If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is the fact that we need outlets that enable us to connect with people and entertain ourselves from home. The international industry of game design was booming prior to the shelter-in-place orders in response to COVID-19, but it gained even more traction once people began to search for additional ways to engage virtually. This is a comprehensive field that taps into not only youth culture, but many adult gamers gravitate towards the diverse disciplines associated with gaming. This can include the billion-dollar industry of casual entertainment gaming, and games that bring people together and enable people to connect from different locations. You will find in homes all over the world complex gaming technology that includes home consoles, gaming-specific computers, multiple monitors, and portable systems. According to an article published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for game designers is a growth rate of a minimum of 4 percent between 2019 and 2029. This number does not account for the rapid growth the industry has seen as a result of the pandemic.
This career pathway is inviting to people from a variety of backgrounds as expressed by the myriad of programs offered at institutions of higher learning of all shapes and sizes. Achieving a bachelors degree in the field can be an amazing start. There are many best online game design degree options, which is to say, there is something for everyone. If you are interested in game design, you have come to the right spot to start your journey. We have ranked the 25 best online video game design degrees programs according to the following metric:
- Student Success Rate
Pennsylvania State University-World CampusUniversity Park, PA
Penn State University- World Campus offers one of the best online game design degrees. This program comes in the form of a comprehensive bachelor of science in software engineering. The entire course of study is made up of 126 credit hours. This is one of the most flexible fully online programs that you will find. They offer several start dates, so you won’t be waiting for long. This course of study is designed for those who think creatively and are not online interested in building innovative games, but also programming, coding, physics, math, and chemistry. Students will learn how to plug into many industries if they so choose upon graduation. This includes: military, medical, industrial, communications, and of course game design. The program works in partnership with Penn State’s Behrend’s School of Engineering. The program is therefore fully accredited by the renowned Engineering Commission of ABET.
Degree: BS in Software Engineering
Arizona State UniversityMacon, GA
Arizona State University offers a bachelor of Science program in Software Engineering that is delivered entirely online. The course of study is made up of a total of 41 classes. Each class can be completed in seven and a half to fifteen weeks. The entire program is made up of 120 credit hours. Many people gravitate to this particular offering as a result of its flexibility, as well as the fact that it is project-driven. The coursework effectively brings together topics such as software construction, engineering, project leadership, computing, among other relevant topics. Students will complete projects every semester that can later be instrumental in offering a comprehensive portfolio when it is time to apply for jobs following graduation. There are many relevant classes that students can choose to take including: design and analysis of data structures and algorithms, introduction to programming languages, software enterprise: project and process management.
Degree: BS in Software Engineering
University of BaltimoreBaltimore, MD
The University of Baltimore offers one of the best online game design degrees. The program is a bachelor of science in simulation and game design and is delivered with online course options. Some of the skills that students will gain from the program include: design of multiplayer games, applied game design theory, applications of simulation, and other fields that are not related to entertainment, 3-d modeling and animation, and usability design. Not only is the coursework perfect for students who are interested in going into the fields of game design, but it is also a great fit for those interested in investing in graduate education. Other fields that tie nicely into this degree program include business and visual design and information technology and computer science. Students in the program will choose between two content areas, which include coding and development and technical art.
Degree: BS in Simulation & Game Design
National UniversityLa Jolla, CA
National University offers a fully online bachelor of arts in digital media design that is designed to be flexible and convenient. This is considered one of the best online game design programs. One aspect of the program that makes it so efficient is that they offer four-week classes. Students will learn how to navigate all of the cutting edge applications necessary for game design and media production. These practical applications make it possible for students to use technology in practical as well as business-oriented environments. Some of the classes that students in this program will take include: video game design, game scripting, 3-D modeling for game art, digital audio creation, emerging technologies, digital project management, creating a digital interactivity project, and advanced design projects. Each student will be guided through a process of creating an original interactive project that will then stand out in a portfolio for future job applications.
