The COVID-19 pandemic has been a real game-changer for many of us. So many people have had to shift careers, have been out of work, or simply been given the time to reflect on what matters the most. Many people have had to find new ways to entertain themselves or dive deeper into Netflix series or video games. Maybe you are one of the people that have found yourself gaming more than you once did and are inspired to take that one step farther and build a career? These times are uncertain, but one thing we know for sure is that achieving an education online might be the best fit for the given moment. So, if you love the inner workings of video games and you want to get an education while sheltering in place, maybe an associate’s degree in the gaming industry is the best way to get your feet wet? As you look deeper, you will see that there are many offerings that are comprehensive and meet the needs of a variety of interests within the field. We have taken the first step for you by ranking the best associate’s degree for gaming design programs. We have used the following metric to build our ranking:
- Rate of Student Success
Take a look and familiarize yourself with the variety of offerings. We hope you will find some inspiration here.
University of ToledoToledo, OH
Top of the list is the University of Toledo, their associate in programming and software development will get students one step closer to fulfilling their game designer dream. This entirely online program offered by the department of applied organizational technology is attempting to answer the ever-growing demand for experienced software developers. It is an indirect way but this program is relevant to those seeking to learn skills that will carry into a position as a gaming programmer and designer. As a programming and software development student you will study the newest languages and computer science techniques and apply them to a variety of purposes. While attending introductory program students will tackle a curriculum with courses like workplace communications, application programming, financial accounting, and computer concepts. To apply to this program students must have at least a 2.0 GPA on their high school transcripts, if you are coming from another school the same GPA requires an application.
Degree: Associate in Programming and Software Development
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Minnesota State Community and Technical College don’t hold back with their Associate of applied science in computer programming degree. This hands-on program requires 60 credits for completion and promises a lot along with it. Students will dive into a rigorous two-years of learning skills to design and develop computer software. This is considered a step-stone program for students wanting to transfer to a bachelor’s degree. They offer all this to students completely online, their mission is to use mathematics and scientific techniques to solve complex technological issues. This flexible and convenient format allows students to continue to work while studying. With the completion of the required coursework, students will be able to expand their knowledge of operating systems design and implementations. Course work includes classes like Web engineering, mobile application development, java programming, and microcomputer databases. This program is regionally accredited and ranked 4th in the nation for its computer programming degree.
Degree: AAS in Computer Programming
New Mexico State University-Main CampusLas Cruces, NM
New Mexico State University offers creative media design associates of applied science. This course of study will prepare students for an entry-level position in the game media industry. These program characteristics all align with a game design associate degree. Coursework focuses on building skills in communication, project management, and computer software to become professionals, which are the goals of students that complete this degree. Creative media design requires 60 credits for completion. This program is structured to be completed in two-years. Applicants must first take a placement test to determine if additional courses are required. Coursework includes classes that will get graduates in the door of tech companies. A course like; intro to 3d animation, digital video production, portfolio design & development, principles of design, and web design. Design is a key element of being able to work on projects in a larger skill.
Degree: AAS in Creative Media Design
Bismarck State CollegeBismarck, ND
Bismarck State College offers an Associate of applied science in web page development and design. This is a 60 credit two-year program offered online. This flexible format allows students to earn credits at their own pace and from the comfort of the setting of their choice. Game design requires proficiency in software engineering and computer science. Completion of this degree graduate will qualify to go on to work as a web designer web developer, and web programmer. A big part of game design focuses on improving implementation and problem-solving. This degree concentrates on creating professionals that are master problem solvers. This degree using the Adobe creative suite software, it also uses it to shape a student’s proficiency in this field. Admission into this advanced associate requires a deeper understanding. There are a number of prerequisite courses to make sure you take before applying. Advisors are available to talk through all the requirements you just have to reach out for help.
Degree: AAS in Web Page Development and Design
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
This next associate in information technology web and software developer is the best associate’s degree in game design. There aren’t a lot of things to say differently about this school as it is similar to the last one on the list. Yet the course work has some interesting options that seem worth mentioning. In an attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing technology in the gaming industry this college evolves their program to reflect the rapidly advancing methodology used by industry leaders. Comparably the admission process is really simple, a modest 30 dollar application fee, and an online application process, then one visit with an advisor. This is a 62 credit program with manageable tuition considering the benefits of mastering the skills taught in this degree program. WITC partners with most four-year colleges in Wisconsin so transferring to a four-year program is easier due to those partnerships.
