In this article, we'll be exploring the best online video game design Bachelor's degree programs available to students. To understand the Video Game Design Degree, however, it is first important to draw attention to the general nature of the evolving video game design industry and how these degree programs vary widely in general approach, curriculum, coursework, degree concentrations, and more.
Similarly, professions as a video game designer can vary widely with responsibilities involving many skill sets, knowledge bases, and levels of specialization. For instance, professional game designers may specialize in developing 2D game apps for mobile devices or employ expert design skills for AAA game franchises. At another level, they may develop a particular skill set to the point of mastery in an area such as video graphics design through conceptual design or program coding (or both), game language translation, game level design, game software, game program mechanics, etc. The nuances of the industry–and the ensuing freedom that results in professional video game designers having countless career paths–is mirrored in degree programs that deliver unique curriculums with focused areas of study, clear teaching philosophies, and specialized degree options designed to provide students with a competitive edge in a particular field.
While it is true that video game design programs adhere to universal principles and skill sets, it is also true that no two programs are exactly alike. Many of the programs on this list, for example, provide more generalized degree tracks. However, specialization is almost always offered either through degree concentrations, unique program objectives, or student success outcomes. In the case of undergraduate online video game design education, this pre-professional focus is crucial for the student to fully gain the expertise required by graduate programs and by the upper-level professions in the industry. In any case, predetermined career intentions are helpful if not mandatory–an ironic restriction in a field defined by creativity, games, and enjoyment. Below you will find our ranking of the Best 15 Online Bachelor's of Video Game Design Programs, all of which provide strong, focused teaching philosophies designed to strengthen expertise and career intentions, making them ideal starting points for successful careers in video game design. For more general information regarding online learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Under $30,000—1 point
- Under $25,000—2 points
- Under $20,000—3 points
- Under $17,500—4 points
- Under $15,000—5 points
- Under $12,500—6 points
- Under $10,000—7 points
US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online Schools for Bachelor's in Video Game Design Programs:
- Top 50 —5 points
- Top 100 —4 points
- Top 150 —3 points
- Top 200—2 points
- Top 364—1 points
- Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
- Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)
- 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that "wowed" us. Each school with a National Ranking received 1 additional Wow Factor point.
Ranking the Top Bachelor's in Video Game Design Degrees Online
To compile this ranking, our editors began with an initial pool of approximately 25 online Bachelor's Degree in Video Game Design programs offered by colleges and universities across the US. We then narrowed the pool to include only those schools that offer 100% online programs. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above, and the result was the ranking you see below of the top 15 online programs for a BA/BS degree in Video Game Design (or related field). We used affordability to break any ties, listing the more affordable program higher in the ranking.
#15 Southern New Hampshire University
Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Development Online or Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development Online
Southern New Hampshire University offers a 120 credit video game design BA/BS online curriculum that confidently prepares students for the competitive and fast-paced world of video game art and design. SNHU provides students with a critical advantage in this highly sought-after and ever-growing field by strategically utilizing industry standard tools (like Adobe Software Suite, Autodesk, and 3DS Max). In addition, courses follow industry standard workflow to prepare students to hit the ground running and excel in this highly competitive field, giving students the edge employers are looking for. For the online BA degree in Game Art and Development, courses include 3D Modeling and Animation, Character and Creature Design, and Introduction to Digital Imaging. Post-graduate careers include Lead Artist, Lead Storyteller, Animator, or Designer. The Game Programming and Development online BS degree goes beyond traditional software development and prepares students for other industries that use gaming and simulation like healthcare, project management, education, and public policy. Courses may include Graphics and Layout in Print Media, Graphics Game Engine, Scripting for Games, and Digital Multimedia Development. In addition to degree-specific courses that teach technical gaming skills, these programs also focus on higher order skills like writing, analysis, and problem-solving. With six 8-week terms per year, students can complete the program at their own pace and access their online education 24/7.
#14 Cogswell College
Bachelor of Arts in Game Design Art Online or Bachelor of Science in Game Design Engineering Online
With accolades and impressive rankings from sources such as The Princeton Review and Animation Career Review, Cogswell College prides itself on providing a practical education in the areas of technology and entrepreneurship. Students will learn to design or program video games within the school of Game Design and Development, earning themselves either a BA in game design art online or a BS in Game Design Engineering. In either program, students will work with multi-department teams in the Game Studio and have the opportunity to test student gaming work for usability and quality. The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design online offers two concentrations: Game Art Concentration (which focuses on the movements of characters) and Game Writing Concentration (which helps students learn to build narratives and bold, unique storytelling techniques). The online Bachelor of Science in Game Design Engineering teaches students the necessary coding skills to build a game from the ground up. Core courses include Intro to Scripting, Game Production, Game Writing, and Level Design.
