Best Online Schools for Bachelor’s in Game Design

Video game designers are artistic and creative dreamers. They are also technologically savvy and can make a great living. According to Game Developer Magazine’s annual salary survey, salaried game professionals make an average of around $80,000. Beginning with game descriptions which include plot, character and game play, video game designers work with programmers and artists, collaborating in groups to create exciting video games from beginning to end. After the best game concepts are chosen, different design teams work on the individual components of a game. Having a bachelor’s degree in Video Game Design can equip you to work in any of these specialized groups depending on your specific interest. Become a Lead Designer, Content Designer, Game Mechanic Designer, Level Designer or Writer to get into the nuts and bolts of each new game design. If you are creative, but find your interests leaning more toward programming, a Video Game Degree can land you a job as Lead Programmer, Artificial Intelligence Programmer, Graphics Programmer, Network Programmer, Tools or Interface Programmer. Are you an artist who loves video games? Choose a career as Art Director, Lead Artist, Concept Artist, Modeler or Animator. Other occupations that become available with this degree are Audio Workers, Executives, Producers or Quality Assurance Testers. Each of the bachelor’s degrees on our list has its own unique emphases and specialties and is able to be completed online. The field is open and the gamers are out there waiting for new games and your artistic talent.

Methodology:

  • All information is cited from the unbiased, independent NCES.gov’s College Navigator
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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE

Program Standouts:

The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Gaming Design at Liberty University Online is offered through Liberty University’s School of Business. The degree program is delivered entirely online through a virtual classroom experience that is flexible, personal and challenging. The online degree in Gaming Design will equip students with technical skills that are necessary for success in the video game industry. The topics studied by students in the Gaming Design degree program range from interactive game development to C# programming, digital imaging and 3D graphics.

Campus Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes: federal loans, scholarships and institutional loans. Not all students qualify for financial aid and/or grants.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 22%
  • Graduation: 47%

Admission Requirements:

  • Apply online or download an application for admission
  • 50.00 deferred application fee
  • Official high school transcripts
  • Official college transcripts

Program Options and Requirements:

  • Optional 3 credit hour internship is available
  • 120 total hours are required
  • 30 hours must be taken through Liberty University
  • 50% (30 hours) of major must be taken through Liberty University

Degree Outcomes:

“As a graduate of the gaming design program, you will be prepared to take on challenging real-world projects in this rapidly growing field.”

Potential fields for the Gaming Design degree at Liberty include:

  • Video Game Designer
  • Creative Director
  • Graphics Director
  • Mobile User Interface Designer
  • Software Programmer
LEARN MORE ABOUT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE’S BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY – GAMING DESIGN DEGREE PROGRAM

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FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

The Game Design Bachelor of Science Degree program at Full Sail University is offered completely online and can be completed in 32 months. The program is designed to enhance students’ abilities to work in a game studio environment and is comprised of high-level game design and production courses that will take students “deep into the game development pipeline.” The key concepts covered will range from aesthetics and immersion to usability and game economics. Other basic topics covered will be exciting topics such as storytelling and character development. Career Development advisors and services are available for the students not only throughout their education but also through their entire game design career path. Project and portfolio courses are threaded throughout the curriculum and are dedicated to providing students with a comprehensive learning experience.

Campus Location: Winter Park, Florida

Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes: federal loans, scholarships and institutional loans. Not all students qualify for financial aid and/or grants.

Qualified online students at Full Sail University in the Game Design Bachelor of Science Degree Program can receive up to $20,000 with the Momentum Scholarship.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 44%

Admission Requirements:

  • Application and $40 fee
  • Documentation of high school graduation or equivalent
  • Government issued photo ID
  • Verification of English proficiency if primary language
  • Interview with Admissions Representative
  • Minimum foundation in Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry
  • Technology orientation and assessment
  • Online education readiness evaluation

Sample Courses:

  • Creative Presentation
  • World Building
  • Psychology of Play
  • Historical Archetypes and Mythology

Degree Outcomes:

“You’ll learn how to apply your artistic talents to modern design tools, technology, and production processes.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GAME DESIGN BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAM AT FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY

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SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART DESIGN

Program Standouts: The Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development at Savannah College of Art Design is offered on campus or entirely online. The online program teaches students who will be on the leading edge of human and machine interaction. The popular presence of gaming on Internet-connected devices requires game designers to understand the experience that users expect of their devices. The online degree helps students to do this. Students will continuously be discovering new ways for users to understand the material and virtual worlds. The interactive design and game development program at Savannah College of Art Design has won the top prize in the E3 College Game Competition for two years in a row. It has also elicited praise from The Princeton Review and Animation Career Review.

