In 2018, American consumers spent more than $43 billion on mobile, computer, and console gaming. With revenue like that, it comes as no surprise that careers in this growing industry are in high demand.
If you are one of the many prospective video game professionals looking to make your mark, an online bachelor's in video game design can help you get started. Keep reading to learn about common curriculum and admission requirements, career pathways, and FAQs.
What Are the Best Video Game Design Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Three:
|1||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, NH|
|2||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|3||Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah, GA|
|4||Lindenwood University||Saint Charles, MO|
|5||Baker College||Flint, MI|
Breaking into the video game industry can be difficult. Leading game companies receive thousands of messages from job seekers every week. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests aspiring multimedia artists and animators develop an impressive portfolio to help them stand out in this competitive field. Earning an online bachelor's in video game design provides the fundamental skills and knowledge required to begin your career.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Programs
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University enrolls more than 90,000 online students and 3,000 traditional students in over 200 programs. The school of technology at SNHU offers two gaming programs, the online bachelor of arts in game art and development and the online bachelor of science in game programming and development.
With gaming degree options for creative and technical students, SNHU delivers well-rounded programming completely online with asynchronous coursework for ultimate flexibility. The bachelor of arts curriculum delves into the fundamentals of video game art and design, while the bachelor of science degree teaches a variety of computer programming languages that can be applied to game engine development.
Applicants receive admission decisions within days of applying, and SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits toward an undergraduate degree.
Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Development and Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development
Format: 100% online
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Liberty University offers more than 550 programs from its campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. Individuals looking to break into the field of game design can pursue an online bachelor of science in information technology. This gaming design program is offered by the school of business.
Liberty's 120-credit program lets students earn their online game design degree in as few as three and a half years. The college, which began its distance learning programs in 1985, offers eight different start dates every year. Courses run in eight-week sessions and explore the necessary computer science, programming, and graphic design skills for landing entry-level jobs in the gaming industry.
To help students manage the costs of college, Liberty provides undergraduate students with free electronic textbooks. Liberty also offers tuition discounts to active and retired military students, as well as military spouses. Military students can also receive college credit for military training.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Gaming Design
Format: 100% online
GPA: 2.0 minimum
Savannah College of Art and Design
|Savannah, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a major art school with two campuses in Georgia and international locations in Hong Kong and France. SCAD boasts more than 14,000 enrolled students and 40 undergraduate majors, including a bachelor's in digital media. The degree offers two concentrations in game development and interactive design.
Available on campus or entirely online, the digital media program requires a total of 180 credits to graduate. In addition to general education and foundation art studies, students complete courses in digital design aesthetics, programming, and game art. SCAD offers both internship placements and a unique professional projects course.
Applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores. Those with a GPA below 3.0 are strongly encouraged to submit additional documents, such as a portfolio, recommendations, statement of purpose, and a resume/list of achievements.
Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media
Format: 100% online
GPA: 3.0 minimum
|Saint Charles, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Lindenwood University, an independent school founded in 1827, is located in St. Charles, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, with another campus in Belleville, Illinois. The college features 131 programs, including the online bachelor of arts in game design offered through the art and design program.
Lindenwood's online game design degree follows an asynchronous format, which gives students the flexibility to take classes and view lectures when their schedules permit. Students can opt for the fully online program or a hybrid program with in-person classes.
Each student in the program must complete 120 credits. Learners must also complete a three-unit game design capstone project and a three-unit game design internship to receive an online game design degree. These courses allow students to build a portfolio, network with professionals, and gain work experience with a gaming company.
Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
Format: 100% online or hybrid
GPA: 2.0 minimum
|Flint, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Baker College has been helping students achieve their career goals for over 100 years. With degrees offered in business, health, human services, and technology, Baker offers bachelor's and master's degrees only in career fields that show high rates of growth. This commitment to a "high-quality education that will help [students] build long, rewarding careers" is demonstrated in Baker's 89% career outcome rate after graduation.
Baker offers over a dozen undergraduate degrees in the College of Engineering and Information Technology, including an online bachelor's in game software development. Students in this program learn the latest in gaming technology from leaders in the industry. Hands-on experience prepares students for a rewarding career developing, designing, or testing games for multiple platforms.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Game Software Development
Format: 100% online
Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Program Overview
Degrees in video game design or interactive media provide an interdisciplinary set of skills in programming, communication, graphic design, and web design/development. One of the primary goals of an online bachelor's in video game design is to prepare students to compete in the video game industry. However, these skills and knowledge are also applicable to careers beyond the video game industry, including opportunities in entertainment and advertising.