#13 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art Online
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) delivers a unique learning environment to its online students through incorporating the philosophy of small liberal arts college in a virtual learning setting. This means that RMCAD's virtual learning experience is characterized by smaller, more personal class sizes where students interact on a regular basis to collaboratively complete projects or hold discussions with peers and instructors. Students are encouraged to work with peers from other degree programs to hone comprehensive and diverse artistic skill. RMCAD's Game Art program is also one of only a few to guarantee one-on-one discussion sessions with program faculty to generate deeper understandings than what can be gleaned from traditional coursework. The department also works closely with students to promote a commitment to creative growth, independence, and free thinking–an excellent prospect for anyone seeking a profession in the video gaming industry.
RMCAD offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art, which delivers a unique approach to the video game design field. The program emphasizes the modern developments in video game culture; that is, games no longer simply need to work, they also need to provide truly immersive entertainment. Much of the program coursework is meant to teach students to create just that using rich stories and complex narratives, character design, and engaging animation techniques. As the name of the degree implies, the program teaches game design through the lens of understanding art in general. So for students interested in the overlaps between art and game design this program is likely a perfect fit. A few interesting program highlights for this online Bachelor's degree in video game design include Level Design, Business and Copyrights, Lighting and Texture, and Character Rigging and Animation.
#12 The University of Advancing Technology
Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation Online or Game Design Online, Bachelor of Science in Game Programming Online
The University of Advancing Technology's online education is the perfect blend of modern technology-centric modules and a classical education. UAT's online courses operate on 5-week modules, taken one at a time. Students complete three classes per semester, with a total of 15 weeks in a semester. With a rigorous curriculum and industry-standard techniques, UAT's asynchronous learning environments are the perfect fit for the busy and/or working student. UAT offers three specialized online Bachelor's degrees in video game design: Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation, Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, or a Bachelor of Science in Game Programming. While the Bachelor of Arts degrees might be better suited for the creative student desiring to build stories and character development, the Bachelor of Science in Game Programming online might resonate more with the technological and scientific student who has broader ambitions of using game programming in other career paths like entertaining, business, and research and training.
#11 Full Sail University
Online BSC in Game Design or Game Art
Full Sail University's online programs are designed to prepare students for the rigorous competition of the real world job market. Programs include coursework and projects that replicate these real-world demands, and then upon their completion, these projects are compiled into portfolio form to give students a marketable tool for showcasing their knowledge and skills. This is in line with Full Sail University's broader philosophy of turning students into successful professionals. Specifically in the Game Design program students will focus on various design projects, which represent the real world tasks of game designers in various areas of the industry. While many schools devote resources to similar philosophies, only a few implement them into actionable plans like Full Sail. Full Sail University offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Game Design and a Bachelor of Science in Game Art. In either degree track, students will be provided with a personal Career Development Advisor to help guide them to make the best choices that are most conducive to their career goals. Thus students will cover core content and curriculum, and then will have the freedom to pursue specialization through career-oriented projects, which of course are then compiled into marketable formats for Game Design or Game Art portfolios.
Considered an accelerated online Bachelors's degree in video game design, Full Sail's online curriculum can be completed in 29 months with courses including Game Mechanics, Game Balancing, and Prototyping. For students interested in degree programs that actively incorporate career-building projects, Full Sail is a top choice.
#10 Franklin University
Bachelor of Science in Interactive Media Design Online
Rated Ohio's #1 online school, Franklin University offers a 120 credit online Bachelor's degree in Interactive Media Design (IMD). This program could be suited for the student who desires a broader technical and non-technical degree, focusing not only on video gaming, but also mobile apps, rich media, front-end development, and web design. While all students complete general education, technical, and elective courses, the major classes follow a project-based curriculum to showcase actual client work and to highlight the student's working portfolio. Courses include Communication in Groups and Teams, Human-Computer Interaction, Interactive Media Design Capstone, and Advanced Graphic Design. The online Bachelor's IMD degree prepares students for careers in the following fields: Interactive Media Design, Interface Design, and Mobile Applications Design. At $526 per credit hour, the College Board reports that Franklin University's tuition is 53% lower than other colleges.
