Most Affordable Online Game Design Degrees

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Why Get a Degree in Game Design?

Game designers work in teams to create concepts and design visuals for video games and mobile games. The gaming industry hires professionals who specialize in areas like game storytelling, animation, graphic design, and programming.

In the fast-paced world of gaming, professionals must bring several key skills to their roles. Game designers think creatively and develop innovative solutions to problems. Game design blends art and technology, so game designers must bring strong artistic and technical skills to their role. Most career paths require a bachelor’s degree and training in game design.

Earning an online game design degree prepares graduates for careers in many areas of the gaming industry, from the designers who develop games to the programmers who turn a concept into code. The gaming industry also offers opportunities for artists who specialize in modeling, animation, and concept art.

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Game Design Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI
2 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
3 Kent State University Ashtabula, OH
4 Auburn University Auburn, AL
5 University of Washington Bothell, WA
6 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
7 Rutgers University Camden, NJ
8 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
9 University of South Carolina Aiken, SC
10 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
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FAQ

What is the difference between game design and game development?

Game designers create the concept and look for a game, while game developers create the code. While game designers often hold a BA or BFA, game developers typically earn a BS.

What are some specializations in game design?

Within game design, majors specialize in areas like animation, level design, or programming. Some online schools for game design also offer a specialization in mobile games.

Do you need a bachelor’s degree to be a game designer?

Yes. Most entry-level game design jobs require a bachelor’s degree.

Can you learn game design at home?

Yes. Online schools for game design let students study at home through a flexible online learning environment.

How Much Do Game Design Majors Make?

An online game design degree leads to high-paying careers, including as game designers and game developers. Within the gaming industry, professionals with a BA or BFA in game design work in animation, graphic design, and as art directors. These titles also offer opportunities outside of the gaming industry.

  • Multimedia Artists and Animators: Multimedia artists and animators create graphics and animals in both 2D and 3D environments. They make visual effects for video games, create games with a team of animators, and edit animation based on feedback from game designers. The position requires strong artistic, programming, and creative skills.
  • Graphic Designers: Graphic designers create visual materials, often relying on software programs or programming knowledge. They create layouts and designs for video games and mobile games, often coordinating with the art director on the overall look. They may also create original images and illustrations for games.
  • Art Directors: In the gaming industry, art directors create the visual style for a mobile or video game. They determine how to represent a concept visually, develop the overall look of the game, and direct production specialists to develop artwork based on their design. Art directors also approve artwork and graphics created by their staff.
CareerMedian Annual
Salary
Projected Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Multimedia Artists and Animators$75,2704%
Graphic Designers$52,1103%
Art Directors$94,2201%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

A BS in game design prepares graduates for careers in the gaming industry, including as software developers. Thanks to the strong programming skills gained during a BS in game design, graduates can also pursue opportunities outside of the field of game development, like computer network architecture.

  • Software Developers: Software developers create applications and computer systems. They must analyze user needs, design software to meet those needs, and test software. Software developers also create models for programmers, conduct maintenance, and collaborate with other specialists to improve software. They typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field like game design.
  • Computer Network Architects: Computer network architects design data communication networks. They help organizations determine their networking needs, set up local area networks, and create custom networks to meet business goals. Computer network architects present plans to executives and research network technologies to improve current networks.
CareerMedian Annual SalaryProjected Growth Rate (2018-2028)
Software Developers$105,59021%
Computer Network Architects$112,6905%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Most Affordable Online Game Design Degrees

A growing number of game design schools offer online programs. Our rankings consider several factors — including affordability, accreditation, and quality — to rank the top online game design degrees. Read on to learn more about top programs.

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The online Master’s program in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison tops the list for the best Online Masters in Library Science Degrees. Engaging students with 42-credit hours of rigorous and relevant coursework, students complete the iSchool program with the professional skills for success in the diverse field of library science.

    Program Features

    This UW-Madison iSchool degree is accredited by the American Library Association. Students are encouraged to choose areas of concentration in their degree, allowing a highly tailored course load. Specializations range from Librarianship to Archives, Data/Information Management & Analytics or Info and Data Organization. Classes offered to students include:

    • TLAM (Tribal Libraries, Archives & Museums)
    • Information Ethics & Policy
    • Community Engagement
    • Digital Tools, Trends & Debates

    Details

    The online Master’s program in Library and Information Science requires students to live at least 55 miles from Madison, Wisconsin for admission. Students must attend an on-campus orientation and instruction week, allowing interaction with other online students and engagement with faculty instructors. Supervised field study is part of the program as well. UW-Madison students can also receive Named Certificates as optional enhancements to the master’s degree.