Degree: BA in Digital Media Design
Lewis UniversityRomeoville, IL
Lewis University offers an extensive bachelor of science program in computer science with a specialization in game and simulation programming. This is considered one of the best online game design degrees for a number of reasons. They even have a 4+1 program offering that enables students to achieve a master’s degree with an additional year of coursework. There are options for students to participate in the program on an accelerated track. One of the perks about this program is that students can choose to minor in a different concentration. Some of the classes offered include: systems programming, robotics, artificial intelligence, file systems, and digital forensics, object-oriented programming, encryption and authentication systems, cybersecurity, and forensic tools. This program is fully accredited by the higher learning commission. The program is offered through the College of Aviation, Science and Technology Home.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Game and Simulation Programming
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH
The University of Cincinnati offers a bachelor of science program in information technology with a specialization in game development and simulation. This is considered one of the best online game design programs for a number of reasons. Not only is this program fully accredited by the higher learning commission, but it is also accredited by the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission. Some of the flexible online classes include software application development and cybersecurity, networking, and game development and simulation. They suggest prospective students meet with an academic advisor to plan an education path that would be most effective for their unique needs. The University of Cincinnati also has a pathway that enables students to be working towards their master’s degree while completing their bachelors. Many graduates of the program have been successful in achieving relevant employment directly upon graduation of the program.
Degree: BS in Information Technology – Game Development and Simulation
University of Advancing TechnologyTempe, AZ
The University of Advancing Technology offers a bachelor of arts program in game design that is delivered entirely online. There are many aspects of this program that make it one of the best online game design degrees out there. The entire course of study is made up of 120 credit hours, 36 of which are the major requirements. Students will learn the ins and outs of innovative game design, which includes skills such as game programming, creating functioning prototypes, design principles, scripting, and of course programming. All students must achieve a 2.0 GPA or above to graduate, along with completing a career-ready portfolio. Students will also have extensive internship opportunities while also creating a student innovation project. The program is fully accredited by the higher learning commission. This program offers military recognition by giving veterans and service member’s significant financial aid offerings.
Degree: BA in Game Design
Colorado Technical University-Colorado SpringsColorado Springs, CO
Colorado Technical University offers a bachelor of science program in computer science: software engineering. This is considered one of the best online game design degrees, as they teach students the ins and outs of all of the skills necessary to build effective games. This can include games that are played on handheld devices like phones, as well as creating complex software like antivirus protection for computers. One of the helpful aspects of this program is that they enable students to test out of classes for which they already have skills. Students are able to gain college credit for life skills they have already built foundations in. The other perk about this program is that the classes are offered through a flexible online format. Students never have to step foot on campus to achieve all of the cutting-edge skills necessary to build complex games among other software development skills.
Degree: BS in Computer Science: Software Engineering
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA
Liberty University offers a bachelor of science program in information technology with a specialization in gaming design. This program is known for being entirely flexible and convenient and subsequently one of the best online game design programs. One of the exciting aspects of this program is that students are able to transfer up to 75 percent of their credits from another institution of higher learning. The entire course of study is made up of 120 credit hours and can be completed in three and a half years. The program is fully accredited by SACSCOC. This particular program is located within Liberty University’s School of Business. One aspect of Liberty University that is unique is its evangelical Christian approach to learning. This impacts the program and all of their coursework because each student is required to take classes rooted in Christianity and the new testament.
Degree: BS in Information Technology – Gaming Design
Lindenwood UniversitySaint Charles, MO
Lindenwood University offers a bachelor of arts in game design program that can be completed entirely through a flexible online format. This is considered one of the best online game design degrees in the industry. They prepare students to work within game studio environments. The faculty in the program offer a cutting edge approach to the industry, as they are at the frontlines of the real world and academic aspects of the industry. There is a wide range of topics included in the curriculum including: game economics, usability, immersion, aesthetics, and even character development and storytelling. In addition to major coursework, students will also complete relevant general education classes. This program is offered through Lindenwood’s School of Arts, Media, and Communications. Some of the foundation courses include: visual storytelling, programming logic, history of western art to 1300, history of western art from 1300, game development, game design 1.
Degree: BA in Game Design
Wilmington UniversityNew Castle, DE
Wilmington University offers a bachelor of science program in game design and development through their College of Technology. The coursework offered gives students the opportunity to learn all of the necessary skills to engage in the creative and innovative career path of game design. It is one of the only programs of its kind in the area, as it is distinctive, four years, and fully accredited. A myriad of skills are elevated and offered in this program including: video production, 3D modeling, graphic design, interactive design, and of course complex programming skills. Many people gravitate to this program, because of its hands-on nature. Classes are offered in a lab environment that offers industry-standard equipment, including immersive gaming software that is constantly being updated. Hands-on project work drives the majority of the coursework, enabling students to build complex portfolios that will support employment following graduation.
