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10 Best Degrees for Gamers What to study for a career in the gaming industry

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Managing Editor
Carrie Sealey-Morris has covered bootcamps, careers, and higher education for College Consensus since 2017. Carrie is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where she earned a B.A. in American Studies. 
Founder/Senior Editor
B.A., M.Div.
Jeremy Alder has spent over a decade researching and writing about higher education to provided students with the information they need to achieve their goals. He has significant personal experience with career transitions, working as a freelance writer and editor, non-profit director, community organizer, preacher, teacher, retail manager, and carpenter prior to founding College Consensus. Homeschooled from the second grade, Jeremy is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (B.A., Philosophy) and Duke University Divinity School (M.Div.). He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, five kids, and a Labradoodle named Hank.
cc research gamer degree

Your parents may be telling you that playing video games is a waste of time, but studies show a different story. According to research, playing video games can make you smarter, and to work in the industry, you need some major brain power. Video game designers must have a unique blend of talents. For instance, they must be artists, storytellers, and crafters of entire worlds. Those who work in the field enjoy an exciting career, one that allows them to be creative and well-paid. However, it is a competitive career, so if you’re considering entering it, you’ll want to go in with the right educational background. Here are 10 degrees/majors for gamers.

Recommended Online Degrees for Gamers

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1. Computer Science

One of the best degrees for a gaming career is computer science. While earning your degree in computer science, you’ll gain extensive knowledge about computers and learn how to program them. You’ll learn how to develop software and about network architecture too. A bachelor’s degree in computer science is a great starting point for gamers.

Thanks to data science and artificial intelligence advancements, there are many job opportunities available for those who have a computer science degree. A World Economic Forum report found that artificial intelligence and automation will produce an estimated 97 million jobs by 2025. People with computer science degrees often work as information security analysts, machine-learning experts and software developers in addition to game developers.

Available Computer Science Degrees

There are different computer science degrees available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Different degrees prepare students for particular career paths. For instance, software developers require a bachelor’s degree in computer science while those who decide to become computer and information research scientists need a master’s degree. To work in gaming, you can expect to earn a bachelor’s degree or get a computer science certificate. Depending on how much programming you intend to do during your gaming career, you may be able to learn enough by attending a coding bootcamp.

If you decide to earn an associate degree in computer science, you’ll receive a foundational education in programming. When you go for a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you’ll learn how to program, manage a database and develop software while a master’s degree will provide you with advanced software engineering training. Every modern industry needs computer science experts on the payroll to handle critical technology situations.

Recommended Online Degree Programs

Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.

YearBillions of Dollars
Expected Growth of the Video Game Market: Data – Statistica

2. Video Game Programming and Development

When you earn a degree in video game programming and development, you’ll have the foundation that you need to create your own games. In school, you’ll learn about modeling and animation along with essential information about digital graphics. A degree in video game programming and development will prepare you to use game development technologies and techniques to create memorable experiences.

Courses in this education area will teach you how to manage game genres and their platforms. You’ll also learn about:

  • Game theory
  • Interface design
  • Game development production

You can expect to learn how the environments in virtual games create experiences for players using rule design, social interactions and play procedures. The degree’s curriculum will also include basics like math, coding and engineering. With this information, you’ll be ready to create 2D and 3D games for different platforms.

With the right program, you’ll be prepared to collaborate with game artists to develop games beginning with the concept and design and moving on to production and advertising. The average salary for a video game programmer in the U.S. ranges from around $57,000 to about $75,000 a year.

You’ll also learn skills that you can take into other fields. For instance, autonomous vehicle simulations are a quicker and easier way for car companies to develop and assess physical vehicle prototypes. Along with this, virtual reality simulations are coming in handy for a variety of settings ranging from practicing complicated medical procedures while attending medical school to synthetic military training situations.

Available Game Programming and Development Degrees

You would be eligible for an entry-level job in gaming with an associate degree in game programming and development. The study plan for this degree gives you an introduction into game development and how to design them. A bachelor’s degree is another option. If you opt for a bachelor’s, then you’ll receive in-depth knowledge about game development and programming. A master’s degree in the field is also available. If you decide to earn your master’s degree, then you can expect to learn more about artificial intelligence, computer simulation and modeling.

Recommended Online Degree Programs

Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.

3. Computer Animation

With a degree in computer animation, you’ll become familiar with digital and analog animation methods. You’ll learn how to develop characters and create stories as well as how to take your project from its beginning stages to post-production. Classes will involve teaching you about storytelling, how to draw lifelike figures and the ins and outs of 3D modeling.

Those who have an animation major will know how to create digital assets from a beginning concept to completion, which is a skill that the video game industry values. Other elements that make the degree preferred in the industry include learning how to design and work with a computer. Animation also involves a great deal of creativity, which is a necessary talent in gaming.

Available Computer Animation Degrees

Available computer animation degrees include a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. If you decide to earn your bachelor’s degree in this area, you can expect to attend school for about four years. Courses include basic classes in art and design along with general education courses in math, composition, communications and art history. You’ll be taking classes in concept development, production and animation as well. Those who have a bachelor’s degree in computer animation earn an average of $78,000 a year.

