The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
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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
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The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
A private liberal arts university located in Saint Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University offers an online bachelor of arts degree in game design. The program introduces students to the techniques of game design and production, including storytelling and character development. Lindenwood delivers online courses asynchronously in eight- to 16-week sessions. Students can also opt for a hybrid or blended learning experience, combining online courses with on-campus ones.
Program graduates can pursue careers as developers, programmers, visual graphics designers, or animators at gaming companies or related entertainment technology organizations.
Lindenwood's bachelor of arts in game design requires 54 major credits, plus general education requirements. It takes roughly four years to complete. The curriculum covers design, programming logic, visual storytelling, 3D graphics, game development, scripting, audio, game testing, 3D animation, and related topics. Students also engage in a variety of project- and portfolio-based courses to build professional reels or samples of their games and gaming graphics.
These courses culminate in an art and design capstone, during which students with senior standing complete a game design project from start to finish and present it according to industry standards.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and standardized test scores. Lindenwood accepts transfer credits from several community colleges, including East Central College, Jefferson College, Lewis and Clark College, and St. Charles Community College. These credits can apply to Lindenwood’s general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree.
Baker College, a private vocational college with eight campuses in Michigan, offers an online bachelor of science in game software design for students who aspire to create video games across various formats and platforms, including gaming consoles, computers, and mobile devices. The program trains students to develop video games from conception and design to release. This degree prepares graduates to work for game production companies as software developers.
Baker's online bachelor's degree in game software design requires 120 credit hours and takes four years to complete. The major curriculum includes courses such as computer operating systems and maintenance, database management and design, systems development methods, principles of computer science, introduction to programming, Java programming language, game design and analysis, and data structures and algorithms.
Students must complete a senior design project, during which they program a complete game using the cumulative skills they have learned through their coursework. Students must also complete two work experience courses, comprising 150 hours of hands-on learning in an industry environment across at least 10 weeks.
Program applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Baker does not require ACT or SAT scores as a criteria of admission, but it does use them for assessment and placement purposes. Baker participates in the Michigan Transfer Agreement, which simplifies credit transfers from other institutions in Michigan. The college may review other equivalencies on a case-by-case basis.
Part of the University System of Maryland, the University of Baltimore serves undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. UB offers an online bachelor’s in simulation and game design for students interested in computer science, information technology, visual graphics, or video games. The program trains students in applied game design theory, computer programming, 3D modeling and animation, usability design, and the application of simulation to non-entertainment fields.
UB’s bachelor’s in simulation and game design program requires 92 credits and takes four years to complete. Core courses cover topics such as game design, internet technologies, computer graphics, game scripting, 3D graphics, programming for interactive design, level design, and the business of game development. All students must complete a game development project in their senior year as a capstone.
Students may specialize in one of two tracks: technical art or coding and development. The technical art track focuses on developing 3D modeling and animation skills, as well as visual artistic talent. The coding and development track focuses on the scripting, logic, and coding skills necessary to transform ideas into functional simulations.
Applicants must have a high school diploma and demonstrate adequate SAT or ACT scores. UB accepts transfer students and evaluates course equivalency based on course content and grades. The university accepts up to 90 credits from other institutions. Students may qualify for scholarships based on their GPA.
With its main campus located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport University is a private school that provides undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates in business, technology, and the health professions. The university offers an online bachelor’s in computer science with a specialty in gaming and simulation for students interested in video game design. The program emphasizes game theory, design, 2D and 3D modeling, and simulation.
DU’s computer science degree with a specialization in gaming and simulation requires 124 credits and takes four years to complete. Foundations of computer science courses include database design, introduction to programming, discrete structures, data communications and networks, parallel and distributed systems, operating systems, and data structures and algorithms.
The gaming and simulation specialty requires coursework in 2D game development, 3D game development, modeling and simulation, and collaborative game development. Students must complete a capstone course in their senior year, during which they demonstrate their accumulated knowledge and skills through a project relevant to their area of specialization.
Students can transfer up to 90 credits from a previous institution to a DU bachelor’s degree. The university maintains partnerships with several community colleges, including Delta College, Grand Rapids Community College, Henry Ford College, Lansing Community College, and Northwestern Michigan College. The registrar’s office evaluates course equivalencies on a case-by-case basis.
