A video game design degree prepares students for careers as animators, artists, and game designers.
If you're interested in video game design, online classes might be a good fit. Students gain skills in areas like character animation, 3D animation and design, and programming. Graduates enjoy lucrative job opportunities; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, multimedia artists and animators earn a median salary of $75,270 per year, with 4% projected job growth between 2019 and 2029.
Taking video game design classes online allows students to balance their studies with work and family obligations. This guide ranks the best online video game design programs to help students find the right program for their needs.
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Degree Programs
Founded in 1978, SCAD now offers more than 40 degrees and 75 minors and certificate programs across three campuses and online. The private, nonprofit institution serves more than 15,000 students annually.
The completely online bachelor of arts in digital media degree through SCAD offers students two tracks from which to choose: concentration in game development and concentration in interactive design. Both tracks require 180 quarter-hour credits for completion. Admission requirements include an official high school diploma, SAT or ACT scores, and evidence of English proficiency.
Franklin was founded in 1902 as the School of Commerce with the mission to make college education more accessible. Today, the scope of that mission has evolved to focus on serving nontraditional students, including adult learners, high school graduates, military service members, and international students.
Franklin offers a 120-credit, online bachelor of science in interactive media design degree designed around busy lives. Students are eligible to transfer up to 94 credits but must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA with a 2.25 GPA in major areas. Admission requirements include official high school transcripts or equivalent and proof of English proficiency.
Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
What is a Bachelor's in Game Design Degree?
Though they come in several flavors, including Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Fine Arts, all Bachelor's in Game Design degrees prepare students to pursue careers in professional video game design. Typically, these programs utilize a somewhat interdisciplinary approach, incorporating a blend of art theory and training, mythology and storytelling, and technical skill and programming to develop a well-rounded foundation of knowledge. All programs incorporate studio work, many programs incorporate a portfolio or project component, and some incorporate a field-experience component.
How Long Does it Take to Complete an Online Bachelor’s in Game Design Degree Program?
Like most bachelor's degree programs, an online Bachelor's in Game Design program typically requires four years for completion. However, some universities offer accelerated or degree completion programs that may be completed in as few as two years.
What Are the Video Game Designer Education Requirements?
While plenty of different video game design careers exist, they all have in common the basic prerequisite of a Bachelor's degree in Game Design. Depending on their specific interests and talents, students may pursue programs that utilize different focuses, to ensure that they may enter their desired career after graduation.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Game Design Degree?
A Bachelor's in Game Design degree prepares students to pursue a variety of general or niche careers in the game design field. With this degree, graduates may enter careers in the conceptual, artistic development of games, or the technical, nuts-and-bolts aspects of game design. Individuals may find employment at massive multinational gaming companies, small independent publishers, or even start their own game design firm.
Video Game Design Careers
Individuals with a Bachelor's in Game Design degree can pursue a wide variety of careers in the field, including the following:
- 3D Modeler
- Art Director
- Audio Programmer
- Concept Artist
- Creative Director
- Engine Programmer
- Environment Designer
- Game Artist
- Game Designer
- Game Programmer
- Graphics Director
- Interactive Designer
- Level Designer
- Lighting Artist
- Mechanics Designer
- Mobile User Interface Designer
- Mobile/Game App Designer
- Technical Artist
- UI/UX Designer
- Video Game Designer
- Web & Social Media Developer
What Are Video Game Design Salaries Like?
Specific salaries for video game design professions depend on place of employment, experience, specific job responsibilities, and other factors. As of 2019, according to PayScale.com, video game designers in the US currently see an average annual salary of $64,129. Entry-level video game designers can expect a salary around the average of $72,721, while experienced video game designers can expect a salary around the average of $89,485.
What is the Video Game Designer Job Outlook Like?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developer jobs, including video game design, are projected to grow 21% between 2018 and 2028. This growth is much faster than average, providing plenty of new jobs for talented game designers.
Video Game Designer Professional Organizations
With 90 chapters worldwide, the IGDA maintains its mission of advancing the careers of its members through a commitment to four key principles: advocacy, networking and community, professional development, and international reach. Membership includes benefits such as access to professional resources and publications, access to events and conventions, and a large member network.
The ESA dedicates its activities to serving the needs of businesses, publishers, and individuals in the industry. Moreover, through the ESA Foundation, the ESA provides scholarships for video game design students. Membership includes benefits such as access to resources and publications, access to conventions and events, legal resources, and a large member network.
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