#9 Liberty University
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology-Gaming Design Online
Liberty University holds many impressive accolades. It's the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world. As a figurehead in the development of online education, game design students at Liberty can expect some of the most powerful and standard-setting learning technologies, intended to offset the inherent shortcomings of distance learning. As a career-oriented University, Liberty's degree curriculums are designed to meet the real-world demands of the growing video game industry. As such students will take part in challenging projects that directly mirror projects of various real-world professions. It is this applicability of the University's coursework that has led to its recognition by ranking institutions as a top option for student success outcomes in Gaming Design and Development.
Liberty offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology — Gaming Design where students master a wide array of technical skills needed to succeed in the programming and coding side of the industry. Students will study topics such as interactive game development, C# programming, digital imaging, and 3D graphics systems. Beginning fall of 2018, Liberty will issue free electronic textbooks for all courses, a gesture that could save the average student up to $2,000 per semester. While similar programs offer numerous degree options, Liberty focuses on delivering a complete education conducive to the Bachelor of Science degree, which focuses on the highly technical expertise associated with the field of Information Technology. For students with a prominent interest in the computer programming and coding aspects of game design, this program is one of the best online gaming design Bachelor's degrees available.
#8 Davenport University
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a specialty in Gaming and Simulation
Davenport University operates under the belief that workers who are well-prepared for the workforce have the opportunity to transform communities, thus making a difference in people's individual lives. This value system begins with their school's aspirations to provide a renowned higher education who knows the market better than other competitor institutions. Their number one goal is to prepare students to excel and advance in their post-graduate careers. Davenport University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science online with a specialty in three areas: Artificial Intelligence, Gaming and Simulation, and Computer Architecture and Algorithms. This online Bachelor's degree in computer science might be best fit for the student who prefers a broader, more well-rounded degree in computers, with a focus in video gaming. Students in this major complete general education foundations, and then can choose four classes from one of the three specialties to complete their focused degree. Adding on a minor in Mathematics only takes four elective courses and would be a perfect supplemental minor for any technical gaming degree. Courses for the program include 3D Development, Principles of Project Management, Collaborative Game Development, and Professional Ethics.
#7 The Art Institute of Pittsburg
Bachelor of Science in Game Art and Design Online
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division employs a philosophy of innovation, imagination, and user engagement. Particularly in the Gaming & Technology Department, this philosophy drives students to separate themselves from the competition by seeking out new, innovative answers to traditional questions. Creativity and innovation are hallmarks of the gaming and technology industry, which makes The Art Institute of Pittsburgh's approach highly commendable and encouraging. Students at the Institute are encouraged to think outside the box to embody their passions and become expert visual storytellers. "I Am a Creative Warrior" is the program's motto, and for students looking to maximize their creativity to break into the industry–this is an excellent motto and philosophy that sets itself apart from similar schools.
The Institute offers a Bachelor's in Game Art & Design online, and as mentioned above the focus is on developing innovation and creativity in its students amid traditional coursework. This focus mirrors the demands of the industry, where professionals are given standard tasks and then expected to step outside the box to deliver creative solutions and/or designs. Expected courses include Material and Lighting, Digital Storytelling, Character and Object Design, and Texture Mapping. The online video game Bachelor's degree program is further career-oriented in that its coursework prepares students to work in a fast-paced environment to take a game idea, create concept art, and make them both marketable–a process many game designers undergo on a daily basis.
#6 Middle Georgia State University
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Online with a concentration in Integrated Digital Media and Game Design
While Middle Georgia State University has a rich history tied to the state of Georgia, in 2012, the Board of Regents voted to consolidate Macon State College and Middle Georgia State, making Middle Georgia State University Georgia's newest university. Their visionary statement is that they "transform individuals and their communities through extraordinary higher learning," and they focus on four core values: stewardship, engagement, adaptability, and learning. MGSU's online Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology focuses on general core curriculum followed by 18 credit hours of major requirements, including courses like Intro to Computer Programming and Web Development. Students will then take 15 credit hours in one of seven concentrations. As a part of the Integrated Digital Media and Game Design concentration, students will learn a broad range design and development skills, preparing them for careers as media designers, game developers, and multimedia specialists.
Courses for this concentration include Graphic Imaging, 2D Computer Animation, 3D Modeling and Animation, and Game Design and Development as well as two electives from courses like Writing for Digital Media, Digital Media Studio, and Digital Storytelling. One impressive feature to note is that beginning in the fall of 2018, MGSU lowered tuition for online students by 11%, making a typical 3-hour course only around $450. This Bachelor's degree online for video game design is a great fit for students who desire a broader computer IT background with a concentration in game design.