If you want to take your education further, you can go for a master’s degree in computer animation. The additional schooling will offer you advanced training in animation along with access to internships, networking events and the chance to complete a thesis. During a master’s program, you’ll meet guest instructors and renowned experts in gaming, something that will surely inspire you.

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4. Interactive Media Design and Game Art

If you want to focus on the artistic or visual side of gaming, then consider getting a degree in interactive media design or game art. During your time at school, you’ll learn about shading, animation and lighting. This type of degree will also teach you about other design elements that will help you add visual appeal to your video games.

When you earn a degree in interactive media design or game art, you’ll understand how video games work from the inside out. This degree will teach you how to create a game’s core design and tell a story during gameplay. You’ll take courses that will help you foster the art, audio, writing and animation skills that you need to develop interactive games that immerse players in the experience.

Interactive media design is a lucrative field, one that includes high demand careers for people who tend to think outside of the norm. To enter this area of gaming, you must be a person who is ready to turn his or her dreams into thrilling and immersive experiences for gamers. Since there are more than 3 billion gamers in the world, choosing a career in gaming is a good option. There are a lot of gamers out there waiting to play your games.

Available Interactive Media Design and Game Art Degrees

At the undergraduate level, you can earn an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in interactive media design or game art. If you’re at the graduate level, then a master’s degree is available. The average salary for an interactive media designer in the U.S. is at around $56,000 a year.

5. Software Engineering

Like computer science, the software engineering field is massive and continuously changing. It is a great degree option for those who want a career in video gaming. With a degree in software engineering, you’ll know how to create software for your games and how to maintain it. You’ll also learn how to work with different programming languages, which will prepare you for video game creation.

Software engineers gain an in-depth understanding of different system platforms, which is a key element of making video games operational in various applications. For instance, you’ll want to make your game work on different operating systems as well as on mobile devices, online and while using a personal computer.

Available Software Engineering Degrees

Available software engineering degrees include a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. If you go for a bachelor’s degree, then you’ll focus on developing large scale software. You can also expect to take programming, computer fundamental and networking courses. This area of education will teach you about artificial intelligence and how it applies to the field. It takes most students at least four years to earn their bachelor’s degree in software engineering.

If you want to dive deeper into software engineering, then you can earn a master’s degree in the field. Those with a master’s degree generally earn more and are more likely to receive career advancements as well as management-level positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a 21% growth in software engineering from 2018 to 2028. This advanced degree may help you become more successful in the gaming industry.

Recommended Online Degrees for Gamers

Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.

6. Computer Engineering

As a computer engineer, you’ll learn how to make a computer operate. You’ll also have the knowhow to make them work faster, smarter and with greater efficiency. These skills come in handy for those who work in the gaming industry. With a computer engineering degree, you’ll be able to make your games run flawlessly.

Computer engineering degrees have a foundation in math and science. This will help you develop games that are realistic or fantastical since you can take these elements and come up with scenarios that work opposite from realism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median pay for those with a computer hardware engineering degree is around $120,000 a year.

The field is expected to grow by an estimated 2% from 2020 to 2030, which is slower than other careers, but if you’re planning a career in gaming, then the growth rate for video game designers is around 5% annually.

As a computer engineer, you’ll have the skills and training to design and maintain products. You can also work with computer programming and smartphone apps. You’ll be able to use your education to design a video game or an ordering system for a manufacturing company. You’ll have the training to become a computer and information analyst, a network architect or a computer support specialist.

If you have your eye set on gaming, then a computer engineering degree will be beneficial since your education will give you a comprehensive understanding of the limitations of game development while ensuring that you have the problem-solving skills needed to debug a video game.

Available Computer Engineer Degrees

You can earn a computer engineering degree at any education level including undergraduate, master’s and doctorate. If you select an undergraduate program, you’ll want to specialize in gaming due to the broadness of the field. In school, you can expect to learn about hardware and software systems. You’ll also be required to take generals like math, physics and electrical engineering.

cc gamer degree

7. Sound Production

Video games are like movies. They include a story, characters and sound effects. If you have an affinity for music and video games, then combine these two passions with a degree in music that concentrates on the technical side of sound development. While attending school for this type of degree, you’ll learn about music history and theory. You’ll also acquire the skills that you need to blend and produce digital music and sound. When you go into sound production, you’ll get to use your musical talents in a practical way.

What is sound production? Sound production focuses on recording sound and editing it to make it sound a certain way. Not only can you work in the video game industry with a degree in sound production, but you can also become a:

  • Concert promoter
  • Music distributor
  • Tour manager
  • Merchandiser

Available Degrees in Sound Production

Available sound production degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. If you start with an associate degree in sound production, you’ll learn how to operate the recording equipment used by industry experts. You’ll also learn how to use the digital technologies needed for recording and editing.

For gaming, you’ll probably want to get at least a bachelor’s degree in sound production. With a bachelor’s, you’ll have more career flexibility. The degree will allow you to go into production, technology or another area of sound engineering.