Degree: Associates in IT- Web and Software Developer
Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College’s associate in mobile app development holds a respectable spot on our list. As more and more people play games using their smartphones there is an increased need for mobile app development. This is also a solid pathway to getting the attention of larger gaming companies. This program does just that, graduates leave with designing and programming skills to be coding programming and software development positions with a focus on mobile development. This is a rigorous program as it requires 60-64 credits for graduate completion. What also makes this program interest is the admission process is super simple, if you are interested in this program you can apply, period. To be a developer you must speak the language, this course of study will dive into Java, C++, visual basic programming, and IOS application development. Course placement is determined by the semester you sign up and the placement test.
Degree: Associates in Mobile App Development
Johnson County Community College
Johnson County Community College offers an associate in applied science in game development in an entirely online format. This best associates degree for gaming design is all about the creative vision, and the mastering of the code language. Before and associates in game design became a popular degree offering JCCC was one of the first to offer it. Another interesting aspect of this program is they let you take your general education course like english and math at the end of your program if you choose. Allowing students to curate their program experience. Upon completion graduates will have completed 67 credits, and qualify to transfer to a four-year program to join the workforce as entry-level designers, game programmers, AI programmers, or user interface developers. Course work is determined by the track you choose and students have an option to select from Game Design or Game Programming.
Degree: AAS in Game Development
Champlain CollegeBurlington, VT
Champlain College has an associate in web design and development online. Its place on our best online associates in game design may confuse some but this program curriculum is exactly what aspiring game developers and game designers need to excel in this highly competitive industry. Champlain seems to write a playbook on online programs, this 60 credit degree gives 24/7 access to coursework so students can progress through the work at their own pace. They have an ambitious goal of introducing 19 key applications, platforms, and programming languages. Course work is divided into four groups; professional courses, general education, human behavior, and social institutions, and science literacy. As Web design and development programs go this one is also competitively priced as with game design and software development job percentages going up 13% each year. So student do not have to break the bank or leave home for this one Champlain get a solid spot on the list of greats.
Degree: Associate in Web Design and Development
Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College offers a program built for the modest gamer looking to solidify their skills on the keyboard, not the one with ivory keys. An associate in applied science in web design and development is the best degree in game design. While it is difficult to imagine taking an in-person class during these pandemic times, MCC makes it so you don’t have to by changing their format to keep their students safe. They may not have a lot of experience as some other schools at offering an online degree yet their curriculum and faculty speak for themselves. Applicants must first take a placement test to begin classes once placed their completion of this degree will require 60-67 credit depending on placement. The correlation between this degree and game design, is a strong focus on graphic art development and design. This web design degree uses the adobe creative suite, as well as several programming languages. Graduates have worked as software developers, graphic designers, video editors, multimedia artists, and animators.
Degree: AAS in Web Design and Development
Pratt Institute-MainBrooklyn, NY
Pratt Institute offers an Associate of occupational studies in game design and interactive media. Brand new to a game design curriculum Pratt has offered this degree not long. Although they are new their course offerings are impressive. This program is to give working adults or high school students an opportunity to tackle game design from an artistic standpoint. This program focuses heavily on artistry, interactivity, and prototyping. While game design as a profession calls for an equal part of technical skill and one part creativity, this degree curator to those looking to lean into their artistry. Completion of this 66 credit program graduates will have learned how to merge interactive elements with narrative, develop games collaboratively, and navigate programming language. This program prepares students to immediately enter into an established company or start their own game company. One thing we have seen that is a special course is immersive sound design, as we mentioned above this program is for the creative minded.
Degree: AOS Game Design and Interactive Media
Lewis-Clark State CollegeLewiston, ID
Degree: AAS in Web Design and Development
Riverland Community College
Riverland Community College offers a web developer associates in applied arts program that is offered entirely online. This is an excellent choice for students who are accomplishing the program while also working full time, as the flexibility and convenience is unmatched. A nice perk about this course of study is that instructors make themselves available both online and on campus. This is a unique feature for an online program. They pride themselves on being an affordable option; in fact, it is close to half the price of any school in the state of Minnesota. While it is already affordable, they also offer a myriad of scholarships and financial aid opportunities to make this program as accessible as possible. There is no in-state or out of state tuition, but one price tag for all students in the United States. The primary subjects that students will study include: web animation, web page design, web database with MySQL, and CSS3 and HTML.
Degree: AAS in Web Developer
Minnesota State College Southeast
Degree: AAS in Software and Web Development
St. Philip's College
Degree: AAS in Web and Mobile Developer
Wake Technical Community College
Wake Technical Community College offers an associate in applied science degree program. This can easily be considered the best associates degree for gaming design. The program is made up of 67 credit hours. There are several financial aid offerings that students can apply for in this program. Some of the key competencies include learning the ins and outs of web-based applications and design, e-commerce, web content management, mobile applications, understanding how to create multimedia applications, create user interfaces for internet applications, and design and develop databases. Many graduates achieve entry-level employment in such fields as programmers, designers, mobile app development, game designer, among many others. There are many elective options that enable students to tailor their experience to meet their particular goals and interests. There are also several general education requirements that include English and communications. The program offers the potential to seamlessly transfer into a four-year program that is related.
