Get Matched With Game Design Programs

Overview of a Bachelor’s in Game Design

If gaming is your first love and you'd love to make it your job, you may be thinking about a career as a game designer or otherwise involved in the game industry. Although many think that video game designers have a fun and easy profession as they create online games from home, the fact is that there's a lot of hard work involved, and you should plan on earning at least a bachelor's degree in game design (BA in Game Design) if you want to achieve success outside of the online game creating community. This will not only introduce you to the basic knowledge you will need but also give you a leg up on those who only have online certifications or an associate's. Once you start gaining experience in the field and maybe a few certifications of your own, your resume will look great no matter what kind of position in the field you’re applying for. Video game design degree programs prepare students to become video game designers or graphic designers with general education courses and core courses and advanced courses in subjects such as:

  • Computer Science or Information Technology
  • Computer Programming Languages
  • Web Development and Web Application Development
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Theories of Game Design
  • Video Game Applications
  • Game Engine Development and Design
  • Computer Graphics
  • Interactive Media, Interactive Design, and Online/Mobile Gaming
  • Game Design and Development
  • Game Software
  • Game Production
  • Art and Design
  • Game Development and Simulation Programming
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • And More


  • An online or traditional undergraduate degree will qualify you for a higher salary than someone without one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a bachelor’s degree, whether earned online or in-person, earns graduates up to $15,000 more per year than students who have completed only some college or an associate's, regardless of the profession.
  • You'll have time to build a portfolio that showcases your abilities and talents through your degree in game design and development, so prospective employers can see what you're capable of.
  • A bachelor’s program often requires an internship, which gives you valuable experience in the field and may turn into full time employment for undergraduate students after graduation. It's true that online programs are less likely to support a full internship, but many students who learn online are already working.
  • College gives you valuable networking contacts and, in the field of video games, who you know is often nearly as important as what you know. Even hybrid programs, which use online and in-person components, do their best to create opportunities for students to network when they step out of their online format.
  • A bachelor's is marketable in most professions if you decide to change careers.
  • CONS

  • Bachelor’s game design degree programs take around four years if you attend full-time, whether they are on-campus or online education,so you'll have to dedicate a good portion of your time to your education.
  • There aren't too many entry-level positions in the field, and you may not find employment before earning your degree.
  • Attending a university, even a state university, institute, or college of art, can be expensive and it may take a long time for you to see a return on your investment.
  • Game design is a highly competitive field and you may not be able to find a position as a designer immediately after graduation.
  • If you're not creative and good in STEM subjects, you may struggle to finish all the required courses such as game engine design, game development, and simulation programming. Art and design are only part of this type of program.
  • The field of video games and gaming is constantly evolving, so game design students and graduates will need to continue your education in order to stay on top of the latest technology and video games applications.
  • Compare Popular Online Game Design Programs

    Associate Vs. Bachelor’s in Game Design

    There are online certificates in game design and development you can earn without a degree and, like a degree program, they have both pros and cons. On the good side, you'll get a solid exposure to the field and that may help you decide whether game development is the career for you. Some certificates are available at the high school level, so you won't have to pay for what you learn. On the other hand, a certificate won't help much with entering the field of game development, and the online classes you take may not transfer to an undergraduate student's in-person or online game design degree program. If you're considering a certificate program, look for one that is accredited and accepted for college credit in a traditional or online bachelor's in game design degree.

    What Game Design Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?

    Game design is a relatively new field and, as such, the degree program titles can be confusing. Some schools don't have programs specific to game development or interactive game development but offer it as a concentration in their graphic design program, while other schools may offer a similar concentration under the umbrella of computer applications, game engine design, or game software. It's a good idea to look at all design and computer programs and look for concentrations and specializations as well as game design degrees and courses within the curriculum. Whether this curriculum is offered online or not is also dependent on the school you attend and their support of online learning.

    For the most part, Bachelor of Art (BA) degrees will give you more leeway in the choice of electives while Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees will have a narrow choice of electives that are within the field of game design and development. Look at several programs that are game design specific and compare the curriculum to other design and computer programs that have a concentration or specialty in game development to see if the vaguer program titles (like game development and simulation programming, game programming, game software design, or interactive design and game development) offer the coursework you'll need to be proficient in game design including game mechanics, game programming, and graphic design. Here's a look at a few traditional or online game development degree titles:

    • Bachelor's in Video Game Design
    • Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, Game Design Concentration
    • Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering, Game Design Specialization

    Admission Requirements for BS Game Design Programs

    Although each school decides on its own admission requirements, as a rule of thumb you will be expected to have a high school or associate degree grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 and submit your school transcripts with your completed application and application fee. Some schools will also require a minimum score on your SAT or ACT and a transcript of the score.

    If you already hold an associate degree in game design, there may be prerequisite courses you'll need to have completed as an associate is the equivalent of the first two years of a bachelor's program. If your online associate degree is in another subject, you may have to take some introductory game development courses to meet the school requirements for admission.

    Some schools require letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and an essay as part of their admissions process. Basically, the more competitive the school the more stringent the admission requirements will be. However, you should expect to provide the same documents whether you hope to attend online or in person; jut because a program is offered online does not mean the school will be more lenient in its admissions process.

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    How long does it take to earn a Video Game Design Bachelor’s?

    An online bachelor's game design degree is considered a four-year degree in that it takes approximately four years to complete if you follow the suggested curriculum schedule. You'll need a total of 120 credits to complete your degree, which is an average of 40 classes.

    If you already hold an online associate degree, it will take approximately two years of full-time attendance to earn your bachelor's degree. If you take half the classes per semester, it will take twice as long. Some online programs offer accelerated programs that let students finish more quickly.