Degree: BS in Game Design and Development
Franklin UniversityColumbus, OH
One of the best online game design degrees comes out of Franklin University. They offer a bachelor of science in interactive media design that puts the agency in the hands of the student. They offer the next generation of game designers an opportunity to learn the skills to create mobile apps and even work with websites. Students have the opportunity, in this program, to earn their degree at an accelerated pace. They can earn 24 credits of technical credit. The curriculum is project-based and, therefore, enables students to build a professional portfolio that will be career-ready by the time they graduate. This course of study prides itself on offering both a lens into the technical and non-technical sides of interactive development. All of the courses are offered entirely online in a format that makes it easy to arrange classes around an already busy schedule. The entire program is made up of 120 credit hours.
Degree: BS in Interactive Media Design
If you are looking to achieve one of the best online game design degrees, Berkeley College is an excellent contender. They offer a specialized bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree in graphic design. The majority of the classes in this program can be completed online, though there are options to take classes at a variety of campuses. They offer a myriad of creativity classes including: graphic design and visual culture, typography, 3D design and modeling, digital photography and creative media, digital publishing, web design, digital filmmaking, and of course graphic design principles and game development, among many others. Students will be required to take liberal arts core courses as well as their major coursework. These classes include subjects such as: introduction to ethics, writing through literature, writing and research, the confident writer, and writing and research. Berkeley utilizes the principles of graphic design to enforce the principles of game design.
Degree: BFA in Graphic Design
Eastern Florida State CollegeCocoa, FL
Eastern Florida State College offers a bachelor in applied science program in software development. This course of study is meant to be an entryway to a lucrative and multi-faceted career in software development, which includes game design. General software applications will be covered in great depth in the coursework offered. Students will graduate with the skillset to gain entry-level employment in such professions as a computer software developer, database administrator, game designer, web developer, and database administrator. In order to complete the program, all students must achieve a C grade or higher in the following classes: Statistics and C++ Programming. One of the perks of the program are the flexible enrollment opportunities; students can begin the program in summer, spring, or fall terms. As far as transferring options go, they give prospective students the opportunity to speak to an academic advisor to determine the best course of action.
Degree: BAS in Program and software Development
Full Sail UniversityWinter Park, FL
Full Sail University offers a bachelor of science in game design that is delivered entirely online. This is considered one of the best online game design programs out there for a number of reasons. Some of the courses that are of particular interest in the program include: game balance, game mechanics, as well as many other classes that are specific to the mechanics and creativity needed to design cutting edge video games. Full Sail supports students to participate in relevant game internships throughout their academic career. This enables them to have a leg up upon graduation and have a career-ready resume. They pride themselves on offering extensive financial aid opportunities. They even have a scholarship opportunity for select students called the momentum scholarship that can offer up to $25,000. Full Sail offers a technology package called a Launchbox that gives students access to all of the cutting edge software applications.
Degree: BS in Game Design
Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH
Southern New Hampshire University offers a bachelor of science program in game programming and development, as well as a bachelor of arts program in-game art and development. Both programs are some of the best online video game design degrees. They are designed to be both flexible and convenient for both traditional and non-traditional learners. They are designed to be transfer-friendly as well. Prospective students can transfer up to 90 credits into the program. Additional perks related to the programming at Southern New Hampshire University include the fact that SAT scores are not required, nor is there an application fee. Students will have access to cutting edge and industry-standard 2D and 3D graphics. All students will be working towards a career ready portfolio in project based classes that will make them employable directly following graduation.
Degree: BS in Game Programming & Development or BA in Game Art & Development
Middle Georgia State UniversityMacon, GA
Middle Georgia State University offers many currently in-demand degree programs, including their bachelors of Science program in Information Technology. The program offers nine distinct specializations to choose from, including Integrated Digital Media and Gaming Design. The program requires students from all specializations to achieve 42 credit hours of core curriculum courses. These courses include such courses as: English composition, calculus, college trigonometry, honors precalculus, public speaking, lab science, among others. Some of the major field class options including: web development, introduction to information technology, network essentials, introduction to computer programming, and application development. Students will develop critical competencies in a myriad of related subjects including the game evaluation and user and product needs. In addition, they will receive extensive training in graphic design, interface design, design techniques for creating interactive experiences, and utilizing digital media platforms. Some of the specialization courses include: 2D Computer animation, interactive digital media, game design and development, and graphic imaging.