Franklin University, a private university based in Columbus, Ohio, features 24 other locations throughout the Midwest. The university offers an online bachelor of science in interactive media for those interested in developing games or mobile apps. The program builds on a project-based curriculum, providing students with the opportunity to create professional portfolios. Graduates qualify to pursue technical, artistic, or management careers in developing interactive entertainment.
Franklin's bachelor's degree in interactive media requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Major core courses include human-computer interaction, advanced graphic design, digital media design, interactive media for training and instruction, interactive media for entertainment, and interactive media for advertising. During a hands-on practicum, the class acts as a design firm, and learners complete interactive media projects for clients. The curriculum culminates in a capstone course, which challenges students to take on management roles and present their cumulative professional portfolios.
Program applicants must have a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED certificate. Franklin does not require SAT and ACT scores for admission to this program. However, students without any previous college coursework often need to take placement tests for writing, English, and math. Franklin accepts transfer students and evaluates credit equivalencies at every level, whether students have no college experience, some college credit, or an associate degree.
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a private evangelical Christian university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees both on campus and online. The university offers an online bachelor of science in information technology with a specialization in gaming design. This program equips students with the knowledge and skills to work in the video game and digital entertainment industry. Students learn a combination of graphic design and technical programming skills. Graduates may pursue careers as creative directors, mobile interface designers, software programmers, or video game developers.
Liberty's online bachelor’s program in gaming design requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Major courses include object-oriented programming, web architecture and development, database management systems, business data communication systems, integrative programming and technologies, human-computer interaction, graphic design, digital imaging, 3D graphics, and C# programming. Students may complete internships for course credit in place of the C# programming requirement.
Program applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent with a minimum 2.0 GPA and good academic standing. Transfer students may receive credit for prior college credit exams, certificate programs, military training, and other formal and informal learning experiences.
Liberty maintains an agreement with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Graduates from VCCS associate programs with a minimum 2.0 GPA can obtain guaranteed admission to Liberty and transfer their credits into a bachelor’s program, according to established course equivalencies.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, the Savannah College of Art and Design is a private nonprofit art school that serves students in the fine arts and digital arts. The university offers an online bachelor of fine arts in interactive design and game development for students interested in working in the gaming industry or digital entertainment. Many students choose to pursue double majors or minors in similar fields to expand their employment options after graduation.
Students often aim for careers in animation, motion media design, visual effects, or television production. Graduates qualify to become level designers, texture artists, environment artists, game designers, or user experience designers.
SCAD’s online BFA in interactive design and game development requires 180 credits and takes roughly four years to complete. Foundation courses focus on drawing and composition in a studio art format. Major courses cover topics such as digital design aesthetics, core programming principles, game art and design, user-centered design, information architecture, and physical computing. Other subjects include interactive design, game development, portfolio, and post-production. Learners may also choose to receive course credit for internships with video game or design companies.
Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent, plus qualifying scores on the ACT or SAT. SCAD accepts transfer students and evaluates their transcripts to see how many credits they can apply to a SCAD degree. In addition to previous college credit and advanced placement exams, the institution also accepts international equivalencies including British A-levels and AS-levels, Carribean Advanced Proficiency Exam, Hong Kong A-levels and AS-levels, and military training.
Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University is a fast-growing private university with an expanding selection of online programs. The online bachelor of arts in game art and development teaches students the principles of video game design, industry design tools, and software. Graduates may pursue careers as lead storytellers, animators, visual designers, or modelers in the video game or digital entertainment industries. Learners can apply these same skills to educational technology or film, as well.
SNHU’s BA in game art and development requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Core courses include digital sculpting, 3D modeling and animation, interactive animation, digital imaging, environment design, and 3D art and design. The curriculum culminates in a capstone, during which students synthesize their knowledge and skills to complete a game design project. Graduates are familiar with Autodesk Entertainment software, such as Maya and Motionbuilder, and understand how to utilize these tools to produce digital games.
Program applicants must hold a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED certificate. SNHU does not require SAT or ACT scores for admission. The school also does not impose GPA requirements for undergraduate admission, though GPA may affect scholarship opportunities and provisional coursework requirements. The university conducts admissions on a rolling basis. SNHU accepts up to 45 transfer credits toward an associate degree and up to 90 credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
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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