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Best Online Game Design Graduate Cer­tifi­cates Top Online Cer­tifi­cate Programs 2021

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Best Certificate Game Design

Are you interested in emerging into the field of game design, but have a degree in something else? Or maybe you aren’t ready to invest in a full bachelors degree program, but want to get a career ready education? Achieving a game design certificate online could be your best bet. There are many ways to engage in a certificate program and there are many programs with different offerings in the same field. Generally, an online game design certificate program can be completed in one to two years time. They are often quite intensive, with the intention of immediately preparing students for entry-level positions in the gaming industry. These days many colleges and universities offer online video game design certificate programs that are created to be flexible and convenient. They are often geared towards adult learners with a myriad of other life commitments that keep them busy and so they offer an unmatched convenience and flexibility. We have looked at many programs and ranked the top 24 game design certificate online programs with an eye on the following metrics:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Student Success Rating

Look closely at the different programs, as they each have their own flair and specialization. 


University of Washington

The University of Washington offers a certificate in game design through its professional and continuing education program. This game design certificate online can be completed in under a year; nine months to be exact. As far as education goes, it is actually quite affordable, with the entire tuition just over $4,000. The classes conveniently convene in the evenings in order to allow students to continue working their day jobs or participating in other academic programming. The entire course of study is divided into three quarters, each offering a different theme. Quarter number one focuses on the fundamentals of game design. Quarter number two focuses on game mechanics and systems design, and quarter number three emphasizes game studio roles and development. This program is specifically effective for entrepreneurs, developers, and designers who either want to enter the gaming industry for the first time or advance the careers they already have. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Game Design

The University of Central Florida offers a renowned game design certificate online program. This course of study is specifically an online instructional design for simulations program and it is delivered through their community innovation and education college. The entire program is made up of 15 credit hours. The coursework emphasizes gamification programs and training systems that are applicable for educational training for a myriad of professions. Students will have the opportunity to work with graphic designers, engineers, computer programmers, and game developers. Some of the coursework focuses on: transmedia story creation, instructional system design, and perspectives of modeling. An interdisciplinary approach is employed throughout the entire program and, therefore, they draw professionals from many fields. Students may include human resources professionals, students, educators, and instructional designers. There is a financial advantage to being an in-state student, though people participate from all over the country and world. 

Certificate Title: Instructional Design for Simulations Certificate

Boston University offers a graduate certificate program in web applications, This course of study runs on an accelerated track and can be completed in 8-12 months time. The entire program is made up of 16 credit hours. Students will have the opportunity to dive deep into both the client-side and the server-side of web applications. Students will work deeply with a variety of technologies to build mobile web applications as well as desktop web applications such as AJAX, flex, google web toolkit, ruby on rails, among many others. Each student will have the opportunity to build real-world projects such as web applications that include interactive databases. Each student will also be able to build on the knowledge of advanced web application development languages. They will gain proficiency in language/ platform technologies such as JAVA. Students from the program have expressed that they were supported throughout by the faculty, but also the network of other students. The entire course of study is made up of four classes. 

Certificate Title: Web Application Development Graduate Certificate

Michigan State University offers a serious game design masters of arts certificate program. This game design certificate online is delivered through Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences. The program is made up of three courses, all of which are transcribable. Students can choose if they want to take any of this program on campus, though it is easy to do the entire program online. Most recently, the courses have included the following: foundations of serious games, understanding users, and theories of games and interaction design. Many of the students enrolled in the program are simultaneously enrolled in a graduate program at Michigan State University, though it is also available to non-MSU participants as a stand-alone course of study. Students also include game industry professionals, those working for fortune 500 companies and small businesses, as well as museum designers, and even corporate trainers. 