Degree: BS in Information Technology – Integrated Digital Media and Gaming Design
Davenport UniversityGrand Rapids, MI
Davenport University offers a bachelor of science program in computer science with an emphasis on gaming and simulations. This is considered one of the best online game design degrees out there. One of the aspects of this program that makes it so popular is the fact that it is so flexible. Students can tailor it to their personal academic and career goals. The entire course of study is made up of a minimum of 120 credit hours. They have three specializations which include the gaming and simulations discipline, artificial intelligence (AI), and computer theory and algorithms. Though the classes utilize a flexible and online format, they still offer an intimate community feels and give students the opportunity to work closely with one another. There are many opportunities for students to gain financial aid. In fact, some students may qualify for full tuition through the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Gaming and Simulation
Academy of Art UniversitySan Francisco, CA
The Academy of Art University offers a bachelor of fine art in game development. This is considered one of the best online game design degrees. Some of the aspects of game design that the program emphasizes includes 3D modeling, video game production, including lighting, and animation. In the first semester, some of the required initial classes include: introduction to Maya, game engines, introduction to game development, and tools for game development. In the second semester, some of the required classes include: sketching for communication, elements of scripting, history of gaming, game design, theory and analysis, composition for the artist, and college math. As you get deeper into the program the coursework becomes deeper as well. Students will begin taking classes that pertain to storytelling and gaming along with more project-centered opportunities. The entire program is made up of 138 credit hours.
Degree: BFA in Game Development
Champlain CollegeBurlington, VT
Champlain College Online offers one of the best online video game design degrees. The flexible online program offers a comprehensive bachelor in software development. This convenient offering is delivered entirely online with coursework that is accessible 24/7. Each semester is made up of 2 seven-week terms. There are three semesters per year. This program is perfect for traditional and nontraditional students alike. In fact, it is designed to be very transfer-friendly, ensuring that students can transfer up to 90 credit hours from another institution of higher learning. They make it clear that the time commitment for coursework is 10-17 hours per week, so students know exactly what to expect. They also offer students credits for prior knowledge. Champlain College is very military friendly. Not only is this an excellent option for students that are sure they want to go into game design, but it is also a great offering for those who want to open a myriad of doors in the field of software development in general.
Degree: Bachelor in Software Development
Baker CollegeFlint, MI
Baker College offers a bachelor of science program in game software development that is delivered entirely online. The course of study is made up of 120 credit hours and can be completed in an average of 4 years. One enticing aspect of this program is that eighty-six percent of the students enrolled have received some level of financial aid, which may include grants and/ or scholarships. Students in this program will be brought to the frontlines of the most current trends in the booming video game industry, while also receiving a historical foundation in video games from the arcade and beyond. Students will also gain an awareness of the underpinnings of the entire gaming process. All of the coursework was created by experts who are currently in the gaming industry, ensuring that the content is up-to-date and relevant. One of the perks of the program is the fact that it not only offers a foundation in game design and development, but students will also learn all of the critical aspects of computer programming and computer science.
Degree: BS in Game Software Development
Rasmussen College offers one of the best online video game design degrees out there. They offer a bachelor of arts in graphic design with a specialization in animation and motion graphics. This program prides itself on flexibility, both in terms of entrance into the program and within the program. There are start dates almost every month and they make it easy to transfer credits from other academic institutions. In fact, students have their credits reviewed in one day to determine their transfer options. Some of the courses that students have access to include: interactive publishing, design thinking, and collateral design. The terms are 5.5 weeks in length, and students are required to complete a total of 23 courses. Students who take on this program with full-time status can complete the coursework in as little as 18 months. Rasmussen offers military discounts.
