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The Best Online Game
Design Schools in 2021

Games have become incredibly immersive in the digital age. Most modern games allow players to have a significant amount of control over gameplay. What’s more, you can design a game from the ground up and make a living doing what you love. The first step is finding the best online game design school.

Game design is a specific branch of software development that focuses on gaming. You need to learn the fundamentals of software engineering before you can become a video game designer. To help you advance quickly in the gaming industry, we’ll cover the 10 best game design colleges that you can attend online.

In Brief: Top 10 Online Game Design Schools in 2021

The table below gives you brief details about the most popular game design schools with online or hybrid options. It contains the name of each school, the programs offered, associated tuition costs, and accreditation information.

While the tuition and program information was taken directly from each school’s website, tuition is subject to change.

School Degrees and Tuition Accreditation
Baker University BS in Game Software Development
$425 per credit
Higher Learning Commission
Davenport University BS in Computer Science: Game
and Stimulations
$836 per credit
State Approval Agency of
the Department of Education
Full Sail University BS in Game Design
$517 per credit
MS in Game Design
$780 per credit
Accrediting Commission of
Career Schools and Colleges
Guilford Technical
Community College
AAS in Simulation and
Game Development
In-State: $76 per credit
Out-of-State: $268 per credit
Commission on Colleges
of the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools
Lindenwood University BA in Game Design
$475 per credit
Higher Learning Commission
Liberty University BS in Information Technology:
Game Design
$390 per credit
Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools Commission on Colleges
Rocky Mountain College
of Art and Design
BFA in Game Art
$544 per credit
Higher Learning Commission
Sheridan Technical College Honors Bachelor of Game Design
$1,350 per term
The Commission of the Council on
Occupational Education
University of Advancing Technology BA in Game Design
$6,500 per semester
Higher Learning Commission
University of Baltimore BS in Simulation and Game Design
$3,577 per semester
Middle States Commission on
Higher Education,
University of Baltimore

Why You Should Attend a Game Design School Online

An online game design school is an ideal option because it comes with all the same benefits as an in-person school, minus the stress of commuting. Online gaming schools also give you more control over what you learn and at what pace.

While an online game design school comes with many advantages, it isn’t meant for people who love the immersive experience attached to traditional schooling. You might not get the feeling of community and socialization that in-person school provides. It also takes a lot of commitment to attend online schools, especially those with self-paced courses.

Choosing the Best Game Design School for You

There are several factors that go into making an informed decision about which game development school to attend. When you know what to look for, you will know where to direct your search. To start, look for the following factors.

Programming Languages

There are hundreds of programming languages used in the tech industry. However, not all of them are suitable for game development. Find out if the school gives you opportunities to learn C++, Java, JavaScript, Lua, Python, and SQL. These are the most common and most flexible programming languages when it comes to game design and development.

Project Opportunities

Even if the school is online, it should allow you to master game development through hands-on projects. Apart from the projects as part of the curriculum, you should look out for internship opportunities. With an internship, you will learn on the job while building your portfolio through professional-grade projects.

Accreditation

If you intend to build a career in game design and development, you should go to an accredited school. Without accreditation, you will not be awarded a degree, and you may have difficulty getting a more advanced degree later. The only alternative is attending a coding bootcamp. In that case, you may not need a degree to enter into the industry.

In Depth: The Best Game Design Schools of 2021

The list below contains more details about the 10 game development schools in the table above. It covers the degree levels, graduation rate, background information about the program, and key takeaways about the school.

Baker University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 63%

Baker University is a private school in Kansas known for liberal arts. Its BS in Game Software Engineering allows students to explore the development and design aspects of creating games. You will learn the steps of game development, from planning to testing. The BS lasts four years, and it can serve as a path to a Master’s Degree in Information Systems.

Baker University Game Design Key Takeaway

This program doesn’t stop with game design. Students also build a strong foundation in computer science.

Davenport University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 21%

The programs at Davenport are explicitly designed to help students build solid careers. While the school doesn’t have a specific game design degree, it offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with a concentration in game design and two other technologies. Students need 120 credit hours to graduate, but can complete their degree entirely online.

Davenport University Game Design Key Takeaway

The program-rich curriculum for this online computer science degree gives you more job opportunities upon graduation. You’re not going to be limited to game design.

Full Sail University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science, Master of Science
Graduation Rate: 25%

Full Sail University has been around since 1979. It offers both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in game design. Two highlights of the bachelor’s degree curriculum are game mechanics and game balancing. For the master’s degree, courses are designed around methods, user experience, prototyping, and content creation.

Full Sail University Game Design Key Takeaway

Since the school offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you can quickly upgrade your degree without worrying about transferable credits.

Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC)

Degree Levels: Associate in Applied Science
Graduation Rate: 17.9%

This school was founded in 1958, and it is one of the best community colleges for gaming. Running for about two years, the AAS in Simulation and Game Development covers graphic development, programming, storyline development, and a few business courses. You will know how to design and develop video games across different niches.

GTCC Game Design Key Takeaway

At Guilford, you can take classes that cover mobile, web, and software development within and beyond the gaming industry.

Lindenwood University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Arts
Graduation Rate: 58.1%

Lindenwood University was founded in 1827, and it offers a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design for creative types. You will learn about game usability, aesthetics, economics, and complete immersion. You will also gain knowledge of 2D and 3D game engines. There aren’t many schools that offer courses on both topics.

