Online Bachelor’s Programs in Video Game Design
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.
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 like Bachelor of Arts in Animation, Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, or a Bachelor of Science in Game Programming. 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.
Featured Online Schools
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. Below you will find our ranking of the Best 5 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 5 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#4 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.
#5 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.
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