Game design is an exciting and ever evolving part of the creative entertainment industry. Game design is a large field, that combines skills from the fields of computer programming, creative writing, and graphic design.
What kind of Game Design degree should you get?
The creative and collaborative field of game design requires a cutting edge program of study, and there are several types of different degrees programs available.
More than ever, the cost of higher education plays a role in determining which degree to pursue. See our ranking of the Best Online Schools to find the best degree at the very best value.
What can you do with a degree in Game Design?
In essence, a degree in game design gives you the skills to bring your imagination and vision to life by designing video game stories, characters, and gameplay. Video game designing requires great communication.
Game designers usually work as part of a creative team to create new video games. Then they need to collaborate with computer programmers to create the scripting language a game.
A degree in game design will prepare you for many interesting careers: 2D game programmer, 3D animator, animation engineer, art director, audio programmer, and character artist, to name a few.
What are the requirements for a degree in Game Design?
Reputable game design degree programs consistently require foundation courses such as communication, graphic design, and computer programming. Foundational courses are followed by core classes such as project management, integrated video design and technology, game prototyping and level design.
High quality degree programs then require game design electives, and portfolio or capstone project, in the third or fourth year of the program.
What are the best online bachelor’s in Game Design programs?
Using the nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics, as well as university and colleges’ websites, College Choice has created a definitive ranking of the nation’s ten best online game design bachelor’s programs. Factors for determining this ranking include: academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates from online psychology programs.
Starting with programs with the most renowned academic reputation, the list was narrowed down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction. Programs with the most economical accessibility were and the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) were added to arrive at a list marked by extensive research and data compilation.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $23,304
Founded in 1887, Cogswell College is a private institution that has a reputation for hands-on, interdisciplinary approach in specialized technical courses. Located in San Jose, California, the close-knit campus is home to just under 700 students. If project-based courses and team problem solving are your speed, Cogswell will be a perfect fit for you.
Earn a B.A. in Game Design Art from Cogswell’s 100% online degree program. Classes simulate the way an actual game development team work together. Courses are led by expert mentor instructors who have real-world industry experience. Coursework is collaborative and immersive. Sample courses include:
- Character rigging
- Game usability
- Intro to scripting: python
Graduate with a strong portfolio and career opportunities. Cogswell alumni are working at companies such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and Electronic Arts. Want to take your gaming degree on the more technical side? Cogswell also offers a B.S. in Game Design Engineering!
Academy of Art University
College Choice Score: 96.89
Average Net Price: $16,245
In the heart of sunny and vibrant San Francisco is where you’ll find the Academy of Art University. Founded in 1929, Academy of Art University is a private institution known for cultivating artistic professionals. Home to just over 8,000 students, AAU offers a range of excellent undergraduate and professional degree and certificate programs in a variety of visual arts programs.
The School of Game Development at the Academy of Art University is preparing students for a career in the cutting-edge video game industry. Two degree tracks are offered: B.S. in Game Development and B.S. in Game Programming. Within each degree track there are several choices for specialization. Sample courses include:
- 3D character modeling
- Environment concept art
- UI/UX design
Academy of Art University offers the ultimate flexible learning experience. Their admissions process allows students to craft their own online education program! You can pursue degree tracks at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels all custom designed online. Graduates go on to careers as 3D Character Modelers, 3D Environment Modelers, and Character Concept Artists.
College Choice Score: 96.27
Average Net Price: $24,794
Liberty University is a Christian institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Founded in 1971, Liberty’s sprawling 7,000 acre campus is home to more than 47,000 students. Liberty is known for quality distance learning. They offer 280 online degree programs! Their athletic teams, the Liberty Flames, compete in the Big South Conference.
In Liberty University’s Gaming Design program participants will earn a Bachelor of Science, 100% online. The degree program emphasizes the technical skills necessary for success in the video game industry. The program takes pride in providing the cutting edge tools necessary to become proficient in design and imaging. Sample courses include:
- Graphic design
- Digital imaging
- Interactive game development
Already have previous college experience or credits? At Liberty you can transfer in up to 90 credits to the 120 credit Gaming Design program. The program also offers internship opportunities. Enrollment opportunities are offered multiple times a year, so you can get started asap!
Savannah College of Art and Design
College Choice Score: 95.96
Average Net Price: $40,856
Looking for a creative and inspiring atmosphere? In the cultural hub of Savannah, Georgia, is the Savannah College of Art and Design. Founded in 1978, SCAD is a private institution that has a reputation for being a leader in arts education. SCAD offers more than 100 academic degree programs in 43 majors. The beautiful campus is home to over 10,000 students.
SCAD’s accredited Interactive Design and Game Development degrees are offered on campus and 100% online through distance learning. Prospective students can choose to pursue a BS or BFA degree track. Program includes opportunities for participation in professional conferences and chances to collaborate with industry leaders. Sample courses include:
- Concept art
- Interactive game design
- Character technical direction
SCAD offers many related minors such as Storyboarding, Technical direction, and Animation to help students specialize and become more marketable. Get an education from a competitive and renowned program. SCAD students on the Interactive Design and Game Development Team regularly take accolades in industry competitions.