  2. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Drexel University’s top-ranking online Master’s in Library and Information Science program is an accredited degree program that offers graduates the all the skills they need to be successful leaders in information management. The core values of the field: equity, social justice, privacy, access, and intellectual freedom, are integrated into all coursework.

    Program Features

    American Library Association accredited, Drexel offers convenience for the professional working in the field. The year is set up as four 10-week quarters, which allows students to take more classes at an accelerated pace. Totalling 45 credits, students are immersed in the latest technologies. Classes include:

    • Users, Services, & Resources
    • Leading & Managing Information Organizations
    • Organization of Data and Information
    • Data and Digital Stewardship

    Details

    Drexel University offers several specializations in their Library and Information Science program. Digital Technology Services, Information and Data Services or User and Community Services concentrations allow students to fine-tune their interests and get maximum career value from their degree. All online courses are taught by College of Computing and Informatics faculty and offer students a solid foundation in library science and engaging electives.

  3. Kent State University
    Location

    Ashtabula, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Kent State University offers a well-rounded online Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Fully accredited by the American Library Association, Kent State University students benefit from the highly awarded and recognized faculty, but delivered in a convenient, user-friendly online format. Perfect for the working professional, students receive the same high standard of classes which has made Kent State University a top-tier academic institution.

    Program Features

    Kent State University wants to make sure your M.L.I.S. degree is exactly tailored to the career you have in mind. The degree offers an incredible array of 14 specializations available for students to pursue, from Information Technology and Information Science to Academic Librarianship. Dual or multiple degree options are also available, as are electives from the Master of Science program.

    Core class offerings include:

    • The Information Landscape
    • Information Organization
    • People in the Information Ecology
    • Information Institutions and Professions

    Details

    Kent State University M.L.I.S. students have shown high job placement success. Surveys run of iSchool graduates in the past 5 years have indicated 92% employment placement within 12+ months of program completion. Utilizing the highly effective and user-friendly Blackboard Learn online platform, Kent State students are able to access their coursework and engage in the high caliber learning environment.

  4. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Auburn University provides a top-notch Library Media Master of Education degree, specifically focused on career paths as a school librarian or technology specialist. Whether you want to teach, be an information specialist or enter administration, Auburn’s online program will give you the bandwidth to fully engage and understand the rapidly changing field of media. The degree carries A-level teaching certification for the state of Alabama and receives library media certification upon completion.

    Program Features

    The online Library Media Master of Education program gives students the opportunity to study instructional design and technology, learning theory, and information science. The program is approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Specific coursework in the degree offerings includes classes such as:

    • Bibliographic Description, Organization & Control
    • Literacy & Inquiry in the Content Areas
    • Selection & Use of Media for Youth
    • Integration of Technology into the Curriculum

    Details

    Auburn University online students have a clinical residency built into their coursework. Featuring 300 clock hours in diverse school environments, students gain hands-on, applicable experiences. Over 30 hours of coursework is required for graduation and multiple scholarships are offered specifically for library media students. Online courses begin at $610 per credit hour and program enrollment is offered three times a year.

  5. University of Washington
    Location

    Bothell, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Washington Information School offers a Master of Library and Information Science degree that will equip professionals in library sciences. Highly regarded faculty will guide you through online coursework that is identical to what students on campus receive. Boasting a low student/faculty ratio and high rankings by many national publications, students graduate and enter the rapidly evolving world of library and information science prepared for successful careers.

    Program Features

    Whether you are interested in working with nonprofits, corporate environments, libraries, or other information jobs, iSchool grads are given the research connections, scholarship, and community engagement to make it happen. Core curriculum centers on information organization, policy, design concepts and more. Field experiences and independent study gives a practical application to the program standards. Course offered in the MLIS degree include:

    • Information Resources, Services and Collections
    • Management of Information Organizations
    • Research, Assessment, and Design
    • The Question of Information

    Details

    Tailoring your education to your specific career goals within the iSchool is simple. Students can build on their law degree by choosing a specialization in Law Librarianship in their top-ranked focused track. Those interested in working in K-12 public schools can also pursue a School Library Media Endorsement. The online program is 63 quarter credits to completion. It is part-time and designed to be completed in three-years. Students enroll at a pace of 6–8 credits per quarter.

