Global revenue for video games in was estimated at around $109 billion. The market for video games has grown exponentially over the past decade with large influxes of new gamers and gaming technologies. To keep the growth going, companies need new graduates from strong programs like the 15 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Game Design.
Game Design is an academic field concerned with the technical and creative components required to create multimedia games such as video games. Students must be familiar with technical aspects such as mathematics and computer science. Most engines and processes that make up video games operate using computer programming languages such as Java or C++.
But in addition to the technical aspects, students must also be able to do things like create characters and storyboards. They are not simply bringing someone else’s world to light, but instead they are creating their own world and then building it from the ground up. This combination of hard and soft skills make game designers highly sought after on the job market after graduation.
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How Much Money Can I Earn Working in Game Design?
Game Design is lucrative and highly-demanded profession, especially as technology becomes a more common and popular part of our culture. The median salary for a Multimedia Artist or Animator is over $70,000 per year according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics. There is also expected to be an 8 percent expansion in the job market over the next ten years, which means 6,200 new jobs!
The technical training that game designers receive can also lead to a career in software development. Software Developers earn a median salary of more than $100,000 per year. They are also expected to see 24 percent growth in their job market, or 302,000 new jobs over the coming decade.
Why Choose An Affordable Online Game Design Degree?
Online degree programs allow students a tremendous amount of flexibility in both their class schedule and how their program is structured overall. Students can access courses whenever they want and complete work at their own paces. Certain programs even allow students to move more slowly or quickly through a series of courses based on their level of comfort with the material.Online programs can often give credit for life experiences or previous experience with mathematics or computer science. This allows students to complete the programs more quickly and to showcase their diverse knowledge base to future employers. It is also easy for students to become part-time students if they wish to maintain a full-time job or raise a family during their course of study.
What are the Most Affordable Online Game Design Degrees?
Our data is pulled from trusted sources including:
U.S. News and World Report
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Official college/university websites
The schools listed here offer flexible, quality education at the most affordable rates. These degrees are organized by the average price it will cost you to earn the whole degree, fees and financial aid included. Whatever your goals in the literacy field, these programs can help you achieve them without breaking the bank.
Middle Georgia State University is a public four year university located in Macon, Georgia. Middle Georgia State was created through a merger of several previously existing academic institutions. It took on its current name in 2015 and now has roughly 7,800 students. It has a total of five campuses located in central Georgia and also offers online programs.
Middle Georgia State offers an online Bachelor’s in Information Technology, which can include a concentration in Integrated Digital Media and Gaming Design. Courses from this concentration include:
Digital Media Studio
The IT degree program finishes with a Senior Capstone project and course. The Game Design emphasis includes 21 hours of coursework, which is in addition to the 21 core credits of IT upper level coursework.
Students may earn credit for prior learning, which can include life experiences such as the military, work experience, or community work. Students may take CLEP and DSST exams to test out of course and credit requirements and lower their completion time for the degree. Other emphases in the IT program include options such as Cyber Security and Software Engineering, along with three additional options beyond gaming.
California State University-Monterey Bay is a public university located in Marina and Seaside, California. The school was founded in 1994 and offers 23 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs. It has 7,300 students, around 6,700 of whom are undergraduate students. The university’s endowment is $22 million and the school’s name is often shortened to the initialism CSUMB.
CSUMB offers an Online Degree Completion program for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. The program takes only 24 months to complete and is intended for students who are transfer ready from a community college or who already possess a bachelor’s degree in a field other than computer science. Courses from the program include:
Multimedia Design and Programming
Students take one course at a time in eight-week long intervals. The program includes 11 courses and includes two small breaks in-between summer & fall and then between fall & spring.
Students who already possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-CS field will be required to complete CS prerequisites before beginning the program. The program utilizes a cohort structure that is limited to 25-35 students per cohort, which allows for personalized guidance and support for each student.
Baker College is a private college located throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan. The school was founded in 1911 as Baker Business University. It now has 14 physical campuses in Michigan and also offers degrees online. The original location of the school was Flint, Michigan. Baker College operates as a non-profit corporation, with each campus operating as its own business entity.
Baker College offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Software Development that includes 90 hours of major course credits out of the 120 total credits required for the degree. Major coursework includes:
Programming for Mobile Devices
Introduction to Computer Applications
Systems Development Methods
Before they graduate, students in the program go through the entire process of game development, which gives them hands-on experience before pursuing a career in the industry.
As part of the general education requirements, students are required to take a course in either general psychology or human relations. Baker College also offers a Master of Science in Information Technology program for students who wish to continue their IT education at Baker. Baker College does not require either ACT or SAT scores for consideration for admission.
Lindenwood was founded in 1827 as the Lindenwood School for Girls. Lindenwood is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. It has nine schools and colleges that offers more than 120 majors to undergraduate and graduate students. The student population is around 8,700, around 6,000 of whom are undergraduates.
