The video game world has come a long way in the last few decades, growing exponentially over that time. Many video game enthusiasts may be considering a career in the field, but it can be difficult to figure out how to best pursue this goal. Fortunately, many colleges have started to offer online video game design degrees.
Game design generally falls under the umbrella of “technology, but many of these programs are actually housed within art departments. This crossing of traditional academic subject area boundaries makes video game design fairly unique, leading to an exciting and rewarding college experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the software and game development job field is growing at a strong pace; additionally, careers in this area often come with generous salaries.
This page will help you navigate through the process of finding, selecting, and funding an affordable online game design degree program that fits your academic and career goals.
Online Bachelor’s in Game Design at a Glance
|Time to Complete||Most college degrees for video game design can be earned in four years or less.|
|Credit Hours||Bachelor’s degree programs typically require at least 120 credit hours to complete. A full-time student might take between 12 and 15 credit hours per semester, depending on how the individual program is set up.|
|Accreditation||Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology|
|Additional Info||Although many game design careers don’t require graduate degrees, some people in the field choose to further their education and qualifications by pursuing additional certifications and/or degrees.|
|Value Score 6.71||
Liberty, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world, offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral distance learning programs, including the BS in information technology with a specialization in gaming design. The program requires the 120 credit hours, 15 of which are in gaming design courses such as digital imaging, interactive game development, and C# programming. The remaining credits consist of general education and IT coursework, such as programming and systems administration. Students also complete an internship.
Transfer students must complete only 30 credits through Liberty. Graduates with the game design bachelor's degree work as game developers, graphics directors, and software programmers.
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|Value Score 6.48||
Davenport University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers an online BS in computer science program with a specialization in gaming and simulation. The 120-credit program requires 37 credits of general education coursework, 18 credits of technology coursework, and 42 credits of major coursework in game design, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. The 12-credit gaming and simulation specialization consists of studies in 2D and 3D game development, modeling and simulation, and collaborative game development.
Graduates with this college degree for video game design have found positions in companies such as Garmin and Farmers Insurance. Others work as software engineers, game and app developers, and computer programmers. Applications are accepted for fall and spring semesters.
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University of Baltimore
|Value Score 6.29||
UB offers an affordable hybrid program in simulation and game design that combines online coursework with in-person projects. Students may specialize in technical art or level design. Technical art students focus on 3D modeling and animation, while level design students use scripting and logic to create video game levels. Students have access to the UB GameLab, an interdisciplinary space dedicated to the research and creation of video games.
The online game design degree program requires 94 credits, including 43 credits of general education coursework and 36 credits of major coursework in introductory game design, 3D graphics, interactive design, and game development business. Students complete a capstone project, during which they develop a video game from start to finish.
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|Value Score 6.2||
Located in St. Charles, Missouri, LU’s online video game design degree requires 36 credits of game design coursework and 18 credits of general education coursework. The program prepares students for careers in game studios through industry-standard coursework in game development, concept design, and 3D animation. Students also practice storytelling and character development. Students complete capstone and internship experiences in game development and create a portfolio to submit to game studios upon graduation.
Students may complete the program in a hybrid format, which combines in-person coursework with online studies. With a bachelor's of arts in game design, graduates work as game designers, programmers, and concept artists.
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|Value Score 5.75||
Located in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin offers a game design bachelor’s degree with a curriculum that extends beyond video games. Students earn a bachelor’s degree in interactive media design and are prepared to build all types of interactive solutions, including games and apps that focus on entertainment, productivity, and instruction. The 120-credit college degree for video game design teaches skills such as graphic design, web design, interaction design, and concept creation.
Asynchronous courses are available in formats lasting 6, 12, and 15 weeks, providing maximum flexibility for adult students. Transfer students may apply up to 94 previous semester hours toward the degree, allowing them to focus on game design coursework.
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What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Game Design Degree?
Earning an online game design degree is a great first step toward securing a number of fulfilling, lucrative professions. Graduates of these degree programs can pursue a variety of career paths. Some choose to enter directly into the job market, while others opt to continue onto graduate studies and obtain further certifications in more specialized areas. The list below details a few possible careers for graduates of online game design degree programs.
Multimedia Artist and Animator
These professionals work in a variety of media, including video games, to create graphics, animation, and visual effects. Many of these artists are self-employed or work on a contract basis.