  6. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Florida State University’s online Master of Science in Information prepares students for professional careers in librarianship, youth information & services, information architecture & technology and more. American Library Association accredited, students in this rigorous program gain skills, in theory, basic information techniques, application of new technologies and much more. The degree requires 36 semester hours of graduate-level coursework.

    Program Features

    Students are able to specifically tailor their degree to suit their career goals through one of the many areas of study. These tracks do not add any official endorsements upon graduation, rather are used as guides in course planning. Students are able to clearly focus their interests on their studies by choosing to engage in tracks like:

    • General Librarianship
    • Public, Academic, and Special Libraries
    • Web Design
    • Specialized Study in Museum Theory & Practice
    • Health Informatics

    Details

    Florida State University does also offer five certificate programs at the graduate level which give students technical expertise in a certain area of study. Certificates available range from Health and Information Technology to Information Leadership and Management. Juris Doctor/MS joint degree program is also offered in conjunction with the school of law. With the majority of online programs being taught by FSU’s highly respected faculty, students gain a top-notch education with online convenience.

  7. Rutgers University
    Location

    Camden, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rutgers University offers an online Master of Information program that equips professionals for outstanding careers in library science. Whether working with books or integrating advanced and dynamic technology, Rutgers knows that students need a pedagogical framework and the practical application skills to be field leaders. Their curriculum is suited to enable data scientists, information managers, librarians, archivists, and designers to excel.

    Program Features

    Rutgers University has consistently ranked high in national publications for its Information Sciences, School Library Media, and Digital Librarianship. It is American Library Association accredited and part of the iSchool consortium. The Master of Information program is focused on these core principles for success:

    • People and Community
    • Data, Information, and Knowledge
    • Technologies, Systems, and Networks
    • Empowerment, Engagement, and Action

    Details

    Students who are enrolled in the online program have opportunities for internships, a close-knit networking community, and interaction with other online classmates through various clubs and organizations. The Master of Information also offers six concentrations of study, from Technology, Information and Management to Library and Information Science, which includes School Libraries. Rutgers maintains high student satisfaction and gives students an easy entry to the field.

  8. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama offers a fully online Master of Library and Information Studies degree. Completion of the 36 hours requirement can be met efficiently, as online students typically register for two classes each semester, completing the degree in six total semesters. Online classes meet synchronously at a set time each week.

    Program Features

    Accredited by the American Library Association, students are prepared for a career in the rapidly evolving field of library and information studies. Whether looking to engage in library work via an academic environment, a community branch, or interested in digital technologies, the rigorous coursework will train and prepare. Classes offered in the degree requirements include:

    • Public Libraries
    • Academic Libraries
    • School Media Centers
    • Special Libraries and Information Centers

    Details

    The University of Alabama allows students to choose from six areas of emphasis in their program. Ranging from Youth Service to Social Justice, Digital Stewardship to Special Libraries, these give students avenues to explore their career interests and design their study. Specializations which can be seen on their degree are also offered, including Archival Studies and School Libraries.

  9. University of South Carolina
    Location

    Aiken, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of South Carolina’s Master of Library and Information Science degree offers a highly tailored education which gives students big opportunities for career success. Whether working in schools, businesses, academic, or private settings, this online degree can launch you into the career you want. 36 hours of coursework complete the degree, with 9 hours being required classes.

    Program Features

    The Master of Library and Information Science degree offers a school library certification option for students ready to enter a classroom setting. All of the coursework is designed to integrate and teach the core competencies. Students leave the program with the understanding the dispositions, skill-sets, and values of:

    • Information and its organization
    • Provision of information services
    • Leadership and management
    • Research
    • Technology
    • Professional development and lifelong learning

    Details

    Built into the course offerings is a 135-hour internship or field practicum. Students are placed in a learning environment in the field where they are engaged and mentored by an experienced professional. This experience provides vital lessons and skills to take into their careers. With a high student retention rate in the program and very positive job placement results, the MLIS program shows its strength and longevity.

  10. Syracuse University
    Location

    Syracuse, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science offered at Syracuse University’s iSchool gives students the ability to fully engage library settings. Accredited by the American Library Association, the LIS program is a leader in the field, always seeking to innovate and expand what a library is and better understand the diverse role a librarian plays in modern culture.