#5 Academy of Art University
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Development Online or Bachelor of Science in Game Programming Online
The Academy of Art University has recently dedicated enormous resources to moving its nationally acclaimed arts degrees into the arena of online learning. The School's game design online Bachelor's degrees involve hands-on, interactive curriculum that prepares students for creative success across many job types. The University invests in top-notch programming systems, 3D modeling engines, and both pre-production and production tools so that students will be sufficiently trained in the industry's most powerful tools and techniques–a valuable and marketable asset in and of itself.
The University's School of Game Design offers a fully online Game Development Degree Program with an encompassing curriculum designed to provide students with the necessary skills to take their video game design careers in clear directions. Students may choose between a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS), though graduate, associate, and certificate tracks are available as well. While the BFA focuses more on broad and conceptual learning principles of game development based on traditional storytelling, painting, and drawing, the B.S. focuses more on micro development skillsets such as coding, programming, and complex algorithms. With a stellar reputation, well-designed program tracks, and experiential learning objectives–which are so often the weak point of online education–the University's Game Development programs are both highly impressive options for students with any game design career goals. The initial broader focus in these programs also means they are excellent choices for students struggling to establish clear career goals.
#4 – Removed by Editor
#3 Savannah College of Art and Design
Online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), also known as the University of Creative Careers, is a school nationally renowned for its programs' stimulation of creativity and innovation across numerous fields. SCAD's Interactive Design and Game Development online Bachelor's degree program offers award-winning e-learning degree tracks where students cover an encompassing curriculum of foundational art theories, general education classes, and then move into the core content of the program that is delivered by some of our country's leading creative minds. Students who are skeptical of online degree programs can likely rest easy knowing that their e-learning program is taught by such high-level faculty.
Specifically, SCAD offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development. As the name of the degree implies, the degree distinguishes itself from competition through an emphasis on interactive design principles. Interactive design is a crucial component to many fields beyond that of gaming, and so SCAD incorporates universal best practices to enlighten students' perspectives of game development. Students can further personalize their education in game development through the addition of degree concentrations or through electives, which allow students to supplement their degree with areas of study that might otherwise be viewed as separate from Interactive Design and Game Development. While the price tag for this program may be a bit higher than others on this list, students looking for a top-tier curriculum and learning experience will find their money well-invested.
#2 Baker College Online
Bachelor of Science Game Software Development Online
Like many modern online colleges, Baker College's degree programs are designed for the self-motivated students, the working professional, or the able student who is unable to attend a traditional university. Baker College Online, however, distinguishes itself from competition through its emphasis on student support and guidance. As online degree programs often lack the interpersonal relationships of residential programs, Baker employs a philosophy that if they support online students and provide guidance wherever they need it, they will flourish. This philosophy is a major component of the Game Software Development Program where students are faced with extremely challenging and technical coursework, which is made more manageable by the program's academic advisors assigned to each student. With a tuition under $10,000 per year, Baker College is easily one of the cheapest game design Bachelor's degree online programs.
Specifically, Baker offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Software Development, which for the sake of comparison is essentially a combination of Information Technology and Game Design. Game Software developers work behind the scenes to iron out bugs, glitches, or problems in high-level coding. As such Baker's online Game Software Development Bachelor's program first educates students on the various types of game software, then on how to manage them, and then how to create systems within these different types of software. For students with a keen interest in coding and the intersection of information technology and gaming design, this program is one of a kind. Courses include Programming for Mobile Devices, Game Design and Analysis, Java Programming, and Artificial Intelligence. One of the most impressive aspects to consider is that before graduation, students will complete the entire game development process, creating a game from scratch and seeing it through to completion.
#1 Lindenwood University
Bachelor of Arts in Game Design Online
Lindenwood University, an internationally recognized Presbyterian college with Judeo-Christian values, prides itself on integrity, dedication, excellence, creativity, and community. The school of Arts, Media, and Communication offers an online Bachelor's degree in Video Game Design, and courses include Game Development, Concept Design, and 3D Animation. Lindenwood prepares students for post-graduate fields in the area of Mechanics designer, writer, concept artist, modeler, art director, engine programmer, and audio programmer. While fully online and hybrid courses are available the curriculum includes foundational concepts like character and story development and continues through more advanced topics like game design and production. This online Bachelor's degree in video game design prepares students to transition from student life to working in a game studio environment and follows a project and portfolio based curriculum, in order to provide relevant and all-inclusive education. With very reasonable tuition and a ranking in the top 115 of all online colleges, Lindenwood would is among the top choices for any aspiring video game design student.
This concludes our ranking of the Top 15 Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design. Thanks for checking it out!
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