Do you have an interest in video games, computer science, art, animation, and design? Consider these 10 best online bachelor’s degree programs in game design!
From developing a knack for graphic design to perfecting your programming skills, this degree will give you the tools needed to enter the fast-paced and lucrative gaming industry. As multiple gaming platforms continue to grow in popularity, more game designers are needed than ever before. Additionally, since game design is an ever-evolving field, this degree can also open up multiple innovative career paths. If you’re a creative “ideas” person who loves technology, this degree could be a great choice for you!
What Is a Game Design Degree?
Video game design is a complex field involving idea generation, design aesthetics, programming, and other elements of computer art. Whether you’re interested in designing games for smartphone apps or traditional consoles, all students entering this industry must first have a passion for gaming and technology. Students pursuing a degree in game design often develop multiple skills that are lucrative to employers. With this degree, you’ll be eligible for careers in video game programming, development, graphic design, animation, and more.
How Much Can You Earn With a Game Design Degree?
If your game design degree leads you into the career of a multimedia artist and animator, you can make over $70,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If your skills and interests lead you down the path of becoming a software developer for video games, your salary can potentially be over $105,000 per year. Of course, your salary will be based upon your experience, education, and skill level. No matter which area of game design you choose, you’ll also need to build an impressive portfolio.
What Is Required for a Game Design Degree?
Requirements will vary depending on which program you’re applying to. To apply for a bachelor degree program in game design, you’ll have to show proof of a high school GED. In some cases, you’ll also need to first complete an associate degree. Furthermore, some programs require proof of English language proficiency, while others cater to international students. Fortunately, for an undergraduate degree, most colleges don’t require applicants to have a portfolio or past experience with animation and programming. Some of the below programs do require internships or final projects, though. Still, these requirements often help students build impressive design portfolios that can be shown to potential employers.
If you want a solid base before diving into game design, consider starting with a Computer Science degree.
What Are the Best Game Design Degrees?
OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.
The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.
Academy of Art University20-Year ROI$753,855
- Tuition: $20,952(in state) / $20,952(out of state)
- Offers both on-campus and online courses
- Emphasis on 3D modeling, animation, and lighting in video game production
- Courses taught by world-class and dedicated faculty
School WideStudent Satisfaction77%Programs offered online32
Program LevelMedian Debt$37,012Programs in Department12Popularity at School71.74%100%OSR Score
Based in San Francisco, this 132-credit hour on-campus and online program is highly focused on video game design, art, and professional readiness. Students take a Games Portfolio Preparation course and Collaborative Project interdisciplinary course, as well as have the option to also participate in an internship. Graduates will leave with a professional demo reel or portfolio which meets industry standards.
Full Sail University20-Year ROI$773,128
- Tuition: $19,929(in state) / $19,929(out of state)
- Courses are offered both online and on-campus
- Credits also apply to an associate degree so students can continue onto a bachelor degree at a later date
- All students have access to Full Sail’s state-of-the-art campus and technology services
School WideStudent Satisfaction78%Programs offered online24
Program LevelMedian Debt$37,254Programs in Department10Popularity at School41.62%86%OSR Score
Located in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University’s popular 120-credit hour Game Design Bachelor of Science program can be completed on-campus or online. Comprising high-level game design and production courses that take students deep into the game development pipeline, courses include Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries, World Building, and multiple Project and Portfolio: Game Design courses. After completion, students are often hired for entry-level industry positions in the fields of game design, quality-assurance testing, level design, game scripting, and a variety of other jobs in the game and entertainment industries.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design20-Year ROI$648,048
- Tuition: $16,268(in state) / $16,268(out of state)
- Course schedules are flexible and offered only online
- Faculty includes highly experienced animators, designers, and technical artists
- Students develop highly-specialized animation skills
School WideStudent Satisfaction75%Programs offered online9
Program LevelMedian Debt$34,736Programs in Department6Popularity at School54.47%80%OSR Score
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers a unique 123-credit hour program for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art. Focused on the graphics of game art and the mechanics of design, required courses include 15-credit hours of art history courses, 30-credit hours of liberal arts courses, 24-credit hours of foundations courses, 45-credit hours of core curriculum courses, and 6-credit hours of studio elective courses. Students are also introduced to creative and technical writing as part of their education in building game strategies.
Savannah College of Art and Design20-Year ROI$697,731
- Tuition: $35,910(in state) / $35,910(out of state)
- This degree is available online as part of their popular eLearning program
- There are multiple on-campus locations in the U.S. and internationally
- All professors are highly-experienced in their field
School WideStudent Satisfaction75%Admission Rate93%Programs offered online5
Program LevelMedian Debt$26,010Programs in Department3Popularity at School55.35%72%OSR Score
Based in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Lacoste (France), Savannah, and online, Savannah College of Art and Design is a great choice for highly creative and adventurous students. This program offers a 180-credit online or on-campus Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media with a concentration in game development. Whether you’re interested in programming or aesthetics, required courses still include 25-credit hours of foundation studies in drawing and color, as well as Introduction to Interactive Design and Game Development, Core Principles of Game Design, and Advanced Survey of Computer Art Applications.
Liberty University20-Year ROI$718,609
- Tuition: $15,734(in state) / $15,734(out of state)
- The entire degree can be completed online
- Courses begin and end on an 8-week schedule
- All professors have real-world experience in game design
School WideStudent Satisfaction73%Admission Rate30%Programs offered online23
Program LevelMedian Debt$23,527Programs in Department1Popularity at School1.48%68%OSR Score
This longtime online program from Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Liberty University offers a 120-credit online Bachelor’s of Science in Information with a focus on Gaming Design. Required courses include Introduction to 3D Graphics, Web Architecture and Development, Principles of Macroeconomics, and Digital Imaging. There is also an elective internship, which has a reputation for helping students find employment after graduation.