Lindenwood University Game Design Key Takeaway

The school allows students to transfer credit from previous degrees to finish their education at an accelerated pace.

Liberty University

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 33.8%

Liberty University is another excellent option for a program-rich curriculum in game design. However, it is essential to note that the program is actually a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology with a game design concentration. You will learn digital imaging, interactive game development, 3D graphics, and computer programming.

Liberty University Game Design Key Takeaway

The online program can be completed in less than four years, and students can transfer up to 75 percent of the 120 credit requirement.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD)

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Fine Arts
Graduation Rate: 38%

RMCAD was founded in 1963 for creative professionals, and it offers a BFA in Game Arts. Some of the courses include level design, 3D modeling, animation, and concept art. Apart from the technical classes, there’s a course on storytelling in game design.

RMCAD Game Design Key Takeaway

This BFA program’s combination of graphic design, animation, and art education is ideal for visually expressive people who want careers in education.

Sheridan Technical College

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Game Design
Graduation Rate: 64%

Sheridan Technical College might not be the most popular higher institution in the United States, but it has a solid interdisciplinary game development program. The highlights include programming, level design, project management, game narrative, game design, game mechanics, as well as 2D and 3D game development.

Sheridan Technical College Game Design Key Takeaway

The interdisciplinary curriculum doesn’t just prepare students for a career. It also prepares them to become entrepreneurs.

University of Advancing Technology (UAT)

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Arts
Graduation Rate: 30%

UAT is an excellent option for anyone who wants to combine game design with education. It has been around since 1983, and you will need a GPA of at least 2.5 to get in. Apart from the online Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design, you can get a dual degree when you graduate if you take more courses.

UAT Game Design Key Takeaway

Students can combine their game design degree with another degree at the school. This dual degree option is a perfect way for students to diversify their skills.

University of Baltimore

Degree Levels: Bachelor of Science
Graduation Rate: 61.4%

The University of Baltimore currently has the most extensive simulation and game design program in Maryland. In the bachelor’s program, you will learn programming, applied game design theory, usability design, 3D animation, and modeling. You will learn to develop single and multiplayer games from start to finish.

University of Baltimore Game Design Key Takeaway

The program covers simulation in a broad way, not just as it applies to gaming. You will learn how simulation is used in other non-entertainment fields.

Types of Online Degrees in Game Design

Game design degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you don’t have any prior experience in the game design industry, you might want to start with an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree before pursuing a more advanced degree.

Online Game Design Undergraduate Degrees

Online Associate Degrees in Game Design

After graduating high school, you can enroll in a community college that awards Associate Degrees in Game Design. An online associate degree usually runs for about two years and has a 60-credit requirement.

Make sure that the community college allows you to transfer your credits. This way, you can quickly advance to a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design. Keep in mind that you can start your career without upgrading your degree.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Game Design

This is the most popular undergraduate degree option for game design. You can either apply for this degree with a high school diploma or an associate degree. If you use a high school diploma, you can get the 120 credits you need in four years. If you use the credits from an associate degree, you will only need 60 credits, and you can complete it in two years.

Online Game Design Graduate Degrees

Online Master’s Degree in Game Design

You can opt for an online Master’s Degree in Game Design after getting your bachelor’s degree if you’re looking for a more advanced specialization. The timeline for this degree is usually 18 to 24 months, depending on the school. You can specialize in UX and UI, game art, and more. It will likely lead to a higher salary and better career opportunities.

What Can You Do With a Game Design Degree

What Can You Do With a Game Design Degree?

Either an undergraduate or graduate degree in game design will open several doors for you in the gaming industry. If you have a great idea for a game, you can create your own game with the backing of a venture capitalist.

Below are some of the salaries and jobs open to you at various degree levels.

Game Design Associate Degree

Average Salary: $54,500
Top Careers: Electronics Technician, Game Tester

Associate degree holders in the game design industry typically earn entry-level salaries. While the average is $54,500, it could be more or less depending on your experience and the quality of your portfolio.

Game Design Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $67,176
Top Careers: Game Designer, Game Engine Developer, Game Programmer

With a Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development, you will have more job opportunities than someone with an associate degree. It’s a gateway to higher salaries, as many employers won’t hire someone unless they have a bachelor’s.

Game Design Master’s Degree

Average Salary: $88,124
Top Careers: Project Manager, CEO, Senior Game Designer

Game designers with master’s degrees in the United States are the lead candidates for leadership and managerial roles. With more responsibility comes higher pay, and these experts earn significantly more than their bachelor’s-earning counterparts.

The Best Game Design Careers: How Much Can You Earn With a Degree in Game Design?

Profession Minimum Education Average Salary
Game Engine Developer Bachelor’s Degree $116,332
Senior Game Designer Master’s Degree $101,473
Lead Game Developer Master’s Degree $94,085
Game Designer Bachelor’s Degree $66,431
Game Tester Associate Degree $63,676

Does It Matter What College I Go to for Game Design?

Yes, it does. The game design school you attend matters because it will determine the quality of education you will get and whether your degree and portfolio get recognized. This does not mean you can’t get a job if you learn on your own. It just means that employers in the gaming industry are more likely to trust a degree from a reputable school.

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