The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
Updated June 2, 2023
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Graduates with an online bachelor's degree in video game design can fuse their creative and technical skills into an artistic IT career. Equipped with a video game design bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue careers as bonafide video game designers or enter fields like digital animation, web and software development, or computer programming.
Students earning a video game design bachelor's degree online can expect to complete a foundation in computer programming, game development, and animation. The best video game design programs also emphasize soft skills required in the industry, including communication, problem-solving, and time management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a steady job growth of 8% for multimedia artists and animators through 2026. As consumers demand higher quality graphics, more realistic visual effects, and more complex gameplay environments, the video game design field continuously requires fresh ideas. Professionals can also expect lucrative salaries, as video game designers with extensive experience can earn an average salary of $90,000 a year.
The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Degree Programs
Affordable Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the online video game design programs based on quality, the types of online classes offered for video game design, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.
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Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%
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The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
These rankings include
#1 The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
Saint Charles, MO
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Lindenwood University, a private, nonprofit, four-year school in Saint Charles, Missouri, boasts a robust online learning community. The college offers five fully online bachelor's degree programs to undergraduate students. The BA in game design prioritizes flexibility, making it an attractive option for working professionals and busy students. The game design program offers full- and part-time study options.
Throughout the program, students attend industry-relevant lectures while completing game design-specific coursework. The program also incorporates general education requirements that strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students have the option to modify the curriculum, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations.
With a bachelor's degree, graduates increase their job opportunities and earning potential. The median salary for graduates six years after their degree completion is $37,900, according to the college. Prospective learners can explore funding opportunities, eligibility requirements, and other opportunities by connecting with the Office of Financial Aid.
Lindenwood University at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 4,457
Total Online Programs: 11
Online Bachelor's Programs: 5
Admission Rate: 88%
#2 The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Baker College is a private, nonprofit, four-year college offering a variety of competitive bachelor's degree programs. The private college supports distance learners across 19 online bachelor's degree programs. The BS in game software development is an attractive option for students seeking to advance in the game design field.
Game design students can modify their coursework to suit their interests and accommodate their schedule. Learners seeking to modify their studies can work with their academic advisor. Enrollees can benefit from elective classes, minors, and other modifications.
When calculating the cost of a degree, students should note the current tuition rate of $9,720. Enrollees can access internal and external funding opportunities to defray the cost of their studies.
Baker College at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 4,691
Total Online Programs: 48
Online Bachelor's Programs: 19
Admission Rate: 73%
#3 The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
University of Baltimore
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Located in Maryland, the University of Baltimore enables online learning across seven online degree programs. Learners seeking advanced online study in game design can enroll in the school's online BS in simulation and game design program. The program prioritizes flexibility through full- and part-time study options.
Enrollees complete both foundational and advanced coursework, granting them the knowledge and skills needed to advance in the game design field. Throughout their studies, enrollees gain knowledge and skills applicable to the game design field. In consultation with their academic advisor, degree-seekers can modify their course load, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations.
A bachelor's degree connects graduates with numerous job opportunities and higher earning potential. The median salary for graduates six years after their degree completion is $45,100, according to the college. Undergraduate students can expect to pay $23,335 in tuition and fees per year. Prospective students can contact the program to learn more about admission requirements and financial aid opportunities.
University of Baltimore at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 2,202
Total Online Programs: 7
Online Bachelor's Programs: 1
Admission Rate: 78%
#4 The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
Grand Rapids, MI
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Looking to earn a flexible online degree in game design? Consider Davenport University. Of the school's online programs, 24 are available to undergraduate students. The bachelor's in computer science is a wise choice for students seeking competitive, flexible study applicable to a career in game design. The program supports flexible study for distance learners.
Throughout the program, students attend industry-relevant lectures while completing computer science-specific coursework. Students complete classes relevant to the game design field, as well as general education requirements. In consultation with their academic advisor, enrollees can customize their studies through electives, minors, and concentration areas.
A bachelor's degree enables graduates to access higher-paying jobs and more employment opportunities. The school reports a median salary of $35,100 for graduates six years after completing a bachelor's degree. Students hoping to gain admission to the computer science program should connect with the department to discuss admission requirements and application materials.
Davenport University at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 4,707
Total Online Programs: 71
Online Bachelor's Programs: 24
Admission Rate: 82%
#5 The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Individuals seeking advanced online study should consider one of Franklin University's 56 online degree programs. Of these online offerings, 32 provide an undergraduate-level education. The bachelor's in web development prioritizes flexibility, making it an attractive option for working professionals and busy students. The web development program supports learners from all walks of life through full- and part-time study options.
Throughout their coursework, students gain industry-relevant knowledge through general and advanced classes. The program curriculum prepares students for the demands of the game design field. Students can work with their academic advisor to customize the curriculum through modified courses, electives, minors, and concentrations.
The value of a bachelor's degree is clear. Many graduates increase their job opportunities and earning potential. The college boasts a median salary of $42,600 for graduates six years after completing their studies. Prospective enrollees can meet with the web development department directly to discuss admission requirements, application materials, and other relevant information.