“From participation in professional conferences to opportunities to collaborate with industry giants, our students have every chance to capitalize on their passion for interactive design.”

Campus Location: Savannah, Georgia

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes: federal loans, scholarships and institutional loans. Not all students qualify for financial aid and/or grants.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 70%
  • Graduation: 67%

Admission Requirements:

  • Online Application
  • $40 application fee
  • Official SAT or ACT scores
  • Evidence of English proficiency
  • Official high school diploma

Program Options:

Students may choose to pursue a double major or related minor at Savannah College of Art Design.

Related minors to this degree:

  • Interactive design and game development
  • Concept art for games
  • Character technical direction
  • Storyboarding
  • Technical direction

Degree Outcomes:

“At SCAD, we give students the tools they need to excel in the most fast-paced workplaces, in the most prestigious roles.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART DESIGN’S BACHELOR OF ARTS IN INTERACTIVE DESIGN AND GAME DEVELOPMENT.

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ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts: The School of Game Development at the Academy of Art University offers an online Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Game Development. The School of Game Development gives students the skills to pursue a career as a game designer by offering hands-on experience creating a professional-quality art and game design or programming portfolio, as well as opportunities to work with other students in the production of artistic and conceptually challenging video games. The Game Programming BS curriculum integrates the engineering and programming techniques used in game creation. Emphasizing math and objective-oriented programming through the use of complex algorithms, students develop strong problem-solving skills, learn to write efficient code, and collaborate with artists and designers to provide the optimal solutions for game design. Graduates of the Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development have been hired by numerous gaming companies including Sony, Riot Games, Telltale Games, Crystal Dynamics, Blizzard and others.

Campus Location: San Francisco, California

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation; Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 37%

Course Samples:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Programming for Game Graphics
  • Scripting Languages
  • Power of Myth and Symbol

Program Options:

Academy of Art University also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Game Development

Degree Outcomes:

Undergraduate students will meet the following performance criteria:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Proficiency with Technology Related to Contemporary Game Programming
  • Implement, Design and Develop Game Engines, Games and Development Tools
  • Produce a Professional Portfolio

“As a game designer, you’ll balance gameplay elements and in-game economy to keep games engaging. You will also improve systems, contribute to features, as well as participate in testing to create immersive worlds and evoke emotions.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN GAME DEVELOPMENT AT ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY.

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ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN

Program Standouts:

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Video Game Art which focuses more on the artistic vision that goes behind game making. The degree program offers a strong foundation in creative and analytical skills. Building on this foundation, the BFA at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design assists students in diving into the many technical and artistic aspects of Game Art. Students will learn to develop their own vision and style while providing the strong visual narratives and creative landscapes that are of such importance to video games and gamers. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design uses industry-standard production software to teach students the nuts and bolts of game design while professors work with students to impart their creative knowledge to the purpose of innovating games of the future. Professors at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design are practicing industry professionals who are highly skilled at refining the expertise of students’ ability to be both technical and creative.

Program highlights include:

  • Scriptwriting
  • 3D modeling
  • Character generation
  • Level design
  • Character rigging
  • Lighting and texture
  • Production
  • Business ethics and copyrights

Campus Location: Lakewood, Colorado

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation; North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:

  • Student Loans
  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Work Study
  • Federal Aid

Not all students qualify for financial aid and assistance.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 46%

Admission Requirements:

  • Interview with an Admissions Counselor
  • Submission of portfolio, artist statement, and admissions application
  • Submission of the current year’s FAFSA and other Financial Aid documentation
  • Submission of official high school and college transcripts (for transfer students)

Program Course Samples:

  • Game Creation Fundamentals
  • Digital Sculpting
  • Game Thesis
  • Life Drawing
  • Topics in Color

Degree Outcomes:

“From 3D sculpting and modeling to the strategy and psychology of gaming, you’ll come away from the program with a holistic view of the video game art process and be ready to contribute to the exploding creativity of this exciting industry.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT BACHELORS OF FINE ARTS IN VIDEO GAME ART AT ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE OF ART.