    If you're still in high school, you may be able to take online or nearby college courses and earn a semester or more of credits before you graduate. Most schools participate in the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) which allows you to test out of subjects you are knowledgeable in, giving you credits in place of actually taking a course such as English or algebra.

    Potential Careers in Game Design with an Online Bachelor’s Degree

    Because the video game industry is so competitive, you probably won’t be able to find a position as a video game designer right out of college. You may qualify for a lower-level position within the field and then you’ll be able to showcase your ability as well as your portfolio to advance from within the gaming industry.

    It's important to note that job titles can vary within the game design industry. A smaller game studio may post a job opening for a game designer when they actually want a programmer or graphic artist to create game art, while a larger company may post the same job title when they are looking for a level designer. Look at the details of a position before responding with an application.

    Here are a few positions that are typical, available entry-level jobs you can enter when you graduate from a bachelor’s degree program in game design:

    • Quality Assurance Game Tester
      As the title suggests, this job involves testing a game to make sure every level works the way it's supposed to. Testers keep a log of their actions, tracking bugs and errors so that the designers can fine tune the game before release. Average salary is $40,700
    • Level Designer/Editor
      This position typically designs the environments within a game such as the landscapes and buildings or the gameplay within a level. Depending on the size of the studio, you may be in charge of more or less. The average Level Designer Salary is $58,500.
    • Junior Game Developer
      A junior game developer may work on a specific aspect of a game or be charged with fine tuning a level or other details of a project. Depending on the size of the studio you may have many different tasks or be part of a team of junior developers who work under the direction of a lead developer. The average salary is $65,700.
    • Game Artist
      A game artist creates the game art and storyboards that are incorporated into objects within a game. In a smaller studio this may be a freelance position; in larger studios you may be charged with a specific area such as weapon designs. The average salary is $58,200.

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    Educational Options to Advance

    It will most likely take three to five years of experience working in the field before you can expect to advance to the role of game designer. Because of this you should consistently add to your portfolio and stay abreast of developments within the field of gaming. Plan to learn new techniques and platforms as soon as they are developed in order to stay on top of the latest in gaming trends.

    If your ultimate dream is to own your own studio you should continue your degree to a game design masters level and add basic business knowledge to your resume.

    Best Bachelor’s of Science in Video Game Design Programs

    • Rochester Institute of Technology School of Interactive Games and Media
      Rochester, New York

      Rochester offers an excellent program that allows you to choose your area of specialization, so you can concentrate on game design, game art, animation, or a similar aspect of the industry. The Bachelor program is fully transferable to a master's program within the school.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Game Design and Development BS
    • University of Southern California
      Los Angeles, California

      One of the best schools for video game design, USC has many professional game designers affiliated with their program to give each student mentoring as they learn all aspects of game design. Both programs integrate smoothly into graduate programs at the same school.

      Degrees Offered:

      • BS in Computer Science – Games
      • BA in Interactive Entertainment
    • Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
      Philadelphia, PA

      One of the top technology schools in the country, Drexel combines their computer science and digital media departments to create a comprehensive program for game design and game art. This program is fully transferable to the graduate degree program at the same school.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Game Design and Production
      • Bachelor of Computer Science with a concentration in Game Programming and Development
    • New York University Tisch School of the Arts
      New York, NY

      NYU Tisch School of the Arts has a premiere game design program that fully integrates into their Master of Fine Arts in Game Design program. Students also have access to the Media and Games Network at the NYU Brooklyn campus

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelors of Fine Arts in Game Design
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Game Lab
      Cambridge, MA

      MIT allows students to make their own curriculum in game design, utilizing the MIT Game Lab with state-of-the-art technology and the best instructors in the country.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Science in Game Design

    Traditional Schools Offering a B.S. in Video Game Design

    • DigiPen Institute of Technology
      Redmond, Washington

      DigiPen Institute of Technology is affiliated with Nintendo to give students the latest developments in the industry as they learn the art of game design. All programs are fully transferable to the graduate degree programs at the same school.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Science
      • Bachelor of Arts
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts
    • Full Sail University
      Winter Park, Florida

      High level design and production classes that cover all the key concepts of the field as well as developing a portfolio to showcase your creativity.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Science in Game Design
    • Lindenwood University
      St. Charles, Missouri

      Courses cover key concepts of the field of game design as well as game economics, aesthetics, and usability. Portfolio and project development courses are included for a comprehensive curriculum.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
    • Southern New Hampshire University
      Hooksett, New Hampshire

      A balanced curriculum that teaches skills and knowledge, SNHU combines computer science with animation, storytelling, and art aspects for a complete game design program.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Development
    • Liberty University
      Lynchburg, Virginia

      Liberty offers one of the best game design programs in the country. You'll learn the technical skills as well as the artistic elements required to enter the field of game design with a well-rounded education.

      Degrees Offered:

      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree program with a Game Design specialization

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is a bachelor’s in game design worth it?

    While in the long run, only you can decide if the degree you end up earning is ‘worth it’, there is evidence to suggest that a game design degree will be worth it in upcoming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that computer systems design and related positions will experience growth in the coming years. This includes those with degrees in game design. Application software developer roles alone are expected to increase by 22% by 2030. Some roles will not increase at these numbers, but that gives you an idea of the possibilities for those with these degrees.

    What exactly will I learn in a game design degree?

    This degree has a very specific title, and you might be worried that you aren’t going to learn any skills that transfer to other roles. What if you can’t find someone to hire you as a game designer? What if the game you design doesn’t take off? Well, you needn’t worry too much about not working in a game designer position specifically. This degree will give you knowledge that can serve you well in a number of other roles. You should learn about data management, software development, web design and development, and even UX and UI design. With the skills you will learn in these degree programs, you will have many opportunities to find roles where you can succeed.

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