Projected Growth Rate 6%
Software developers design computer programs, ranging from simple functional programs to intricate, detailed video games. They can also work on operating systems.
Projected Growth Rate 17%
These programmers write and test the code that enables computer systems and programs to run properly. Programmers work closely with software developers to help them code programs.
Projected Growth Rate -8%
These computer professionals design, create, and build websites. They tend to have a strong knowledge of computer code and scripting and may help create content for websites, including graphic design elements.
Projected Growth Rate 27%
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
As more companies and organizations rely on computers and networks to function each day, these administrators have become increasingly important. These workers oversee the functions of networks and computer systems on a day-to-day basis.
Projected Growth Rate 8%
Educational Paths for Graduates of Game Design Bachelor’s Programs
Professionals in the video game design field come from a wide range of educational backgrounds. Some workers taught themselves how to code and and write computer script, advancing through their careers without ever earning a degree. Alternatively, other individuals choose to pursue graduate degrees and advanced certifications to improve their skills and increase their earning potential.
What Will I Learn in My Bachelor’s in Game Design Program?
- Intro to Game Design: This course tracks the progression of game design, beginning with non-digital games and moving all the way through to today’s complex video game systems. Students also learn the basics of game studies and may spend lab time outside of class working on projects.
- Computer Programming: Students sharpen their computational skills and learn about algorithm and program development. This course may also cover topics like coding, programming languages, and theoretical foundations.
- Game Scripting: This course builds on the skills learned in introductory game design, programming, and coding courses by helping students apply these skills to script an actual, functional game.
- Computer Networks: This class looks at network operating systems concepts, including network components and architectures, configuration, and troubleshooting. This course is designed to prepare students for network+ certification exams.
- Computer Security: Building on networking concepts, this course examines computer and network security. Students learn the fundamentals of security concepts and look at current issues related to network and computer security.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Game Design Graduates
Bachelor’s in Game Design Salary
The range of careers available for students with a college degree for video game design offer competitive salaries. Some careers, such as software development, earn well above the national average, while others provide relatively modest salaries, including those in multimedia art. The table below outlines the median salaries of some of these careers.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||$65,300|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$79,700|
Game Design Licensure and Certification
Many jobs in the game design field do not require special certifications or licenses. The professionals working in these fields have varied educational backgrounds, ranging from associate degrees to postgraduate degrees. Some of these individuals are even entirely self-taught. However, earning a special certification or license can lead to higher salaries and more job opportunities. The list below outlines a few examples of game design certifications.
- C++ Certification: The C++ Institute offers a number of certification levels in C++, which is a language in computer coding that is essential for many computer programmers and developers.
- Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional: Offered through the International Info System Security Certification Consortium, this is a widely recognized certification in software and cyber security.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Game Design Degrees
Accreditation is the way that schools and individual programs are held to specific standards of education by accrediting agencies. Accreditation is very important when it comes to picking a reputable school and/or program. Unaccredited schools or programs are often non-reciprocal, meaning that degrees and credits earned from these programs may not be recognized by other institutions or by potential employers.
A school can be accredited regionally or nationally; however, regional accreditation is generally preferable. Regional accrediting agencies are widely recognized and the degrees/earned credits from regionally-accredited schools are more easily transferred to other institutions. Besides regional accreditation, some majors also have field-specific accreditation. As an example, game design and other computer-related programs can be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation both offer comprehensive databases of all regionally- and nationally-accredited institutions. Choosing a school from one of these lists is very important because students enrolled in unaccredited schools are ineligible to receive federal aid.
Financing Your Online Bachelor’s in Game Design Program
Funding your online college degree for video game design may seem like a complicated process, but there are some simple steps you can take to find ways to help pay for your degree. The first and most important step is to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This application connects you with any available federal funding, including grants and scholarships (which do not have to be paid back) and loans (which do). Students in game design can also find major-specific scholarships offered by local organizations or gaming corporations.
Scholarships for Game Design Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Game Design Scholarships
(ISC)2 Women in Information Security Scholarship Up to $40,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants may be attending college online or on campus but must have a minimum GPA of 3.3.
Adobe Research Women-In-Technology Scholarship $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: October 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be women who are enrolled full time.
Charlie Corr Memorial Scholarship $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants should be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university.