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SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts: Southern New Hampshire University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies Game Design and Development helps students to mastermind the creation and behind-the-scenes business of video games. The concentration in Game Design and Development combines a foundation in advanced IT curriculum with creativity and the process of game development to give students a competitive edge and usable skills in the real world. Combining a core knowledge of Information Technology and game development programming,  Southern New Hampshire University assists students in growing a career in game development or in other industries that use gaming and simulation, such as education, healthcare and public policy. Game genres explored and mastered throughout the game design degree online program are interface design, game theory, game marketing, e-collaboration and e-commerce.

Campus Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes: federal loans, scholarships and institutional loans. Not all students qualify for financial aid and/or grants.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 92%
  • Graduation: 58%

Admission Requirements:

  • Undergraduate Application

Course Sample:

  • Website Design
  • Cyberlaw and Ethics
  • Design of Virtual Game Environments
  • Interactive Animation
  • Leadership

Degree Outcomes:

“The BS in Information Technologies equips you with business knowledge that transcends any one career path, so it will prepare you well for a career in game design and development as well as other fields within the IT industry.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES – GAME DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT AT SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY.

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BAKER COLLEGE ONLINE

Program Standouts: Baker College Online offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Software Development. In this degree program, students are given the tools to produce the games that are played on computers, video consoles, arcades, the Internet, mobile phones, and other devices. Working alone or with a team of other game developers, they learn how to apply their skills and creative gifts to design the game’s look, story and how it plays. Once the framework is developed, they add in the animation, audio and programming, test and debug and finally, produce the game. Baker’s unique Game Software Development program is based on the guidance of employers in the industry. It is updated regularly so that students can learn what it is that the industry actually needs. The curriculum guides students through software engineering, with an emphasis on animation and game developing and gives them a strong base knowledge of programming technologies. As part of the education process, students learn the entire development process from game modeling to animation and programming, to the final senior design project.

Campus Location: Flint, Michigan

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:  federal loans, scholarships and institutional loans. Not all students qualify for financial aid and/or grants.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 13%

Admission Requirements:

Baker College has a “right-to-try” admission policy which means that:

  • All students who have earned a high-school diploma or GED are accepted
  • Neither the ACT or SAT are required for admission

An Application and $30 fee are required for admission.

Program Sample Courses:

  • Database Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Game Console Design
  • 3-D Character Design
  • Game Scripting
  • Discrete Mathematics

Degree Outcomes:

“As a graduate, you’ll have both creative and technical experience, and be ready to make an immediate contribution to any game development team.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN GAME SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AT BAKER COLLEGE ONLINE.

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ART INSTITUTE OF PITTSBURGH

ONLINE DIVISION

Program Standouts: 

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Art and Design. This degree program helps students learn what it takes to became experts in the game creation process. Students use the same kinds of technology that are used by gaming professionals and explore doing what they love and making it into a career. The preparation of students for game design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh includes starting with the fundamentals. Beginning with the principles of design, drawing, and color in both traditional and digital art, students can build skills in game design, level design, 2D concept art, and developing games that will be used in industry-standard engines. Students then explore planning, scope, problem-solving abilities and the economics of creating a market-ready game.

Campus Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Accreditation:

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:

  • The Art Grant
  • Institutional Grants and Scholarships
  • College Bound
  • Over Five Years without a tuition increase
  • Federal Loans

Not all students qualify for financial aid or assistance.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 8%

Admission Requirements:

  • Application Form
  • High School Transcript or GED
  • Short Essay about Life Goals
  • Interview

Program Sample Courses:

  • Digital Imaging
  • Life Drawing
  • Drawing and Anatomy
  • 2D Animation
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Character and Object Design
  • 3D Modeling

Degree Outcomes:

  • Core Skills: the ability to apply design and art skills
  • Principles of Gaming
  • Industry Readiness
  • Technology and Production
  • Professional Practice
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN GAME ART AND DESIGN AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF PITTSBURGH. 

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FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts: Founded in 1902, Franklin University has developed into a school that educates over 10,000 students a year. Franklin’s bachelors degree in Interactive Media Design is offered on site or completely online. The online options at Franklin University are very flexible with either six, 12 or 15-week courses, evening classes and multiple start dates. The Interactive Media Design degree program educates students in developing mobile apps, websites and video games. Including both the technical and non-technical aspects of interactive development, Franklin’s Interactive Media Design major aims to equip its students to deliver solutions throughout the entire development lifecycle of their projects. The degree combines project management expertise with solid design and technology skills. At Franklin University, students will use popular software and technologies such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, HTMS, CSS and JavaScript to create a variety of interactive solutions, including mobile interfaces for iPhone and Android.

Campus Location: Columbus, Ohio

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:

  • Federal Aid
  • State Aid
  • Institutional Aid
  • External Aid

Not all students will qualify for financial aid.

