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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students who complete an online game design degree program will gain the skills necessary to design video games. With this degree, graduates can engage in the game design field, work for someone else, or design and release their own indie games. Students who become game designers on behalf of someone else can expect to earn an average salary of $78,000 per year.

Most online game design programs are designed to be completed within two years by full-time students, and accelerated programs are available that allow students to complete coursework in only one year. According to US News, students can expect to pay between $38,000 and $77,000.

How to Choose an Online Game Design Program

Choose your area of study

Most online game design degree programs do not offer specialized areas of study. Instead, the degree is broken into a combination of separate but related skills, including game design, programming, web design, and digital communication.

With that being said, most of these programs offer various electives that students can choose from to customize their degrees. Along with selecting a good school, customizing their education in such a way is an excellent method for students to eventually present themselves as competitive applicants in game design.

Research schools and programs

Students have many different online game design degrees to choose from, so it’s important to develop a few criteria to help narrow down the prospective schools that will be the best fit.

The first and most crucial step is to verify that prospective schools are properly accredited; unaccredited schools will not have any federal financial aid available, and degrees from these schools may hold students back from landing a job with a reputable company.

The second step is to review the cost of each program. While finances should not necessarily be the most important factor, cost should still guide a student’s final decision, as choosing a school that is realistically within budget can help the student save money and avoid debt.

Finally, if students have any favorite game designers, it may be worth applying to online programs offered by the same schools that these admired designers attended.

Prepare for tests and applications

Most online game design degree programs will require students to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application process. You should contact the university’s admissions department to verify the minimum test scores, among other questions about qualification for the desired program. Sometimes, it may be worth taking these standardized tests again to get a higher score.

Additionally, students should review the online application requirements to verify if any other documents are needed. Such documents typically include a cover letter, application essays, and letters of recommendation. Be sure to also check on submission deadlines and plan accordingly.

Select your program

With the list of schools now sufficiently narrowed down, students must finalize the online game design degree program(s) to which they will apply. In addition to weighing the academics, accreditation, and cost, students may also wish to research which professors teach at a school and go with a school that has big names in the industry. Finally, students worried about getting good grades and completing everything on time may wish to focus on schools that offer an extensive online support system for remote learners.

Best 50 Accredited Online Game Design Programs

Best Online Game Design Degree Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

Liberty University

Savannah College of Art and Design

Lindenwood University

Wilmington University

Middle Georgia State University

University of Cincinnati

Baker College

George Mason University

Franklin University

Fisher College

Champlain College

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How We Rank Schools

A bachelor’s degree is the most common degree for video game designers, although certificate, associate’s, and master’s degree programs are also available. Our list primarily focuses on bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Some programs may specifically grant a degree in game design, while others are computer science with a concentration in game design.

All programs are available online. Some are also delivered on-campus or in a hybrid format. We included regionally and nationally accredited schools on this list. You should select a program at a regionally accredited school if you plan on transferring credits or pursuing an advanced degree. Schools are more likely to accept degrees and credits from regionally accredited institutions compared to those from nationally accredited colleges.

Each program was evaluated based on cost, coursework, faculty, flexibility, and reputation. We rated each school with an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Game Design Program?

In an online program to earn a degree in game design, students can expect to learn all of the skills necessary to design a game from start to finish.

This includes graphic design (useful for bringing characters to life), web design (necessary to market a game), and programming (which is what turns all of the student’s different ideas into an interactive experience). Students who already have skills in one or more of these areas may find this program easier, but it is designed to provide even someone completely unfamiliar with these areas with the skills they will need to succeed in the game design industry.

If students can attend full-time, they can expect to complete a game design degree in two years (accelerated programs may allow full-time students to complete everything in only one year). In most cases, these online programs are entirely remote and will not require students to spend any time on campus.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online game design degree program

  • Introduction to Scripting: Scripting is one of the most important aspects of game design, and this course helps students learn more about the scripts and scripting principles necessary to create an interactive game. Students will start by building simple scripts, and the class serves as an introduction to many of the programming principles necessary for success in this program.
  • Digital Game Development: In this course, students will build upon some of the programming skills they already have to develop new games. Coursework involves utilizing different programming languages and different game design editors. Once students complete the class, they will know much more about animation, audio, sprites, and many more aspects of a completed video game.
  • Graphics Game Engine: Graphics are a major part of any video game, and this course helps students learn more about developing a new graphics engine for a game from start to finish. That includes learning about lighting, shaders, skeletal animations, ray tracing, and much more. While this course will reinforce older lessons, the most successful students will enter the class with a solid foundation in Linear Algebra.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence is a more popular and prominent topic than ever, and this course helps students learn more about how AI can be utilized for various web commerce applications. In addition to learning more about one of the hottest fields in web design, the principles taught in this class may help students eventually market their own games.

Online Game Design Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online game design degree program?

To apply to an online game design degree program, students must find and navigate to the university’s website. That site will provide a link to either a direct application or an application portal students may use. Either way, the application webpage should specify any extra documentation required for the application, including test scores, cover letters, admissions essays, and letters of recommendation.

Students with questions or concerns should contact the admissions counselors for any schools they are interested in. These counselors can answer students’ questions and confirm that the submitted application is complete.

How much does an online game design degree program cost?

According to US News, students can expect to pay between $38,000 and $77,000 for an online game design degree.

There are many reasons for the extreme price range, including the fact that private schools are much more expensive than public schools and that out-of-state students almost always pay more than in-state students. Additionally, the number of credit hours required and the time it takes a student to complete the degree may add to the cost.

Fortunately, the online version of these programs is usually cheaper than the in-person version because students don’t have to relocate to a new town, nor do they have to pay for things like parking passes, student activity fees, or other fees associated with campus life. Questions about a specific program should be directed to the admissions counselors or the school’s financial aid office to which you are applying.

How long does it take to earn an online game design degree?

Most online game design degree programs are meant to be completed in two years by full-time students. Select schools may have accelerated programs available that can be finished in as little as one year. If a student can only attend part-time, that’s fine: most online programs offer plenty of flexibility for remote learners, which is useful when a person has to juggle several different responsibilities. However, this may lengthen the time it takes to complete the degree.

Whatever you choose to do, by finding a program that offers all the flexibility you need, you can better position yourself for both academic success and post-graduation vocational success.

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