Specific course requirements vary by program and school, but game design degrees typically focus on the creation of game and graphic arts, the elements of effective interactive design, and programming and coding fundamentals. Courses are often experiential and project-based, allowing for professional practice and portfolio development through hands-on application.
An online bachelor's degree in game design fulfills education requirements for entry-level jobs in the industry. However, graduates must demonstrate an impressive portfolio to stand out among other applicants.
Common Bachelor's in Video Game Design Degree Courses
- Interactive Design Fundamentals
This course introduces students to critical aspects of interactive art and design. Topics may include interactive art installations, traditional websites, animation, and video/audio. Coursework also presents the history of interactive design and encourages students to explore the breadth of the medium. Students develop skills through hands-on projects.
- Digital Communication
Effective communication in a digital environment is vital to the success of a creative professional. Courses in digital communication help students understand diverse digital tools and human-computer interaction. Learners develop foundational strategies for confident communication and digital expression in interactive media projects, websites, and social media contexts.
- Programming Principles
Introductory programming courses focus on a variety of key programming topics. Students are exposed to scripting languages, program interactivity, software design, and debugging. Hands-on in nature, these classes enable students to develop applications and projects, including interactive websites, experimental works, and online games.
- Web Design/Development Fundamentals
Courses in web design and web development, which may be included in the required major core or offered as electives, introduce students to key concepts in the creation of dynamic, responsive web pages. Common topics include HTML and CSS, web authoring tools, web standards, and web accessibility.
- Project-Based Capstone/Practicum
Prior to completing your online bachelor's in game design, you can expect to participate in some form of project-based capstone. Specific culminating experience requirements vary by school but typically result in the integration of all curriculum elements, development of a portfolio, and/or practical work opportunities.
Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Admission Requirements
High School Completion
To gain entry into an undergraduate college or university program, applicants must first complete a high school-level education. This requirement can be satisfied with a traditional high school education, GED certificate program, or a high school equivalency exam. Be prepared to provide a transcript or other official documentation.
In addition to a completed high school education, some colleges prefer or require applicants to demonstrate a minimum GPA. Minimum GPA requirements are designed to provide admissions staff with an idea of an applicant's academic ability. Lower GPAs do not necessarily disqualify you from admission.
Standardized Test Scores
Standardized test scores are typically expected of all first-time freshmen applicants, but they are especially important for those with GPAs below the university's minimum requirement or preference. An excellent SAT or ACT score can boost your application by showing solid competencies in reading, writing, math, and science.
Depending on the school, you may be required or have the option to submit additional materials with your admissions packet. The most common documents requested at the undergraduate level are educator and/or counselor letters of recommendation, personal essays, and lists of achievements.
You likely will not see a required list of prerequisites for an online bachelor's in video game design, but pursuing relevant coursework in high school may give you a competitive edge in the admissions process — and a head start on course fundamentals. Aim for a transcript with a combination of art and technology courses.
Online Bachelor's in Video Game Design Career Paths
After completing an online bachelor's in video game design, graduates commonly pursue career paths as video game designers, artists, and developers. Entry-level opportunities in this field are highly competitive, so many aspiring professionals start by creating their own games to build a strong portfolio, network connections, and online presence. Upward mobility is generally connected to experience and proven ability, rather than advanced degrees.
The skills earned in an undergraduate program can also be applied to entry-level careers in visual effects, web, and software design for other entertainment industries, business, and technology.
Video game designers do not require licensure.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are game designers in high demand?
The BLS includes video game designers under the larger umbrella of multimedia artists and animators. As a whole, this occupational group is projected to grow by 4% between 2018-28. This projection is primarily driven by an increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, as well as movies and television.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in game design?
While your dream job might be working for one of the world's top video game publishers, an online bachelor's in video game design provides an interdisciplinary education you can apply to many fields. Professionals with skills in graphic design, programming, and interactive media work in entertainment, business, and technology.
- How much can I earn with a bachelor's in game design?
The median salary for all multimedia artists and animators is $72,520, according to the BLS. PayScale, which offers job-specific salary information based on user data, reports that video game designers make an average of $64,374 a year. Individual earning potential varies by geographic location, employer, and years of experience.
- How long does it take to get a bachelor's in game design?
Traditionally, a bachelor's degree takes approximately four years of full-time study to complete. You may be able to earn your degree faster by taking courses during the summer. Many online programs also offer part-time pacing options. Part-time study results in a longer overall completion time but is ideal for students with full-time jobs.
- What courses are required for a bachelor's in game design?
To provide a well-rounded skill set, required courses for an online bachelor's in game design typically cover both technical and artistic concepts. You might study programming and interactive media/web design alongside graphic arts and digital communication. Bachelor's degrees also require completion of general education courses, such as, math, the humanities, and sciences.
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