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 6%

Admission Requirements:

A student who meets at least one of the following criteria is eligible for admission as a degree-seeking student:

  • Graduate of an accredited high school
  • Passed the GED
  • Passed a State High School Equivalency Examination
  • Completed homeschooling at the secondary level
  • Earned a certificate demonstrating a passed examination as the equivalent of a high school diploma
  • Has 24 transferable credit hours from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • Has an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution

Program Options:

Franklin University’s interactive Media Design program is specifically designed for transfer students. Interactive media, 3D graphics or visual communication courses can be transferred up to a total of 24 technical credits or up to 94 semester hours.

Degree Outcomes:

  • Graphic Design
  • Web Design
  • Rich Media
  • Mobile Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Concepting
  • Project Management
LEARN MORE ABOUT FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY’S BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA DESIGN.

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UNIVERSITY OF ADVANCING TECHNOLOGY

Program Standouts:

The University of Advancing Technology offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Game Design. Since its beginning in 1995, University of Advancing Technology has been frequently named as one of the top game design programs in the world. The BA in Game Design at UAT is the only fully accredited game design program that connects to a full continuum of game development degrees which include:

  • Game Design Degree
  • Game Art and Animation Degree
  • Game Programming Degree
  • Serious Game Simulation Degree

The unique aspects of the BA in Game Design at University of Advancing Technology are the specialized categories from which the student can choose when he embarks on his line of study. Students must take time to explore all of the game design specialties offered in order to discover which they enjoy most. Many students at the University of Advancing Technology start out as Game Design majors but end up graduating with dual gaming degrees from UAT’s prolific suite of game degree programs.

Campus Location: Tempe, Arizona

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Federal Loans

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 23%

Admission Requirements: 

For undergraduate admissions, factors considered by the Admissions Committee include, but are not limited to, high school academic achievement, leadership experience, community and extracurricular involvement, awards/honors, technology involvement and experience, and career achievements and aspirations. All students must have a high school diploma from an accredited institution or a GED prior to beginning their first semester at UAT. All applicants are encouraged to submit ACT or SAT scores and college transcripts for review. Other criteria apply as well.

Program Sample Courses:

  • Game Testing and Analysis
  • Casual Game Design
  • Intermediate Drawing
  • The Solar System
  • Green Technologies

Degree Outcomes:

  • Prototype and complete original games
  • Create and implement game elements
  • Demonstrate best practices of effective game design
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate game designs for a variety of situations
  • Create game design documentation
  • Establish collaboration, mentorship and professional skills
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF ARTS IN GAME DESIGN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ADVANCING TECHNOLOGY.

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RASMUSSEN COLLEGE

Program Standouts: Rasmussen College offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design – Animation and Motion Graphics. The degree seeks to help students to launch or advance their career in the fast growing field of Animation and Motion Graphics. Students develop skills and creativity with online courses that include real-world design scenarios. The Bachelor’s Degree students at Rasmussen College can choose a Flex Choice option which allows them to combine traditional courses and self-directed assessments. This helps students to save time and money while pursuing a degree on their own schedule. The Animation and Motion Graphics specialization can help students to pursue careers in digital design, award-winning advertising, video game design or even 3D forensic animation and special effects movie graphics. To enhance their resume further, students at Rasmussen take the Adobe Certified Associate: Visual Communication certification exam in Adobe Photoshop, with an opportunity to obtain two certifications at no additional cost.

Campus Location: Maitland, Florida

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

Types of Aid: As of 2017, financial aid includes:

  • Loans and Grants
  • Flex Choice learning option
  • Loans and Grants
  • Scholarship Opportunities
  • Corporate and Military Discounts

Acceptance and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: Open Admission
  • Graduation: 18%

Admission Requirements:

Entrance requirements at the Rasmussen College School of Design vary depending on the program. Rasmussen does not require enrolling students to submit standardized test scores; however, every entrant must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Program Course Samples:

  • Advanced Color Theory
  • Graphic Design History
  • Advanced 3D Modeling
  • Motion Graphics
  • 3D Animation

Degree Outcomes:

  • Proficiency in your craft
  • Specialized course work
  • Insight from experienced faculty
  • Relevant industry software
  • Hands-on experience to prepare for your career
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR’S IN GRAPHIC DESIGN DEGREE – ANIMATION AND MOTION GRAPHICS SPECIALIZATION AT RASMUSSEN COLLEGE.