Franklin University at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 4,809
Total Online Programs: 56
Online Bachelor's Programs: 32
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The Advantages of an Video Game Design Education
Whether students aspire to a career in art, web development, or programming, video game designers can fill positions at all levels of multimedia. While the majority of video game design jobs require a bachelor's degree, associate degree-holders may qualify for entry-level opportunities or apprenticeships in computer art and design or software development.
For video game designers pursuing advanced management roles, employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree and many years of experience or a master's degree. The following sections compare the average salaries of associate and bachelor's degree-holders, and outlines other common career paths for majors in the field.
Average Salary by Degree Level
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Video Game Design||$15.78/hr|
|Bachelor's Degree in Video Game Design||$62,000|
Source: PayScaleReturn to the top
Video Game Design Degree Salary Information
In addition to designing and developing video games, a degree in video game design can lead to a stable and lucrative job in IT. Employers tend to look for video game designers with the unique ability to merge their strong technical skills and artistic sensibilities. In any occupation, earning potential and employment opportunities vary depending on location and experience, though graduates of an online bachelor's program in video game design commonly pursue the following careers.
- Video Game Designer
- Video game designers create and develop computerized games and digital gaming graphics. Designers typically establish both the concept and playable features of a gameplay environment. Some designers focus on a specialization like rule systems or gaming environments. Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree, however all designers should possess advanced computer programming and coding skills.
- Web Developer
- Web developers design and build websites. They consider all aspects of the user experience, such as functionality, performance, and capacity for web traffic. Some web developers oversee all aspects of the job, from coding to content creation, while others specialize in areas like front- or back-end development or webmastering. These professionals demonstrate a mastery of common programming languages like HTML. Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer science.
- Multimedia Artist or Animator
- Multimedia art and animation encompasses video game design, along with 2D and 3D graphics for movies, TV, and digital media. A bachelor's degree in computer graphics or a related specialization, such as video game design, multimedia artists, and animators, can prepare graduates for positions as directors, producers, or art directors.
- Computer Programmer
- Computer programmers often specialize in areas like video game design. The primary duty of these professionals is to write and test computer code in order to improve and maintain the functionality of software apps and programs. They must hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, and master several computer languages for entry-level jobs.
- Software Developer
- Like video game designers and web developers, software developers need a combination of technical and artistic skills. These professionals create, test, and help implement computer software and apps, often working closely with computer programmers and/or multimedia artists to bring their vision to life. Software developers must hold at least a bachelor's degree and industry experience to enter the field; some employers prefer a master's degree in a computer science-related discipline.
Salary by Experience Level for Video Game Design Careers
|Video Game Designer||$51,000||$59,000||$72,000||$90,000|
Source: PayScaleReturn to the top
Choosing an Online Video Game Design Degree Program
With numerous options available for online bachelor's degrees in video game design, students can afford to be selective in their search for the right school. Prospective learners should carefully weigh each of the factors listed below, such as school size, program type, and tuition costs. For example, in-state programs often cost less than out-of-state programs for local learners, though many online programs charge a flat rate per credit for all students enrolled in a distance degree, regardless of residency. Along with cost savings, many students receive added benefits in an online program, such as shorter completion times and generous transfer policies.
- Program Cost: Most schools charge a flat rate per credit for online courses. Many online programs also offer accelerated options for full-time students, which allows distance learners to complete their degree online in less time than on campus. Students can also save on the cost of tuition by taking only the classes they need and eliminating housing and transportation fees.
- Transfer Policies: Many online degrees — especially degree-completion programs — offer generous transfer policies for students with prior credits earned for college coursework, military training or service, or life experience. Online schools may belong to a consortium of like-minded institutions or uphold articulation agreements with select colleges and universities.
- School Size and Type: Schools tend to maintain roughly the same student-teacher ratio and follow the same policies for on-campus and online classes. College-bound students should pursue the school that offers the best program to match their career goals. They should also consider how a public, private, or nonprofit college environment might affect their learning potential and social experience.
- Program Length: Generally, an online bachelor's degree in video game design takes four years to complete; however, some programs may offer a faster path to graduation. For instance, schools may hold generous transfer policies and/or accelerated options for full-time learners. Dual-degrees are also a popular option, as students can earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree in as little as four years.
- On-Campus Requirements: Students looking for a fully online program should weigh the possibility of on-campus residency requirements. Some programs take place entirely online, while others require varying levels of in-person attendance. This can mean a one-time orientation weekend, a full-semester residency course, or anything in between.
Accreditation for Online Video Game Design Degrees
Students should ensure their prospective schools receive accreditation approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These governing bodies oversee multiple agencies that award national or regional accreditation. While schools may hold either designation, regional accreditation is usually regarded as more rigorous and prestigious.
Once awarded, schools maintain institutional accreditation by adhering to the standards of the accreditation renewal process. In addition to national or regional accreditation, some schools offer programs with programmatic accreditation specific to a major or specialization. In video game design, students can look for IT programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) or the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB).