College Choice Score: 93.70
Average Net Price: $12,554
Located in Flint, Michigan, Baker College is a small rural community that is home to just 1,144 students. If you’re looking for a family-style college community, Baker might be a great fit for you. Ranked #46 in Regional Universities Midwest, Baker is a private institution that was founded in 1858.
At Baker College, the College of Information Technology offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Game Software Development. The program specializes in teaching the skills you’ll need to develop, design, and test games across a wide number of formats and platforms. The program is immersive, and students gain the core knowledge of software engineering and simulation development. Sample courses include:
- Advanced Java Programming
- Visual BASIC
- Programming for Mobile Devices
Baker is also ranked #71 in Best Value Schools. You can pursue a high quality education and a great price. The student-faculty ratio at Baker University is 13:1, ensuring that students get all the attention in instruction that they need. Excellent student advising will help keep you on track towards meeting your goals.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division
College Choice Score: 92.14
Average Net Price: $19,475
Opened in 2000, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is a newer extension of The Art Institutes system of schools, founded 1921. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is committed to providing the convenience and flexibility of a fully online learning environment. They offer a diverse range of programs that are perfect for those wanting to start entry-level careers.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Art & Design. The program is completed 100% through distance learning over 15 quarters. The 180 credit hour degree track includes courses that develop games from concept to final presentation:
- Game Art & Design
- Texture Mapping
- 3D Animation
Want to engage and collaborate with other students? The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division has an active Student Chapter of the International Game Developers Association with many accolades. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division faculty are known for offering exceptional mentoring and internship opportunities for real-world experience.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
College Choice Score: 91.35
Average Net Price: $23,693
Founded in 1963, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is located in Lakewood, Colorado. The tight-knit private institution is home to just 900 students. RMCAD is known for their vibrant student life, offering a variety of creative arts programs, and giving financial aid to most students.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Game Art. This degree track is perfect for those who want to focus on the artistic side of game design. To provide online Game Art students with a holistic education, RMCAD has designed an online curriculum that expertly merges artistic and technical courses. Sample courses include:
- Level design
- Script writing
- Light and texture
At Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, the online instructors are game design professionals who can help you cultivate the essential technical skills to bring your creations to life. Applications are taken in winter to enroll for Spring semester. The program can be completed 100% online and is perfect for those needing flexibility in their educational experience.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 90.92
Average Net Price: $34,984
The private institution of Southern New Hampshire University is located in Manchester, New Hampshire. Founded in 1932, SNHU is now known for offering classes on evening and weekend schedules, online programs, and courses that combine online and classroom learning. In addition to flexible scheduling, students are drawn to the more than 100 degree program options. It’s no wonder Southern New Hampshire University ties for #86 in Regional Universities North!
At Southern New Hampshire University you can major in Game Art and Development, earning a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts completely online! This special degree track hones in on game art, and is perfect for those who wish to build a portfolio of professional front-end game designs. You can also work at your own pace and complete the degree program over six 8-week terms per year. Sample courses include:
- Interactive animation
- Digital sculpting
- 3D art and design
Need to get a great value and education? SNHU’s online degree tuition rates are among the lowest in the nation! Graduates of the program go on to careers as Lead artists, Lead storytellers, Modelers, and Animators. SNHU even has a nationwide network of alumni for internship and career opportunities.
Full Sail University
College Choice Score: 88.58
Average Net Price: $27,840
Does your passion lie in the world of entertainment, media, arts, and technology? Check out Full Sail University, located in Winter Park, Florida. They are known for offering an immersive, fast-paced learning method that simulates the real life work environment of today’s rapidly changing industries. If project based learning and collaboration is your style, Full Sail University could be a fantastic fit for you.
Earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Game Design, 100% online, from Full Sail University. The program covers key industry concepts ranging from aesthetics and immersion to usability and game economics. The program is modeled to be like learning and working in a game studio environment. Sample courses include
- World building
The online Bachelor’s of Science in Game Design takes 29 months to complete. Full Sail’s career development advisors will be able to guide and support you throughout your game design career path. Seeking financial aid? Qualified online students can receive up to $20,000 with the Momentum Scholarship!
College Choice Score: 85.43
Average Net Price: $27,538
Located in the buckeye state, Columbus, Ohio is Franklin University’s home base. Franklin University is known for offering flexible, quality distance learning programs. Through three colleges: College of Arts, Sciences, and Technology, Ross College of Business, and College of Health and Public administration, Franklin has a wide range of degree programs to choose from. Affordable tuition and convenience also make FU an attractive option for higher education.
A bachelor’s degree with a major in Interactive Media Design from Franklin University will prepare you for the world of video game design. This degree track is specifically designed for transfer students who have already taken courses such as interactive media, 3D graphics, or visual communication. The accelerated degree program focuses on project-based instruction, and applying foundational technical skills within high-growth career niches. Sample courses include:
- Graphic design
- Web design
There is practicum requirement to the Interactive Media Design program. At the end of the game and interactive media design major students will have produced a professional portfolio of work created for actual clients. Want to be career ready? Franklin is focused on collaborative and problem solving learning environments that simulate the real world work place.