Certificate Title: Serious Game Design MA Certificate

American University offers a graduate certificate in game design. This program is a comprehensive collaboration between American University’s School of Communication and its College of Arts and Sciences. This program was designed to create designers, crafters, coders, and leaders out of students. The primary approach of the program is to ensure that leveraging the power of games is embedded into all of the coursework. The courses that are required in the program include game research methods, games and society, and lastly games and rhetoric. Students will also be able to take three credit electives in addition to the required courses. They make it known that game design is a diverse field and there are no “typical students” in this program, but people who come from all over with a variety of backgrounds. To become a student in this program, you do not need a background in coding, only love for games. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Game Design

The University of Michigan has a game design certificate program offered entirely online. This certificate is for students with an undergraduate degree in computer science looking to gain a deeper understanding of programming computer games. Once admitted, students must complete 6 credits of required course material, then choose their final courses based on their professional interest, for a total of 12 credits. The purpose of this certificate is to teach students how to evaluate design and implement computer-based systems. The program structures their learning around using a mathmatical foundation, and computer science to identify and define computing requirements. This game design certificate online is the ideal choice for graduates to earn a specialization in their field. These advanced courses are created so graduates can enhance their software engineering backgrounds while exploring aspects of computer science important to gaming. This is so students are able to apply that knowledge to design structures of varying complexity. 

Certificate Title: Game Design Certificate

California State University-San Bernadino offers a video game design and development certificate entirely online. For the independent learner, this is the perfect learn at your own pace program. The hands-on course work will allow students to design and create their own games for the computer. Another exciting aspect of this certificate is it is a great way to fill a portfolio with designs from an actual game. This is not a mac compatible program; this certificate must be taken on a PC. This is not a course of study that will lead to any one type of certification, this is a specialization certificate for those seeking to build on their knowledge of game programming. Course work for this certificate includes Game mathematics, general game modeling and texturing unreal engine foundation, and c++programming for game developers. Investing in your education is a big commitment with a game design certificate online with which you can build confidence. Learn the skills to be successful without breaking the bank. 

Certificate Title: Video Game Design and Development Certificate

University of Denver’s Software Design and Programming Certificate is the smart cousin of the gaming certificates. At the root of game design is software and programming to be ready to take on the fast-paced environment of the gaming industry some are looking to hone their skills. This online certificate can be completed in 6 months, with two options available. A 16 credit four-course program of 24 credit 6-course programs. Students will create their own curriculum from classes in the concentration course list and the electives course list. Topics like distributed computing and web-enabled information systems. You will also have the option of choosing the length of time from 6 months to 12 months to finish the required course to qualify to receive a certificate. Students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a GPA of a minimum of 2.5 at graduation. No GRE or GMAT is required to take this course of study. 

Certificate Title: Software Design and Programming Certificate

Boise State University’s online video game design certificate programs are being offered in a 12-month completion timeline. Study while you work in your field, as this online degree is popular due to the flexibility of its online format. This Graduate Certificate in Educational Games and Simulations is for those looking to further a deeper knowledge around technology and its place in the classroom. Offered by the school of education and simulations, this program is geared up to follow the trend to use technology as a tool to teach with. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into the program. This is a 15 credit certificate program and the entire course of study can be completed online. Courses include Educational Game Design, Mobile app design for teaching and learning, and students get to choose from a list of elective courses to better shape their experience. The department of educational technology is excited to offer this certificate as there is a  growing interest in online, mobile, and educational gaming. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Educational Games and Simulations 

New Mexico State University’s game design certificate online offers exciting opportunities. This is a comprehensive certificate course. Completion requirements include 30 credit hours of coursework. As a certificate program, there are several embedded classes, yet the benefit is well worth the effort. Structured to be completed in one year, it is split into 2 semesters, 15 credits each semester. The courses include: intro to illustrator, the evolution of electronic games, 3d modeling, Game tools and techniques, and more. While discovering and building a skill set before committing to one topic of profession, obtaining a certificate in game design can get you in the door of gaming industry entry-level positions, before you break the bank on a degree. At New Mexico state a game design certificate can open the door for students wanting to design and create video games for computer and mobile interface. This general look at the key aspects needed to understand the skills associated with game design is a complex look at the specialization. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Game Design

