Best Online Game Design Programs

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The Entertainment Software Association reports that approximately 59% of Americans play video games, and the average U.S. household owns one or more gaming devices. The game design industry is booming, with revenue topping $15 billion in 2013 alone. A separate report by the ESA found that employment in the video game industry grew 9% between 2009 and 2012. Due to the expanding market and thriving profits, companies are seeking programmers and artists with the proven skills necessary to storyboard, animate and package the video games of tomorrow.

The process behind creating games can be lengthy and often involves many people: programmers, graphic artists, animators, writers, marketing professionals and quality assurance specialists. Companies are seeking candidates with hands-on experience, a portfolio of relevant work and practical knowledge of the video game industry.

The field of design is hyper-competitive, and choosing the right school is of the utmost importance if you’re looking to begin a career in the industry. Below, we have ranked the top online video game design programs. An undergraduate degree from any one of these colleges offer a thorough understanding of the inner workings of small, mid-size and large game design companies; hands-on experience with the software and game design engines that are essential to game creation; and the opportunity to network alongside other successful gaming professionals.

Compiled using our expert methodology, these schools represent some of the most results-driven, online video game design programs in the United States.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Savannah College of Art and Design

 5/565.04%Savannah, GA


The Program

Students at Savannah College of Art and Design can pursue an online BA in Digital Media with a concentration in game development. This online design program provides a foundation in art and drawing. Additionally, students receive advanced training in subjects like interactive design, typography and game development. The instructors at SCAD pride themselves on cultivating the next developments in human-machine interaction and aim to share new ways for students and end-users to experience the physical and virtual world.

The Platform

SCAD eLearning courses are asynchronous, and require students to participate in virtual classrooms via the Blackboard course management system. Online, students review, critique and discuss their assignments and the work of their peers; some classes include field trips and other special activities outside of discussion and live-collaboration. Due to the technology required to render and design the course material involved with this major, students should review the technical requirements associated with their program prior to enrolling. Courses are 10 weeks in length, and distance learners can begin during any quarter of the school year.

Quick Facts

  • 93% of alumni reported that they were employed, pursuing further education or both within 10 months of graduation.
  • The college was named among the Top Schools to Study Video Game Design for 2013 by Princeton Review.
  • SCAD student game developers won the inaugural game design competition hosted by the prestigious organization E3.
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Franklin University

 3/513.64%Columbus, OH


The Program

The well-rounded BA in Interactive Media Design at Franklin University instructs students on the design, creation and promotion of all varieties of interactive media. This program equips students to handle front-end development, project management and skills in both design and technology, with a curriculum intended to imitate an actual design firm. Collaboration and a team dynamic are stressed, even online, as students learn and become proficient at using products such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. Designed for transfer students, this program is perfect for those who already have as many as 84 credit hours of related design and media courses. Over the course of this two-year degree, students study topics such as graphic, mobile and web design; interactive media; mobile application development; and collaborative project management.

The Platform

Franklin uses the BlueQuill learning management system, designed with school's unique needs and student community in mind. This virtual classroom offers a collaborative and interactive environment for distance learners. Students can access the platform via desktop or mobile devices, making learning, connecting and cooperating with instructors and peers easy and flexible. Courses vary in length from 6, 12 and 15 weeks.


"I was a graphic designer previously [and I had to] work alone, so having to learn how to work well in a group and [with] different personalities and nationalities—I've had it all here at Franklin. Businesses love when they hear that [a graduate comes] from Franklin, because it's up to date, we have the latest technology and they know that." - Tamara Allen

Quick Facts

  • Classrooms at Franklin University have a student-teacher ratio of 13:1.
  • In 2012-13, 69% of undergraduates and 65% of graduate students earned their degree entirely online according to College Navigator.
  • This program is unavailable in Alabama.
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Southern New Hampshire University

 4/5N/AManchester, NH


The Program

Students can pursue SNHU's online BS in Game Design and Development as either a degree completion program or a concentration of the business studies degree. Through classes focused on development, design, consumer behavior and marketing, this 120-credit program immerses students in the creative and business sides of the gaming industries.

The Platform

Southern New Hampshire uses the Blackboard LMS to provide students and faculty with access to online course materials, discussion boards and tools for submitting assignments and taking exams. By logging in to the mySNHU portal, students can view class and school announcements, their school email and other online resources.

Quick Facts

  • Prospective students with previous college experience can transfer up to 90 credits to an SNHU program.
  • Online students have 24/7 access to technical support; they are also able to connect to SNHU's library and bookstore.
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Sheridan Technical College

 1/552.2%Hollywood, FL


The Program

The six-month, Game/Simulation/Animation/Visual Design certificate program requires the completion of 534 hours of study. The courses, which students may attend online in a trimester format, provide practical, hands-on experience in game development and simulation, as well as graphic design principles. By the program's end, students can expect to produce a variety of simulations, development methodologies, 2D and 3D animations and storyboards. Furthermore, graduates will be prepared to achieve the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Certification in Photoshop. All students who plan to enroll must receive a passing score in an adult assessment called the TABE. A link to this test, as well an orientation tutorial, are available online.

The Platform

Online students are required to obtain the software necessary to complete their program, as well as a broadband internet connection. Students access their courses online via the Desire2Learn learning management system, which serves all of Broward County's public schools. Depending on the availability of the class or program in question, Sheridan College accepts new students every nine weeks.

Quick Facts

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Guilford Technical Community College

 1/512.08%Jamestown, NC


The Program

The Associate of Applied Science in Simulation and Game Development aims to illustrate the implications of interactive media on the economy, society and culture. The curriculum covers a broad base of game development knowledge, and students learn the programming skills needed to create interactive media for both educational and consumer purposes. Graduates are prepared for a broad range of career opportunities in the healthcare field, corporate training environment, government organizations and the entertainment industry. This 70-credit program can be completed over the course of two years, including two summer semesters. Classes are offered in a prescribed order to ensure that each semester builds appropriately upon the last.

The Platform

All online students must complete an eLearning Orientation during the first week of classes to familiarize themselves with GTCC's online resources. Almost all courses are offered entirely asynchronously, though some instructors may require students to participate in proctored exams online or at a testing center. Students can expect to log on to their courses, hosted by Moodle, once a day to read and download materials, view multimedia tutorials and lectures and participate in discussions.

Quick Facts

  • Residents of some states may not qualify for the program.
  • Almost half of the students at GTCC are mature learners aged 25 and older.
  • 81% of full-time beginning undergraduates received some form of financial aid in 2012-13; 72% of all undergraduates were awarded some form of scholarship during that same school year.
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