Why This Matters

  • VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY IS WORTH $135 BILLION

    The global video games industry grew by 10.9% between 2017 and 2018. The biggest growth was in console gaming, with $38.3 billion spent on games and systems like Playstation, XBox, and Nintendo.

  • DEMAND FOR VIDEO GAME DESIGNERS TO RISE 4%

    Employment for video game designers will continue to rise at an average pace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thanks to ongoing demand for console and mobile games.

  • EARN AN AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY OF $63,000

    Video game designers are well-compensated for their time and talents. While the average annual salary is $63,000, the top 10 percent of earners in the video game industry bring home over $124,310 per year.

Our Research

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 hybrid format. We included regionally and nationally accredited schools on this list. It is recommended that you 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. Our top picks for the best game design schools are well-respected and affordable.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 81 hours to write this article
  • 104 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 415 education programs we compared

The Top 23 Best Game Design Schools

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What You Should Know About This Degree

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum level of education needed for most jobs in video game design. Individuals usually advance through the field based on experience and on-the-job training. A master’s degree typically isn’t required, although some individuals may wish to obtain a master’s if they already have a bachelor’s degree in another field.

The pay difference between video game designers with a bachelor’s degree and those with a master’s degree is negligible. Payscale.com reports that the average annual salary for video game designers is $63,000, regardless of education level. This is something to consider if you are considering getting an advanced degree in game design.

Because video game design is a computer-based type of art, students are typically required to have computers that meet certain specifications, as well as software programs specifically for game design. Find out from your program what, if any, equipment you must have to complete the program, and if the department offers any discounts on hardware or software.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Game Design programs:

  • Are there any special admissions requirements? Design programs may sometimes require applicants to demonstrate their artistic or technical abilities during the admissions stage. This may mean submitting a portfolio of work, or designing a website, so faculty and admissions officers can assess prospective students’ abilities prior to acceptance. Visit the program’s website or talk to an admissions counselor about any special application materials you must submit.
  • Does this program have the concentration that I want? Within game design, there are a few specialty tracks students can take, including game development, game art, and game studies. If you want a highly focused program, look for curriculums that allow this kind of specialization.

At this stage, you should also be researching funding resources and gathering your application materials. Having all of your application materials collected ahead of time will make the application process go smoothly. Funding options can include student loans, grants, scholarships, assistantships, and employee tuition benefits, if you are currently working.