The online video game design certificate programs offered by the University of North Georgia is aptly named Video Game Design and Development Certificate. This is a learn at your own pace program with the instructor available via email, phone or live chat, here to assist with lessons, tests, and quizzes as needed. This certificate is broken up into four major areas: programming languages, mathematical skills, game asset creation, and modern real-time game engines. In the end, students will complete the course with the culmination of all the skills learned in the form of an independent study. The purpose is to put to practice the programming and game art skills learned in the core classes to design, create, and document a game you imagined. Furthering the skills and knowledge required to join a team working on larger projects and scopes will give graduates a leg up on the competitive job market of the gaming industry. 

Certificate Title: Video Game Design and Development Certificate


Fullerton College

Fullerton College offers a computer game programming certificate program that was created to prepare students for an entry-level job in the programming field. Enroll as a full-time or part-time student; that is your choice. Applicants are not required to have a bachelor’s degree like some other certificate programs. However, there is an assessment test to determine a student’s level of knowledge to be able to complete the course of study. Once admitted students will benefit from extensive coursework on the breadth of current programming languages, as well as electives in web programming mobile application programming, and database management along with game programming. Completion requires 12 credits of coursework to be taken. An interesting offering from the electives course work list is artificial intelligence in game programming. Becoming a video game programmer is a rigorous undertaking, yet the opportunities pay off, as the average pay for a programmer is $64,000 per year. 

Certificate Title: Computer Game programming

The University of Tennessee offers a video game design certificate through the department of visual and theatre arts and the department of computer science.  For students searching for creative ways to explore skills to stay competitive in the gaming industry this 18 credit program is a perfect option. This course of study incorporates modeling, graphic, art design 2D and 3D imaging, and virtual reality. Admission into the program requires students to maintain a 2.5 GPA to remain eligible. Another interesting aspect of the best video game design certificate, are the fundamental learning techniques. Tackle game design as a novice and move on from there. Start at the beginning with game systems and mechanics, game studio roles and development, programming and simulations. This program covers all of the aspects of game design in an abbreviated certificate course of study. Upon completion students will be able to qualify to apply for entry-level positions, or transfer to a bachelor’s program in game design. 

Certificate Title: Video Game Design Certificate


Bloomsburg University offers an instructional game design certificate online. The use of instructional games is becoming very necessary as we see more and more students learning from an online platform. This certificate, offered by the Department of Instructional Technology, is delivered in 5 courses- for a total of 15 credits required for completion. Courses such as gamification of learning and instruction, instructional game design, scenario-based learning, intro to authoring, and authoring for game development are the courses required. Their flexible online format makes it an ideal choice for working professionals. This certificate is offered in spring 2021 so applicants must apply and be accepted into the graduate program to attend. Requirements are a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and a GPA of no less than 2.7 at graduation. This certificate program requires the GRE or GMAT scores. 

Certificate Title: Instructional Game Design Certificate

Kennesaw State University offers a certificate in video game design and development that is delivered entirely online. The program is made up of 50 credit hours, which should include 500 hours of study and coursework. Students in the program will be trained in all of the critical industry-standard skills that will bring them to the front of game design and enable them to qualify for entry-level positions in the field upon graduation. The only prerequisite for this program is high school level math and familiarity with basic computes. One of the unique aspects of this program is that students can start at any time. There are no start dates as the entire program is ongoing. The curriculum is divided into eight distinct modules including mathematics, programming languages, 3D graphics pipeline programming, artificial intelligence algorithms, and real-time game engine architectures. 

Certificate Title: Video Game Design and Development Certificate

Empire State College (SUNY) offers an advanced online certificate in emerging media and technology for the arts. The program is delivered entirely online, giving students an opportunity to study when their schedule allows. This also means students can study from the comfort of their homes or offices. The faculty in the online program are the same that work with students on campus. They are industry leaders with extensive experience in creative industries that utilize technology. This program is the perfect complement to a liberal arts education, as it offers a comprehensive digital arts education that is applicable to many industries, including gaming. The program is regionally accredited by the middle states commission on higher education. Students will be able to build extensive skills in performance theory, educational gaming technologies, using digital tools in cultural contexts, media arts, interface design, and interactive project design.