Degree: BA in Graphic Design – Animation and Motion Graphics
Savannah College of Art and DesignSavannah, GA
Savannah College of Art and Design, also known as SCAD, offers several degree programs related to interactive design and game development. Two of the best online video game design degrees are their bachelor of arts in digital media and their bachelor of fine arts in interactive design and game development. The programs pride themselves on offering an artistic approach to such a technical field. Their online coursework is delivered through their online learning platform. Many alumni from SCADs programs have gone on to work at notable companies like Facebook, Twitter, and video game design firms. Many of their students have won prestigious awards at international gaming competitions. All students have access to the entire Adobe creative cloud suite, auto desk Maya, MotionBuilder, Zbrush, processing, along with many game engine development kits. Students also have access to their game research lab in Atlanta.
Degree: BA in Digital Media or BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development
Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignLakewood, CO
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers a bachelor of fine arts program in game art. There are many aspects of this program that make it one of the best online game design programs. This program is delivered in a convenient online format that enables students to learn the most cutting edge skills in the gaming world. Some of the topics that the program covers in great length include 3D modeling, level design, visual storytelling, business ethics, and copyright, lighting, and texture, and character rigging and animation. One of the perks of the program is the fact that the faculty are experts in the field and also are experienced on the ground in game design. They are currently waiving application fees, making it easy for prospective students to consider the program and throw their hat in the ring without too much commitment.
Degree: BFA in Game Art
Strayer University offers a bachelor of science program in information technology specifically in software development. This is a comprehensive virtual program that can also be considered one of the best online game design programs. The entire program is made up of 40 distinct classes, each of which will take 11 weeks to complete. Students will be trained in all of the most up-to-date programming languages. They will also learn a variety of assessment skills that are relevant to determining the software needs of a variety of businesses and organizations. Some of the courses that are offered include: communication at work, C++ Programming, Information Technology Capstone, Object-Oriented Computer Programming, JAVA Programming I, and JAVA Programming II. Strayer prides themselves on offering stellar one on one support throughout the student’s academic experience. They offer prospective students an opportunity to work closely with on-hand admissions counselors to determine their unique needs and how to achieve their goals at Strayer.
Degree: BS in Information Technology: Software development
How Do I Choose a Game Design Program?
One of the toughest decisions new students can make is choosing the right program that will support their academic and career goals. This is why we have carefully curated a list of some of the top programs available to you online; each of which has different offerings from faculty to degree title. To decide, it is important to understand which modality works best for you as a learner. There are so many game design colleges at this point, or opportunities to study game design within a myriad of academic programs. The school itself might not be known as one of the best game design colleges, but their program offerings might prove differently. Sometimes you have to peel back the onion a little to find what it is that you are looking for. Game development colleges are generally schools that offer extensive computer programming options with a flair. Game design often falls under the umbrella of computer technology and software development, but there is often an added layer of video production, graphic design, and of course storytelling. A great way to approach some of these top game design colleges is to determine what aspect of game design and development you are the most interested in pursuing and then getting a deeper sense of the program offerings at hand.
What Education Do I Need to Become a Game Designer?
This is certainly not a one size fits all answer, but a good place to start is to look at the options. Video game designer education requirements vary depending on a few things, including what career path you are interested in specifically and how much experience you have working in the field. You will notice that many game designer qualifications include having some experience working for a game developer. If you are hoping to go straight into a career following your undergraduate education, you might want to choose a program that embeds hands-on or internship experience. Many programs not only offer extensive game design skills but also offer video game designer training by way of hands-on practice. Many times, people can accomplish their career goals by simply investing in a certificate program and achieving hands-on game design skills by way of an internship and approach their career from that angle. Other people might choose to go all the way by way of bachelor’s and master’s degrees– meaning a more traditional academic pathway as they emerge into their field of choice within game design.
Is Accreditation Important for Game Design?
Once again, this is not a one size fits all answer, but for the purposes of offering the most reliable information, I will say yes, accreditation is important. ABET accreditation requirements are strict, meaning if you are looking at ABET-accredited online schools, you are considering a program that has been proven by the experts to offer industry-standard programming. This ensures that the program has gone through an ABET accreditation process that puts its offerings under a microscope. Passing the ABET accreditation process sets these schools apart, enabling students to feel confident that they will be work-ready upon graduation. If you are also wondering: is ABET accreditation important for computer science, let’s go with yes, strictly, because you want to ensure all of your coursework is up to the currents industry standards.