Lindenwood offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Game Design. Students in the program focus on practicing their game development skills through project and portfolio work in their final two years of study. Preliminary courses in the program include:
The last few semesters then focus on the student’s final game project, which will be completed as a part of their graduation requirements. Students also complete a Game Design internship.
Lindenwood has a Master of Arts in Game Design program for students who wish to pursue graduate study in game design. The admissions process for online degree programs is uniquely based on the needs of the student, including application procedures for online specific or working adult applicants.
The University of Advancing Technology is a university located in Tempe, Arizona. UAT was founded in 1983 and offers Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree programs. It has approximately 1,000 total students, most of whom are undergraduates. There is a student exchange program with De Montfort University in the United Kingdom.
The University of Advancing Technologies offers a Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation. The 120-credit hour program includes 36 credit hours of major coursework. The Game Art and Animation major includes courses such as:
Game Art and Animation Fundamentals
Modeling Characters and Vehicles
Environmental and FX Animation
Students complete an internship and a portfolio as a part of their graduation requirements.
General Education requirements for UAT include introductory and intermediate courses in Japanese language, as well as basic levels of calculus. There are also course offerings for Production Studio time, where students are able to practice the skills they are learning in their major courses. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to graduate from the program.
Lewis University is a private university located in Romeoville, Illinois. It is affiliated with the Lasallian School of the Roman Catholic Church. Lewis has 235 full-time academic staff members and around 6,700 total students. It was founded in 1932 as the Holy Name Technical School and achieved full university status in 1973.
Lewis University offers an online Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Game and Simulation Programming. In the program students learn to replicate real-world processes to create high performing gaming environments. They achieve this through classes such as:
Encryption and Authentication Systems
Students may choose between a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree plan, which will determine their overall credit requirements and major credit requirements.
The Lewis Computer Science Bachelor’s program offers six other concentrations beyond gaming: Cyber Security, Software Engineering, Data Science, Digital Forensics, Networking, and Computational Theory. Graduates from the Computer Science, Information Security, or Data Science concentration are eligible to earn a Master’s Degree in one year through Lewis’s 4+1 program.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is a non-profit educational institution located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AIP was founded in 1921 and has a current student population of around 6,200. The institute an online division, which operates semi-independently from the Art Institute itself. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has an online Bachelor of Science in Game Art & Design program. The program is intended to last 12 quarters and is comprised of 180 quarter credit hours. Sample courses from the program include:
Game Art & Design
Students complete the program through an internship and the completion of a final portfolio. These help to both showcase and polish the professional skills of students ready to enter the gaming industry.
Applicants to the program submit a resume, personal statement, and high school transcripts (or GED equivalent). Each applicant arranges an interview with the admission department, which will help them to better understand an applicant’s unique interest in AIP and the program itself.
The University of Baltimore is a public university located in Baltimore, Maryland. The university began as a junior college in 1937, before eventually becoming a part of the State University System of Maryland in 1988. It now has around 3,000 undergraduate students and 1,800 postgraduate students, as well as 159 academic staff members.
The University of Baltimore offers an online Bachelor of Science program in Simulation and Game Design. Students choose an area of specialization to guide their elective choices after completing core coursework. Sample coursework from the program includes:
Applied Game Design Theory
3D Modeling and Animation
Design of Multiplayer Games
Students complete the program through a Game Development Project, which showcases both their general knowledge in the field and their specialized knowledge through their emphasis.
Options for areas of specialization in the program include Technical Art and Coding & Development. Students complete Dual Capstone Seminars to help support them as they complete their final project and to test and build further games and simulations for their final portfolio. Baltimore is home to the UB GameLab, which is an educational research facility equipped with multiple gaming technologies.
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is a for-profit school located in Lakewood, Colorado. The school was founded in 1963 and as of 2010 is an affiliate of the for-profit Full Sail University. It has approximately 1,000 undergraduate students and 73 full-time academic staff members. It has been restructuring the past few years to focus more on their online offerings and to align their on-campus courses with the online programs.
Rocky Mountain offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art program. The degree requires a total of 123 credit-hours of study. Students pursue coursework covering topics such as:
Character Rigging + Animation
Business Ethics + Copyright
Credits required for the degree are divided between general education, art history, liberal arts, major core, and studio elective credits.
Graduates from the program have gone on to careers as level designers, concept artists, animators, lighting artists, and 3D modelers. RMCAD hosts gaming arts events on-campus and online throughout the semester to help support and grow the community created by its programs.
Cogswell College is a private for-profit college located in San Jose, California. Cogswell was originally a high school founded in 1887, before becoming a technical college in 1930. Cogswell has been moved a number of times throughout its history, from Cupertino to Sunnyvale to its current location in San Jose. They have 17 full-time academic staff members and 483 full-time undergraduate students.