Certificate Title: Emerging Media & Technology for the Arts Certificate

Eastern Kentucky University offers a game design certificate online program. This program is entirely online with no on-campus requirements. The coursework makes up 12 credit hours, which include the most critical skills for an effective digital work environment. This includes both the theoretical and practical components required to be successful in the industry. Each class is delivered in eight-week terms. There are many start dates, which makes it easy to work with a student’s schedule. Active military members are eligible for reduced tuition. In general, EKU is known for being veteran-friendly. The faculty in the program are renowned for having extensive real-world experience, including those who work in notable game studios. Graduates of the program are eligible for entry-level careers in positions such as: game programmer, tools programmer, video game developer, game designer, game engineer, video game developer, and simulations programmer. 

Certificate Title: Game Design Certificate


Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College offers one of the best game design certificate online programs. This course of study offers a simulation and game development certificate. Though much of the coursework for this program is delivered in a flexible online format, there are some on-campus requirements that will bring students to the Southern Wake Campus. Students can choose if they want to participate in classes during the day or evening sessions. The entire program requires the completion of fifteen credit hours. Students will be prepared for an entry-level position in simulation and game development upon graduation. Students will gain a comprehensive background in the gaming industry, including some of the practical skills which engage visual arts, creative arts, video and audio technology, animation, modeling, management, programming, and design. An advisory board that includes representatives from a number of game design companies decides on the imperative courses to be taught and they work from there. 

Certificate Title: Simulation and Game Development Programming Certificate


North Central Texas College

North Central Texas College offers a game design certificate online. This course of study is expressly considered a level one workforce certificate offering. Many of the classes are delivered in eight weeks, though some are sixteen-week terms. The program was created to be completed in two semesters, or 32 weeks. Some of the course offerings include the following: introduction to computer graphics, design, and creation of games, object-oriented programming, mobile applications development, and introduction to animation programming. During the second semester, some of the classes that are required include: game and simulation programming I, game development using C++, technical customer service, video game design, iOS application programming. The entire course of study is made up of 30 credit hours. In addition to the classes, students are responsible for completing a capstone project and earning a score of 70 or above on comprehensive exams. 

Certificate Title: Game Design Certificate


Saint Paul College

Saint Paul College offers a web based 2D game development certificate program. This course of study is made up of 24 credit hours in total. Students will be able to learn the top game design skills from the comfort of their homes as this is an entirely online program, if the student chooses. There are hybrid and in-person options available as well. They ask that interested students be good team players who enjoy collaborative learning, as that will be emphasized quite a bit in the program. The program will train students in the most complex computer coding practices as well as designing game software applications. Students will learn all of the industry-standard techniques to design applications. Graduates of the program have been known to gain successful employment in a myriad of fields including business, education, business, and even manufacturing. 

Certificate Title: Web-Based 2D Game Development Certificate


Clovis Community College

Clovis Community College offers a certificate in the fundamentals of game design that is delivered entirely online. This online game design certificate is an excellent program for those who want to dip their toe into all aspects of game design and get a thorough and basic view. Graduates will emerge career-ready for entry-level positions in a variety of game design arenas, including the mobile app, animation, and digital media design. Some of the coursework that is offered in the program includes: graphic design concepts, digital media 1, graphic design 1, computer 2D animation, and introduction to programming concepts. Each class is three credits in length and must be passed with a C grade or better. Clovis recommends that prospective students begin their journey by speaking to an academic advisor to determine the best path forward for their personal academic and career goals. 

