Why This Matters

  • 6,000+ NEW ANIMATION JOBS WILL BE AVAILABLE

    Through 2029, job opportunities in multimedia arts and animation are expected to increase 4%, adding 6,039 new positions. They include full-time, salaried, and self-employed spots.

  • EARN $27,000 MORE AS AN ANIMATOR

    The median salary for those in the multimedia arts and animation field is $75,270, about $27,130 more than those working as artists.

  • CHOOSE FROM 23+ ROLES

    From inception to distribution, the lifespan of a game opens dozens of opportunities for someone interested in game development, such as story writing, lead programming, audio techniques, and concept artistry.

Our Research

Our list includes schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in game design and simulation, which are delivered online, on campus, or in hybrid formats. These degrees range in cost from $232 per credit hour to $2,000 per credit hour for out-of-state students.

When considering which school to attend, it’s important to research its accreditations. Accreditation is a process that measures a school’s educational quality standards. Typically, regional accreditation is seen as more prestigious than national accreditation; however, appropriate accreditation depends on the type of school you choose. For example, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) accredits schools that offer technical, trade, or occupational programs rather than more traditional degrees.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 67 hours to write this article
  • 209 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 236 education programs we compared

The Top 49 Game Design Degree Programs

Best Game Design Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Though there are various roles in the field of game design, it’s important to consider that most of them require some sort of artistry background. Many people working in game development also have firsthand experience with games and illustration or drawing. One similar career path is a degree in craft and fine arts. This program focuses on physical materials and techniques for art. In contrast, a degree in a game design field, such as simulation or multimedia animation, adds a 3-D element to artistry.

The technical element of a degree in graphic design can slightly bridge the gap between fine arts and animation degrees. The median pay for a graphic designer in 2019 was $52,110 — $23,160 less than graduates of a multimedia arts program such as game design. Computer programming is another related degree. Though the median pay in 2019 was $86,550, job prospects are expected to drop 9% by 2029.

For many positions in this career, an associate or bachelor’s degree is sufficient, with only top-level developers and directors choosing to pursue a master’s degree. Experience and a robust portfolio are much more valuable than a graduate degree. Internships and entry-level jobs might help. Additional skill sets, such as computer programming or drawing, can also give applicants an edge.

What’s Next?

The following are some questions to ask when researching game design degree programs:

  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? All programs on this list are offered on campus for individuals who prefer face-to-face instructions. Some institutions, however, such as Full Sail University, offer degrees entirely online. The online format allows students to submit assignments on a deadline instead of having to attend class at a specific time. That option might be ideal for students with other responsibilities, such as families or full-time jobs.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Programs on this list range from 30 to 180 credit hours. The majority hover around 120 credit hours. This typically equates to about four academic years for a bachelor’s degree.

When researching programs, make sure to ask about which application materials you need to submit, such as proof of high school completion. Also ask about relevant deadlines for your chosen start date and potential tests or assessments that some art-based degrees may require.

Securing funding for your degree might seem daunting, but most schools offer financial aid to those who qualify. Look into state or federal grants, as well as private or public scholarships, to help offset costs.