Earning programmatic accreditation through one of these agencies requires a school to meet strict eligibility requirements specific to this area of study. Generally, accrediting organizations like ABET and CSAB recognize academic degrees — not certificates — at the bachelor's and master's level.
Video Game Design Concentrations
As the most common education requirement for entry-level jobs, a bachelor's degree in video game design provides graduates with the communication, analytical-thinking, and problem-solving skills employers most desire. Moreover, a concentration lets students tailor their bachelor's of video game design online for a specialized career in the field. As explained below, many programs in game design and development, computer science, and digital media offer concentrations in video game design, while some video game design programs offer further concentrations in subjects like computer animation and interactive media design.
- Game Design/Development:
An increasingly popular concentration among computer science students, game design and development programs prepare video game designers for entry-level positions in digital media. Coursework explores game technology and computer graphics, with an emphasis in programming languages and coding.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Computer Science:
Many computer science degrees offer concentrations in video game design or game development. The core curriculum in a computer science program usually emphasizes the programming, coding, and software development skills that video game designers need in the field.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Software developer, web developer, programmer analyst
- Digital Media:
Similar to computer science, many high-level digital media programs offer concentrated majors in subjects like game design, digital animation, and computer graphics and effects. Digital media degrees provide students with the skills needed to implement their artistic vision in a digital, interactive visual environment.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Digital media artist, digital game design, graphic artist
- Computer Animation:
A concentration in computer animation focuses on the creative and technical skills necessary for careers in visual effects and new media. Graduates qualify for entry-level careers as computer animators and may also become video game designers with specialized expertise in digital/flash animation.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Video game designer, graphic designer, flash animator
- Interactive Media Design:
Concentrations in interactive media design often emphasize game design skills. Relevant coursework explores the history of the video game industry, user experience issues, and data translation. Like computer science, some high-level interactive media design programs offer further specializations in game design, game production/management, and game development.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Digital media designer, graphic designer, video game designer
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Video Game Design?
Most students can complete a 120-credit bachelor's degree — either online or on-campus — in about four years. However, this timeframe can vary based on each learner's preferences or commitments. For instance, students can finish an accelerated program in three years or less, while part-time students can take five years or more to earn their degree.
Schools often provide faster paths to graduation for students who plan to enroll full-time and hold previous college credits or experience. Students with completed college coursework, military training, and/or life experience may prefer a school with a generous credit-transfer policy. This enables students to graduate in less time and spend less on tuition costs. Additionally, schools that offer dual-degrees award two degrees in the time it takes to earn one in a traditional program.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Program
- Introduction to Interactive Media
While most courses focus on the technical and artistic aspects of game design, this course explores the history and future of interactive media from a conceptual perspective. Students explore various development and delivery methods of interactive media.
- 2D Animation
This course explores the critical role of animation in game design and development. Coursework emphasizes character development, cause-and-effect animation, and the particular effect of animation on the gameplay user experience. Students learn to apply basic animation principles to various characters and settings.
- Game Development and Algorithmic Problem Solving
Often delivered in two parts, this comprehensive course emphasizes basic-to-intermediate problem-solving and abstraction techniques for algorithmic design. Topics include object-oriented software development, game applications, and debugging methods. The course emphasizes the analytical process in terms of class relationships and object structures.
- Game Design
This course examines the entire process of game design and development, from conception to industry production. Topics explore the history of game design, along with cultural and ethical issues in the industry through interactive classroom critiques and discussions. Coursework covers both individual and team-based design methods.
- Gameplay and Prototyping
Students explore the multi-faceted prototyping process of gameplay design and development. Coursework emphasizes concept development through simulated storyboarding, pitching, and play-testing. Students also learn about the influence of market analysis and research on their prototypes and products.
Paying for Your Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Degree Program
Students planning to pursue an online bachelor's degree in video game design can fund their degrees through private, public, and personal means. In general, applicants to an online bachelor of video game design should complete a FAFSA to take advantage of federal funding opportunities such as scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study. Once an applicant has maximized public aid dollars, they should research other major sources of funding from professional organizations, companies, and private foundations.
Scholarships for Accounting Students
ESA Foundation Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The Entertainment Software Association Foundation offers 15-30 scholarships to women and minority students who hold a GPA of 2.75 or above and plan to pursue careers in computer and video game arts. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens.
WomenIn Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) Foundation initiated this fund to provide support for female students or gaming professionals early in their careers. The scholarship includes a mentoring program in addition to funds for pursuing a bachelor of video game design online.
Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: Applicants to this fund must plan to pursue careers in the development of interactive entertainment. Possible career paths for applicants to this scholarship program include engineering, game design, art, programming, and music composition.
Mark Beaumont Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: The AIAS welcomes applications from learners who plan to pursue careers in the business of interactive entertainment, including executive leadership, public relations, law, marketing, and business development. Applicants need a minimum cumulative 3.3 GPA.
League of Legends Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Riot Scholastic Association of America, which governs the College League of Legends, offers a variety of scholarships for gamers who climb the ranks of League of Legends and show sportsmanlike conduct along with an acceptable high school GPA.
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