    Program Features

    The LIS program can typically be completed in 2 years and has a 36 credit requirement. With core competencies in management, information resources, and electives available in a focus area, students receive robust knowledge of the field. Focus areas include:

    • Academic Librarianship
    • Data Librarianship
    • Historical Materials
    • Management
    • School Media
    • Public Service Librarianship

    Details

    Online students in the iSchool receive coursework and are taught by the same faculty they would encounter on campus. Through a combination of live classes, collaborative coursework, and professional networking, students are able to maintain full-time work and keep up with their classes. Merit-based awards and LIS specific scholarships are available, including a 25% tuition award for library employees.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Game Design

Accreditation matters when choosing game design schools online. An accredited school meets the highest standards for academic excellence. Students at accredited schools also qualify for federal financial aid. During the accreditation process, independent accrediting agencies review a school’s student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. Colleges and universities that pass that evaluation earn accreditation.

Regional accreditation remains the gold standard for liberal arts and research institutions, including online game design schools. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission also grants accreditation to online schools that meet high standards for distance education.

Learn more about why accreditation matters.

What Kind of Game Design Degree Should You Get?

Prospective students considering game design schools online have the option of earning a bachelor of fine arts (BFA), a bachelor of arts (BA), or a bachelor of science (BS).

A BS in game design or game development emphasizes computer science skills like programming. During the degree, students take courses in mathematics and computer science in addition to game design courses. A BA in game design emphasizes animation, writing, and drawing skills. Students complete fewer technical classes and take more general education courses. A BFA in game design focuses on the fine arts side of the field, with fewer general education requirements.

By considering their interests, career goals, and strengths, prospective students can find the right online game design degree.

Courses in Game Design

Online game design schools offer courses that build the knowledge and skills needed for careers in the field. Many programs offer specialized courses that prepare graduates for focused career paths, including options like mobile game design.

In addition to game design courses, undergraduates also complete general education requirements that strengthen the critical thinking and analytical skills needed for game design professionals. The following list introduces common courses in a game design program.

Introduction to Game Design

Introductory courses provide an overview on the field of game design and game development, including core areas like game art, level design, and coding. Students learn about the requirements of game information systems, platform selection, and player engagement. The course prepares majors for advanced courses in game design.

Game Theory

In game theory courses, students learn about the principles behind games in both analog and digital formats. The class analyzes popular games, explores the risk/reward principle, and looks at different theories behind the appeal of different game types. Students also examine video games from different eras to understand the relationship between game theory and the finished product.

Programming

Online game design schools often include courses in programming to prepare learners to create code. In programming courses, students learn about different programming languages and techniques, including C++, C#, and Java. The course also introduces students to data types, functions, 2D and 3D software programs, and game-related techniques.

Mobile Game Design

Mobile game design courses explore the design and creation of games for wireless and handheld game devices, including smartphones. Students learn about the growing mobile game sector, the market for adapted rich platform games, and the requirements for successful mobile games. During the course, students may design a mobile game concept.

Project Development

Courses on project development train students to work in teams to create games. During the course, students apply their knowledge of project management, game design, and programming to complete a project. This course helps students build a portfolio of work while gaining hands-on experience in game development.

Scholarships for Game Design

Online game design students qualify for multiple scholarship opportunities. Unlike loans, which students must repay, scholarships permanently lower the cost of earning an online game design degree. Accredited online programs meet the requirements for many scholarship opportunities, including those listed below.

ESA Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be women or minorities pursuing a career in computer and video game arts. Requirements include full-time enrollment and a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Amount: $3,000

Eric Dybsand Memorial AI Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Granted by the IGDA Foundation, the scholarship supports students interested in artificial intelligence. Recipients attend the Games Developer Conference and receive a scholarship.
Amount: $1,000

AIAS Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Full-time students at accredited institutions meet the qualifications for the AIAS foundation scholarship. Applicants should plan a career related to game development and demonstrate a minimum 3.3 GPA.
Amount: $2,500

WomenIn Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be women planning on pursuing a career in the field of video games, including game design. Requirements include full-time status at an accredited institution and a minimum 3.3 GPA.
Amount: $2,500

AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship
Who Can Apply: AIGA grants multiple scholarships to students earning an undergraduate or graduate degree in graphic design, illustration, or photography. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Amount: $500-$5,000

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