If you want to take your music career to the next level, then consider going for your master’s degree in sound production. During your master’s program, you’ll obtain the skills that you need to create your own music and develop it for video, television and gaming.

8. Graphic Design

If you’re naturally artistic, consider earning a degree in graphic design. The program will teach you how to create clear and visually stunning designs for various mediums ranging from print to video. Technology continues to advance, which means that the skills needed to be successful in graphic design continue to change as well.

Design images in the past were two-dimensional while modern-day design consists of 3D, animated and interactive images that are featured on advanced platforms. A degree in graphic design is extremely useful.

Graphic designers are needed for a variety of positions in video game design. They have the skills to design logos, create the game’s packaging and develop marketing materials. Graphic designers will even know how to pick the color palette for a video game.

Available Graphic Design Degrees

You can earn an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in graphic design. If you choose to get an associate degree, you’ll be qualified to work in entry-level positions, desktop publishing or web design. You’ll also have the training to get started in gaming. If you decide to go with a bachelor’s degree, you’ll learn about visual communication, layout techniques and typography. During a master’s degree program, your classes will teach you how social and cultural influences impact visual communication.

9. Game Design

A game design degree is a great choice because it will offer you a broad overview of video game development from beginning to end. You’ll even learn the history of gaming. Those who graduate with a game design degree will know how to:

  • Produce a game
  • Program it
  • Test it for quality assurance
  • Give it a story
  • Market it

Depending on where you earn your degree, you may be able to choose a secondary specialty like sound design or animation. Most game design majors leave school with basic computer skills that are supplemented by a wide range of knowledge in various skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work in the arts and design fields should grow by around 4% from 2020 to 2030.

Available Game Design Degrees

Available game design degrees include an associate, a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. An associate degree will cover software programming, animation and drawing while a bachelor’s degree will go into game mechanics and game balancing. If you’re ready for a master’s degree in game design, then you’ll learn how to handle logistics issues involving gaming, manage a project team and create marketing campaigns.

10. Digital Arts

People who are trained in digital arts combine art and technology to develop digital products for various applications. Digital art majors generally graduate with hands-on experience in computer tools like Adobe Creative Suite, ProTools and Final Cut Studio. These skills will make it easy for you to move into a professional digital arts career.

Like video game design, the digital arts field is one that combines creative expression with advanced technology. People with digital arts degrees may work to create video game images or special effects. If you like diversity in your education, then you’ll enjoy your digital arts courses since you’ll get to take classes in photography, sound production and drawing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job field should grow by about 16% from 2020 to 2030.

Available Digital Arts Degrees

Available degrees in digital arts include an associate, a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. The associate level degree includes courses that focus on using commercial arts online or in graphic design. You can also expect to take general education courses. Most students complete their associate degree in two years. If you intend to earn a bachelor’s degree in digital arts, then you’ll be taking classes in theory and technical skills, courses like art history, digital imaging and modeling. At the master’s level, you’ll gain even more information about the field. Master’s degree courses usually include digital arts theory, advanced animation and methods in digital art.

What is a Gaming Degree?

A gaming degree is a program that teaches students about making video games.

Right now, there aren’t many colleges with a computer games degree, but you can study related subjects like computer science, game design, or digital media. These degrees cover things like how to create games, design graphics, and tell stories. After finishing one of these programs, you could work in the gaming industry as a:

  • game designer
  • programmer
  • graphic designer
  • artist
  • animator
  • producer

A few prestigious universities offer bachelor’s and masters degrees in Interactive Media, Game Design, or similar specializations, including:

  • University of Southern California
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Drexel University

What Major is Game Development?

There’s no a universal “game design” major offered by all colleges and universities, like with biology or history. Degrees for game design are still very new, and higher education is very slow to adapt. However, several academic paths can lead to a career in game design, each with its own strengths and emphases. Here are some common options:

  • Graphic/Digital Design
  • Software Engineering
  • Digital Media
  • Computer Animation
  • Art and Design

These degrees will often be either a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS).

Salary Averages for Computer Game Careers

With over 3 billion gamers worldwide, degrees that contribute to developing video, computer, and electronic games are a good start for a lucrative career. We’ve researched 2022-23 salary ranges for some of the most prominent careers in the field that may help you in choosing the best degree for your goals.

Gamer CareersMedianSalary Range
Computer Engineering$132k$78k-$208k
Computer Programmer$93k$63k-$123k
Software Design $88k$80k-$103k
Special Effects Artists and Animators$99k$53k-$174k
Game Programmer$88k$73k-$130k
Video Game Programmer$72k$63k-$81k
Video Game Designer$93k$85k-$103k
Graphic Designer$59k$53k-$68k
Sound Designer$62k$54k-$71k
Interactive Media Design$77k$70k-$84k
(Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics,, and

Related Resources:

Top 10 Best Degrees
Guide to Online Communication Degrees

10 Best Free Online Music Theory Courses

Recommended Online Degrees for Gamers

Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?