Degree: AAS in Web Design
Stark State College
Stark State College offers an associate in applied science program in web design and development that can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. The entire program is made up of 61 credit hours. The curriculum is carefully designed on a continuum and delivered over the course of four semesters. This is not only a technical program, but is also considered an associate of applied business. Some of the classes that the program requires include public speaking, communications, programming knowledge and problem solving, explorations of modern mathematics, among others. Graduates will have competencies in developing and designing web-based applications. This can easily be applied to game design and development. They will also be able to create multimedia applications. A perk of the program is that all of the classes that are offered to the certificate program can be applied to the associates. This is nice because it’s easy to start with the certificate and make the decision to go for the associate’s degree.
Degree: AAS in Web Design and Development
Central Piedmont Community College
Central Piedmont Community College offers an associate in applied science program in simulation and game development that offers courses that are available online. They also have some options for students to take online classes that include some in-person lab components. They believe in ensuring that students have many opportunities for hands-on and real-world experience in this program. This includes many chances to meet friends and network in relevant fields. This includes offering students access to clubs and student organizations that are thematically relevant. They also support students to access job experience in disciplines that are similar, as well as internships and volunteer experiences. Another perk of the program is that Central Piedmont has a career coach that is available to work with students to find game development and simulation careers. There are also many financial aid possibilities to explore.
Degree: AAS in Simulation and Game Development
Harrisburg Area Community College
Harrisburg Area Community College offers an associate in applied science degree program in web development and design. This course of study offers many opportunities for students to learn the skills to achieve an entry-level position in a myriad of fields including business, web consulting, and within government agencies. Graduates of the program have gone on to achieve positions in such careers as: web application programmer and developer, game designer, web developer, web UX (user experience) designer, web interactive media specialist, and web producer. One of the perks of the program is that it is delivered in an entirely online format that is both flexible and convenient. Additional skills embedded in the program include: problem-solving, workflow and organization, and communication skills. Harrisburg Area Community College offers many scholarship opportunities for their students through its HACC Foundation. They invite prospective students to check out their scholarship website in order to see what is available and what the criteria is to apply.
Degree: AAS in Web Development and Design
Roane State Community College
Roane State Community College offers an associate in applied science program in computer information technology with a specialization in programming. Some of the things students will learn include working within the world of information technologies and the software development industries. This ties nicely into game design careers. They have a lot of affiliates that aid their students to have additional resources including Microsoft imagine academy and oracle academy. On the program website, they suggest that students have many job prospects from learning the embedded skill set. They suggest that there are nearly 2,500 job openings annually in related careers. They also suggest that graduates can make something to the tune of $35 per hour. Completion of the entire 63 credit coursework will be given in four-semester take typically take two years to finish.
Degree: AAS in Computer Information Technology: Programming
Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College offers an associate in applied science in software development that is considered one of the best associate’s degrees for gaming design programs. This course of study is designed to be as flexible as possible with an online learning format that can be completed from anywhere in the world. Students will gain a variety of practical and problem-solving skills and programming technicals that are imperative for success in related industries. Some people who participate in this program offering might be eligible for an additional certificate program that is embedded in the program. Ivy Tech also has a variety of transfer partnerships with four-year institutions of higher learning that are excellent options for those who want to matriculate into a four-year program upon completion. Careers that graduates have gone into include webmaster, applications developer, systems programmer, and web developer.
Degree: AAS In Software Development
Southwestern Community College
Southwestern Community College offers an associate in applied science program in software and web development that is offered entirely online. This best associate’s degree for gaming design is an excellent choice for those of you who require flexibility and are not interested in commuting to campus. There are several financial aid options for students who matriculate into this program. The total credit hours of this course of study are 71. The program can be completed in a total of two years, with each semester mapped out, so there are no surprises. The first semester students will take the following classes to warm up: college students’ success, introduction to computers, writing and inquiry, operating and systems concepts, internet, and web fundamentals, and web programming and DB fundamentals. The coursework gets more in-depth as the program moves forward. The final semester offers the following courses: python programming, advanced JAVA programming, system support project, work-based learning 1, web development tools, and content management systems.