Cogswell College offers an online Bachelor’s of Arts in Game Art Design. Students complete academic coursework in addition to Game Studio hours centered around the student’s person design work. The program includes courses such as:
Digital Imaging Concepts
Level Design I/II
Game Design I/II
Students are encouraged to pursue internship opportunities during their course of study to help develop their professional skills and experience.
Students who do not pass the relevant placement test will be required to take remedial courses in Intermediate Algebra and Grammar & Composition. For admission to the program students must submit official school transcripts, a letter of recommendation, and a portfolio of original work. Applicants also complete an interview with an admissions advisor.
Franklin University is a private university located in Columbus, Ohio. Franklin was founded in 1902 with a focus on meeting the needs of adult students. It was founded as the YMCA School of Commerce and eventually received university status in 1933. Franklin partners with more than 200 community colleges across the country to help bridge the transition from community college to full university.
Franklin offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in Interactive Media Design program. The curriculum of the program is designed to be project-based, allowing graduates to showcase original work within their professional portfolio. Major area courses cover topics including:
Digital Media Design
Interactive Media for Training & Instruction
Communication in Groups and Teams
Students complete the degree program with Interactive Media Design Practicum and Interactive Media Design Capstone courses. These courses center around creative projects that will both challenge and showcase the skills developed by students throughout their course of study.
Students entering the program may receive up to 24 hours of technical credit to put towards their degree completion. Students transferring fewer than 24 hours of credit towards their degree must show proof of graduation from high school or a GED equivalent.
Liberty University is a Christian university – the largest private non-profit university in the United States. Students are required to take biblical courses as a part of any degree program, including three introductory biblical courses during the first year of undergraduate study. Including online students, Liberty has a student population of more than 100,000.
Liberty offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program, which includes an option for a specialty in Gaming and Simulation. The Gaming and Simulation specialty requires the following courses:
2D Game Development
3D Game Development
Introduction to Modeling and Simulation
Collaborative Game Development
In addition to the specialty courses, students complete courses in Foundations of Excellence, Foundations of Computer Science, and Major core courses.
The other two available specialties for the BS in Computer Science program are Artificial Intelligence and Computer Architecture and Algorithms. Students also have the opportunity to complete a Mathematics minor if they wish to develop a deeper and broader background in the math behind gaming. The mathematics minor includes courses in calculus and differential equations.
The Academy of Art University is a private for-profit art school located in San Francisco, California. The school has previously been known as the Academy of Art College and the Academy of Advertising Art. It was founded in 1929 and has a student population of 11,600 students, including just over 4,000 graduate students.
The Academy of Art University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Game Programming degree. This program requires 120 credit hours of study, with courses such as:
Programming Game Engines
Programming for Games 1/2/3
AAA Game Engine Architecture
In addition to the completion of their major coursework, students also complete an internship and give a presentation on the games portfolio that they have put together throughout their course of study.
The Academy of Art program does not require much general education coursework beyond an English composition course and around one liberal arts course per semester. This program emphasizes the skills/experience that it gives students with Animation VFX, Game Programming, Systems Programming, and Tools Programming.
DePaul University is a private university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is affiliated with the Vincentian School of the Roman Catholic Church. DePaul has around 15,000 undergraduate and 7,700 postgraduate students. They employ 950 full-time academic staff members and have an endowment of $515 million. In addition to their academics, they also have celebrated athletic teams, including their men’s basketball program.
DePaul University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science program, which can include a Game Systems concentration. It offers a wide variety of courses, such as:
Object-Oriented Game Development
Applied 3D Geometry
Game Engine Programming II
The BS degree in Computer Science includes two Capstone courses, one each during the sophomore and senior years of study. In these courses, students work together on substantial projects, allowing them to experience the collaborative environment they will find in professional game development settings.
This degree is available online for transfer students who are bringing in credit from a two-year college study. In addition to the Games Systems concentration, DePaul also offers a Software Development concentration option. DePaul has an on-campus center called Studio X, which is used to help foster and support research “at the interface between computing and humanities.”
Southern New Hampshire University is a private university located in Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. The school opened in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science. It achieved university status in 2001 and now offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs. SNHU has 159 full-time academic staff members and more than 70,000 students, including online programs.
SNHU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development degree program. A typical degree completion plan for a student in this program could include courses like:
Scripting for Games
Digital Game Development
Graphics and Layout in Print Media
Students complete their course of study with a Game Programming Capstone, which focuses on showcasing tangible competencies developed during the program.
Additional courses from the program course of study include Graphics Game Engine, Interactive Animation, and 3-D Modeling & Animation. U.S. Service Members, both full and part-time, and spouses of those on active duty receive discounted tuition rates. Students can take Pathways to Math Success assessments that allow them to earn credits for what they already know and to save money on tuition.
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