Certificate Title: Fundamentals of Game Design

Full Sail University offers a game design certificate online that is both flexible and convenient. The entire program can be completed in just seven months. Students will gain all of the necessary foundational knowledge and skills regarding the rules and structure of gameplay, game design theories, and workflows. Students will reach milestones in the program as they learn scripting, digital tools, testable algorithms, and gameplay decision making. Many graduates of this certificate program are prepared to get a job in testing and interactive design within the gameplay industry. Full Sail offers what is called a Project Launch Box; this gives students access to all of the current cutting edge software and technologies that will bring them to the front of the field. This includes a gaming backpack and an MSI GE Raider Backpack. Full Sail also prides themselves on their celebration of creative thinking while centering the needs of their students. 

Certificate Title: Game Design Certificate


California Institute of Art and Technology

California Institute of Art and Technology offers a certificate program in software development that is delivered entirely online. This course of study gives students a chance to connect with one another and build lasting relationships through their virtual IT labs and live classes that are offered online. Students will dive into the ins and outs of app development, as they build on the foundations of computer architecture, software, web development, and operating systems. The entire course of study is made up of 6 classes that will be completed over the course of 30 weeks. The entire program is made up of 450 credit hours. This is a very technical program that emphasizes systems and software development. Students will learn all of the skills necessary to write their own programs, solve business-related or technical problems, and work within a variety of organizations, large and small. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Software Development

Champlain College offers a certificate program in software development that is delivered through its online continuing education program. This is a flexible and convenient offering that is one hundred percent virtual. The coursework is accessible 24/7 on a learning platform that is very navigable. The classes are delivered on a 7-week cycle with three semesters per year. They ask that students dedicate 10-17 hours for each course every week. Programming languages are emphasized in the coursework in this in-depth field of study. One of the perks about this particular offering is that students can take this course of study as a stand alone option or fold it into an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. Champlain has a unique offering that enables students to upgrade their certificate program with what they call a Fast Start Career Bundle program. This upgrade gives students access to additional e-books and webinars related to landing the perfect job. 

Certificate Title: Software Development Certificate

Why Should I Get a Game Design Certificate Online?

There are many reasons why a game design certificate online is an excellent way to move forward in the fields related to gaming. You might already be working within the industry, in another academic program that would benefit from this specialization, or out to start a new career in a field that you love. There are many reasons people are motivated to break into this creative, fun, and innovative discipline. An online game design certificate can be an excellent way to get your hands dirty and your feet wet. In most cases, a certificate can be completed in a year’s time, though the length of the programs do vary quite a bit. Some programs only consist of three classes, in which case, it is a great idea to ensure you have found the program with the offerings that most effectively meet your needs. Another reason to consider achieving a certificate in game design is the salary potential. According to PayScale, the average annual earnings of someone who has earned a game design certificate online is $79,950. That number goes much higher, as digital producers make just shy of six figures, and also there are many salaries on the lower end. 

What Will I Learn in a Video Game Certificate Program?

As you can see from the above ranking, there are so many different game design certification programs to choose from and each opportunity comes with its own set of specializations. As aforementioned, many online video game design certificate programs give students an opportunity to deeply engage in 3-5 courses that offer specialized programming geared toward various aspects of the field. Some programs more deeply emphasize the technical aspects of the gaming, which may include coding or creating digital/ virtual worlds, and some programs lean much deeper into the artistry and storytelling aspects of game design. Some programs more heavily emphasize the use of mobile applications while others are more console oriented. Some programs support building the skillset regarding quality assurance and testing, which also includes gaming analysis. Some game design certificate programs enable the students to tailor the coursework, as much as possible, to their personal goals and interests.

What is the Difference Between a Game Design Certificate and a Certification?

A game design certificate means you attended an academic program at a college or university, generally through a continuing education offering in game design. This is a program that does not make you take general education classes or additional fluff; it is right to the point and covers the topics that you are most interested in. Game design certifications are a little different and not necessarily any better or worse. A game design certification generally means you have completed a course on a specific application, like JAVA, and therefore, you are considered certified. A video game design certificate is generally more comprehensive. You will be harder pressed to find video game design certifications. A certificate in video game design and development. 


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Ready to start your journey?