Degree: AAS in Software and Web Development
Finger Lakes Community College
Finger Lakes Community College offers an extensive associate in science degree program in game programming and design. They offer students a chance to learn this technical and creative discipline from the comfort of their own homes, as this is a flexible and convenient virtual degree option. There are some on-campus requirements, however, which enable them to use state-of-the-art resources. Students will be able to access the most up to date skills and software applications to engage in this innovative field. Students will have access to state-of-the-art computer labs where they can collaborate with team members. There will be many opportunities to study virtual reality 2D/3D modeling and motion capture. Another perk of this program is that they offer extensive transfer opportunities to colleges such as: Alfred State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Canton, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Graduates of the program have found much success in entry-level careers upon graduation.
Degree: AS in Game Programming and Design
Guilford Technical Community College
Guilford Technical Community College offers an associate in applied science program in simulation and game development. This best associate degree for gaming design programs gives students the tools to be innovators. One of the exciting aspects of this program is that it is delivered entirely online in a convenient and flexible format. They will get their hands dirty by learning the ins and outs of software related to video game development. This is inclusive of subjects like programming, storylines, graphics development, the business requirements for developing such games, and the simulation software for mobile devices as well as personal computers. They also offer a certificate program in simulation and game development. There are many financial aid opportunities for this program and prospective students are encouraged to set up a conversation with the financial aid office to inquire. The only thing students need for this course of study is a windows PC computer.
Degree: AAS in Simulation and Game Development
Atlantic Cape Community College
Atlantic Cape Community College offers an associate in applied arts in computer programming that has made the list as one of the best associate’s degrees for gaming design programs out there. This program could be a good fit for a future bachelor’s program, but for now, it offers students the necessary foundations in computer programming. This includes languages like java, visual basic, and c++. The coursework offers critical preparation for entry-level positions in a myriad of fields that utilize programming, including game design. The entire program is made up of 60 credit hours. This includes 20 general education credits. The program-specific courses add up to over 40 credit hours. This includes classes like: using pc operating systems, computer programming visual basic, iPhone programming or android programming, and systems analysis and design. There are two concentrations including computer programming and database design and development.
Degree: AAS in Computer Programming
California Institute of Arts and Technology
The California Institute of Arts and Technology has a myriad of relevant program options for those who are interested in engaging in the field of game design. It is no surprise that they even offer a best associates degree for gaming design program. This course of study is made up of 63 credit hours. It is technically an associate’s in applied science program in software development that offers a foundation in software design. This program can be completed in a total of 85 weeks. Some of the topics that will be covered in the coursework include: programming languages, layers of software architecture, software design, hardware and software, app development, internet architecture, systems development and administration, data structures, databases, data modeling, and client/ server architecture. The entire program is made up of 17 unique classes. Students will gain a foundation in web and mobile app development.
Degree: AAS in Software Development
Why Should I Get an Associate’s in Game Design Online?
Achieving an education in a career path that excites you is always a personal choice. There is no right way to approach an academic endeavor or finding the program that best meets your needs. There are many game design associate degree online programs that might interest you, but you first have to look at if this is what you truly believe is worth your investment. Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent increase in game design careers in the next ten years period. An online game design associate degree can focus on many different aspects of the gaming industry, but you will be sure to gain a foundation in the basics of a number of subjects including: web design, computer programs, drawing, and animation. Many students who achieve an online associate’s degree in video game design go on to achieve a bachelor’s degree upon completion. An associate’s degree is an excellent start, a way to get your feet wet and even gain some work experience to determine if this is indeed your true field of choice. It can also be a more economical choice to achieve an associate’s prior to going to a four-year institution of higher learning.
How Much Can I Make with an Associate’s in Game Design?
The average for a game design associate degree salary is $57,808 according to PayScale. Remember, average implies that the number goes significantly higher and lower. Not bad, though, for an associate’s degree education. Keep in mind that many of the companies that a game design associate degree salary would even be applicable would offer benefits as well. Over seventy percent of associate degree-holding game designers have full medical and dental benefits. Many companies are known for allowing salary negotiations and with this qualification, some professionals make as much as $66,000.
Can I Get an Associate’s in Game Design for Free?
There is not a perfect answer to this question, but I’m going to venture to say, not exactly. There are many game design online courses that are free. Many such classes offer credentials and certifications that go beyond just the experience of taking the class. Game design online free classes are offered within a variety of Massive Open Online Courses such as Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. Many of these classes are even delivered from prestigious institutions of higher learning such as Harvard or Yale. That’s right, the Ivy Leagues do have some free game design and development courses. In some cases, you can string together enough free classes to have enough credits for an associate’s degree, though you may need to take the extra step of enrolling into a program that will apply the credits. In many cases, you can apply such credits to a bachelor’s degree as well. In addition, there are many financial aid offerings that can give you an affordable academic experience, and in some cases, even a free ride.