn credit for prior experience.
Middle Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
National University offers a BA in Digital Media Design. Many of the courses can be completed online, but some must be completed on campus. The program requires the completion of 180 quarter units, including a project and a senior thesis. Each course is 4 weeks long, and year-round enrollment is offered. Potential courses include History of Visual Storytelling and Modeling for Game Art.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
New England Institute of Technology offers a BS in Game Development and Simulation Programming. Courses in the program are available online and on campus. Students with qualifying transfer credits can potentially complete the program in just 18 months. Courses follow a semester schedule.
New England Institute of Technology is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Rasmussen University offers a fully online program for a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Courses are conducted in an asynchronous format with set due dates. Students may be able to transfer in up to 90 qualifying credits or earn credit for work experience. There are several start dates offered each year.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design offers a BFA in Game Art. The program is available fully online and requires the completion of 123 hours. Courses are offered in fall, spring, and summer, and there are 8 start dates offered each year. The curriculum covers topics like environment design, lighting, character rigging, and animation.
Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Savannah College of Art and Design has offered online degrees for over 20 years. The school offers a BA in Digital Media with a concentration in Interactive Design and Game Development. The program is entirely online. It requires the completion of 180 credit hours, including 25 hours of elective courses.
SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a BA in Game Art and Development that can be completed online. Up to 90 qualifying credits may be transferred in toward the program’s 120 credit hours. Courses are conducted in an 8 week, asynchronous format with set due dates. Six start dates are offered each year.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement offers a BA in Graphic Design that may be completed entirely online. The program requires the completion 120 credit hours, 42 of which are in the major. Courses are offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats. They follow a traditional semester schedule with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Advancing Technology offers a BA in Game Design, a Bachelor’s in Game Art and Animation, and a Bachelor’s in Game Programming. All three degrees are available fully online. Courses are conducted in a synchronous format and are 5 weeks long. There are nine start dates offered each year.
The University of Advancing Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
U.S. News & World Report named the University of Arizona the tenth-best college in the country for online bachelor’s degrees. The school offers a BA in Applied Humanities with an emphasis in Game Studies. The program requires the completion of 42 hours in the major and an internship.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
U.S. News & World Report named the University of Florida as having some of the best online bachelor’s degree programs in the country. UF offers a BA in Digital Arts and Sciences that may be earned fully online. Hybrid options are also available. Courses require virtual attendance. Applicants must submit a portfolio before entering the program. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Bachelor’s in Web and Digital Design. The program offers focuses in Web Design, Digital Design, and Augmented and Virtual Reality. The program may be completed fully online, but a hybrid format is also available. It requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Courses are 7 weeks long, and there are multiple start dates offered throughout the year.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Silicon Valley offers a BA in Game Design through its online learning platform. Courses are also available on campus. The program requires the completion of 66 credit hours in the major and a 2 semester senior capstone project completed with a collaborative team. Classes are offered in trimesters with several start dates per year.
The University of Silicon Valley is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
The University of the Potomac offers a BS in Computer Science with a specialization in Game Design. The program offers courses fully online with on-campus options. It requires the completion of 120 credit hours. It can typically be completed in 4 years, and accelerated options are available. Several start dates are offered each year.
The University of the Potomac is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Wilmington University offers a BS in Game Design and Development. The program is fully online with the option to take courses on campus. It offers two concentrations: Game Art Production and Interactive Programming.
Some courses are only 7 weeks long, while others are 15 weeks long. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Start dates are offered every 8 weeks. Courses are 7 or 15 weeks long, and there are start dates every eight weeks.
Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Bachelors in Game Design Degree Online
You can jumpstart a career in the gaming industry by earning a video game design degree online. You’ll study many exciting topics, such as 2-D and 3-D modeling, digital storytelling, and graphic design. These courses allow you to hone your creative and technical abilities.
An online gaming degree can prepare you for a broad range of careers. Most graduates choose to work in the gaming and entertainment industries. They can secure positions as art directors, producers, video game developers, and more. You can also pursue careers in areas like education and healthcare.
Start exploring online game design programs at accredited schools to find the best fit.